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id Software's Loss Was Oculus VR's Gain: Why Carmack Left

By - Source: USA Today | B 18 comments
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John Carmack talks about Oculus Rift, leaving id Software.

The Oculus Rift is going to change the world. How do we know? You can smell it in the air; you can feel it in your bones. We felt the same thing when we first saw Wolfenstein, when we first saw Quake running on a GPU, when mobile phones suddenly became game machines with multiple cores. That feeling has returned thanks to Oculus VR.

Id Software co-founder John Carmack must have felt the same thing when he first checked out Palmer Luckey's Rift prototype. Now he's the Chief Technical Officer of Oculus VR as of August 2013, working out of his Dallas office while the main team resides in Irvine, California.

Between August and November 2013, Carmack, 43, tried to do both jobs. He told USA Today that he wanted Oculus VR and ZeniMax Media (id Software's parent company) to agree to adding support for Oculus Rift in games that he worked on.

Had the deal been signed and sealed, Wolfenstein: The New Order would have been part of Oculus' tech demonstration during CES 2014. Doom 4 would have been part of the agreement as well.

Even more, had the deal gone through, Carmack could have stayed with id Software and continued to work both jobs. "I would have been content probably staying there working with the people and technology that I know and the work we were doing," he told USA Today.

"But they couldn't come together on that which made me really sad. It was just unfortunate," Carmack said. "When it became clear that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id Software, I decided to not renew my contract."

He left id Software in November 2013.

While there's a lot of attention on the way Oculus Rift will change gaming, eventually the HMD will change the way many people live their lives, their jobs. The Oculus Rift could be used in word processing, email writing, and according to USA Today, possibly providing Minority Report-like functions.

"It could become something that is potentially usable by almost anybody that carries a mobile device," Carmack told the paper.

Palmer Luckey, Co-founder of Oculus VR and the inventor of the Oculus Rift, said that Carmack's early experiments with the Rift put Oculus on the map and helped create a huge amount of momentum around virtual reality.

Check out our time with Oculus Rift at CES 2014 here.

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  • 1 Hide
    Cons29 , February 5, 2014 9:46 PM
    this + that of thalmic labs, can't wait
  • 1 Hide
    ferooxidan , February 5, 2014 11:36 PM
    plus project yggdrasil that is on UDK blog, entering the game using lots of sensor in ur body to become one with it
  • 3 Hide
    cats_Paw , February 6, 2014 12:48 AM
    Interesting...Is Occouls really that good, or is ID doing so poorly?I hope they relese the VR This year thou, Im starting to get impacient :D .
  • -2 Hide
    mapesdhs , February 6, 2014 12:51 AM
    "... when mobile phones suddenly became game machines ..."

    Er, no. I don't think so.


    "... used in word processing, email writing, ..."

    :D  Oh dear, here we go again, VR being overhyped once more. It's
    found a profitable niche in industrial use where it can make a real
    and useful difference, but bringing VR to the consumer market
    presents a whole host of problems, especially medical issues.
    Nintendo has danced around this area several times but always
    backed away on health grounds.

    Even with motion tracking, VR is no panacea of UI design. There's
    obviously scope for its use in gaming, but we've been down this
    road before. Even if the device provides a high quality display with
    precision tracking, end pricing then becomes key, and I can't see
    it being affordable enough to really open up the market, not yet.
    But even if it does come to market and doesn't cost a fortune, VR
    is not going to become the new way to do word processing or
    email, that's just daft. I can only surmise those who say this sort
    of thing have never actually used a motion tracked VR setup.

    Ian.

