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Why Carmack’s role at Oculus is good for the industry

Thursday, 8 August 2013 08:37 GMT By Dave Cook

id Software co-founder John Carmack has taken up a position as chief technology officer at Oculus VR and VG247′s Dave Cook think it’s news we should all be excited about.

When Oculus VR announced that John Carmack has taken up a role as the company’s new CTO – without clarifying that he was staying at id Software – there was a huge, diverse reaction to the news. For the record he’s retaining his position at id, so worry not.

I watched our comment threads, news feeds, our many Twitter lists and Facebook contacts to see what people were saying in response to the news. Some called it the end of an era, others slammed Oculus Rift and the whole VR thing as a fad and unimportant, while others simply took it as indication of id Software’s death.

Personally, it’s an important announcement for the industry as a whole. I’m not saying this to be ‘that guy’, to create an air of hype or just to spark more arguments, but the fact remains that John Carmack is a genius of our time and although id Software’s output has been shaky as of late, there’s no escaping its history.

If you give David Kushner’s wonderful history of id Software ‘Masters of Doom’ a read, you’ll get a real handle on just how smart Carmack is. The man lives and breathes code, he’s an inventor of systems and he makes the seemingly impossible, possible. He solves problems. He gets the job done.

Before Carmack, Romero and their team founded id Software they had already successfully re-created the first stage of Super Mario Bros. 3 on PC. That sounds like a small feat, but Nintendo’s level scrolling mechanic was simply unheard of in those early days of PC gaming. Regardless, Carmack figured it out and asked Nintendo to license the port. They refused, but still, it spurred the team on to work on Commander Keen, and in turn, Wolfenstein 3D. You know the rest.

He’s a man who has made a whole new engine for most of id Software’s new releases. That’s why the studio’s games take long to make. It’s not because they always hit development hell and sure, some of the studio’s games have run into issues along the way, but the fact is that Carmack himself is a technical pioneer and is capable of great things over time.


Above: innovation.

The point is that he never does things by half, and he co-founded id Software with John Romera, Tom Hall and Adrian Carmack with dreams of re-creating the holodeck virtual reality concept from Star Trek. That’s probably why he’s interested in Oculus Rift. Hell, the company has even given him his own Oculus studio in Dallas. That’s big.

Why is it big? Well, look at the innovations in console gaming today (I’m focusing on consoles as Oculus already runs on PC) and you’ll see that the term ‘innovation’ is applied to things like increased technical specs under the hood, motion control and things like DVR functions. In my mind, these aren’t innovations at all; they’re singular features that alone are impressive, but they’re not re-writing the book of game development as a whole.

Oculus on the other hand is a whole new way of playing games. It does change the rules of what’s possible. Our very own Sam Clay has played with Oculus a lot and when he described the experience to me – this idea of tilting your head to look around in a game instead of moving the right analogue stick or mouse – might sound like a gimmick, but it’s a big change with huge potential for immersion. I had trouble comprehending it and that mystery was genuinely exciting.

How much further can companies change control pads and the mouse and Keyboard combo? I can’t see them doing much more with it. It’s hit a wall. Combine that pad with Oculus VR and suddenly the whole paradigm has shifted. It’s something we should honestly be getting hyped for, but because many of us don’t like change – in many cases myself included so I’m not immune here – we’re perhaps fearful of what Oculus is proposing.

What Oculus is looking to do is a slow-burning concept – to realise true VR where the headsets of old failed. It’s not going to happen overnight purely because it’s something that demands bright minds – geniuses like Carmack – time and resources to achieve, but it is happening right under our noses. When it drops you can expect big things.

Carmack isn’t leaving id Software. He’ll still be there tinkering with code and being generally brilliant, so fans of the studio needn’t fear his absence. But with Oculus VR he has the potential to make magic happen, and unlock the many mysterious of the tech its current payroll are perhaps yet to figure out.

History shows that he’s very, very good at that, after all.

