Carmack talks PS3 vs. 360, id's three-game pipeline

QUAKECON 2009: Technical Guru says studio is aiming for a triple-team structure; no Doom 4 news until next year; new Rage trailer inside.

id CTO John Carmack.

GRAPEVINE, TEXAS--QuakeCon 2009 kicked off today at the Gaylord Texan hotel, where thousands of fans of id Software's various shooters gathered. After the start of registration for the convention's myriad tournaments, including a $25,000 Quake Live contest, the main keynote address began with id's top luminaries taking a ballroom stage. It would be the first time they had addressed a QuakeCon audience since id was bought by ZeniMax Media in a $105 million-plus deal in June.

Following a fusillade of techno beats, now-id-president Todd Hollenshead bounded onto the stage to talk up id's new corporate sibling, Bethesda Softworks, which is displaying Wet and Brink at QuakeCon. After mentioning that the iPhone game Doom Resurrection will be only $2.99 until Sunday, he announced that the browser-based Quake Live will be available for Macs and Linux machines starting next Tuesday.

Hollenshead then quickly deflated many attendees' hopes by saying new Doom 4 details would be revealed at next year's gathering. As a consolation prize, he introduced the new trailer for Rage, id's all-new open-world driving/action role-playing hybrid, shown below.

When the lights came up, id chief technical officer John Carmack took the stage. He began by echoing sentiments he had aired in a June interview with GameSpot. "Really, what we do on the game development side of things, that's not changing at all [post-buyout]," he told the crowd.

In fact, things will change somewhat, given the extra resources id now has at its disposal. "We will eventually be producing three [simultaneous] triple-A titles," the CTO said, up from id's current two-game workload. "The bottom floor of our building is for the Doom team, with the Rage team up top," he continued, not dropping any hints about any potential third projects. He did say, though, that three AAA games would be the most id would ever work on at the same time.

Then, the oft-awarded technical guru talked about the many ups and downs of exploring Web gaming with Quake Live, particularly bandwidth constraints. On the upside, about half of the people who have registered for the Quake Live beta remain active competitors. On the downside, it will take about 12 more months to see if Quake Live will be a success or not.

"In order for Quake Live to succeed, we're putting up a team that eats, breathes, and sleeps network gaming," he said.

Carmack went on to focus on Rage's development process. "You don't want to design by committee," he explained. "You need some kind of guiding vision to make a great game." He said developers were currently working on getting the details right, with the design team fine-tuning such things as the barrel climb of guns. Carmack is a strong believer in late-development polish, which he says is the "difference between a good game and a classic."

Then, Carmack talked about developing for consoles for the first time with Rage. He feels that the PS3 has more processing power but that the 360 is easier to program for. "I know Sony fans might get mad, but all the consoles are so much better than they once were, and are closer together now," he explained diplomatically. As a sop, he said that the 360's space constraints caused a lot of extra work having to go back and streamline textures for the platform.

The technical guru then praised Nintendo for going off the beaten path, particularly with its motion-sensing controls. "It's a shame we're not on the Wii. ... Motion-sensing technology will open incredible artistic possibilities in the future."

However, he does feel there are better motion-sensing solutions out there, calling out the Sixth Sense technology from the MIT Media Lab as an example. (See demo below.) "It is what the Wii wishes it were. I mean, it is the lightsaber," Carmack declared.

Coming back to id's signature high-end visuals, Carmack said he hasn't "really explored any kind of graphical research in the past year or so." Indeed, since the ZeniMax buyout, he said he feels compelled to produce and deliver, rather than working on fun extracurricular projects like Armadillo Aerospace. That said, his rocket company does have a Labor Day launch coming up and turned a "small profit" last year, said Carmack.

Getting more technical, the CTO believes that "the next step in technology is the virtualization of geometry, in the way megatextures have done with textures. Game art these days is built with millions of polygons, then reduced to a low-resolution map. Someday, we won't need that second step, but I guess I'm pretty conservative when it comes to conceptualizing how good new tech will make graphics look."

Speaking about Rage, Carmack believes precomputed lighting has helped its development, though performance is still sometimes a battle between engineers and artists.

"Everyone knows that future high-performance gaming is about parallelism," he explained, referring to multiple core processors like those in the PS3, 360, and higher-end PCs. "The real work is taking advantage of these parallel resources, not how polygons are drawn, but how they're economically rendered."

He called people who advocated using more processing threads "naive," since savvy programmers understand the many roadblocks. "Rendering causes latency to pile up; textures, vertical syncing...and if you want to accelerate in another thread, you have another frame."

