John Carmack: 'In Many Ways I Am Not All That Excited About The Next Generation'

John Carmack gave GamesIndustry International a pretty fascinating interview, discussing his passion for Virtual Reality and the ways in which he sees gaming evolving in the future. Interestingly enough, for someone who exists on the precipice of the cutting edge, Carmack isn't "all that excited about the next generation" of consoles.

"When people ask how tapped out is the current console generation, PCs are 10 times as powerful but you really are still not technically limited," said Carmack. "Any creative vision that a designer could come up with, we can do a pretty good job representing on current generation and certainly on PC. In many ways I am not all that excited about the next generation. It will let us do everything we want to do now, with the knobs turned up," he said.

"If you take a current game like Halo which is a 30 hertz game at 720p; if you run that at 1080p, 60 frames with high dynamic frame buffers, all of a sudden you've sucked up all the power you have in the next-generation. It will be what we already have, but a lot better. You will be able to redesign with a focus on D11, but it will not really change anyone's world. It will look a lot better, it will move towards the movie rendering experience and that is better and better, but it's not like the first time you've ever played an FPS. It won't be like putting yourself in the virtual world. All the little things you can do on that, such as playing an audio cue over here, and turning your attention to that. That will be more of the discontinuous step like we've had with first going to 3D or first using a mouse."

Carmack is placing a lot of faith VR headsets, and has been speaking to Sony, Microsoft and Valve about the possibilities that holds for gaming. For more info head to GamesIndustry International. Very interesting interview indeed.

John Carmack "not all that excited" by next-gen hardware [GamesIndustry International]


    I know Carmack is about engines and visuals... but what if the next leaps aren't in that direction?
    I would love to see major improvements in AI...

      Basically visuals will drive performance increases unroll the devlopers are happy with the level of visual fidelity they can achieve. They will focus on AI once its cost prohibitive to achieve better visuals.

      This is what I also feel. Ever since the original Half-Life came out with it's improved AI that let the marines run away, call for help, throw grenades, advance as a team, I feel we've just tweaked that all the way up to 2012. I've never come across a game where I felt the AI was actively trying to out think me or presented me with much of a challenge, since usually they stand on the same spot of cover popping out to empty their clips, go back into hiding and reload.

      Graphics are good enough now. Put all that effort that would go toward them and focus it toward making the next "half life AI' which will blow our minds. I hope we one day get an enemy AI which is actually scary to try and go up against.

        Graphics are nowhere near good enough now. Give it another generation or two and the games of today will look like someone set a puddle of vomit on fire and put it out with steel wool. That said, I'm also hoping more advances will happen in other areas, particularly the creation of game worlds where my actions have permanent effects a la Minecraft. Basically I want a GTA game where I can destroy buildings, use the rubble to build my own building, and then visitors would have to pass through my Hall of Ruined Police Cars to get to my throne made of my enemies' corpses.

    he's just pissed cause Rage got bagged to shit...

      Haha beat me to it

      Well actually rage has an average of 80% on metacritic so pretty damn good.

      And it had some amazing animation. The best ive seen in fact.

        Its just a pity the gameplay sucks arse. So "well actually" metacritic can stick it. Rage is still a gold plated turd.

      Got it one - if that was his "next-gen" effort then no wonder he's no longer excited about it.

    Bah he's just a graphics whore. Doesn't care about improvements in any other area. He might as well just watch movies really.

      Yeah, he only invented first-person shooters.

        Not quite.

          I mean that in the "Apple invented it" sense ;-)

          I played a lot of networked Maze Wars in the 80s, Battlezone in the arcades, vector Star Wars etc, even an early 3D wireframe free-roamer on the C64 (forgotten its name) and technically, yeah, they're shooters in the first person.

          But you'd have to concede that the genre as it is today was pretty much defined by Carmack's games in the 90s.

            Technically, sure. But even back then it sounded like those around him such as John Romero were a larger driving force gameplay wise. They pushed him to get what they needed into the engine.

            Thats not to dismiss Carmacks technical abilities, but he is more of a developer than a designer based on anything I've ever read.

              And since I forgot to state it, the FPS genre was really established by id Software as a team, not just because of this one man. He was instrumental in getting there, but if it was him on his own you wouldn't have ever had Doom or Quake.

      Did you even read it? He's basically saying graphics will soon give diminishing returns, and improving immersion is the next step (ie VR headsets)

    Then he should get the fuck out of the industry and leave it for the developers who have hope and aspirations for the next gen. Theyre the ones who are going to drive the industry forward. Not a whiny has been.

    Funny how graphic engines used to drive what could be put into a game. But now with basically unlimited graphics capabilities the gaming experience has stalled and the average game is much less engaging or immersive as games 15 years ago.

      I'm from the future, and I can tell you that current graphics capabilities are actually incredibly severely limited. Even the best engines today can't deal with dead bodies or bullet decals being on screen for longer than a few seconds, shadows are still all blocky and flickery, a few explosions grind the framerate to a halt, and forget about trying to render any decent number of NPC's (unless they're dumb, simple, low-detail cartoon men). Things start to look presentable in the early 2030's.

    I think his VR Goggles will be good, as long as you don't rotate your head to fast otherwise you just get see big brown blocks and untextured smudges.

    ID are a relic. Doom 3 & RAGE were average and their game engine market has been swallowed by Epic's Unreal engine.

      I don't think Carmack ever wanted to be in the gaming engine market. They let it slide deliberately. Back in the Quake 1 and 2 era there were other people that pushed Carmack in that direction.

    Immersion is dead. Games are not as innovative or immersive as they used to be. Remember that first time you picked up a mouse and could actually look around (no because a lot of you grew up with this)? He's saying that this kind of immersion needs to be updated, not just the horsepower to do these things. The reason he's not looking forward to the new generation is because he believes that developers will just be making prettier versions of what we have now, rather than making more immersive experiences that the increased hardware should be capable of doing.
    The focus should be not on what we have, but what we are able to do.

    Sounds like he's focusing too highly on his style FPS games. Games where a guy runs down a series of never ending hallways aren't going to be improved through power. Remember when MGS4 promised an actual warzone? We should see that next generation. We can do it now with smoke and mirrors but next generation will make it work.
    On top of that I don't think people really realise how tiny game worlds are right now. They're either shoeboxes with detail or stadiums with a few cardboard cutouts. More power to make larger environments doesn't seem that important but it's mostly because we don't know what we're missing.
    Fallout 3 was a sweet game, but the wasteland was tiny and the 'towns' had populations that couldn't fill a taxi. Throw some more power into it and maybe we'll start seeing what's over the mountain range in Elder Scrolls. Maybe there will finally be enough villagers there to call the group of houses a village. Who knows, the villagers might even have a proper understanding of the world around them.

    It's odd that people react so negatively to anything he says.

    I know I'll be a lot more excited to try his 3D VR gear than I will be to see an Xbox 720.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now