A Rather Dry Look at RAGE

Road rage, “going postal” and incidents of overt hostility have become common occurrences, and repeated fodder for the nightly news. Are we becoming accustomed to behavior that was considered unacceptable not long ago?

I was recently involved in an online discussion about behavior and rage in the workplace. The topic was inspired by a report that, on the face of it, seemed to indicate that workers perceive outbursts of anger as indicative of a strong personality, of a “winner”. The position of the moderator was that rage is appropriate under certain circumstances. He went on to describe two situations where he became involved in profane shouting matches at work. He indicated that the first exchange ended poorly for all involved, but that in the second, rage, (and “words he learned in the Navy”) was an appropriate response. He felt that he was in a “no win situation”, and interestingly enough, he lost his job over this incident. I subsequently had access to additional information about the “study”, and I discovered that the two choices presented were (1) those who exhibited outbursts of rage when stressed, or (2) those who said or did nothing at all. Of course those in category (2) were perceived as spineless losers, so by default, those in category (1) were “winners”.

The following is distilled from my posts to the discussion: I really would like to see how others feel about this issue.

I believe that overt "rage" is conceived as a character weakness, not strength. That being said, I never leave a confrontation unanswered. I stand my ground and state my position as best I can, as even mannered as possible, no matter how agitated I may be. This to me is "being professional". I know that co-workers are usually monitoring heated exchanges, and although in the fray of the battle it may not be as satisfying as a screaming tirade, I find that in the long run, I come off better than my counterpart. Invariably, time bears this out. One way or another, I find that I receive positive confirmation, and the feeling that comes when my position is proved out and the asshole gets his comeuppance (I got that S.O.B.!) is stress relieving, sublime, and better than the immediate gratification of overt rage. Something akin to "revenge is a dish best served cold".

I hold a supervisory position for a large construction company. I deal with a varied group of individuals. Some appreciate the finer points of "creative" language (“are you out of your fucking mind?”), others definitely do not (“I’m not sure that I completely agree with your position. Perhaps we could schedule a meeting to discuss our options”). What has served me well for over twenty years is to try to never loose my cool. I had no "philosophy" when I began working in my trade over 20 years ago. I started at the bottom. To me it was natural to handle challenges in a way that wouldn't get me punched out or make me look like a fool. In the workplace, everyone deserves a modicum of respect. At the end of the day I want to be able to look a company president or the laborer in the field in the eye and feel that we're on an even playing field. A lot of the rage today is the result of taking ourselves too seriously. I look around and see a lot of people creating their own crises by politicking and backstabbing. Confrontations occur when things don't go their way, usually over issues that don't have anything to do with their job to begin with. Rage, as with any other emotion, has its place. Let's save the rage for politicians and serial killers so as not to dilute it!

A member of the super-hero team the Avengers published by Marvel Comics.

Elvin Holiday is the name of the hero Rage. At 13, Elvin was exposed to toxic waste while hiding from a group of bullies. Returning to his grandmother's home, Elvin was nursed back to health. The chemicals caused Elvin to grow in strength and invulnerability, until he appeared to be a muscular man in his mid-30's. Encouraged by his grandmother to use his new found abilities for good, Elvin adopted a costume and name: Rage.

Elvin attempted to join the Avengers, but his attitude and actions caused him some difficulty initially. Eventually, he became a member in good standing, and went on several missions until it was discovered that he was a minor. His status was then changed to Avenger-in-training.

Rage eventually joined the team known as the New Warriors.

Rage is the pinnacle of the darker emotions in life. As most of us have experienced, emotions lead to other emotions. Therefore, rage can be construed as the culmination of sadness, anger, frustration, and even hate.

Rage in and of itself is dangerous. People who cannot control it will usually destroy everything around them without even a thought. When a person is in the grip of rage, it's as if he or she has devolved into something primal, something that can only react like an animal. I've personally hurt those around me because of this dark emotion.

If someone can control their rage it can be extremely useful in life. I use my rage whenever I work out at the gym. I tap that inner store of rage and immediately begin to feel the adrenaline and endorphine rush that is induced by the emotion. Soon, I'm done with my workout and far more exhausted than most others around me.

I guess that, in closing, we as people should learn to analyze our emotions and find out why we feel them. By using this method of self-analysis we can supress our emotions and learn to invoke them later on when needed. It can be a dangerous path to follow, possibly leading to the devaluation of your emotions, but it can also bring more self-control and discipline to your life if you make the effort.

Rage is a music program screened on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's television network during the early hours of the morning, usually on weekends.

Rage plays many and varied music film clips, including a countdown as well as specials and concerts from time to time. The show also has 'guest programmers' upon occasion, who choose what songs are played and often give commentary as to why they chose a song or what a song is about, if they happen to have written it.


