John Carmack joins Oculus VR as new CTO; not leaving id Software [Update]

John Carmack, one of the most influential figures in gaming and graphics programming, has made a surprise career decision and has joined a company that is making a VR helmet for gaming.

In a press release, Oculus VR has revealed Carmack is now the new chief technology officer of the company. Oculus VR is currently in the middle of developing the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headgear product that's being made for the PC gaming market. It started life as a Kickstarter project and Carmack even said at his QuakeCon keynote speech in 2012 that the device was a new obsession for him at the time.

In a statement, Carmack said:

Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today; probably by people reading this message. It’s certainly not there yet. There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don’t even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them. It’s going to be awesome!

Carmack will work out of a new Dallas, Texas Oculus VR office and the team is also hiring a few more people to work at that location. While development kits for the Oculus Rift have been sent to some developers, there's no word yet on when the consumer version of the product will be released.

While a press release sent out to the media labeled Carmack as "formerly from id Software" and said he is now working full time at Oculus VR, id's official Twitter account says Carmack is still with the company:

Carmack made no indication he was joining a new company when he appeared at QuakeCon 2013 to give two keynote speeches. Oculus VR is not making Carmack available for interviews. 

Update: Carmack has posted up a note on his own Twitter feed that makes it clear Oculus VR is now his number one priority in terms of work:

Armadillo refers to Armadillo Aerospace, Carmack's private space flight venture that he has funded and worked on for a number of years. Carmack recently confirmed to Ars Technica that company is slowly winding down and has let go of most of its full time employees.

Source: Oculus VR | Image via Oculus VR

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illage3 said,
Wait I'm confused I thought Carmak was the one who invented the occults rift????

Carmack took an interest in its development in the early stages but it's Palmer Luckey that built the original prototypes as a hobby project.

I got my dev kit a few weeks ago and I've been messing about in UDK and other things with it since. It's pretty rough around the edges in its current state, but really, I have no doubt at all that this is where we're headed for the future. It's crazy how much your immersion is enhanced by having the visuals taking up your whole view and being able to properly sense depth as opposed to looking at a 2D image on a monitor.

I've been a massive id fan since the Doom days but I wouldn't be sad if Carmack just left id to work at Oculus full time. VR is at the same stage now as 3D in games was back in id's glory days - at a stage of infancy and with absolutely massive room for innovation. 3D engines at this point in time are pretty mature and companies like Epic and Crytek are carrying the torch that id used to in the 90s.

I'm glad that there is some interest in VR headset technology again. It kind of came up and went away back in the 90's but the display technology really wasn't there. Now that we have some seriously high PPI display tech it seems entirely possible to make something that doesn't leave you with a headache and damaged eyes.

C'mon!.
I remember that the first time that i saw a VR-glasses was decades ago and the demo was Wolfenstein 3d (the old one). And the same happened with other glasses (Cybershades) and with IdSoftware launching a version that work with it.

CygnusOrion said,
....

Can't see that happening anytime soon.
Their R&D dept has more interesting things in the works than a hefty set of goggles to wear.

deadonthefloor said,

Can't see that happening anytime soon.
Their R&D dept has more interesting things in the works than a hefty set of goggles to wear.

So you don't think Oculus Rift is a game changer?

Sounds like id Software is all but dead. Not sure what Bethesda got in that deal of any value. They've shut down game development for everything but Doom 4 now as I understand it, which is nowhere near release and Carmack sees engine development there as secondary to Oculus so any next gen id Tech 6 engine is probably a LONG way off if there will be one at all. End of an era.

End of one era and a start of a entirely different one! I'm so glad the Oculus Rift has big names backing this. I think this will be a game changer.

warwagon said,
End of one era and a start of a entirely different one! I'm so glad the Oculus Rift has big names backing this. I think this will be a game changer.

Too soon to say, techies love this stuff but we're the tiny minority. 3D tv never got anywhere it seems, VR gaming? Who knows?

GP007 said,

Too soon to say, techies love this stuff but we're the tiny minority. 3D tv never got anywhere it seems, VR gaming? Who knows?


The Wii, Kinect and PS Move did bring VR gaming a lot closer though.
And unlike before when VR devices didn't really had top games backing it... People like Carmack joining the project will help I'm sure.
Its cause of him/ID's ideology/view why Q3 (based) games are still played by many thousands of people, compared to UT GOTY which has only a couple of dozen left last time i checked (month or 2 ago)

Athernar said,

That doesn't even make any sense.


Think harder. Completely different mechanisms, same competitive space.

JonnyLH said,

Think harder. Completely different mechanisms, same competitive space.

You try thinking harder. It's not the same competitive space for a start, and he also quite likes the Playstation Move controller and competing VR tech that Valve is working on. He's not a bias **** trying to make his company look good.

Carmack don't like Kinect because of the lag and how inaccurate it can be at tracking. Kinect 2 will improve this stuff a little but it will still exist. It don't suit the type of games ID make either.

JonnyLH said,

Think harder. Completely different mechanisms, same competitive space.

Nah, I think you're just a bit too wrapped up in the childish "us vs them" console war mindset.

There isn't anything about either device that precludes the use of the other, if you think a little harder there are probably a number of neat immersive applications. Not to mention these are targeting completely different market segments, one is a console peripheral - one is for PC gaming. (as the article points out)

i didn't think he slated it, he just said that there is lag for input which there is, he really liked the idea of kinnect just wished it was quicker, he did mention it's a bit how monitors were to how they are now,

NoClipMode said,

You try thinking harder. It's not the same competitive space for a start, and he also quite likes the Playstation Move controller and competing VR tech that Valve is working on. He's not a bias **** trying to make his company look good.

