Gather, Mortals: Carmack Speaks (And id Streams It)


The day foretold in The Prophecy is finally upon us. Every year, for just a few/ten/fourteen hundred shining hours, the planets are drawn into potentially cataclysmic alignment by the gravitational field surrounding John Carmack’s brain. During this time, all eyes turn to QuakeCon‘s majestically orange-hued stage, where id Software unveils a new Doom 4 logo (NEXT YEAR WE PROMISE) and then Carmack erupts into a Mount Krakatoa of consciousness that cakes the audience in molten genius globules. It is seriously unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else – all at once fascinating and beguiling. Unless you’re incredibly tech savvy in very specific ways, most of it will be entirely over your head. And yet, Carmack makes it downright fascinating, even for my sad, shriveled rain cloud of a brain. The stream starts SOOOOOOOON. 4:30 PM Central/2:30 PM Pacific/10:30 PM London.


  1. Sakkura says:

    Oh god, another one? I only just got finished with the last one. The man can talk. A lot.

    • S Jay says:

      It is a really impressive skill: talking non-stop about interesting/smart stuff.

    • S Jay says:

      Wikipedia is the perfect companion for listening to this guy.

  2. Ahkey says:

    Twitch Chat is the stuff of nightmares.

  3. tomek says:

    I love to watch this, he always delivers “on there”!

  4. Molay says:

    “And it this point, I want to hand it off to my…” (supposedly friend, when the stream goes offline and the twitch chat caused the whole earth to implode on itself. Was nice knowing you all)

  5. Gap Gen says:

    My school invited him to give a talk in assembly, which in retrospect was a huge mistake.

  6. Ahkey says:

    Skyrim tops PC Gamer Top 100. It is known.

  7. Alexander says:

    I thought RPS finally got an interview with Carmack. No such luck.

  8. Dervish says:

    They used Steve Vai – The Animal as his entrance theme. I wonder if that was his choice.

  9. pusheax says:

    I want this in mp3 format.

    • Alexander says:

      Sadly, Carmack will want to research a new audio format for a few years to optimize the quality and size first.

      • Elementlmage says:

        Which will result in the creation of the idMP6 format, which will create CD length audio files in excess of 10 GB of a marginally higher bitrate and quality than the current 192kbps/MP3 de-facto standard, but will also create random errors and artifacts in the recording and also not allow you to select the volume you want to play the recording back at.

  10. Sakkura says:

    Hahaa, “Kinect is a zero-button mouse with latency” :D

  11. MrThingy says:

    Wow… I didn’t think any arena of human dialog could outdo Youtube comments for sheer douchebaggery, but somehow the Twitch chat manages it in style.

    A veritable fountain of nerd rage. Verily, thy whine cup overfloweth.

    • Branthog says:

      Twitch chat is almost always the most vile, racist, homophobic, hateful crap. They will ridicule you for weight, voice, the way you look, the things you say, the way you play things, the way your room looks, threaten you, wish you dead, tell you to kill yourself. I like the idea of Twitch, but the community just absolutely ruins it. Gross and hideous.

      • jrodman says:

        Good thing they got the technology right.

        OH WAIT.

      • Reefpirate says:

        It depends on what stream you’re watching, and what happens to be on the stream at the time. There are reasonable people in there who express reasonable things, there are also reasonable people who have succumbed to the mindfuck and spew less offensive things for fun, and then yea there are real demons in there too.

        It’s comparable to YouTube comments but infinitely more entertaining because it’s in real-time and sometimes with tens of thousands of people all commenting at once. There is a weird sort of subculture that has sprung up too, with their Kappa and Kreygasm faces, running jokes, and generally totally realizing how impossible it is to have reasonable discourse in Twitch chat.

        There are smaller streams that are well moderated that do their best to suppress the really vulgar stuff with varying degrees of success, but anytime you get something ‘mainstream’ happening (like a John Carmack keynote speech or the E3 presentations) and there’s thousands of people watching there’s usually little hope of moderating the chat, there’s less experienced stream chatters in there, and everything just goes straight to hell.

