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Not only that, while he's not the only talented graphics developer out there, he is one that has consistently brought something revolutionary and new to the table.

id Tech 5 is going to introduce the entire concept of megatexturing - the grand unifying theory of geometry, just as Doom 3 was the first major engine to implement a unified lighting model. This is going to have major implications for both content production and rendering, and is exciting as fuck.

Carmack's impressiveness is not only in his ability to write kickass looking engines, but also his ability to lead the pack in completely rethinking the sort of things most devs take for granted.

Nitpick: As the name implies, megatexturing solves the problem of texture memory management and rendering, allowing essentially unlimited texture detail on any object. The problem of unlimited geometry detail is still unsolved. Carmack has hinted that id Tech 6 may tackle the geometry problem using voxels instead of polygons, and id actually demoed a voxel rendering system at SIGGRAPH 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpEpAFGplnI

Are there any good whitepapers on megatexturing out there? I've been trying to learn about it, but the powerpoints aren't cutting it.

This is the best explanation of the technique I've found (if you need enough detail to implement it): http://silverspaceship.com/src/svt/

He uses the name "Sparse Virtual Textures" instead of megatextures so it's not very googleable. Also it's a video, not a paper, but the code is included.

Didn't Quake: Enemy Territory have megatextures for the maps? Is that iD Tech 5?

It was iD Tech 4 plus MegaTexture. The feature for iD Tech 5 is being called Virtual Texture, and it supports more than just the terrain.

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