I can see my copy of Michael Abrash's Graphics Programming Black Book Special Edition sitting here, which was such a treat to read when it came out, because it has so many great chapters on the development of Quake and little stories about John's discoveries and thought processes throughout the development of the game.
But, then I thought... wait... this is a new beginning. I wrote about this previously, but, look for gaming to start heading in the direction of VR with technology like Oculus Rift. Also, with someone of the caliber of John Carmack involved (now totally focused on it because of the resignation announcement) with not only his passion and skill, but his ability to work with graphics hardware manufacturers and driver developers to effect change and garner the necessary support and backing, expect to see vibrant, compelling developments in this field.
In case you missed it, check this video out of John discussing some of his VR work. It is from E3 2012:
That momentary sinking feeling has faded away now... great things are ahead!
I would argue that the fact that you can drop in any one of a half dozen solid engines based on your programming language of choice speaks to the fact that they are commodities. At this point, for the vast majority of cases, it makes as much sense to write a 3d game engine as it does to write your own web server.
You can do it, but you could spend the time doing something that directly relates to the product you want to sell instead.
There are only a handful of major players that are making meaningful contributions to the world of 3d engines. If companies like Epic, Id, Valve, and Crytek didn't continue to develop new 3d engines, they wouldn't be a commodity anymore.
Also, the Source, Unreal, Cry, and Id Tech 5 engines are still differentiated from one another enough to warrant all four of them existing.
In short, I don't think 3d engines are a "solved" problem. Of course an indie studio looking to publish its first 3d game should obviously use a readily available engine, but the major studios still have good reasons to roll their own.
Compare to Dead Space, where the things that came through walls did so at reasonable points - ventilation ducts or similar. You'd be on your guard around those spots, but a solid wall was never something with a 'gotcha!' compartment. Being wary was useful in that game.
Doom 3 could have had the sexiest engine in history, but it wouldn't have changed the poor gameplay design.
Most of this had to do with the excellent sound design though, and this scary effect kinda ended when you got the bigger weapons in the game.
That was some 9 years ago, already...
I'm extremely relieved that he's gone onto new things. As much as I loved and grew up on Quake, the company is still rehashing their greatest hits with little to no inventiveness or creativity.
I'd much rather see Carmack's talent applied to Oculus which I am incredibly excited about, rather than another extremely anodyne shooter. Gaming's moved on.
I'm buying one just because of this video.
If there's a man you want as CTO, it's Carmack. One of the all time great programmers working full-time on VR is the best possible outcome.
Is Vinny using a wrench... on a hammer?
I loved Id back in the day. When all it took for a game studio to be great was the most advanced code, Id was king! Then FPS games became more like movies, and Id became a bit like Michael Bay. They still pushed the technology forward, but almost everyone was making FPS's that had better plots, characters, etc.. The technologies Id licenses to other game studios are put to better use by them than in Id's own hands!
VR has been around for decades, but it has always sucked. Low resolution displays and poor head-tracking have historically been problems, but latency has long been a problem that trumped all others. Carmack and Oculus were already working on getting Rift's latency down to levels that would make VR a less nauseating experience for users.
This move just means Carmack is finding his work at Oculus more rewarding than at Id. That means we can probably expect great things from Oculus in the near future.
I really wish him the best of luck, truly one of my favorite people in tech. I hope we still can get his annual keynotes, because they are great to listen to.
Actually according to the book Masters of Doom he's been that since the beginning of iD and not just these days.
It also gives the perception that he's always been more about pushing gaming technology (or just general technology) rather than being in it for the gaming itself.
Everyone knew this, so it's weird it had to end in this drastic manner.
On one hand, it's exciting to see John working on VR tech. I really do hope we see something amazing out of it. But it still feels wrong, an id Software without Carmack. Hopefully they can continue on and reclaim some of their former glory as well, and let's hope Carmack keeps in the spotlight.
Time to stop being lazy, learn foobar2000 and buy an Oculus Rift.
Too bad IdTech6 won't be as awesome as it could be, but again VR will be so much better instead.
Like reading iWoz... a lot of stories of brilliant engineering at an elite level.
And I can recommend the audio version, Wil Wheaton does a great job.
"John Carmack, who has become interested in focusing on things other than game development at id, has resigned from the studio,""
It does sound kind of testy/flippant to me. But it could be out of context.
I wanted to remain a technical adviser for Id, but it just didn't work out. Probably for the best, as the divided focus was challenging.
If they don't want me to talk on stage at Quakecon next year, we'll just have to fill up the lobby like the old days. :-)
It doesn't read like a statement that has been carefully crafted by a team of copywriters, PR flaks and corporate lawyers.
It comes across as very succinct and matter-of-fact to me. His focus is elsewhere, so it's not a great fit for him to work there anymore, even if he is the founder.
The only thing id has had going for it are Carmack's engines. In recent years his stuff has been as amazing as ever, but so many commercial engines are only a fraction of a step behind, and the difference hardly matters.
Design-wise id is a complete mess. They're stuck back in the 1990s. RAGE appears to have had no leadership and no vision, and the actual design work that shipped is amateur-hour at best.
I really hope that he will be able to push the limits of possible about graphics technology once again.
Hopefully chasing this VR dream will take him back to those early pioneering days.
So he's leaving just before starting to work on the voxel/polygon id Tech 6 hybrid gaming engine. Darn it!
Hopefully id Software will continue that without him, but I doubt it.
The FOSS culture is not part of the gaming industry.
I'm not into VR, but this could be one of those "this changes everything" moments.
(And for anyone who pronounces it "eye dee" instead of the correct "idd", you're doubly wrong!)
(I used to have a PowerVR PCX2. Its OpenGL driver did exactly what Quake II needed - and absolutely nothing else. As I recall, they didn't even bother to get the OpenGL screen savers working. I believe the Voodoo GL drivers "worked" along similar lines.)
On the other hand, John Carmack is working full time for Oculus VR!
This is extremely good news. There's only so much one person can do to push forward 3D rendering engines, and no doubt he's done a lot in this regard. It's diminishing returns now. The engines look fantastic, and you have a choice between Unity, Unreal, Source, and the various Quake-derived ones.
There's a lot of low-hanging fruit in the VR world, plus tough problems to solve. Carmack will be at home here.
The peak is yet to come in my opinion. When the oculus consumer version comes out, people are gonna go crazy and predict that we're all going to live in the virtual world very soon. That won't pan out in the short-term, but we will slowly get there. That's when the Slope of Enlightment will hit.
Graphics get prettier, but gameplay stays the same, or even gets worse because the prettier graphics require higher budgets which require lowest-common-denominator appeal to recoup.
So it's good that he is trying something truly new now, where he has a chance to make a difference again.
this is a guy who has no business making games. And none of his games have been good for a long time (and they were always pretty bland, Quake was the peak).
Having Carmack out of id's games is a good thing. Having him geek out on technical problems without being allowed in game design decisions of any sort is also a good thing.
You'd think his having a leg in gaming and a leg in VR would create a wonderful synergy. Knowing all the in's and out of both worlds he could have insured great integration of Doom 4 with the Oculus rift - making sure iD was on the technological forefront while the Oculus would have a great demo from day 1.
(see the Leap Motion for an example of what happens when you don't have a good demo day 1)
He and the rest of iD seemed to have lost themselves once Bethesda came into the picture, but these types of things are almost a certainty after a big M/A event. Good luck to John!