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Carmack: Cloud Significant Part of Landscape

By - Source: Industry Gamers | B 40 comments

id Software's John Carmack said that convenience always wins out with consumers, and predicts that cloud gaming will be a huge part of the industry in the near future. Oh he loves Mario too.

In a recent interview with IndustryGamers, id Software's John Carmack said that cloud gaming will eventually be a significant part of the landscape. Why? Because ultimately convenience always wins out with consumers, even if it means the overall quality is taken down a few notches. Look at how much easier it is to load up FarmVille – it doesn't require installation or a hefty set of system specs, yet has seemingly breathed new life back into PC gaming.

"Consumers have shown over and over again that convenience can often more than offset some quality issues, and there will be significant convenience wins possible there over optical media or digital downloads," he said. "I think this is inevitable, but I wouldn't really want to be placing a bet on what the adoption rate is going to be."

Until then, Carmack said the immediate future should consist of another console run, big MMOs for PCs, more movement towards digital distribution, smartphones encroaching on dedicated gaming territory, and so on. "Blockbuster games will continue to increase in development cost, but gaming should continue to have a much more vibrant "low end" than, say, the movie industry," he said.

Outside his predictions, the interview actually covered numerous personal topics such as what drew him into the gaming industry, what career he would have chosen other than what he's doing now, his proudest moment so far, and even covers his personal favorite titles. But when asked to reveal something that most people in the industry don't know about him, Carmack admitted that he had a lot of fun doing metal fabrication work for Armadillo Aerospace.

"The full time staff there has grown to the point that I'm not involved much in the metal cutting anymore, but for several years I would come in from the garage or back from the shop with lots of little metal chips stuck to my clothes, to the consternation of my wife," he said. "Taking a solid block of metal and turning it into a precision machined part and a big pile of metal chips is a thrill very different than the ethereal world of software."

So what would Carmack be doing had he not taken residence in the gaming industry? He said he could find enjoyment in almost any engineering task.

"Graphics is fun, but so are any number of tasks in software engineering," he said. "Operating system work, compilers, network optimization, data mining, embedded system control, or any of hundreds of other things offer challenges and rewards. More physical based engineering tasks are slower paced than software engineering, but the same principles apply -- figure out how to do what you want with the tools you have available, and optimize towards some cost function of time, resources, and reliability."

And after programming classic titles like DOOM, Wolfenstein and Quake, what are some of his favorite titles? "The Mario games remain my personal favorites," he admitted, adding that he finally finished Super Mario 3 just last year.

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  • 5 Hide
    house70 , May 26, 2011 2:19 AM
    Yep... he needs to go back to machining. He's just not that into PC gaming anymore.
  • -9 Hide
    sceen311 , May 26, 2011 2:22 AM
    He's right, and it's part of the future decline of Desktops(or pc's if your those one idiots that said pc's were going away(pc's actually being defined as Personal Computers, will only see a rise for the foreseeable future(smartphones, tablets, and the like))).
  • -1 Hide
    killerclick , May 26, 2011 2:33 AM
    has been
  • 2 Hide
    doorspawn , May 26, 2011 2:49 AM
    If it's convenience that's selling these things, why not think of stripping the biggest inconvenience from most mainstream games - the DRM.

    I know nothing about farmville, but it can't be any harder to render the game from local data than to render it from online data. Just because offline games are typically lower spec'd doesn't mean that local games can't have those specs.

    As for games needing installation, it should be possible to run on a fake filesystem that downloads (and keeps) any file it needs so that you can start playing immediately while you slowly download all the content you need.

    Online profiles and servers, sure. But the cloud is offering nothing that can't be done better locally if devs care to do it.
  • 9 Hide
    kcorp2003 , May 26, 2011 2:51 AM
    wait FarmVille brings back new life to PC gaming? WTF! i much rather for PC gaming be dead. i'll switch to console before that even happens.
  • 1 Hide
    doorspawn , May 26, 2011 2:51 AM
    That should have been "Just because ONline games are typically lower spec'd", sorry.
  • 6 Hide
    flachet , May 26, 2011 3:02 AM
    Is he on crack? They must not be putting data caps in where he is. Cloud for business might be viable, but in the home market the cloud is dead....

    All of these game company's with online games/content and all that better start rethinking their business models or start fighting like hell against the ISP's.
  • 7 Hide
    legacy7955 , May 26, 2011 3:20 AM
    His opinion is irrelevant.

    The cloud IS dead for home use. Excessive caps prove this.

    But the marketing/consulting geniuses just keep banging their heads against the wall of reality. Only in America.
  • 8 Hide
    _Cubase_ , May 26, 2011 3:53 AM
    With the news about everything getting hacked lately (namely, Sony) do people really think that they can continue to convince users that cloud computing is all that it's cracked up to be?
  • 3 Hide
    memadmax , May 26, 2011 4:48 AM
    uh, no. Cloud computing is a no go. And this guy is an idiot if he's gonna put source code for his games on the cloud...
  • -1 Hide
    sceen311 , May 26, 2011 4:57 AM
    I think some people seem to be missing the points.

