Former id Software Head Tim Willits Joins World War Z Dev Saber Interactive

Former id Software studio director Tim Willits revealed he’s heading to Saber Interactive, developers behind World War Z and NBA Playgrounds. Willits announced that he was leaving id Software in a tweet last month, but didn’t share where he was going at the time. Today, the veteran game designer announced that he has been working as Saber’s Chief Creative Officer on August 1.

Willits spent 24 years at id Software and told Fortune that his relationship with the studio was “almost like a marriage,” during the interview where he spoke about Saber Interactive. When Willits joined id Software, it was an independent studio. While it had already released three-hit games (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, and Doom), it had not been the juggernaut it is today. The year after Willits joined the development team, it released Quake, and with it the monumentally powerful Quake engine, which served as the basis of engines that would be used for decades to come.

Since then, though, id Software has grown significantly, and in 2009, ZeniMax Media purchased it, which also owns Bethesda Softworks. Despite having more than 500 employees around the world, Saber Interactive remains an independent studio. While Willits didn’t say he left id Software to return to an independent studio, he told Fortune he was looking forward to working with a smaller, more agile team.

Willits’ experience working for the developer who redefined the first-person shooter genre will undoubtedly come in handy for action games like World War Z. But he said he’s also excited to work on games unlike those he’s familiar with moving forward.

For instance, he has yet to work on a sports game before. Willits said he played NBA Playgrounds with his 15-year-old son and asked him to explain what appealed to him about it. Even in games far removed from his experience, Willits said his years of working on games where “every microsecond” is tuned to perfection will help him no matter what genre he’s working in. 

Ultimately, Willits said that his decision to leave the renowned studio that he’d headed for 24 years came down to wanting to work on “fun stuff,” saying:

“I don’t have anything to prove. I’ve been successful. I’ve made good games. … At the end of the day, I’m literally going to travel around the world to cool as places to work with awesome teams and make video games. Why would I pass this up?”
 

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