Carmack also touted his PC gaming cred, saying, "The mouse and keyboard is still the best and most precise control scheme for first-person shooters." He also said that the continuing work of hardware manufacturers such as ATI and Nvidia means that PC graphics will continue to lead. "It'll be a whole new ball game for next-gen [consoles]," he declared.

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340 comments
urielsd
urielsd

I think the 3rd triple A game will be Quake 5, and that it will use Doom 4's engine, the same way Quake 4 used Doom 3's engine.

corkyhookahking
corkyhookahking

it doesn't matter what system you use to play games ID software's games always rock so don't trip over 360 vs ps3 vs pc

bluefox755
bluefox755

yea owning a computer does require a bit of common sense, and building one is no different than anything else you shop for, read reviews, find out what gives the most bang for the buck...if your a novice, get a barebones system with MB, processor and case, buy you ram, vid card and other addons, plug em in, and your good to go, it really is that simple...you can save alot of money this way as most pc's in stores are the total package, with everything you need and don't need...or have everything but skimp on vid card and processor, etc..

rocketdog
rocketdog

ahh the pc. yess it is nice to have a high end pc, and no you can easily save and buy upgraded parts. i remember i had an emachine and eventually changed basically everything and it was high end around the time doom 3 came out. what i did not like with pc is you are constintly pumping money into it it seemed. there is always some new graphics card that can do more, or faster ram. i got over it. the one real plus is you can pirate pc games easily. at least it used to be. saving 60 bucks on a release makes it nice. heh i know a lot of gamers dont like pirates, oo well its true

green_dominator
green_dominator

Rage is going to be amazing no matter what system it's on...... Sure the PC has the best control of all time but PS3 eith Blue Ray's storage capacity.....this is going to be the first game that exorcises that to the extreme..... then there is 360, it might not have the storage capacity but it delivers on graphics...... Since I don't have the money for a gaming rig I'll be grabbing either the 360 or PS3 version of the game....

necorid
necorid

Bring back Romero. Bring back Prince. Bring back Donna, Bring back Id

kiblespoop
kiblespoop

imjustjames, PCs don't require genius to create. All it takes is about 5 hours of research into what parts you want, and if you really don't want to assemble it, take it to a DataDoctors. High end PCs cost around 1k, will last you for about 5 years if maintained properly, and can also be.........a computer. You spend about 350 dollars on a console. take that 350 and add it to the 400 dollar computer that most average people have and you have a "lower" high end computer. Enjoy.

imjustjames
imjustjames

Why is it when I read every single comment board, there's always at least a few dozen clowns that have to start something about platform wars. Games are games no matter what platform you play it on. For those arrogant, diehard PC fans, someone of us can't spend, nor have the talent, nor have the time to buy and build the gaming PC of their dreams. The 360's hardware infrastructure is fine, not perfect, but still fine, I mean, they must be doing something right if more developers are flocking to them opposed to the PS3 right? On the other hand, Sony was smart to go with Blu-Ray because they knew it would sell systems (like how they went with DVD for the PS2), it was the main selling point for me when I finally bought one used, recently. PC's are always gonna have the upper hand on a technical standpoint because there are no limits but all PC gamers know that not everyone has the know-how to build themselves a gaming platform that they're comfortable with, nor are they comfortable with viruses (denying the existence of viruses is just plain ignorance, please quit creating excuses). Point is, every platform has their strengths and weaknesses, we could go on forever about the petty differences between each platform, so why bother? Some people would rather actually talk about games, not pass arrogant insults regarding one's financial or job status just because they can't accept that someone else might have different tastes. Crazy concept, huh?

Jmilicich
Jmilicich

It's called jobs. Work hard and save up for a PC. It's blood and sweat that goes into saving for a great PC. Not the next welfare check you get in the mail while you sit on your ass and game game game.

needfood
needfood

@ Baramos6 Yes a good PC costs some money, also I have a PS3, and I have more control on a PC. I also have to say a PC is far more useful than a console.