Carmack don't like Kinect because of the lag and how inaccurate it can be at tracking. Kinect 2 will improve this stuff a little but it will still exist. It don't suit the type of games ID make either.

The move doesn't have lag? Or does he just like the idea of the controller, in which case he also likes the whole Wiimote system? From the demos I've seen on Kinect 2 I'd say lag shouldn't be a real issue but we'll have to wait and see.

NoClipMode said,

Carmack don't like Kinect because of the lag and how inaccurate it can be at tracking. Kinect 2 will improve this stuff a little but it will still exist. It don't suit the type of games ID make either.

Haha, with Doom 3 there where moments that scared me momentarily cause of the surprise monsters and attacks, they could use Kinect for this, check when the player isn't paying to much attention... BWAM, surprise horde in your face

Shadowzz said,
....

The emotion/attention tracking should whip up all sorts of use cases that game developers will salivate over, knowing the device is connected to every console.

deadonthefloor said,

The emotion/attention tracking should whip up all sorts of use cases that game developers will salivate over, knowing the device is connected to every console.

Even though I'm going with PS4 (exclusive games and my game library PSN+), if I can get the money for it, will also get a One if I notice games using Kinect in such ways, to drag the player more into the game, it provides a lot of new (and fun) possibilities to the games. But I'm afraid it will mainly be used to make weird moves just as horrible as most games did/do with the Wii

The last time I checked, developers utilizing Oculus Rift have been using Kinect in tandem - and this is just the old hat Kinect. Why? Because it creates a virtual space you can interact with by movement. You can develop games that utilize controller, Kinect, and Oculus Rift in one experience. Carmack's criticism is that Kinect alone is not satisfactory for gaming, but that doesn't mean it is incapable of improving the experience of virtual reality.

REM2000 said,
i didn't think he slated it, he just said that there is lag for input which there is, he really liked the idea of kinnect just wished it was quicker, he did mention it's a bit how monitors were to how they are now,

Considering the 2nd Kinect has no input lag due to the Kinect having dedicated hardware to process the sensory data, which makes me think he's referring to the first. John Carmack hasn't created or innovated anything in years, I don't understand everyone's love for him in the present. Obviously this guy has a portfolio to be proud, but personally I feel in the current era, he's becoming stale since he hasn't released anything with critical success in a long time.

On the other hand, I can't wait to try a rift. I can totally understand his passion for it, but I feel the future doesn't lie with physical devices you wear. 3d TV shows evidence of that.

Also, I feel even though the Rift and Kinect are completely cheese and chalk with their concepts, they're set out for the same goal. A fully immersive experience. If this market took off, I can't imagine there being room for both.

Edited by JonnyLH, Aug 8 2013, 8:48am :

JonnyLH said,
....

So revolutionizing the gaming world isn't enough to get a life time worth of respect???? Really dude?
And in recent years, he still has influenced open source gaming a lot. I mean, many Open Source game projects in the last 2 decades are running on his engines.
He's one of the few big guys in the gaming world that isn't only about money, his reactions to people 'stealing' the Q3 engine and port it to Linux, even today are still legendary and an example of how game developers should respond (at least, in my opinion).
And released Doom 3 open source... I cant really remember any other 'giant' company like ID Tech do things like this.

So I absolutely don't see why he shouldn't get some respect, even if its 'today'. He deserves a lot more then any of us here.

Shadowzz said,

So revolutionizing the gaming world isn't enough to get a life time worth of respect???? Really dude?
And in recent years, he still has influenced open source gaming a lot. I mean, many Open Source game projects in the last 2 decades are running on his engines.
He's one of the few big guys in the gaming world that isn't only about money, his reactions to people 'stealing' the Q3 engine and port it to Linux, even today are still legendary and an example of how game developers should respond (at least, in my opinion).
And released Doom 3 open source... I cant really remember any other 'giant' company like ID Tech do things like this.

So I absolutely don't see why he shouldn't get some respect, even if its 'today'. He deserves a lot more then any of us here.

Do you guys just read what you want to read?

I said this guy has a portfolio to he proud of, did you just ignore that bit? Also, doom 3 was awful. His games were all I used to play as a kid.

Still doesn't mean that in the current he has any relevance. Joining oculus when the product is basically completed is not innovation.

Also, id tech 5 is awful. It does a far worse job than UE3, hence why its hardly ever been used in todays games. Also why would you even say that was his work? He wont of even touched the code.

Sorry I bad mouthed your poster boy...

JonnyLH said,

Also, id tech 5 is awful. It does a far worse job than UE3, hence why its hardly ever been used in todays games. Also why would you even say that was his work? He wont of even touched the code.

You really have a talent for making a complete fool of yourself. Do you know why id tech 5 is "hardly ever used"? Because it's not externally licensable outside of Zenimax.

Do you actually ever think before you type this rubbish?

JonnyLH said,

Sorry I bad mouthed your poster boy...

Oh that's rich. The only reason you posted in the first place is because he hurt your delicate Microsoft fanboy heart with valid critique of Kinect. Grow up.

JonnyLH said,

Also, doom 3 was awful. His games were all I used to play as a kid.

I surely enjoyed Doom 3, played Doom I and II very much and enjoyed them all. Q4 was still quite entertaining, although ET:QW was bit of a let down, still nice graphics for its day though with the little resources it used. UE might be nicer overall, but its also quite a bit heavier on the resource usage.
There was no story to doom 3 if you were looking for any, good old fashion stage based bad ass monster shooting where your only true objective is to stay alive and kill as many as you can. Just like the old ones. Don't see how it failed on that.