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14 Comments

  1. Diingo

    The porn industry is going to take advantage of the Oculus.

    CGI will is becoming so incredibly detailed that using digitalized women might soon become the next attraction as we’ll be able to customize them, set up the environment…. and watch them bang.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Mus42

    Curious to see what Carmack will bring to Oculus, I wonder if they will say what he is focusing on?

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Erthazus

    I don’t see Oculus as the future because The vision is very limited in Oculus Rift and you need to move a lot to experience something. Imagine playing twitch shooter on it… Not really a good idea.

    Everything else is cool though.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. skyrimer

    Well said. I see the next gen games and even though they look great, it’s a new sugar coat and not much more. Titanfall, Killzone, Ryse, they’ll mostly play the same, a few innovations here and there, but far from revolutionary.

    Oculus is a whole game changer, and it goes back to the basics of gaming. We want to be in these virtual worlds, we want to be there. Current technology can’t do much more than it does already, but Oculus can, and adding Carmack to the mix will rise the chances for this technology to develop exponentially.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. alterecho

    As long as it doesn’t require you to be always online.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. viralshag

    Oculus is something I will never get into as a gamer. Maybe I’m being premature in saying that because I haven’t experienced it but I just can’t see myself getting into it.

    Whether it be gaming at my desk or on my couch or with an Oculus, the immersion breaker will always be that I’m not actually doing any of the stuff I’m seeing. I’m just sitting on my arse making things happen.

    When you create a full on holodeck, give me call.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Ireland Michael

    People are going to be very disappointed when the Occulus bubble bursts.

    The concept was terrible in 1995, and its still terrible now.

    Blocked vision will cause headaches. There is no way around this. And the gimmick of moving your head slightly to look around will get older faster than it takes for the headaches to even set in.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. xxJPRACERxx

    Nice! I’m a big fan of VR, almost bought a VFX-1 15 years ago. In the end got some HD3 glasses. HD3-Quake was awesome! Anyway, hope this time this will be it.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Stardog

    If you want to know more about how they’re dealing with the issues with VR, check Abrash’s blog. He’s like Valve’s version of Carmack. http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/

    Carmack was probably twiddling his thumbs at id. Their engine is pretty solid and locked down at this point. This gives him something to do in the meantime.

    @7 What about the gimmick of being centered in the world, as if you’re actually there?

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Mus42

    @7 I take it that you’ve actually tried an Oculus Rift then?

    #10 2 years ago
  11. lookingglass

    Carmack is going to be working on reducing latency throughout the VR pipeline. Latency is the root cause of the motion sickness some experience using the Rift and its the single greatest obstacle to its mass market success.

    In a perfect world VR latency would be equal to the latency of human sight. Sadly it takes much, much longer.

    Expect at the very least new GPU architecture designs, direct position sensor to GPU connections, better drivers for current tech, and better predictive movement.

    People who doubt the Rift are the ones who haven’t tried it. I see people playing the PS4 and XBO looking at most interested and content.

    I see people using the Oculus Rift and they have the biggest smile they’ve ever had. Well spoken people cuss and curse at how awesome and intense it is. They take the headset off and it looks like they’ve glimpsed the soul of the universe itself.

    It’s the next big thing and not only for gaming.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    @10 Have you?

    @11 Even without latency, having your vision enclosed like that is going to cause headaches and sickness. The human eye wasn’t designed to be used like that.

    Ell ooh ell at that fact there’s even latency at all. Yup, next big state of the art thing that’s going to change the gaming landscape forever.

    After first day sales, this is going to be another flash in the pan.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. sebastien rivas

    I do interpret Carmack as visionary and gaming experiencer but is it good for Occulus, I am not sure and time will tell…

    #13 2 years ago
  14. sebastien rivas

    When should we expect for something stamped Carmack to be available on the market?

    Are we talking something like 2 years, 5 years or more?

