Id Talk Tech 5 At Siggraph

Via Shacknews, we see some new shots of Rage from SIGGRAPH 2009, where a talk given by id Software senior programmer J.M.P. van Waveren included a whole bunch of stuff about the “virtual texturing” in the new engine. There’s a handful of environment shots on there, and they look incredimentary. This could well be the next game you build a new PC for. The full PDF is here.

Oh, and in case you’ve not seen it, there’s a big old Rage teaser site here.


  1. Howard says:

    I’m guessing that PDF made more sense when some chap from Id was giving a presentation over it =)
    Cannot seem to find a document talking about what virtual texturing actually is (with explanation I mean, not just bullet points like the PDF)
    What I did garner from the PDF was that most of this was done in order to allow Tech 5 to run on 360/PS3 as their hardware was limiting them. Interesting. Still the shots do look good…

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yeah, it’s got to scale down to DirectX 9 era tech. That said, the interesting bit will be to see how far it scales up on high end PCs.

  3. Schmung says:

    I *think* virtual texturing is just a term for the abstraction of the games texture usage. In most games you’ve got an object and it has a texture – thus you load gazillions of textures per scene. If you abstract this process so that you’ve got a texture already sitting there on cache and just pump all the textures you want to see in the scene into the texture sitting on the cache then you can do all sorts of clever things.

    That’s roughly my understanding of it, but I could be wrong. University was a long time ago. I dare say some of the more technical people here can provide a better explanation. PDF was a very interesting read actaully. Those id folks are clever bastards and no mistake.

  4. Howard says:

    Exactly – I should imagine with this being Carmac’s new baby the answer will be that it scales VERY far.

    Actually, that said, has Id ever done the Crysis type thing and released a game that is WELL beyond the remit of current gen PCs? I don;t think they have actually…

  5. espy says:

    This looks fantastic, not just technically, but also conceptually, world- and art-wise. Very exciting.

  6. Babs says:

    This is how I interpreted it (though I’m sure there are others whole will come along more skilled than I):

    Virtual Texturing is system by which every texture in the scene is/can be unique. The textures for various bits if the scene are in pages that are streamed as required to the GPU. There is also an LOD system (this is what the quad-tree was about) that uses lower quality textures at distance.
    To manage the latency (time to load and transfer textures to the CPU) the system upscales the low-quality textures and then blends in the high-quality ones when available.
    Basically this means that open-worlds can be much more detailed and with less repetition of ‘stuff’, at the expense of more content creation of course. It would be my guess that this will also scale well on less powerful hardware since you can just employ lower LOD textures, although it’s fairly CPU heavy.

    The last bit is about their parallel processing structure. I think this comes down to them having broken the processing down into small stateless ‘Jobs’ (like a single function) with well defined input/output and little syncronisation as opposed to a few large threads doing lots of things. This works better for the Cell where the execution units are small (?). One interesting thing is that (if my understaning is correct) some of this processing is designed to finish 1 frame after it was started, which must have required some clever programming the manage.

    I am not a game developer though, so I may have got some of this wrong.

  7. Stense says:

    All that techno gunk went well over my head, but those pictures: oooo spanking great.

  8. oceanclub says:

    It would be nice if iD ever talked about their games _as a game_ and not a tech demo. I’m incredibly dubious that, other than technology, there’s anything to be excited about here. (Story is for porn, right?)


  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Oceanclub: they do talk about their games as games, but this is a Siggraph presentation, and hence not about games.

    Rage seems to be a kind of Fallout-meets-Highway-bit-of-HL2, plus Deathcars. I think there’s something to be excited about, if just because this is Id trying to break their downward spiral in terms of creativity.

  10. oceanclub says:

    “they do talk about their games as games”

    If they have I – honestly – have rarely seen it. iD-related articles tend to be 90% technology focused – Carmack talking about megatexturing or, um, whatever. Normally I think it is terrible when a publisher interferes with a developer, but with the Bethesda acquisition, that could be a good thing, if only to get them away from their usual sophomoric macho emotionless B-movie settings/plots.

    Or maybe I’m just getting old.


