Bethesda Changed the Way Avalanche Did Production for ‘Rage 2’

Sometime next year we’ll all get to play Rage 2, a frantic mix of Mad Max vehicle combat and Bulletstorm execution combos. It’s an odd project that probably has more DNA from other franchises than its own — and that’s a good thing. While the first Rage was forgettable, the second looks much better.

We’ll have to play it before we know for sure, but in the meantime we were able to speak to Tim Willits, studio director at id Software, about the knowledge sharing between id Software and Avalanche Studios – one the grandfather of traditional level design, the latter more versed in open worlds – and also how Bethesda checks three key metrics at each milestone to make sure targets are being hit without resorting to crunch.


Tim Willits id Software Bethesda headshot
Tim Willits, studio director at id Software.

FANDOM: We imagine being a level designer under you is both enlightening and challenging, having one of the people who helped create level design as we know it as your boss.

Tim Willits: I love level design. Because I feel level design is kinda where the rubber meets the road in terms of gameplay.

You know I still, when I get the chance, help some of the younger level designers with their levels. It’s really rewarding. Like when I go to Sweden, and I meet with Avalanche on Rage 2. The level designers – they’re so funny – they call it Willits University. So I get them all in a room, and bring up the whiteboard, and I’m like “Okay! Let’s talk about corners…This is a typical corner. But if you add a cutout here, and move the wall here, there’s a little extra gameplay. Most people turn right here… And here’s how to draw attention to something… ” So there are some techniques and things I’ve learned over the years that I try to teach people.


Rage 2 flying hovering mutant enemy
Airborne enemies will add some verticality.

In the old days, when it was just like one or two people working on levels, we did everything. But nowadays level design is kind of a group effort. Where you have a blackout person, and you have a lighting person, an environment art person… So levels are far better now than when I was younger, but they require a much more concerted effort, and better communication between each person who adds to the level at some point.

But I try to work with the kids as much as I can. Newer designers. I love it. Some people just have a gift. Some of the new folks we have on the team are so good. They’re far better than I ever was. It’s fun working with them.


Convoy Rage 2 attack
The Mad Max vibes are not exactly hidden.

You were involved in the earliest days of FPS level design, going from the technological innovation to perfecting how it should be used. Now that open worlds are a more mature technology, what does perfection in open world level design look like to you?

I have learned a lot about that. I discovered that I did know know as much as I thought I did about level design. Before I started working on this.

For example, I’d sit down with the Avalanche designers. And we’d be talking about a mission. And I would go straight into classic id Software mode. And be like “Okay, you start here, we go here, this guy jumps out, and this explodes, and this opens…” And the guys are looking at me, and say “Okay, what happens if you drive a tank through the back door?” And I’m like “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”

So I’ve definitely learned to approach level design differently. So in an open world, it’s the robustness. It’s creating fun play spaces that you can approach from any direction. But then also, you need AI which is smart. Which is way harder than you think. Open world AI is so difficult to program. Because the player can do anything, and approach from anywhere. And when you play Rage 2, you’ll see where we try to push the player in certain directions, that’s the id Software coming out.

So perfect level design is robust enough to approach from anywhere, the AI is smart enough to react, and play spaces that are fun and exciting from any direction.


Giant mutant football helmet miniboss
Things you shoot in this game tend to blow up.

It also has to double as a level for vehicle combat and infantry combat. Outside spaces are used for both, is that right?

So one of the things we struggled with in Rage… We had some fun things in Rage. We had some great levels, we had some great driving. But they were all disconnected. Which kind of made the game feel like separate pieces. Whereas in Rage 2, we’re in a complete open space.

And obviously yes, things like the tunnel, the sewers, there’s a main entrance that you go in. And when you go in there, you’re going to have to feel like you’re really in that area.

But then you just walk out back, and you get your stuff, and you’ve gotta find your car, and you talk to the person that sent you there. Whereas then we have some more areas that are more open and accessible from all directions. So I think we have a good mix. It flows well, nothing feels jarring. There’s no level loads, which is nice.