BigBangWiscite
BigBangWiscite

This is so easy. PS3 runs Puppy Linux kernel and Xbox 360 runs weird firmware. PS3 is no longer more expensive than Xbox 360, and it has stability updates and Xbox 360 doesn't. All true. Microsoft has got to wise up and put Linux + DX9 onto their system to equal the brilliance of PS3. My 2 cents Maybe I'm living in barn, but who games on Linux except PS3 these days! I mean complex commeircal games, not those KDE games.

grootelaar
grootelaar

this is actully very good for peapole always on the go

athenian29
athenian29

"The mouse and keyboard is still the best and most precise control scheme for first-person shooters." True that, but doesn't he say that every single year?

ja010764
ja010764

If anyone cares the sale on id games (for the iphone) has been extended until the end of MONDAY

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Carmack also touted his PC gaming cred, saying, "The mouse and keyboard is still the best and most precise control scheme for first-person shooters." Unfortunately, the vast majority of consumers wether gamers or not don't think of a PC as a gaming platform at least not to the extent of gaming consoles are viewed. PC's are superior in just about every way, EXCEPT when it comes to practicality. Most people do not hook their PC's up to their TV's, the whole concept behind consoles IS "living-room entertainment." Being able to sit side by side with a friend or family member in a room playing a game is something that PC's are NOT naturally set up for. And this concept alone is why most devs flock to the console market. However, for you "hi-tech" geeks, who want the highest quality in everything there's plenty of games that comes to the PC too. So though the PC is superior in technology, it is inferior to the average family who want to enjoy games together in their homes. The technology in consoles are just fine the way it is, while playing, wether or not the game is better than the PC version NEVER crosses their minds. And that's something even a keyboard and mouse cant outperform.

awheaten
awheaten

@PixelAddict You know why, because gamespot post these threads. When they do. This happens. Anytime you have in a post, "so and so talks PS3 vs. 360" your going to have these fanboy debates.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Why does every thread turn into a console war led by fanboys who had 3 scoops of hatred in their coffee this morning?

AlphaCommando
AlphaCommando

Yes, the PC can be built to be the superior console, but it's no use if they don't have such great exclusives as Ratchet & Clank and LittleBigPlanet.

grimm201
grimm201

To Linkman0714: There's a camera on the guy's chest that projects the information onto surfaces.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

Well put VengfulOne. I've never been into the whole mouse and keyboard type of gaming, but I won't knock someone who does play on a PC. I grew up on console gaming with a controller, so that's what I am used to and prefer, and I'm satisfied with the way games look today on consoles, meaning I could care less of the graphics got any better.

Linkman0714
Linkman0714

the MIT demo looks interesting...but where is all that info coming from??

VengfulOne
VengfulOne

Baramos6 said: "these machines can pretty much play any PC game. (with lower graphics but honestly are you PC gamers so shallow you care about that? Your not real gamers if you think that way)" So caring about better graphics makes you shallow and means you are not a real gamer? That is a very ignorant thing to say. PC gamers tend to take pride in building their own machines. We want the best graphics AND gameplay. Upgrading every few years(generally not 5-6 months as you claim) is part of the fun for most PC gamers. It is more expensive, but what we do with our money is our business. Its the nature of the beast. I also enjoy my PS3. ;)

SEEDman_X
SEEDman_X

I am so glad that id has been a strong supporter of OpenGL. I seriously hope that more company can utilize OpenGL :-)

Baramos6
Baramos6

@needfood I'm not disagreeing with you, but I've never seen a PC that can be upgraded constantly; I also seemed to notice that you don't realize that a PS3 or 360 controller has exactly 16 buttons. Which in other words means you never touched a controller in your life and wouldn't be basing that on your own impression. In order to get an extremely high-end PC that can be constantly upgraded you have to shell out more than a couple of thousand dollars. Whether you like it or not, laptop users have even less options, and their PC gamers as well, which means if you they were to buy a laptop now, they would have to buy a more expensive laptop within a few months just to play the good games. I don't know where you PC elitists get your information, but once you consider all the factors, a PC in the end costs more than a PS3. At least with a PS3 or a 360, you won't have to worry about upgrading until a new generation comes out, and these machines can pretty much play any PC game. (with lower graphics but honestly are you PC gamers so shallow you care about that? Your not real gamers if you think that way) So before you throw out in-consistent information about console gaming, look at how much you will have to upgrade in 5 or 6 months...

slainta
slainta

@ zomglolcats 1. I wrote that WoW being online is impossible to hack. Not that they hacked the sales figures. Can you read? 2. The best PCs cost thousands. Just the highest end graphics card costs what? $500?More? Add the latest CPU, 4 GB of RAM, HDD, DVD/BD drive and then tell me. Sure they run games much better. 3. With Apple you get what you pay for. The MacBook Pro was the fastest laptop to run... WINDOWS Vista! And then buying a Mac you get OSX. I had a couple of crashes in 3 years. I started Windows to run a game and after a couple of hours I had the blue screen. How much does THAT cost?