    According to AppData Farmville reached 80million players in Feb 2010. Do you know of any non-cloud based games that have reached that many people ever?
  • -1 Hide
    doorspawn , May 26, 2011 5:09 AM
    I think we need a new word to separate "real" games (RTS, FPS) with skill as a big component and persistence (what you don't lose when you log out) as a very minor one (if at all), with games focused totally on persistence to the detriment of skill (WoW, farmville).

    I hate it when people talk about games and these wastes of time get thrown in. I suggest Grames/Gwames for decent games, and Glames for the rest :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 26, 2011 6:41 AM
    farmville, really, REALLY?

    pc gaming my ass, stupid farmville.
  • 0 Hide
    tlmck , May 26, 2011 8:07 AM
    Carmack has been throwing darts for several years now hoping something will stick. This is necessary since id can't seem to come up with a decent PC game any more.
  • -1 Hide
    mactronix , May 26, 2011 8:50 AM
    Calling Farmville gaming is plain stupid. Shame on you Carmack. This is the same guy who said in a magazine article recently (about 6 months ago) that the increase in Image quality was at about the best it could be and the UI would be where the development would be. I could have told you that what with X box releasing the Kinect.
    Your loosing face Carmack stop giving interviews now you has been.
  • -1 Hide
    akymi , May 26, 2011 9:40 AM
    doorspawnI think we need a new word to separate "real" games (RTS, FPS) with skill as a big component and persistence (what you don't lose when you log out) as a very minor one (if at all), with games focused totally on persistence to the detriment of skill (WoW, farmville).


    Don't mess with things you don't understand. The very fact you even dare to compare WoW to farmwhatevercrap shows how shallow and narrow-minded you are. After five years of q3 something like two years of sc/wc3/aoe and bit over five years in WoW i can easily tell you which game is most skill-based. Oh and if you are terrible at something it doesn't mean it sucks - it means you do.

    On topic: cloud is like communism - it's a perfect system and because of that it will never work, for humans will never be perfect. It's called cloud for a reason you know...
  • -1 Hide
    rantoc , May 26, 2011 9:53 AM
    tlmckCarmack has been throwing darts for several years now hoping something will stick. This is necessary since id can't seem to come up with a decent PC game any more.


    Sadly i agree, ID had its time with Doom/Quake but the later titles i'we seen haven't been impressive, same gameplay, same narrow linear levels like the almost 15 year old quake - just prettier gfx. I really hope Rage changes that, ID used to stand for good gameplay and fun games in my book!
  • 2 Hide
    virtualban , May 26, 2011 10:56 AM
    Cloud games will only work because it's the new DRM. You don't get the game to play on your own computer not even for single player games. You need to be connected to the internet, and you can't even save/reload, for real, because your devices will be just the viewers. Games tried to enforce this addictive part into the games by limiting the saves available or having just checkpoint system. It did attract more game time than a free to save game. This is arguably a good idea. I personally think it's bad idea. But the point is, they will control the gamer's experience, and gather all data too and build a better sell model. Even for free games, they will be giving you commercials in game. And will be checking if you are paying attention by how you react in game, since they will be knowing everything. And this control is much more worth than the trouble of streaming content or pre-rendered video, or the lag with both streaming content and video. Worth for the game producers of course.
    If they get hold of the market, and organize themselves into RIAA forms, and hunt independent content makers for some fort of copyright infringement that the independent artists won't have the resources to defend even if they are in the right. But of course with all this content in the world it is very likely that something you make has already been made. Either spend eternity making sure it's something completely new, or just release it, and deal with the lawsuits.
    It's a dark future in my eyes. And those with power will not let it go. They will seek it. They got it all figured out already. The resistance as we opposing the cloud right now is futile. Unless we get organized, we will be just the herd they will guide around so we work for them and get fun at their whim.
    Don't believe me. Think for yourself. Try to put yourself in the place of those with power, and try to see what kind of person has more power, and what kind of person gets to a point when is happy with what he got and just keeps doing what pleases him. The kind of person who has already everything, but still wants more, is the kind of person who I am talking about. Place yourself in those shoes. See how DRM works, how cloud computing, cloud gaming, centralized rendering help your ideas. See how you wish people's computers were just terminals, and you could control their experience and their personal development further. With computers getting everywhere, and anonymity down the drain by all the sensors to check who is doing what, the call of greed will make it happen, because they call it development, and in a way they are right.
    I still have hope for humanity not to end like this prediction, but I know they are actively thinking how to make it happen, and we are just passively resisting, till we are lured little by little away from choice into comfort of choices being made for us. I know my dad or my fiancee would like cloud computing and cloud gaming. They are most likely to spend money too, and products will be developed for them more. And prices will increase inevitably for the rare offline computers, even if corporations don't go on lawsuit hunts. Companies trying to catch this offline computer market will find it harder and harder to be competitive, and will eventually produce sub-par products or give up completely. It's not just hardware. It's software and games too.
    I made myself sad. I will go out and play in the sun for a bit. Hope my boss does not mind I take my lunch break early.
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , May 26, 2011 11:06 AM
    flachetIs he on crack? They must not be putting data caps in where he is. Cloud for business might be viable, but in the home market the cloud is dead....All of these game company's with online games/content and all that better start rethinking their business models or start fighting like hell against the ISP's.

