Carmack: Happy to be out of engine licensing business

By Debabrata Nath, Thursday, 9 June 2011 13:38 GMT

id co-founder and lead programmer John Carmack’s told Gamasutra that the studio is happy to be out of the engine licensing business, as it focuses on bringing out a stellar product in the form of RAGE.

“It’s interesting when you look at our technology licensing — it was never really a business that I wanted to be in,” he said.

“In the very early days, people would pester us, and we’d just throw out some ridiculous terms, and we were surprised when people started taking us up on it.”

Carmack than said that he didn’t want to be involved in supporting a lot of outside teams, as it restricted them from experimenting with that they had.

“I didn’t want to be in the process of supporting a lot of outside teams, because you feel beholden to not make radical changes when it’s going to pull the rug out from lots of other people,” he explained.

“When it’s your own team, you can make the sensible decision that [a big change] is going to be worth it, that it’s going to suck for a while, but we make our way through it. But you don’t want to do that to other people.”

Carmack acknowledged that Gears of War developer Epic Games is a dominant force in engine licensing in this console generation.

“Epic’s done a really good job of building up a support structure for [engine licensing]. The market was ours to keep, but we abdicated because we weren’t willing to put that effort into it.

“We didn’t want half our company to be about managing technology licensing. Epic has gone and done a great job with it.”

He continued: “If you have a team that’s up to speed and going great with Unreal technology, I don’t care at all. It’s not a personal affront to me if somebody wants to choose a different technology to build a game upon.”

Carmack said that id Tech 5 is “not magic” and while the engine is great for making certain types of games such as RAGE, it might not work with certain others like The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, which requires rendering cities with lots of surface area.

“The megatexture direction [in id Tech 5] has some big wins, but it’s also fairly restrictive on certain types of games,” he said.

“It would be a completely unacceptable engine to do Skyrim in, where you’ve got the whole world, walking across these huge areas.”

Last year, id Software announced at QuakeCon it was no longer licensing id Tech to outside parties unless it was working on Bethesda-published games.

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