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John Carmack's QuakeCon Keynote Address Informs, Tests Endurance of Attendees

John Carmack pontificates on the future of virtual reality, the viability of Ouya, a completed id iOS game, and tons of other topics.

John Carmack gave his QuakeCon keynote this year which focused on his efforts and thoughts about virtual reality.  Following the release of Rage, Carmack allowed himself to let loose, buy some VR headsets and get his engineering mind locked in on a new technology.  Carmack spoke for over three hours, wandering away and then back time after time to the virtual reality theme.  His sleuthing and coding has led to the creation of a playable VR demo of Doom 3 (which he tried to temper expectations for).  Virtual reality has been portrayed by the media to be a realistic life simulator, but Carmack assures us that there is still plenty of work to be done.  These warnings led into musings on the state of display technology, cloud gaming, Ouya, and many other topics during a three hour one-man show that most audience members couldn’t endure ‘til the end.

The Doom 3 demo is to be available to the press Friday at QuakeCon, and on Saturday to the general public.  A similar demo was shown to the press at E3, and many journalists came away impressed, even though the headset itself looked like a hobbyist’s product.  Carmack claims that although he worked to get the latency down from the original 48 milliseconds on the displays, it is still significant and noticeable.  A latency time of 20 milliseconds is what Carmack estimates to be the sweet spot  where it wouldn’t be noticeable in a VR setting. 

All of this virtual reality discussion led to other issues in display technology, including improvements in stereoscopic 3D, how 3D is helping refresh rates rise to 120 Hz, and the fact that retina display level quality is not necessary on larger screens. 

Some other highlights from Carmack’s talk include:

  • id is continuing Mac development, but there are no real Apple fans working in-house to push them to make it a higher priority.
  • Linux development is still a weak spot for them because it is a platform where “not many users are interested in paying for games.”
  • A classic Doom game is “in the can” for iOS, and they are just waiting for the right time to release it.
  • Sees a big future in cloud gaming services and always discusses it with Gabe Newell.  Cloud gaming will have to develop its own language like mobile games did years ago in order for it to become ubiquitous.
  • Doesn’t see the value proposition for developers in the Ouya console.



Julian Titus Senior Editor

08/03/2012 at 05:06 PM

It's interesting that Carmack isn't gung ho about the Ouya, considering the way Doom was distributed back in the day. And he was also a huge supporter of the mobile gaming platforms. I'm envious!

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