Rage is also a measure of a werewolf's inner fury in White Wolf's World of Darkness. This internal and primal force allows werewolves to shapeshift, heal and use other powers. However those werewolves with too much rage run the risk of falling into a frenzy and losing all control.

RAGE. The newest game to come out of id, the creators of Doom and Quake. What a weird one. The main feeling being the development team must have been sitting in a bubble for the last five years. It is missing many of the features of modern shooters, and in many instances that isn't something to complain about. Similarly the engine is like nothing that has been done before or will probably be done again. Almost all the engine developments that have happened in the last few years seems to have passed them by.

Impressive as it is, the engine isn't just about the Megatexture technology - and the Megatexture technology isn't just about what gets displayed on the screen at the end of the day. RAGE took a fundamentally different approach to constructing a virtual world.

In case the Megatexture stuff went over your head, or passed you by, this is the basic idea. Every texel in the RAGE world is unique. There are no tiled textures or repeated objects. Each unique meter of texture across the whole landscape is stored somewhere in memory. This texture data is then loaded and unloaded dynamically depending on how close the viewer is to it and what they are looking at. What this means is that the artists have essentially total control of every millimetre of the environment. Something almost unheard of before. For development id employed a host of "stampers" who's job it was to place small objects and also add "stamps" to the scene - by which I mean decals, dirt, rubbish, cracks and grunge - stamped directly onto the world. RAGE's environments are by far the richest I've ever seen.

I can't say what impact this process will have on future developments. What will be adopted, and how it changes the roles of artists. The whole process is so orthogonal to what is current it is almost impossible to evaluate. What is clear though is that the world id created is amazing.

As well as the environments the character animations are some of the best we've ever seen. NPCs seem to react appropriately according to what they are saying and enemies will run, hobble and stumble in a vast number of ways depending on where they are shot. The music is fantastic and sound satisfying.

So you'd think RAGE is shaping up to be one of the most involving and atmospheric games out today. Sadly it isn't. The environments may be rich but due to the nature of Megatexture they are static. Lighting is baked into the scenes and almost no objects can be interacted with. The world is plagued with invisible walls and there are not even the basic physics objects we have come to expect so readily. It feels weird walking up to a crate and not being able to push it. Outside the skybox is a still image. Time of day and lighting cannot change. Plants don't sway in the wind and terrain is not destructible. Finally there is my pet peeve - the tireless color correction - throwing everything into sickly shades of blue or green.

Painterly is an appropriate description for RAGE - if only in describing how static it feels. It is a beautiful game but it does not feel right at all. I hate knowing that the box in the corner can never be moved, knowing that the time of day will never change, that those shadows will never drift across the ground as it reaches evening. I hate knowing that the book on the self could never be taken down, not within any context of the story, knowing that the lights will never flicker out. It feels like the whole world is made out of painted cardboard and your character is a miniature figure - the toy of some kid.

A friend told me once "Carmack is sick". I'm starting to believe him. You play an id game and there is only one God. Carmack. When I play games I don't want that competition. Half Life may be old, but at least I can pick up that can; or turn on my torch and let there be light.

Rage is the debut title from id Software's id Tech 5 game engine. It was given a cross-platform release on Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

Vitals.


Title: Rage
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software
Genre: First-person shooter, racing game
Reviewed for: Xbox 360
Release date: 2011/10/04

Overview.


The game is set in a Mad Max style post-apocalyptic wasteland; in this case a near-future Earth that has survived a direct impact by an asteroid. The protagonist is a nameless nanotech-enhanced soldier who awakens from cryogenic sleep with no apparent memory of how he got there or what he's supposed to do, the sole survivor of a half-dozen or so coldsleep coffins in a small pod/ship called an Ark. On emerging from his Ark, the protagonist is quickly recruited by settlers of the wasteland and is asked to take sides in an emerging multi-sided conflict between the settlers, various bandit tribes, feral mutants, and a high-technology totalitarian government/military organization known as the Authority.

The gameplay is divided between first-person shooter elements, third-person racing/driving elements, and various minigames available in some of the friendly settlements throughout the world. The FPS portions of the game are divided into short, linear missions; areas where these missions take place often cannot be revisited, and enemies typically do not spawn until the beginning of the mission, and never really respawn after the mission has concluded. The driving elements of the game are divided into track-based races and exploration/combat in the Wasteland.