mayceV
mayceV

@hamzah1235 you are acting like the 360 is garbage and the Ps3 is God. The fact is that the xbox 360 can put Kz2 on the screen, Sometimes I wonder what would of happen if Toshiba wasn't as greedy as Microsoft and gave them the money to put HD Dvd player in the 360. As for the Infamous Comment LOL You're acting as if it was the biggest technical achievement ever, Yea it is a great game and i won't deny its AAA score. Gears hardly used 30%of the 360's power (hello! does that look like 500 million polygons on the screen? no. Marcus is about 15000 polgons and a few Mb of textures the backgrounds ar no more than 8 million Polygons and with all the enemys the polycount clock up to 10 million tops) the 360 can put 8 Gigs of texture and 500 million polygons on the screen in a second. I'm not saying that the Ps3 stinks but people that say the 360 is at its limits are crazy. So if a 360 game used a DMD or larger disc then it would be crazy good.

needfood
needfood

PC is the best platform hands down. Its common sense. They build the games on PCs and Macs, so that means it will most likely be better! The PC can be upgraded at anytime to meet demand with more advanced programs, and you have generally more control. You can do many more actions on a keyboard than a controler.

hamzah1235
hamzah1235

And i heard (though i dont think its true) that Gears of war 2 used 90% of the xbox capabilities

hamzah1235
hamzah1235

cparker2510, i know what you mean, but 360 fan boys are acting like its impossible to devolop for the PS3 when Activision even said it was easy to devolop Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare on the PS3 (a third party developer said it was easy to devolop for the PS3) and also Devs appreciate the possibilities of the hardware (not lazy Valve) so their not limited from these technical specs

OF-5
OF-5

God i hate fanboys....

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

That sixth sense thing was awesome but how is it comparable to the wii in any way? I don't see the light saber coment being appliable either.

cparker2510
cparker2510

@hamzah1235 don't get bent out of shape that people say that the power of the ps3 is under-utilized. they're not spouting fanboy-isms...it's a fact. what's weird is that you say it's a bad thing. even if it wasn't, what's the point of getting worked up? each console has its own strengths. i've been hopelessly addicted to games on each console, some MLT, some exclusive. netflix on the 360 is basically engineered happiness. i can partition the HDD of my PS3 and use it as a freakin' computer. they're both awesome. no one needs to get butt-hurt. ... but seriously, there's no argument that the PS3 is difficult to develop for. while developers have been quoted as going either way, the CEO of sony said that the PS3 is difficult to develop for, and that they made it that way intentionally. gradually learning to use the power is a better business strategy than throwing a unicorn at you on launch day. especially when you're satisfied with a clydesdale. your pride & joy, killzone 2? it's amazing...and uses approx. 60% of the PS3's total power.

hamzah1235
hamzah1235

what the hell are you 360 fanboys talking about that the PS3 has little exclusives and that they rarely use the power of the PS3?!!! The PS3 has just as much exclusives that are rated higher than the 360 exclusives, and almost all PS3 exclusives cant be done on the 360 (its a fact). Mgs4 cant be done on the 360 due to the fact it cant process the engine of the game and the space of the DVD disk , Resistance 2 has amazing 60 player competitive, amazing 8 player co-op and an amazing campaign, all with so many things happening on the screen without lag! Also for Killzone 2, the 360 cant handle all the extremely hi res texturing and all the things happening at one time with its amazing 32 multiplayer with almost no lag, for Little big Planet the 360 cant process all the amazing things that happen in the level and or all the physics occuring at one time, and also for infamous(first of all its better than prototype!!!!), second their are just so many things going on with great looking hi res textures, and i can pretty much go on and on about this but you 360 fanboys can see that PS3 has better quality exclusives than the 360 that utilizes the power of the PS3

cparker2510
cparker2510

@Sne_vaio and to use MAG's multiplayer component as an argument for the PS3 the way you did is misleading. yes, that is an AWESOME exclusive for the PS3. i will have it when it comes out even if i have to knock down old ladies or small children. but the 256 player match has nothing to do with the PS3 - it's made possible by a unique server architecture and network infrastructure that was designed for the game, and not the platform. if it's ported over to the 360 (which is highly unlikely), it will also feature 256 player matches - because of the servers, and not the console. ... blu-ray usability is a big draw, but storage capacity between the two mediums (blu-ra vs. DVD) isn't much of a factor anymore...utilizing new methods in the development of DVDs, some types can hold up to 500 GB. they are not currently used by most companies as a means of distributing content, but if you're okay with arguing that the PS3 is finally churning out awesome games, 4 or so years into its lifespan, others can utilize the same type of logical fallacy as well. ... yes, the PS3 rocks. the xbox 360 also rocks. the point is, you shouldn't argue the way you do (swearing at people and calling inanimate objects gay unless you're actually being paid by sony. and if you are...what was the commission for those six converts? i'm looking for a part-time gig. ... and it's "paperweight." cheers.