  11. Howard says:

    Not sure about getting old, but you seem to be coming a bit unplugged. iD always have talked about their games, but their games tend to be in very shiny new engines that do things we have not seen before. To have them NOT talk about what its capabilities are would be foolish

  12. Babs says:

    I’d forgotten they’d been bought by ZeniMax/Bethesda. I’d bet that a very large part of that was getting control of this engine tech, it really suits the style of games they make. Fallout 4/5 with this tech maybe?

  13. oceanclub says:

    “iD always have talked about their games, but their games tend to be in very shiny new engines that do things we have not seen before.”

    Yes, but that’s kinda my point; they get excited about the tech, the actual _game_ – that is, setting/plot – seem to come across as an afterthought. I’m old enough to remember the huge excitement about Doom 3, and then playing it; it was like the Beatles reforming and coming out with a album of kazoo covers of Jim Reeves songs. In this case, it was an artfully-rendered cupboard simulator. Hence my dubiousity about Rage, which seems to be a couple of other games cobbled together (“Fuel-out 3”).

    Bah, humbug, when I were young ’twere all fields, etc,


  14. Howard says:

    LOL. Well I agree that Doom was all talk and no trousers but I think, in general, iD do good work. Their engines are solid and they have made some good games. I admit I’d rather see more about what the hell Rage is a game, but as Jim says, this is just an article by a third party about iD’s tech. We’ll just have to see what they present us with I guess…

  15. CMaster says:

    iD have indeed always been a technology led company. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. IF you haven’t read Masters of Doom, I’d reccomend it.
    Basically, the place where games like Doom and Keen came from was by creating new tech, then seeing what the best game they could make around it was. Doom and Wolfenstein’s frentic pacing and scares came from the fact that the engine ran fast and looked best like that. Quake in many ways failed because their designs were too ambitious, never to be realised – so it became a real mess of a game in design terms, but had staggering tech that the multiplayer element of made good use of.

    Rage looks like it could be exciting. It certainly has me interested in a way none of their conventional shooters ever have.

  16. The Colonel says:

    Oh my God please don’t let Bethesda make another Fallout.

  17. oceanclub says:

    “iD have indeed always been a technology led company.”

    And that’s both a plus but also a problem. I imagine the reason that Doom 3 has no memorable people in it is because , unlike the Source engine, while the Doom 3 engine is capable of displaying pumping steel pistons in almost pornographic detail, it renders people’s face as bloated white pudding. (Imagine Alyx in the Doom 3 engine *shudder*)

    But you get the feeling that no-one in iD would have the balls to tell John “Um, can we get an engine where we can display at least a _smidgeon_ of empathy kthxbye”. So they make do with what they get.


  18. Maykael says:

    @oceanclub: I think the problem that you has a source in the fact the Carmack doesn’t really like story-games. He has repeatedly stated the Quake III is his favorite thing to do. Even when talking about Rage he said that they’re trying to put some kind of a good story in there because today’s gamers kinda demand to have a narrative to accompany their videogame antics. It seemed to me back then that he would settle for something simpler in another case, and he’s just doing it do increase the sales of the game.

  19. The Sombrero Kid says:

    virtual texturing is pretty simple and obvious when you think about it really, for years we’ve been using tile based textures for reasons of compression (fitting it into vram), now with virtual graphics memory and gfx cards supporting compressed texture formats tile based texturing is redundant, we can load in textures as big as the world that are compressed with traditional compression techniques as opposed to tile maps, it means the artists can paint on the world like they would a picture without worrying about joins & shit and programmers world rendering code is less complex and more efficient in a lot of different ways.

    thats the theory anyway, in practice it’s quite difficult.

  20. CMaster says:

    @oceanclub – seeing as empathy is something Carmack is reportedly rather short on, one could imagine that is a problem.

  21. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the most interesting thing about that pdf is page 25 onwards were it talks about rages parallel job based architecture, which has been touted as an essential step for game engines for some time but no ones actually came out & done it till now.

  22. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Was thinking about doing something like this a few times this year, and again while on my bike yesterday. Its good ID does this, it would have taken me my entire life to make it.