The game has a limited economy; the FPS sections of the game include rewards in the form of cash, salable items, and crafting elements that can be used to produce secondary weapons such as "wingsticks" (tri-bladed boomerangs capable of decapitating multiple enemies with a single throw), deployable turrets, sentry robots, advanced ammunition types, grenades, and healing items. Money can be spent at shops in the settled areas of the Wasteland, to purchase ammunition, crafting elements and schematics, and occasionally new weapons or upgrades to weapons and armor. The racing elements of the game offer limited rewards for this game economy, instead mostly resulting in "certificates" which can be used to purchase assorted vehicle upgrades.

The game has little in the way of role-playing progression; upgrades to the character's maximum health exist but do not occur frequently; the numbers wouldn't get much attention anyway, because health regenerates slowly over time. Growth in the character's combat abilities is much more a function of slowly increasing access to equipment: first more and better guns, later specialized ammunition types for the already-unlocked weapons. The protagonist is able to carry every unlocked gun with him, with generous limits on ammunition and inventory space.

The game has some multiplayer elements, but does not have the fully-integrated cooperative campaign that we've seen in many of the most major 2011 shooters. There's a two-player co-op mode called Legends of the Wasteland, which is mission-oriented FPS gameplay. The second mode is a player-vs-player racing game called Road Rage.

Impressions.


First and foremost: this game is just gorgeous. id Software isn't really known for making great games, but rather for making game engines that push the graphical limits of modern computing/gaming hardware. From the very first seconds of gameplay in Rage, I was struck by how lush, stylish, and polished the game is from a visual perspective. There's an immense amount of detail, from graffiti on the walls to the way enemies interact with the environment as they fight you. Human enemies scrabble for cover, and climb up and down structures as they advance or retreat during fights. Mutants swing from overhead pipes, leap at you from high perches and railings, crawl under security gates and out of vents, etc. Security drones shoot and fight in melee combat, and it's so beautifully implemented that sometimes it's more fun to sit and watch those drones fight your enemies than it is to fight them yourself. It's really amazing how much more dynamic these enemies are than in any of the other top-of-the-pile 2011 shooters.

However, in spite of these technological advances, the gameplay feels like a throwback to an earlier era. The FPS mechanics are pretty sparse and old-school. There's no cover system, no squad tactics, no significant limits on inventory size. There are extremely limited stealth mechanics, focused on a single silenced weapon: the crossbow. The HUD has very little going on, and the level design during combat sections of the game typically offers one and only one way to progress from entrance to exit.

The racing feels like a throwback as well, strongly reminiscent of the Twisted Metal franchise, but also scratching the Rock n' Roll Racing itch for me. Death on the racetrack is entirely harmless: no game over, just an immediate respawn and a few seconds of invincibility. The same is true for your opponents. Exploration and vehicular combat in the Wasteland have a very arcade-like feel as well, including mission objectives like "destroy 5 enemy vehicles" or "drive through all the waypoints before the time limit."

Quests in the game, whether for side-quests or for main plot elements, all start in one of two ways: 1. Press a button to hear a monologue from an NPC describing what they want you to do, followed by a "yes/no" dialogue to accept or refuse the quest. 2. Press a button at a Job Board to see a text description of the job somebody wants you to do, followed by a "yes/no" dialogue to accept or refuse the quest. There are no menus to ask follow-up questions, no branching dialogue, and the protagonist doesn't speak.

The game isn't 100% linear, but it's close. There are frequent opportunities for side quests and for free-roam backtracking through previously completed areas; for the most part this doesn't feel like an "open world" so much as an excuse to re-use more of the world maps in the name of fleshing out the gameplay from less than ten hours to a little above twenty.

I really disliked this game's use of its chosen setting. Life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland should tell a story about humanity, about how we might respond to the near-total destruction of our civilization, about what we have to do--and more importantly what we will do--to survive. The Fallout franchise has done this in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek way; a rumination about the nuclear annihilation the world seemed to be running headlong toward during the height of the Cold War. Metro 2033 took a much more existentialist approach to the same basic scenario. BioShock and Portal let us explore the ruins of grand experiments, both social and technological.

Rage feels like a theme park; Walt Disney's take on life after a direct asteroid hit. First we had Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Now we have Wasteland. The friendly NPCs feel like animatronic robots: Press a button, hear the story of the next exhibit. Insert a coin, play a game of chance. Don't try to take the dead man's gun and sell it back in town--it fired real bullets, but really it was just paper-mache. All that lush environment that the enemies swing around on like a jungle gym? Good luck interacting with any of it. Most doors are locked, nothing is deformable, your character can't climb or hang or crawl or jump more than a couple of feet in the air. Your entire free-roam exploration of the wasteland takes place in canyons; even where the sides of the canyons aren't particularly steep, invisible walls prevent you from climbing or driving too far outside the intended play area. The game is constantly testing your ability to suspend disbelief; respawns during combat-heavy races, frequent use of easter eggs harkening back to other id Software and Bethesda titles, even points where a fatal car accident ragdolls your character through goalposts to a "field goal" sound. As a setting, it's a pretty good excuse to have evil dudes with mohawks and loincloths rush at you with bad intentions and improvised melee weapons. I just don't feel like there was any serious attempt to make this world something that some small part of the player could actually inhabit.