  • 3 Hide
    IndignantSkeptic , February 6, 2014 1:10 AM
    Why the hell would his game company not want to have VR in their games!? That makes no sense! Are they complete idiots or something!? Anyway, John Carmack basically is id Software. He should kick their asses for not wanting VR. He can do what he wants. That is his company. I don't care what anyone else says about that!
  • 3 Hide
    cypeq , February 6, 2014 4:01 AM
    if there is someone who can make this tech work on low latency, and provide tools for low level engine integration it's him.
  • 3 Hide
    ddpruitt , February 6, 2014 4:50 AM
    Smart move Zenimax, you had one of the geniuses of game development working for you and launch titles for a new system that's been well received. Now you have what exactly? Just because you don't want to add full VR support to game engines that partially support it anyway?
  • 2 Hide
    bustapr , February 6, 2014 5:55 AM
    you know that zenimax was difinitely not thinking when they said no to this. Whatever they invested in VR integration for their games, they saved on marketing. Oculus has shown in the last year that they get alot of attention everywhere they go. the games or demos they show off get ALOT of exposure. they are a marketing machine in their own right. If they had accepted, they would still also have Carmack who is the genius behind some of their best games and tech theyve ever had. anyway, I cant say Im not glad he left id. id may be one of the more solid devs, but they were barely getting anyhting done. and that "its done when its done" mentality has hurt them more than its helped. the gaming community is much better off with Carmack actively working on the next evolution in gaming.
  • 0 Hide
    stratplaya , February 6, 2014 5:56 AM
    Not much faith in Carmack lately. He predicted smart phones would be a great platform for FPS gaming, and they suck.
  • 0 Hide
    NightLight , February 6, 2014 6:25 AM
    for me, ID died with doom III, and was burried after rage. I like Carmack, but he is becoming obsolete.
  • 0 Hide
    tinmann , February 6, 2014 6:55 AM
    The problem with Id is their game engine, it doesn't need an overhaul, they need to create an entirely new engine. The Id Tech 4 engine was showing it's weaknesses in doom 3 and the Id Tech 5 engine used for Rage was a hot mess. They've been left behind by the like of the Unreal engine 3 and now UE4 and CryENGINE 3. They are not on the same level as these.
  • -3 Hide
    XGrabMyY , February 6, 2014 9:12 AM
    Quote:
    for me, ID died with doom III, and was burried after rage. I like Carmack, but he is becoming obsolete.
    John Carmack doesn't make games you braindead meatpuppet. He is a software engineer and even a hardware engineer as of late. He is a self taught genius and the one singular entity that brought gaming into the modern age with the modern game engine, 3D and modern GUI/HUDs. If you were to remove any other person from the history of modern videogames it wouldn't change much, but if he were to be removed then I think we'd still be piddling around in 2D with the occasionally rare 3D game practiced entirely on a 2D plane like sports games.He writes engines, and his code is used in EVERY. SINGLE. 3D. GAME. ENGINE. ON. THE. PLANET. There is zero exceptions to this. Many companies built their entire existence around his open source code (SEE: Valve, Infinity Ward, etc). Don't speak ill of our one true god.
  • 0 Hide
    rokit , February 6, 2014 9:55 AM
    I'd prefer him to finish his goal before all this helmet crap began. Voxel game engine. Not so easy as few screens + optics and sensors but in the end much more valuable. Such a shame =(
  • 0 Hide
    DrBackwater , February 6, 2014 9:58 AM
    Smart man, id please, oh wait im carmack.
  • -1 Hide
    NightLight , February 6, 2014 10:04 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    for me, ID died with doom III, and was burried after rage. I like Carmack, but he is becoming obsolete.
    John Carmack doesn't make games you braindead meatpuppet. He is a software engineer and even a hardware engineer as of late. He is a self taught genius and the one singular entity that brought gaming into the modern age with the modern game engine, 3D and modern GUI/HUDs. If you were to remove any other person from the history of modern videogames it wouldn't change much, but if he were to be removed then I think we'd still be piddling around in 2D with the occasionally rare 3D game practiced entirely on a 2D plane like sports games.He writes engines, and his code is used in EVERY. SINGLE. 3D. GAME. ENGINE. ON. THE. PLANET. There is zero exceptions to this. Many companies built their entire existence around his open source code (SEE: Valve, Infinity Ward, etc). Don't speak ill of our one true god.
    I never said he made games, note the . after the word Rage. It's true he added to the 3d games, but to say his code is in every game is just so wrong. But who am i to argue with a brownnose n00b.
  • 4 Hide
    mapesdhs , February 6, 2014 10:15 AM

    Lauding up Carmack at id Software in this way is a bit of a misnomer IMO. The other people there
    were just as important to the creation of the earlier games, eg. a lot of the coding of Doom was
    done by Dave Taylor. Then there's John Romero, American McGee, Shawn Green, Jay Wilbur, etc.
    Each performing vital functions in the formation of id's games. I can't really square the over-the-top
    Carmack-worship we see today with the *combined* effort of all the company's staff I saw on
    display when I visited them in 1995. Carmack didn't create Doom, Quake, etc. on his own; they all
    did, and from what I saw in 1995, Dave Taylor may have been just as important wrt the coding of
    the original Doom (maybe more, who can say?). See:

    http://www.gamers.org/dhs/usavisit/dallas.html

    Ironically, Carmack isn't the most sociable of people (or at least he wasn't back then) - he was the
    one person I didn't get to meet. So who knows, the nature of personal relationships between
    Carmack and those at ZeniMax (maybe the current staff at id aswell) might have been another factor
    in his decision to leave id, but I doubt anyone at either company would talk about that sort of thing.

    Was Carmack critical to the creation of Doom, etc.? You betcha! Could they have ever come out
    without all the combined effort of many other people aswell? No. These games were complicated
    to develop; it took a team effort to get the work done, not just one man.

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    coolitic , February 6, 2014 1:41 PM
    Rift might be useful for some, but it wont cause much of an impact at all. 1 big reason why is that it is too "invasive" to wear. There are of course other reasons.
  • 0 Hide
    bluekoala , February 9, 2014 11:11 PM
    Quote:
    Rift might be useful for some, but it wont cause much of an impact at all. 1 big reason why is that it is too "invasive" to wear. There are of course other reasons.
    I think you're wrong about its success. It may be invasive but if you tried it I bet you'd take it over having 3 monitors of your choice.