  23. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I was wrong, what I was thinking about, was just the LOD stuff.

  24. jon_hill987 says:

    ID tech5 water looks a bit shite from those images.

  25. MrFake says:

    This virtual texturing will be some feat. Being able to adjust the LOD in real time like this without the player being aware of it is definitely a critical step in game production. I don’t doubt that id can pull it off.

    Also, tech is really all id has, or ever had. Their games have been almost universally shallow. Why should we expect more from game engine specialists?

  26. ToadSmokingDuckMonkey says:

    Being set in a desert wasteland, I sorta doubt that they’re going to spend as many man-hours on water as the Bioshock team did.

  27. Lars Westergren says:

    You know, I started writing a bitter post where I whined that I thought “PC gaming was FINALLY moving away from fawning over every ID hint at hawt graphics and their ‘games don’t need plot anymore than porn flicks do’ attitude”.

    But then I actually read the PDF. Pretty nice stuff. Interesting stuff, even if most of the tech went over my head (even though I AM a programmer). Interesting hint of approaching functional programming with “well-defined input/output” and stateless jobs (immutable data?) for increased parallelization.

  28. Meat Circus says:

    OMG, it’s Yet Another Id FPS. BUT WITH CARS.

    Yeah. That’ll have me forking out 2K for a new gaming PC and no mistake.

  29. Jim Rossignol says:

    Spending £2000 on a PC would be awesome.

  30. jsutcliffe says:

    You’re shattering my vision of games journalists expensing gigantic gaming rigs, Jim!

  31. Gap Gen says:

    Yeah, that PDF was mostly about implementing level-of-detail loading of textures, so you have one honkin’ huge texture on your hard drive and the game uses clever pixie-magic to pull out the parts of the texture you’re seeing at any one time without causing your RAM to burst and leak bits all over your motherboard.

  32. Lars Westergren says:

    @Meat circus

    Ok, their own games aren’t good. But the technology will eventually be used by others. Which will raise the bar for what gamers think is acceptable graphics. Which will raise production costs, which will push publishers towards safe bets, which means lowest common denominator, which means more tits and blood action titles for consoles

    ….wait, I was right to bitter, wasn’t I?

  33. aoanla says:

    The really clever iD Siggraph paper was last year, when they were talking about the feasibility of realtime voxel rendering (which in principle means that you don’t need to do all this messing around with textures and bumpmaps and etc etc etc). Unfortunately, it also doesn’t work well on non-cutting edge GPUs, so we get this almost-as-clever paper about what id5 does (which looks like an extension of the megatexture stuff? – the job based architecture seems more interesting from a revolutionary standpoint) which actually does work on affordable GPUs.

  34. Jim Rossignol says:

    Lars: I think the point of this stuff is that it reduces, or at least mediates, costs, as the art process is quicker and easier using these giant textures. Most of the guff for this engine has been about developer experience, rather than gamer-end visuals.

    As for Id’s games being bad… *Doom 3* was bad, and even then not exactly terrible in the grand spectrum of shit.

    Doom was Doom, Quake was brilliant, Quake 2 was okay, Quake III was sensationally good. All their other titles have been outsourced to other studios.

  35. Tei says:

    it also contains lots of info about changes to make it run well on the ps3. this engine seems multiplatform. somewhere is also say virtual texto plus artist. you need good artist to make something with this.

  36. Lars Westergren says:

    Jim, Yes, you are right on all points. I’m just a bit cranky today, is all. ;)

  37. Senethro says:

    Doom3 sold 2.5 million across all platforms. Think about that.

  38. wien says:

    You know, I kinda miss the days where we were allowed to drool over cool tech without being made feel guilty by the “zomg it’s about gameplay and story”-brigade. This is cool. It renders beautiful graphics in an innovative way. Does it really have to be more complicated than that?

    If you want articles about story and gameplay, I’m sure one will appear on RPS shortly.

  39. oceanclub says:

    “Doom3 sold 2.5 million across all platforms. Think about that.”

    Do you think that was too many or too few?


  40. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’m happy to drool over tech. Games *are* tech. Without the graphics there are no games.

