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

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.

  • Cons29
    this + that of thalmic labs, can't wait
  • ferooxidan
    plus project yggdrasil that is on UDK blog, entering the game using lots of sensor in ur body to become one with it
  • cats_Paw
    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.
  • mapesdhs
    "... 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.


  • IndignantSkeptic
    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!
  • cypeq
    if there is someone who can make this tech work on low latency, and provide tools for low level engine integration it's him.
  • ddpruitt
    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?
  • bustapr
    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.
  • stratplaya
    Not much faith in Carmack lately. He predicted smart phones would be a great platform for FPS gaming, and they suck.
  • NightLight
    for me, ID died with doom III, and was burried after rage. I like Carmack, but he is becoming obsolete.