    #14 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]

  • PS Store Easter sale discounts MGS: Ground Zeroes, Far Cry 4, more

    The Easter Sale is live on the EU PS Store, with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for less than £10, FIFA 15 Deluxe Edition for £30 and other savings. Some of the PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita discounts are valid through April 8, other through April 15. PlayStation Plus members can also take an […]

  • Bloodborne video: how to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam

    Here’s a video for Bloodborne players showing a quick way to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam. It also provides a look at things you may have missed in Central Yharnam and The Sewers, courtesy of VaatiVidya. Don’t forget, we have guides posted for the game with more updates coming soon. Bloodborne released in […]

  • Bloodborne issue prevents summons at Vicar Amelia fight

    A Bloodborne bug has prevented players calling on help to take on one of the nasty early bosses. Bloodborne bosses are significantly easier to take down in co-op. Unfortunately, at least one of them is proving difficult to find help for – and not just because not many players have obtained the Small Resonant Bell […]

  • Mass Effect 3 on sale on EU PSN, but not free

    Mass Effect 3 is discounted on the European PSN, but it’s not free. Update 2: The option to add to cart now lets you choose between the free trial or full version. The full version is on sale for £6.49 or £5.84 for PlayStation Plus members. The free trial is of course is still available, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Race to Elite winners announced, one player makes £10,000

    The winners of Elite: Dangerous’ Race To Elite competition have been announced, with one player receiving the grand prize of £10,000. Back when Elite: Dangerous launched, developer Frontier announced a competition that would award players to first reach Elite rank in trading, exploration, or combat, a prize of £1,000 each. The grand prize – £10,000 […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: How to make the most money with Special Bonuses and Elite Challenges

    You’re not hitting heists for the good of your health. Here’s how to max cash rewards. Money. GTA Online players love it. Greenbacks are the core of the entire experience, allowing you to buy the best weapons, vehicles and stupid haircuts. Heists, as promised, gives more opportunities than ever to earn serious cash, but once […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 coming tomorrow

    PlayStation 4 firmware 2.50, codenamed Yukimura, is due for release tomorrow, March 26. Firmware update 2.50 for PlayStation 4 will be launching tomorrow, March 26, Sony has announced. Codenamed Yukimura, the system update is promised to bring suspend/resume feature, trophy sync improvements, accessibility options, and much more. 2.50 has been in beta testing a while […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges and more

    Heists aren’t the only addition in GTA Online’s latest DLC – there’s a lot of content that can earn you big RP and cash payouts. GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges While heists are the talking point and big payoff after more than a year of waiting, there’s a […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: what’s the best Police sniper rifle?

    What’s the best bolt-action, Police sniper rifle for the Professional class in Battlefield Hardline? Let us help you answer that question. As you’re probably aware, Battlefield Hardline weapons are class specific and faction specific. This makes deciding on a good weapon and loadout much harder than it was in Battlefield 4. Which is where Westie […]

  • Evolve 1.3 patch nerfs Wraith, adjusts Kraken

    Evolve is receiving a new patch that aims to put an end to the Wraith’s dominance. Evolve developer Turtle Rock outlined a few of the changes coming in patch 1.3. The patch brings balance changes to the monsters – mainly the Wraith – as well as other various changes to Hunters’ tools based on player […]

  • Bloodborne: watch the opening 40 minutes

    The opening minutes of Bloodborne really do set the stage for what’s to come. They’ll also help you decide if this game is for you. Arekkz Gaming has captured the first 40 minutes of Bloodborne. Complete with the opening cutscene, and the first few obstacles you’ll face. The video is commentary free, so wear headphones […]

  • YouTube will relaunch livestreaming service with focus on eSports and gaming – report

    According to industry sources, Google is preparing to relaunch YouTube’s livestreaming service with a focus on eSports and gaming. According to anonymous sources speaking to TheDailyDot, Google is planning to bring back YouTube’s livestreaming service. The company is said to have started recruiting around 50 engineers with experience in the field, “a pretty big statement […]

  • I think I’m too old for Final Fantasy 15

    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]