By comparison, I had essentially none of these complaints about Epic's Bulletstorm, released earlier this year. It had very similar theme park aesthetics, but where Rage took place on Earth and left me feeling like it should have said more about the people who live here, Bulletstorm took place on a bombed out resort planet in a classic space opera setting. A universe so gratuitously invented asks less of me intellectually and emotionally. It's strange, but that turned out to be a good thing; a discussion I think I should probably save for another write-up.

Conclusions.


Visionaries are a wonderful, dangerous thing in the video game world. The visionary behind id Software is John Carmack, computer graphics guru. Carmack games push the envelope in that one area; this is software development that's likely to inform the graphics requirements of future game consoles, the capabilities of future video cards, even the contents of industry standards like DirectX. A decade of interviews with people who have worked with the man all tend to agree: John Carmack is a treasure, a one-of-a-kind, a visionary. id Software as a development house exists to support his vision, and it's a powerful, worthwhile vision. Anyone with an interest in video gaming state-of-the-art should play Rage for this reason.

The problem is, it's basically the only reason to play Rage instead of something else. It's a pretty good trick, but it's still just one trick. There are better shooters, better racers, better realizations of the setting, better level design, better stories, better voice acting, better art direction, better experiences for the price. The entire studio exists to support Carmack's vision, and as a result they've under-invested in a lot of other key areas.

id Software isn't the only visionary-led development house to languish in this way. Lionhead Studios under Peter Molyneaux is notorious for producing games that are built around exciting ideas but suffer similarly deep structural problems. George Broussard drove 3D Realms into the ground trying to capture lightning for a second time with a follow-up to Duke Nukem 3D; the resulting product was released by a third party, and showed a consistent and ambitious vision that left the technical scope of the game so broad that the product was ultimately crippled by under-development and pervasive implementation problems. Team Bondi collapsed under the weight of Brendan McNamara's vision for L.A. Noire and the resulting game was simultaneously praised for its technological advances and panned for the incomplete, empty feel of the broader game. The silver lining with all of these studios and their flawed products is the same as the silver lining for Rage: breakthroughs that happened here will hopefully see widespread adoption in more mainstream titles over the years to come.

The game engine is a technological triumph and will almost certainly see future life in games built by third parties. Rage isn't the game engine, though. It's the first-party title that id Software built on top of the game engine. The game is pretty, it's even fun in an arcade-game sort of way, but nothing here is going to touch you on an emotional level, and nothing here is going to blow your mind. In the end, I suppose I think of it as a failed experiment with a promising technology. What's the point of making such a visually flawless game if you're not going to use it to immerse the viewer into a more perfectly realized story?

Rage (?), n. [F., fr. L. rabies, fr. rabere to rave; cf. Skr. rabh to seize, rabhas violence. Cf. Rabid, Rabies, Rave.]

1.

Violent excitement; eager passion; extreme vehemence of desire, emotion, or suffering, mastering the will.

"In great rage of pain."

Bacon.

He appeased the rage of hunger with some scraps of broken meat. Macaulay.

Convulsed with a rage of grief. Hawthorne.

2.

Especially, anger accompanied with raving; overmastering wrath; violent anger; fury.

torment, and loud lament, and furious rage. Milton.

3.

A violent or raging wind.

[Obs.]

Chaucer.

4.

The subject of eager desire; that which is sought after, or prosecuted, with unreasonable or excessive passion; as, to be all the rage.

Syn. -- Anger; vehemence; excitement; passion; fury. See Anger.

 

© Webster 1913.


Rage, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Raged (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Raging (?).] [OF. ragier. See Rage, n.]

1.

To be furious with anger; to be exasperated to fury; to be violently agitated with passion.

"Whereat he inly raged."

Milton.

When one so great begins to rage, he a hunted Even to falling. Shak.

2.

To be violent and tumultuous; to be violently driven or agitated; to act or move furiously; as, the raging sea or winds.

Why do the heathen rage ? Ps. ii. 1.

The madding wheels Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise. Milton.

3.

To ravage; to prevail without restraint, or with destruction or fatal effect; as, the plague raged in Cairo.

4.

To toy or act wantonly; to sport.

[Obs.]

Chaucer.

Syn. -- To storm; fret; chafe; fume.

 

© Webster 1913.


Rage, v. t.

To enrage.

[Obs.]

Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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