John Carmack Rages On at QuakeCon

QuakeCon 2011: id's technical guru gives QuakeCon a peek under the hood of Rage in opening-day keynote address; Doom 3 source code release coming this year.

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Who was there: The cofounder and technical director for id Software, John Carmack, once again delivered the keynote address at this year's QuakeCon 2011 convention.

John Carmack gets a bit technical with his Rage development talk.

What he talked about: Carmack was very excited to finally talk in-depth about the development of Rage, the upcoming postapocalyptic first-person shooter from the creators of Quake and Doom. "Rage is the most enjoyable id game we've ever made," he stated, adding that id attempted to distill everything that was iconic about its classic titles and adapt it for this new project--with some additions added in along the way. The result has been several years in the making, but Carmack feels it was worth it. "We hit everything we really set out to do with this game."

One of these objectives was to design a beautifully detailed game that would still look great across the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The designers wanted strict guidelines as to how large and how detailed they could make this world, Carmack said, but as a programmer, this is a really hard rule to set. He added that there are so many different variables between platforms, and even between sections of the game, that this was almost impossible to set. In the end, he told the designers, "I want to be pushed a bit," and he gave them some extra leeway. With a smile, he added that this was probably "a bad call."

There were many other trials and tribulations that crept up when working across three platforms. Carmack noted that it was frustrating at times knowing that the PC held nearly 10 times the power of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 but that he couldn't use it. However, he also added that developing on the two consoles was simpler given their specifically defined hardware. "We were really using the PC as a muscular console [during development]," he added.

Every game that has come out of id has taken longer than the one before, Carmack said, and this is a problem. With that in mind, he went on to explain that, instead of putting all of their efforts behind working with the bleeding edge of technology, the focus should be on improving the programming code and technology id already has. "What we need to do next as game developers is start cranking the knobs that already exist," he said, "such as improving antialiasing, filtering, and texture density."

Want to play with Doom 3's source code? Carmack has got you covered.

There is also value in working within limitations, Carmack added, and one can learn things about efficiency when working under those conditions. If he had the time, Carmack said he would love to revisit the original PlayStation, or even the Atari 2600, and try coding a game for that platform just to see how it differed from today's standards.

He moved next to static code analysis tools as another great way to improve upon what a developer already has. These toolsets let his team analyze the thousands of lines of code they've written and quickly identify recurring problems. He noted that as developers add functionality to an established code base, things will break. This could be for a number of reasons, such as coding mistakes or shortcuts. The important thing is correcting these issues to build a more stable code base for the future.

Before opening the floor up for an extensive Q&A session, Carmack quickly noted that the source code for Doom 3 will finally be released before the year is out. He also urged other companies to release the source codes for their older games as well. Doing so would only help encourage the development of future coders in the video game industry. On the same topic, he also lamented the fact that most members of the mod community won't be able to make the most out of Rage's toolset given its complexity and the sheer size and scope of the software.

The floor was then opened up for Q&A. As part of that discussion, Carmack lamented the fact that id can't devote much attention to the Mac, Linux, and Android platforms. This was attributed to a simple lack of manpower on the developer's side. He also talked briefly about the status of Quake Live, which "has not been a business success," blaming the implosion of most in-game advertising agencies, which were going to be the game's primary source of income. "[Quake Live] is not terribly expensive to keep up and running," Carmack added. "We just don't know how to promote it now."

Quote: "I get asked a lot if I miss the old days with the smaller teams, and I tell people that I'm a remarkably unsentimental person; the best times are right now."--John Carmack on life.

Takeaway: Building a game to work on three very different platforms was certainly a challenge for the venerable developer. However, despite all the time it took, Carmack seemed confident in the game's quality and in the lessons he and his team learned along the way. Their new goal is a faster development cycle that makes the most out of all the tools they've built over the years.