That’s I think the biggest issue with the first game, all the level loads and all the pieces that didn’t feel like they fit together.


Flexing bandit punk enemy in Rage 2 spiked hair
Using different moves will help your combat combo, similar to Bulletstorm.

The hot topic at the moment is crunch, and some Rockstar apologists point to the attention to detail in Red Dead Redemption 2 as a reason why crunch is a “necessary evil.” Do you think any game could be special in that way, or is crunch just a failure of management planning?

At Bethesda we try to have regular check-ins where we check scope, time, and resources. Because you know every game you start with has more scope than you can ever do. But at each point, along the way, we figure out if we’re still good on all of those.

So we’ve applied those techniques to working with Avalanche, so yes they have their own sprints, and their own scrums, and their own internal development, and they’re very organised. But we had to really change the way they do production, we had to make sure they hit big milestones.

Whenever we have a big sprint, we have a thing we’ll do on Thursdays where we’ll have taco day. We’ll line those up, with our sprints. We have the big team meeting, where the departments showcase what they’ve been working on in the sprint. Then we talk about what the next sprint’s going to be, and then we’ll go eat tacos. Or we’ll have cupcakes or something.

We often give our managers a little leeway there, if you work really hard here we’ll give them a little more time off there. But we try hard not to have death marches, if you like to call them that, in our scheduling, and our check-ins, and it’s a whole thing, it’s a multi-year process that Bethesda has done really well with.


‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ and the Myth of Necessary Crunch

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By wearing these jeans, Meghan changed the life of 30 women

While some people might think the cost of Meghan Markle’s Australian wardrobe might have been high, you can’t deny that the Duchess is great at showing her support for emerging brands and designers.

Plus, Meghan is an advocate of sustainable and ethical fashion, which she proved by wearing one particular pair of jeans more than five times on the tour.

Said jeans are by Australian brand Outland Denim, who use organic cotton and natural vegetable dyes to make their jeans.

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What a week for Outland Denim! Never could we have imagined the overwhelming support shown to our brand, our team and our mission since the Duchess of Sussex wore our Harriet jean not once but multiple times during her stay in Australia for the Invictus Games. This quiet, dignified, but determined support for our brand – and the humanitarian cause it represents – means the world to us, to our beautiful seamstresses, and to the 15 young women who are now feeling the empowerment of employment thanks to the "Markle Effect"! Meghan's modelling of positive change through the power of fashion sets a precedent for all other people with a public profile. Now to enjoy watching the Royal couple in New Zealand along with the rest of the world! 🌎 #madedifferent #zeroexploitation . . . . . 📸 Annette Dew/Newspix, Samir Hussein/Getty images

A post shared by Outland Denim (@outlanddenim) on

But more importantly, by wearing them, Meghan changed the life of 30 women. You see Outland Denim employ women in Cambodia who have been enslaved or sexually exploited.

Once the Duchess was spotted wearing the black Harriet jeans, these sold out within 48 hours, resulting in a massive 640% increase in sales.

Outland Denim has said that as a result, it can employ up to 30 more women.

In an Instagram post, it said, ‘Thanks to the Duchess’ choice in denim, we’re pleased to announce that it will be possible to employ a further 15 to 30 seamstresses in our Cambodian production house in the coming weeks, and the recruitment process has already begun’.

Another one read, ‘This quiet, dignified, but determined support for our brand – and the humanitarian cause it represents – means the world to us, to our beautiful seamstresses, and to the 15 young women who are now feeling the empowerment of employment.’

Excellent news indeed.

The post By wearing these jeans, Meghan changed the life of 30 women appeared first on Marie Claire.