    not nessassarily.
    lets say i was computer illiterate, and cant or just dont back up files
    the cloud offeres a way to save those pictures, docs, and other misc thins.

    and as for privacy? if you are backing up family photos, a video of your cat excreta... most people dont care about worrying about if this gets leaked, my life is over. most people dont have a big secret to hide.

    i personally back up locally, but if i couldn't do that, id go cloud if i had to.

    _Cubase_With the news about everything getting hacked lately (namely, Sony) do people really think that they can continue to convince users that cloud computing is all that it's cracked up to be?

    see above, most people would give up some privacy (see facebook) in the face of convenience.

    as in, instead of a local backup that requires them to learn about computers or manualy back things up, they would take the risk of the cloud being hacked for the sake of keeping things backed up.

    any given year my mom takes 2-4 gigs of pictures, back them up on a cloud, or have me burn 3 coppies as she cant do that herself. she would most likely chose the cloud if i refused to help.

    the cloud also offer protection against fire, stolen goods (laptop, camera, phone stolen) and for most people, they only need 20gb and most people would never hit the data cap for cloud.

    personally, if i didn't have a box i put crap in in my bank for off site backup, i would go cloud as a viable solution.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , May 26, 2011 12:08 PM
    sceen311I think some people seem to be missing the points. According to AppData Farmville reached 80million players in Feb 2010. Do you know of any non-cloud based games that have reached that many people ever?


    its also a free game with a 500million + user base, when was the last time a console had 500 million system sales and gave you the option to download a free game.

    mactronixCalling Farmville gaming is plain stupid. Shame on you Carmack. This is the same guy who said in a magazine article recently (about 6 months ago) that the increase in Image quality was at about the best it could be and the UI would be where the development would be. I could have told you that what with X box releasing the Kinect. Your loosing face Carmack stop giving interviews now you has been.


    games are hitting a brick wall though that they cant climb over.

    throwing more hardware at it wont work for much longer, because visual quality doesn't jump the same amount as moores law. the amount of detail between resistance 1 and 2 was two fold, and if no one ever told you that, you would have never noticed.

    right now we need more passive ways to make games look better, you know, ways to increase quality that cost next to noting to implement.

    we also need tessellation to go really big. because we currently render characters in about 4 million pollies and down sample to 10-100k so can get a hq real map of them. with tessellation and 10 years, we will have a realistic top of 20mill pollies on screen, with close tings being rendered completely, and far away things to a lesser extent.

    th road is ending soon, i believe ati already released a movie quality real time video a while back, when that is possible to do in game (not to far off, if you dont count pollies) we will hit the wall and hit it hard.

    akymiDon't mess with things you don't understand. The very fact you even dare to compare WoW to farmwhatevercrap shows how shallow and narrow-minded you are. After five years of q3 something like two years of sc/wc3/aoe and bit over five years in WoW i can easily tell you which game is most skill-based. Oh and if you are terrible at something it doesn't mean it sucks - it means you do.On topic: cloud is like communism - it's a perfect system and because of that it will never work, for humans will never be perfect. It's called cloud for a reason you know...


    i have played more than you. calling wow and farmvill in the same sentance is wrong, but calling wow skill based... no no no no no... calling any current mmo skill based is another no.

    skill implies people will be better than you, and that there are levels you will never reach no matter how much you polish.

    an mmo, all current ones, are about knowing what button to hit when, which takes no real skill at all, only time. but its more than farmvill, which i never played, but believe to be like an easier version of sim farm,

    rantocSadly i agree, ID had its time with Doom/Quake but the later titles i'we seen haven't been impressive, same gameplay, same narrow linear levels like the almost 15 year old quake - just prettier gfx. I really hope Rage changes that, ID used to stand for good gameplay and fun games in my book!


    id was a game company that was made up of people who could make an engine, not people who could design a game.

    and even than, their engines are a @$%#@ to code for, making them poor engines.

    rage wont be to different form doom 3 or quake 4, but it will have more openish areas, but instead of just advancing a graphics engine, they developed an enemy ai system that kicks everything elses ass if what i read is correct. having good enemy ai can easily make poor level design a moot point.

    @virtualban
    to long to quote, in short, will never happen. first for the could to work the way you want, you need un restricted data caps.

    second they need to get rid of any competing os, because if mac is late to the cloud and every one goes there once windows goes cloud you think they would go cloud when they see everyone abandon ship?

    you think a high profile business would go cloud? and risk major leaks?

    gaming wont work, ever, on cloud because you cant get rid of lag reliably enough to make it a viable option.
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