Discussion

62 comments
Maxxgold
Maxxgold

@DP1130 I forgive you for your lack of knowledge or your youth. Games that are created on the PC for the PC are far superior to any console game. Games that are made for a console and then ported to PC suck. I just used Starcraft as a quick example. Your right Starcraft would be hard to play on a console. Crysis 2 suffered greatly becuase they catered to the console. If they would have just created a bad ass PC game and then ported it to the crappy console they would have had much better sales. They still had good sales but they could have done better. This game is making the same mistake. Don't create a game for the console and then port it. Sorrry but this generation of console is done with. The computer graphics have far surpassed this generation of console. I barely play games on my xbox now because the graphics are ugly compared to my PC.

Massacher
Massacher

@ Snaptrap without iD and John Carmack games would still be sprite based and plat-formers at best. show a little respect.

Massacher
Massacher

yes manual saves. w00t iD you are the best! but why no dedicated servers for MP?

Massacher
Massacher

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

egoadk
egoadk

Not all of games translates into all gaming platforms well. It really takes a good developer to do develop all 3 platforms. Pure action shooter in the likes of Doom, Rage, Crysis works great on PC. PCs have the power to render big expansive zones. Crysis was amazing. Crysis 2 for PC was fun but everything smells too much of consoles esp controls.. It felt too linear. Graphics was reduced too, until the DX11 High Textures patch. And cover system. Cover system was popularized in Gears of War, a console game. Games like Call of Duty series translates better to all 3 platforms simply of the game design. It is hard when $$$ is more important than making sure PC version gets the proper design. Console simply sells more copies. Blizzard is a whole different company. To do pure PC-releases only and still sell so well. The milking of 3 editions of Starcraft is ridiculous though. It is becoming like the movie trilogy nowadays. 1 development budget, 1 continuous shooting, some edits per year, 1 movie per year for 3 years and $$$.

TruSake
TruSake

From the mouth of a developer "it was frustrating at times knowing that the PC held nearly 10 times the power of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3" for all those who for whatever reason still thinks that consoles can compete with the graphics of a computer!

danmcg50
danmcg50

"JFHansen I just really really really really hopes, that Rage on the PC wont feel like a console port, due to cross platform development. :-o" It will feel like a console port, because that is exactly what it is. It's got Crysis 2 written all over it.

Master_Hav0c
Master_Hav0c

Wait, 20 hours only? I was kind of expecting something more like Fallout 3/NV where, if I really try, I could get a solid 40-60 hours out of it. It's not going to affect my buying decision, but I'm going to play on hard-mode now just to get a couple more hours out of it >.>

fransik89
fransik89

Where's John Romero? He's the real deal and the face behind Quake...

DP1130
DP1130

@Maxxgold I disagree. StarCraft sold well because RTS's were fresh and new on the game market then. Not to mention, games like StarCraft translate poorly to consoles due to the control scheme. RTS are keyboard dependent in my opinion. Rage is not going to suck because it wasn't developed with every ounce of power they can muster from a PC. No game is. Going by your logic, all games must suck because they were all built and developed under limited conditions. Gaming has come aloooonnnggg way Maxxgold. I say be a little more open minded. These are the steps if you ask me that will benefit gaming as a whole down the road. Once consoles technology improves you'll see more and more powerful cross platform games.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

Carmack is becoming a dinosaur in a fast evolving industry which is doing more than just making old games look pretty.

santiagorf12
santiagorf12

i wish there were more interviews with this guy...

pszone
pszone

I still reckon make hd of doom3 with the older games come with it it be worth it and pp will buy it thunbs up you agree.

DKant
DKant

"Doom 3 source code release coming this year" BEST news in a while. Developers of all kinds - not only games - should really be more open. What's the harm in releasing the source for older games/products? Carmack said it right, it helps the next generation of developers learn, stuck as they are with previous-gen syllabi, tech and sample codes.

DarckArchon
DarckArchon

When i read the title i rely thought John Carmak rages out xD

toddx77
toddx77

@Maxxgold Very well said. Most console gamers are probably going to skip rage for mw3 or return it when they find out it has no death match.

beefalo
beefalo

carmack is a legend...id is a legend...but when is the last time they made a game that was actually good.... quake 2?

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

"I get asked a lot if I miss the old days with the smaller teams, and I tell people that I'm a remarkably unsentimental person; the best times are right now."--John Carmack on life. ^ Saved.