cparker2510
cparker2510

@Sne_vaio it's nice to see someone passionate about something...even if it's just a videogame console, and even if some of their arguments are somewhat invalid. ... yes, the sony is a powerful machine, and that is why it is rarely taken advantage of as far as games go. however, that isn't really an excuse...sony made a machine that would necessitate a longer-than-average lifespan because it has taken this long for developers to start getting the hang of its unique and exotic architecture. you can call xbox 360 owners retarded for their particular consumer choice, but that's 1)judgemental on your part, and makes you sound like a teenager, and 2) ignorant. yeah, you've got killzone 2. i've played the crap out of it, and it looks and runs amazing. but if you were even a little bit objective, you'd notice some xbox 360 games are equally engrossing, and they have amazing graphics as well - and they've been out for more than a year or two.

Sne_vaio
Sne_vaio

they will get the networking problem taken care of. but dont even need to wory, i've had no online problems. my ps3 is a discontinued 60g and its lasted me 3 years. my 360 i sold to someone died only 2 years in...

juan99692k6
juan99692k6

360 is the best for online playing. ps3 is good for some xclusives and watching blue rays.

Sne_vaio
Sne_vaio

ive converted six 360 fans to ps3 fans. How? they played my ps3. now there 360 is a door stop or a papperwait!.......

Sne_vaio
Sne_vaio

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Ghoulish_Visage
Ghoulish_Visage

OMG it looks like it combines all my favorite games into one pile of awesome.

Baramos6
Baramos6

"That's right. Put the best console shooters against the best PC shooters. Watch the console shooters quit halfway through the match." I like comments like this... Just pure crap from Elitists... I like the comments that go around this, "anyone who trashes a system is just insecure," I wholeheartedly agree. They just don't want to accept that a different system could have better features or graphics, or a cost effective way to play games. I personally think people who say idiotic comments like i quoted in the first paragraph are just ignorant and can't think of anything else to say.

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

The Sega Saturn had far more "potential" than the PS1. The Sega Saturn also had far more "processing power" and "polygon power" than the PS1. However, the PS1 always ended up with better 3D graphics, simply because it was so much easier to program software for. This generation there is no doubt that Sony claims the PS3 has more "potential" than Xbox 360, but we rarely see it. This reminds me of how very few Sega Saturn games actually used that "potential." John Carmack talks about "processing power," but this is a deceptive remark. PS3 does have more "math processing power" with the MFLOPS, but MFLOPS do not contribute to graphics in any way. Xbox 360 has quite a bit more polygon power than PS3. Xbox 360 also has superior RAM technology, and a superior GPU -- all of which contribute to graphics, which is why multiplatform games always end up with better graphics and online play on Xbox 360. The developers of Left 4 Dead have specifically said the one and only reason they make that game as a console exclusive for Xbox 360 is because Xbox 360 is so easy to develop software for, while PS3 is so difficult and expensive to develop for. This generation is very similar to two generations ago, but this time Sony is on the short end of the stick, just like Sega was.

mayceV
mayceV

why doesn't Microsoft just incoprate DMD's (Digital Media Disk) that holds 23-100 gigs and costs about the same as a blueray disc? all they need is a software update on the Dvd drive's red laser to read it. I would pitch the Idea if i could hell that way they could put all 500 million polygons on the screen with super hi res texture and not have to worry about space. If I was Microsoft I would do it (because Dvd seems to be holding the 360 from its tru max potential.) Its fnny when people say the the 360 is at its limits, because if it was then the Ps3 is near its limits too.

DrunkenGoon
DrunkenGoon

That MIT video is a lot of smoke and mirrors.. They never really show you exactly how they prompt each program to pop up.. They completely skip over it.. With so many applications for it I'm sure its not easy.. Don't get me wrong though it looks cool but we are years away from anything like that.

boom_f15
boom_f15

@ unkosolz I agree with you but unfortunately gaming is first and foremost a business. So while ultimately the PS3 has more potential, I fear that relatively few titles will ever tap into it. Why would you as a developer spend more money on a game that can only run on the PS3 when you can go multiplatform with a minimal hit in performance and make a lot more money?

shentonio
shentonio

@thekodaman Here here! Good stuff, these are the posts I prefer to read instead of the fan boy drivel, but unfortunately no matter what we do they will always be around!