John Carmack's QuakeCon 2012 Keynote

Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: iD

3+ Hours of discussion later...

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The beginning of QuakeCon is always started by several hours of John Carmack talking about very technical things.  This two hour keynote typically runs into the three to four hour range, and it was no different this time.  John certainly has the gift of gab when it comes to his projects, but unlike others his gab is chock full of useful information, often quite beyond the understanding of those in the audience.


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The first topic of discussion was that of last year’s Rage launch.  John was quite apologetic about how it went, especially in terms of PC support.  For a good portion of users out there, it simply would not work due to driver issues on the AMD side.  The amount of lessons they learned from Rage were tremendous.  iD simply cannot afford to release two games in one decade.  Rage took some six plus years of development.  Consider that Doom 3 was released in 2004, and we did not see Rage until Fall 2011.  The technology in Rage is a big step up due to the use of iD Tech 5, and the art assets of the title are very impressive.

iD also made some big mistakes in how they have marketed the title.  Many people were assuming that it would be a title more in line with Bethesda’s Fallout 3 with a lot of RPG type missions and storyline.  Instead of a 80 hour title that one would expect, it was a 10+ hour action title.  So marketing needs to create a better representation of what the game entails.  They also need to stay a bit more focused on what they will be delivering, and be able to do so in a timely manner.

Read the rest of John's Keynote by clicking here.

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There is no announcement on Doom 4 so far, but he did mention that they are working on it.  It will have demons and shotguns involved, but there is no announcement or any kind of details on what it will contain.  No screenshots, no tech discussion, etc.

iD will be releasing a new title this year though.  Doom 3 BFG Edition will be a revamped Doom 3 with some iD Tech 5 thrown in, extra storyline and missions, and some basic fixes in lighting that should make it a better overall title for those who were unhappy with the “overdark” environment that was famous in Doom 3.  The game is totally retuned, and can be run up to 120 Hz on high end PC systems.  It is also available for PS3 and XBox 360 (something that was not really possible with the iD Tech 4 driven Doom 3).

John was somewhat disappointed that they have suspended all mobile development.  This has been a favorite pastime for John, and the challenges on the platforms they were developing for were pretty impressive.  Needless to say, John seemed to have a lot of fun, but it is not a moneymaker.  While there have been some definite successes in the mobile space, iD did not have a blockbuster that pushed them to keep addressing this market.  It is not to say that iD will not return to it one day, but as a small developer they feel they do not have the manpower to adequately address the mobile space.  Instead, they are focusing their workforce on the larger, blockbuster type releases on consoles and PCs.

Mac development is getting a boost at iD.  John feels that it is becoming a much more important, and untapped space.  Several factors have pushed iD in this direction.  First off the hardware is now good enough overall for gaming.  The latest Intel processors have a graphics portion that is entirely able to run games at decent resolutions and quality settings.  We also have development houses like Valve actively producing titles for Mac and having robust Steam support for the platform.  While there are no announcements about titles being ported to Mac so far, it will be coming.

Linux development is another story altogether.  Even though Valve is now actively pursuing the Linux market, iD has been there before, and just has not seen positive results.  Remember how many past titles from iD actually ran on Linux, and for how long these were supported?  John says that Linux development simply does not pay the bills.  It creates goodwill among the Linux crowd, but that is about it.

Cloud gaming will eventually be important.  He likes what Gaikai and Onlive are doing, but he still thinks that there are still some major barriers to large scale adoption.  While these companies are addressing the latency issues, there are still several areas of latency that they have no control over.  These areas of latency issues are controlled by the people making the televisions.  While Gaikai can get latency down to the 20 to 30 ms range, some of these TV manufacturers introduce upwards of 70 ms of latency from the receiver to the screen.  He does feel that eventually this will be a big mover in the industry.

One area he wants to focus more on is the use of 120 Hz devices.  Usage will be either 60 Hz per eye for stereoscopic use, or 120 Hz for a single screen to improve the overall gaming experience.  This is an area that I can really get behind, as the jump in response and smoothness in gaming is very visceral in most first person shooter titles.


