QuakeCon 2011: John Carmack speaks

QuakeCon 2011 is in full effect in Dallas, Texas this week and the event began in style with id Software’s master programmer John Carmack delivering his annual QuakeCon keynote address. You can always count on some things when Carmack speaks at QuakeCon. One is that he will seem to talk without taking a breath for 90 minutes at a time. Another is that when he talks about game and graphics engine programming, most of what he says will go way over the heads of most of the audience. Finally you can always count on Carmack to come up with more than a few nuggets of news and opinions on programming and other aspects of the game and the graphics industry. In this case his QuakeCon 2011 address was par for the course.

Here is just some of what Carmack talked about during the keynote … the stuff that we could understand, in any case

  • Carmack seems to be very proud about Rage, id’s long awaited next first person shooter game and the first original game from the developer since Quake back in 1996. Rage comes out on October 4 after six years of development and seven years since id’s last game, Doom III. Carmack admitted that id was perhaps too ambitious with their plans for Rage which is one of the reasons why it took so long to complete.
  • If you thought that Carmack might reveal something about the next Doom game at QuakeCon this year, think again. When asked about the game in the keynote’s Q&A by an audience Carmack would only say that the Rage team will be working with the Doom game team after Rage is completed. However Carmack said that the team would like to do a sequel to Rage.
  • Carmack promised that the source code for the Doom 3 engine, otherwise known as id Tech 4 (Rage’s engine is id Tech 5) will be released to the public for free sometime soon after Rage ships. Carmack admitted that releasing the Doom 3 source code is tricky since the recently released Brink and the upcoming Prey 2 still use the Doom 3 engine as its basis, although both games use highly modified versions of the engine for their purposes.
  • Carmack is one person who will admit when things don’t quite work. In describing the graphics for Rage, he admitted that if a player turns around quickly some objects in his viewpoint will appear blurry for a split second before snapping back into focus. Carmack said that’s just due to the limits of the game’s  engine tech.
  • The PC may have 10 times the hardware performance of consoles but there are still limitations to working on the PC, according to Carmack. It was a bit of a struggle to get the game running at 60 frames a second on the PC.
  • Carmack said that they have run Rage on an Intel-based integrated graphics chip. He feels that integrated graphics on the PC are getting better and that has graphics chip makers like Nvidia a bit worried. Carmack said that having good integrated graphics on the PC will make them more like game consoles.
  • Don’t expect much in the way of PC specific features for Rage, according to Carmack. However he mentioned the possibility that Rage might get a higher texture pack for download later.
  • Carmack hasn’t worked on any mobile game projects since that Rage HD iPhone-iPad game was released several months ago. Carmack admitted that he took too much time to develop that game and that he had originally promised publisher and owner Bethesda Softworks that he would only spend 10 percent of his time on mobile games development.
  • Id Software now has 200 employees which is a ton more than what id had even a few years ago. Carmack admitted that he’s not that sentimental about the “good old days”. He feels that today is the good old days as he feels that Rage is the best game id has ever produced.
  • During the Q&A session Carmack said that while Rage doesn’t have dedicated server support id’s future games will have dedicated servers. Good to know that the next Doom game will have that kind of support.

Carmack will return to QuakeCon on Friday to participate in a panel with others from id to talk about the 20th anniversary of the game developer. Hopefully we will learn more about id and maybe a little more about the next Doom game as well.

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