I've always thought of John Carmack a little like a comic book character. One of those otherworldly brilliant mad scientists; Reed Richards casually brewing up a new type of fission in his lab some lazy afternoon. Lex Luthor inventing entire new fields of research as a stepping stone in a bigger plan. The most fantastical depictions of Nikola Tesla, accidentally causing the Tunguska Event while maybe fiddling around with teleportation technology.
Alright, so the guy makes really cool game engines and tech. Maybe that's not up there with the orbital beams and kryptonite armour, but it's still pretty cool. He does have his own personal space program, and that's a pretty Bond villain/Dr. Doom-esq move.
Maybe the Id star has fallen a bit in recent years, but I still remember the kind of swagger and presence Carmack and his team held in the industry. I remember when other developers would wait around for the next big leap from the man behind Doom and Quake and ride his coattails for the next three or four years. Giving birth not just to cheap imitators, but some of our most beloved games. It's easy to forget that Half-Life, and by extension Valve, TF2, and the entire Steam system, wouldn't exist without Carmack and his revolutionary Quake engine.
This is a guy who shapes generations, who sets the course of the industry.
So you have no idea how excited I was to hear over the course of Quakecon that he's taken up the role of Chief Technical Officer at Occulus Rift.
If you've been reading my caps or following my blogs, you probably know that I'm nuts for the Rift. I'm head over heels for it. I mean, 3D head-tracking VR, that's IT, that's the dream right? The imagined end-goal of a hundred Cyberpunk books, the fancy future-tech of Battletechs and Gundams, the long promised and never delivered dream of our late-80's to mid-90's childhoods right?
I see a lot of snide comments and scepticism about the Rift online. A lot of people out there are dubious that there is really an audience out there for it, if there will be enough people interested in plugging in to such an extreme length, or willing to pay $300,or whatever it will end up costing, on a fancy peripheral. And I just don't get it. To me, the Occulus is obviously the future. Maybe you won't want to play every type of game on it, but how could you not be excited for a real at home VR experience? Am I crazy?
Well if I am, I'm in good company. It does my heart good to see an industry giant like Carmack throw not only his support, but his super-charged brain, at the project. This is a guy who has always been two-steps ahead, always knows where the tech and industry should be going. If he thinks the Occulus Rift is important, it must be something to keep an eye on.
Or maybe he just spent a lot of time reading the same nerdy novels and watching the same bad sci-fi as me.
While I was majorly stoked about the Oculus Rift stuff, the rest of Quakecon was a more sedate affair news-wise. I'm not sure what is going on with Id and Bethesda. I know PR departments need to be careful with what they let slip out and they want to be able to control and shape the message like the mind-bending parasites they are as much as possible, but I think maybe these guys are playing things too close to their chest.
No news to be had about Doom 4. Nope, not even a peep. They wouldn't even say the name Doom 4, tip-toeing around unspecified "current projects" and precious little "developments". Hey guys? Everyone knows you're working on Id Tech 5 and Doom 4! This isn't "the game that shall not be named" under penalty of a wizards curse! Just say, "yeah Doom 4 is coming along and we're not ready to talk about it" and that would be the end of it.
Unsurprisingly, all is quite on the Fallout 4 front. I didn't think they'd say anything, but there is always a little hope. However, I was shocked that Bethesda didn't give us even a few crumbs about The Evil Within which seems to be slipping further and further away from anyone giving a shit. I can understand they want to keep their big dog behind closed doors until the time is right, but The Evil Within could use some life-support and exposure before everyone completely forgets about it.
I guess Quakecon just isn't set-up to support big reveals and announcements, but it seems like such a shame. They have all these great talks, all these industry luminaries sharing their knowledge, they pack a bunch of hotel ballrooms with their most rabid and receptive fans. The entire scene seems perfect for teasing the next big title or project, but they just let it pass. What a pity.