GodzillasFather
GodzillasFather

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

ezjohny
ezjohny

Sounds Awesome lets hope id tech 5 does not disappoint it's fans wth Rage! Good article plus interview! Improve the Consoles hardware, Console Developers so better games could come out, PC gamer here!

aryeec
aryeec

@Maxxgold ...VERY well put. @stickiey Most people don't read but the first page and Maxxgold explained his comment.

GarGx1
GarGx1

When a genius like Carmack says PC is 10 x more powerful than consoles, is there any argument that the consoles are now holding back game development. Better get your next gen consoles out Sony and Microsoft or all your customers will be on PC, even though your next gen consoles will be running this years tech in two years time when they're released as new.

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

I always get enlightened somehow when carmack speaks lmao

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

If only GPU manufacturers would remove the api restriction and allows developers direct hardware access, then your PC will be 10 times more powerful than what is now.

Kentelyoo
Kentelyoo

I really have nothing against the guy personally, but I think Carmack is a bit overrated. There is some kind of adulation around him I don't understand. Reminds me of George Lucas. They both did something great a long time ago. But what have they done since, really ? And funnily enough, most of the things you think they did, someone else in fact have done it. Anyway, I think Rage looks great too and I hope it will be a good game.

stickiey
stickiey

So Maxxgold can say the same thing I did and he get's thumbs up, while I just get thumbs down? If you all don't believe me, watch the video above. The creative director of id plays the damn game with a controller on PC!! You wanna know why? Because the interface and gameplay was designed for consoles. Also, there is another interview where they admit that they test the controls on console first, then PC second.

Zephol
Zephol

and doom 4? a teaser trailer please!!

dudulobo
dudulobo

@Maxxgold I just logged in to thumb you up. You, my friend, said everything.

RiOrus
RiOrus

''Carmack Rages On...'' More like Carmack Bangs on about the same old rubbish. I searched Doom 4 earlier and for the previous 3 years JC has refused to comment on it other than 'the development crew will move from Rage to Doom 4 post completion' this makes sense... but following no news this year (as of yet, presumably) and the statement that each ID game takes longer to make than the previous do we put two and two together? Meaning... 6 or 7 years development on Rage? ... Doom 4 in eight years? Total respect to Carmack and ID for building a new engine and I have faith their hard work will pay off. However, they really need to get a move on... there is something distinctly hollow about the endless statements proclaiming Rage is going to be the best thing since sliced bread... its already wearing thin and the bloody thing isn't even out yet.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Really wish I could make it to Quakecon this year. It's something I keep meaning to get out to and keep missing. Rage does look great; the more I hear the better it sounds.

Scouten9
Scouten9

@rarson dammit i sure wished they would devote more effort for the Atari lynx its a beast of a platform

CTR360
CTR360

rage looks fantastic i cant wait but i need first details of DOOM4 please ID

Maxxgold
Maxxgold

Game will be a joke. He says the PC was 10 times more powerful than either the Xbox 360 and the PS3 but they couldn't use it because it has to play on all 3. Sorry but dumbed down games don't do to well, look at crysis 2. Good game but the community backlash really hurt sales. Blizzard proved you can release a game on PC only and it will sell like crazy. Starcraft sold very well. If anything develop it for the PC and then port it. I'm back to playing PC games because console graphics are ugly again compared to pc. Maybe they should wait to put this out on the next generation of consoles.

max-hit
max-hit

ah.. it's about time. DOOM 4????

Leria
Leria

Hopefully Rage will live up to all the Hype like Doom 3 did. I won't get my hopes up no matter how much 'good buzz' comes out however because even in the final stages, the people making games have found ways to mess up a game.

prismtech
prismtech

stop zoom in/out the camera...i am feeling dizzy :P i like any games with choices in the game. I can not wait!

baal46
baal46

Carmack is a legend.

JFHansen
JFHansen

I just really really really really hopes, that Rage on the PC wont feel like a console port, due to cross platform development. :-o

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

huge fan of carmack,. this guy is a total genius!

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

Yey treating PCs with 10x the power as "muscular consoles" .... well at least hes honest : \ ...