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The final topic was that of John’s VR glasses experiments that he has been doing, as well as the work he is doing with the company Oculus.  This is obviously a  passion for John, as he talked a lot about it.  He detailed out the issues with current head mounted displays, what he has done to mitigate them, and the final cludged together product that he was able to produce essentially on his own.  He was quite excited to get in touch with the people at Oculus, as they have a nearly shipping product that takes HMD VR to the next level.  Topics involved per eye resolution, optics, latency, absolute head position, and software support.  This took up the major portion of his talk.  It is an area that he obviously is very excited about and hopes to expand upon soon.

VR and display technologies should be something that AMD and NVIDIA will be very interested in.  This is an area where these companies can help to improve upon, so there is a real reason why to buy multiple GPU solutions (or at least top end single GPU products).  With integrated graphics being decent enough for most users, this provides an impetus to upgrade graphics power in a good portion of machines.

After 3+ hours John finally wound things down.  The next year should be just as interesting for iD and John, so we look forward to seeing what is presented next year.

August 3, 2012 | 02:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I could listen to him talk all day...

August 3, 2012 | 02:53 PM - Posted by Nilbog


I almost forgot about DOOM 4!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH WHERE CAN I PRE-ORDER THIS SECOND?????

August 3, 2012 | 04:50 PM - Posted by Wu Li (not verified)

Yeah, I wish someone would upload his keynote to Youtube already.

August 3, 2012 | 10:53 PM - Posted by Coupe

Yes please! Share the keynote with all of us!!!

August 4, 2012 | 04:00 AM - Posted by JSL

A decent donation ($335) to Oculus will get you their sdk (for developers), one of the prototypes (the headset, already assembled), a tshirt, and a copy of Doom 3 BFG edition (which works fully with the headset), and a poster.

Their donation page on kickstarter has already surpassed $1 million within the first couple days when all they were looking for was raising only $250k... there's 27 days left (at the time this was written). There's a lot of well known people in the industry backing Oculus and this project as well, John Carmack being one, Gabe Newell being another.

Suffice to say, it is an understatement just how much this will be a game changer in the future.

August 4, 2012 | 04:47 AM - Posted by Nilbog

Look what I found!

August 4, 2012 | 07:29 PM - Posted by yammerpickle2 (not verified)

I've signed up for the $335 Oculus kit. With John Carmack and Gabe Newell backing it as well this will be the next step in gaming that I've been waiting for and I want to support this effort.

August 5, 2012 | 11:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If that fucker had not spent all the R&D money on rockets perhaps rage would have worked....

August 5, 2012 | 05:57 PM - Posted by Thisguy (not verified)

Mr. Carmack, with single quote you destroyed all hope Linux community had in you. You released code, we ported it - everywhere. Many free game titles base on your engine. We have bought your games. We are NOT preinstalled on 95% PC, although our OS is way more powerful and promising than Windows. But what have you done to improve our marketshare, if you expect us to "pay your bills"? Should a 5% community pay your bills? Because you just port existing titles much later, if at all, where do you expect the marketshare to grow? We are striking to survive.

That said, I, personally, have been deeply disappointed by what you said - but I thank you for saying it open. In fact, now I can correctly perceive you - not as someone who had supported and recognised linux, but as someone who seeked profits and did some opensourcing, who USED it for own goal.

Its obvious, that you are just a programmer, not a hacker.


August 5, 2012 | 07:06 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

That's pretty harsh.  I think you are taking what he some of what he said really wrong.  John obviously has a passion for open source.  How much source code has he just given away of previous products?  How much support have they given the Linux community in the past?

John also has a passion for mobile gaming and that kind of programming, but iD stopped mobile development for business reasons.  The same is for Linux development.  The company has bills to pay.  The company employs people, who write the code, who release the products, and eventually turn their work into open source.  John isn't any less of a hacker when the business as a whole decides that the manpower can be better used elsewhere.

August 6, 2012 | 10:29 AM - Posted by mouac (not verified)

John is a great guy, but the Linux effort needs cooperation. Now is the time, that another big developer like Valve is taking the plunge. These developers have roots together ... revisit Half-Life. To John... lend Valve your support, because they utilize your tech even beyond stock capabilities. Please help them with your Linux expertise. I cannot wait to purchase and experience AAA or high-quality games on my favorite platform. Thank you.

August 6, 2012 | 11:36 AM - Posted by castlefox (not verified)

If ID puts their games on the linux Valve store I will buy them up.

I really hope RAGE gets put on the linux Valve store in a year.

September 3, 2012 | 06:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

rage - its not multiplayer's game ///fuk////