    While I’ve argued against the trend towards *realism* in graphics, I don’t think we can argue against technological progress, which games are a manifestation of, and which Id are one of the primarchs of.

  41. Howard says:

    I could hug you for that post, Jim. =)

    This trend (and I mean that in the most insulting way, like when 8 year old girls *have* to have a certain type of bracelet or “their life is just OVER!!!”) for hating graphics is staggeringly tedious. Anyone who actually claims that graphics are not (one of the most) important (parts) in games needs to sell their consoles, give away their PC, buy a Spectrum 128 and stop bothering the rest of us.

  42. aoanla says:

    I think you’re leaning towards a strawman argument here. What people actually tend to claim is that having a mighty cutting-edge graphics engine is not the most important thing in a game. One can have very impressive graphics in a game without pushing the tech limit, especially if one avoids trying to do “realistic” graphics.
    The other thing that people claim is that *too much importance* is placed on having awesome graphics. This is almost certainly an out of date reaction (since it really appeared strongly some time around Quake 3 era), but it isn’t an invalid one – there are still games which are marketed purely on the high-endness of their graphics engines.
    (And, indeed, in response to Howard’s question: iD have never released a game which couldn’t run on normal computers, but Quake 3 supported an “ultra high” graphics mode which was out of the capability of any GPU available at release.)

  43. Lars Westergren says:

    I don’t hate graphics Howard, I hate it when focus on graphics reduces overall game quality
    But obviously, ymmv.

  44. roryok says:

    @The Colonel

    Why is everyone seemingly on a big bethesda bash lately? Fallout 3 was bloody brilliant, as was oblivion.

    Yes, I said it.

    It might not have lived up to the hype, but nothing ever does!

  45. pkt-zer0 says:

    “I hate it when focus on graphics reduces overall game quality”

    With id tech 5 being aimed at making the development process easier, that’s kind of irrelevant.

    “Fallout 3 was bloody brilliant, as was oblivion.”

    [Intelligence] So you’re saying Fallout 3 was bloody brilliant?

    I found both games insultingly moronic for the most part, but hey. I’m not too fond of marketing-driven game-design in the first place, either.

  46. wien says:

    aoanla: While you may be right that graphics gets too much attention at times, why is that important to bring up in a blurb about a presentation held at SIGGRAPH? :) It’s about the graphics. That’s the whole point, which makes it a little silly when people rush in to exclaim “the graphics aren’t everything and id only talks about tech!!!” Let’s just drool at the pretty pictures instead.

    (Oh, and it was Doom 3 which had that “OMG my GPU is burning” mode. ;))

  47. oceanclub says:


    Howard, I think it’s a huge leap to say that those of us who, based on iD’s past performance, are wary of hyping up Rage until they know more about it then _just_ the tech, “hate graphics”. Any more than those wary of unrestrained capitalism “hate freedom”.

    I speak as someone who grinned at the shallow marvellousness of Crysis, which looked lovely, had forgettable plot/characters, but allowed you to invisibly leap over a high wall and knock someone down with a chicken – far more fun than Doom 3 ever gave you.

    Graphics are absolutely important, but a graphically amazing game that is no fun is a screensaver.


  48. oceanclub says:

    (And yes, Oblivion was bloody brilliant. Fallout 3 very good, though its scope it did pale by comparison – despite having a better levelling system.)

  49. Howard says:

    I wasn’t criticising *every* post in this thread with that last post of mine. I understand that some of the iD doubters are also into their shiny graphics. I just hate this basic assumption that is overly prevalent on RPS threads that making a game LOOK good automatically reduces its worth and quality as an actual game. People who espouse such sentiment just make me cringe as they clearly have no single clue what they are talking about.

    Beyond that iD’s record is much better than most people think as Jim pointed out in an earlier post. The only game they have done which I would label as less than good was Quake 2. People just assume, for some reason, that everything in iD tech engines is iD’s fault. Weird…

  50. Howard says:


    Actually it was Quake 4 that had the Ultra High textures setting that could not be run at time of release. Quake 3 could definitely be run flat out when it was released.