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Spencer Matthews: Becoming a dad has changed my outlook

OHMYGOSSIP — Spencer Matthews admits becoming a dad has changed his outlook on life.
The 29-year-old TV star – who has two-month-old son Theodore with his wife Vogue Williams – has revealed how parenthood has transformed his perspective of the world.
He shared: “I mean, life has a whole new meaning as any parent will tell you. It’s wonderful.”
Spencer explained that Theodore has quickly become the priority for the loved-up duo.
He said: “Our priorities have changed now that we have Theodore, it’s kind of less about us and more about him, which is completely in line with our opinions about how to be good parents.”
Spencer also revealed that he and his wife are already looking forward to having another baby.
He told MailOnline: “Vogue and I are very much looking forward to starting our family and we feel complete and delighted with the way everything has gone. We’ve very much looking forward to expanding on our family.”
Prior to giving birth, Vogue revealed she felt ready to become a mother and was looking forward to the challenge of parenthood.
The Irish star – who suffered with morning sickness for the first three months of her pregnancy – managed to continue working right up until her due date, which she felt was linked to her commitment to staying active.
She said: “I’m totally ready for it. Physically I’m feeling really good.
“I’ve been so lucky with my pregnancy. I had quite bad morning sickness and heartburn but, for the most part, I’ve been okay. I’m still able to work, but I have to nap every day. I’m so excited, I just want the birth to happen.”

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Jon’s Final Words Changed Everything on ‘Million Little Things’

'A Million Little Things' REcap
David Giuntoli and Stephanie Szostak on ABC’s ‘A Million Little Things.’ ABC/Jeff Weddell

Moving on isn’t easy – in fact, it may seem impossible for the Dixon family. Jon’s (Ron Livingston) wife, kids and best friends attempted to move forward during the Wednesday, October 3, episode of A Million Little Things. While it’s not easy, at least they have each other.

The episode picked up the day after the funeral, with everyone gathering at Delilah (Stephanie Szostak)’s house for breakfast, to make sure she wasn’t alone. However, the tension with Eddie (David Giuntoli) was still in the air, and they struggled to keep it hidden throughout the episode. It didn’t help that it was Sophie’s father-daughter recital and her dad had just died. When she needed someone to stop in, she chose Eddie.

Of course, Delilah thought it was a horrible idea, especially after she found Eddie’s necklace in Jon’s bedside table. Clearly, he had known about their affair. Eddie didn’t want to step aside because he felt he had to be there for Sophie. However, he froze just before it was time to perform, passing the baton to Rome (Romany Malco). Rome, who has continued to suffer with his own suicidal thoughts and even went back to the spot Jon took his own life, stepped in perfectly. It may have been because Jon had been coming to him for help … or he was teaching him the dance moves because he had planned the suicide.

While waiting for the dance to begin, Eddie listened to Jon’s voicemail (even though he told his friends Jon didn’t leave one). “Hey it’s Jon. I was hoping to speak to you, not just leave you a message,” his best friend said on the message. “I just need you to do me a favor: love each other.”

However, that wasn’t Jon’s only surprise. He had also left the restaurant to not just Regina (Christina Moses) but also Delilah – something his wife didn’t even know, even though he’d been talking about buying the restaurant for a year. He assistant Ashley (Christina Ochoa) played coy when delivering the news, assuming that she had known. Little did she know, Ashley had opened the folder that Jon had left to his wife, the folder she never even gave to Delilah.

Inside was a goodbye letter that included the following phrases: “There’s an envelope behind the painting; Ashley had no idea I was going to do this; ask her what she’s doing, as I don’t want you; doesn’t know what you know, she will be protected.” Ashley found Jon’s life insurance plan behind the painting, which revealed his primary beneficiaries were Eddie, Rome, Gary (James Roday) and a mystery woman named Barbara Morgan.

'A Million Little Things' REcap
Allison Miller and James Roday on ABC’s ‘A Million Little Things.’ ABC/Jeff Weddell

Elsewhere in the episode, Gary and Maggie (Allison Miller) continued to get closer while she pushed away a man from her past — maybe even a husband? — and admitted that even though she had cancer for the second time (something she’s still hiding from Gary), she’s happier than she’s ever been.

When Gary wasn’t with her, he was spending time with Jon’s son, Danny, who was questioning his sexuality and wondering if he was to blame for his dad’s suicide. In a touching moment, Gary told Danny that if his dad did know that his son was gay, he would love him even more, just like Gary did.

A Million Little Things airs on ABC Mondays at 10 p.m. ET.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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