        It’s pretty neat when something big happens and there’s a tidal wave of collective reaction to it, for example if the audio fails or the stream goes down. Generally I think I can say I really enjoy Twitch chat even though I understand that it ends up producing a lot of sexist, racist, homophobic, tasteless and vile content. There’s always the option to turn it off if it starts to hurt your feelings.

        • GettCouped says:

          This pretty much sums it up exactly. Well done sir or madam.

        • Branthog says:

          The problem is that any twitch channel with any sort of viewership seems to be impossible to moderate. The only channels I have seen that were not completely sickening are ones that have a couple dozen people or less. Much more than that and anything worthwhile in the channel is instantly drowned out by endless floods of spam/advertising, racism, telling the broadcaster to kill themselves or show their tits, insulting the way they look, etc.

          It really is just a matter of scale and the fairly limited functionality of the twitch chat system (from what I have experienced of it, at least). In popular channels, I have seen it become so bad with large numbers that even multiple full-time moderators can not keep up with it (and it doesn’t help that content speeds by so fast that it is often gone before you can click on the name and ban/block/whatever them).

          I totally agree that Youtube and pretty much any page that has comments using the disqus or other systems (ie, news articles) are also hideous — but not as consistently… which is saying a hell of a lot. (Although, my experience may be a bit different in that I am pretty selective about what youtube content I even bother to watch and the tone of posts seems to fluctuate significantly with the topic of the video/channel).

      • tellrov says:

        Try and take the internet a bit less serious next time.

        • Branthog says:

          You’re right. It’s better to just sit by and accept watching people be horrendous to someone who is putting themselves out there to do something in public as “just the way it is”. Stand by and do nothing. That’s the motto!

  12. Seafort says:

    I hope his next game is better technically than the last one, Rage. It was a complete mess out of the box.

    He used to be a gaming “god” for id but he seems to be a has-been now.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Is that what you call living legends, has-beens?

      I don’t think Carmack needs to show anything more to the world for his name to be put right where he belongs among other video game pioneers. You may want to look at his recent output and contributions as nothing comparable to his past achievements. But that’s really your problem: You see, you have no idea of Carmack’s contribution to open source projects, his prized rocket designs, or his continued efforts in developing a better 3D model that can break the current 3D architectural limitations, through such technologies as Mega Textures, Virtual Texturing and Sparse Voxel Octrees.

      • jrodman says:

        I think the nongame pursuits are sort of irrelevant to the game status. It’s relevant to viewing him as an inventor/pioneer, but not to gaming.

        Meanwhile yes he’s been at work trying to pioneer graphics technology. The problems are twofold.

        1 – The technologies haven’t really turned out to be very useful.
        2 – The games they are used in have been mediocre.

        That both of these things were very very different earlier in his career, consistently, is why people see him as no longer what he once was.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          I think you’ve nailed those two points. His last few games weren’t groundbreaking and his graphical advances might be based on new ideas but they don’t so much revolutionize these days as iterate on what’s already there. However, as a game programmer I still find him amazing to listen to.

      • Seafort says:

        I play games and id last game wasn’t that good. The megatextures tech was a disaster especially on AMD hardware with screen tearing, artifacting and blurred textures all over the place.

        He might be a great engineer of graphical techniques but if his techniques can’t be used properly in games we play then I see no use for them other than in benchmarks and in lecture halls at universities.

      • Yosharian says:

        All this means nothing if the actual games are not very good. Rage was not a very good game, and like the other guy says, the driver fiasco on release was a really big fuckup. Once I actually got to play the game, it got very boring very quickly. id basically haven’t made a decent singleplayer game since Quake, which was 1996, 17 years ago.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        I have to say “Big Whoop” here.

        So he’s trying to make incremental decreases to the amount of horse power it takes to push polys.. so are loads of others and at least some of them produce workable, usable tech. Carmack hasn’t done that in a decade or more.

        So yeah, he is pretty much a has been.

      • fartingstranger says:

        Not legends, only Carmack, I also call him an asshole for firing Mcgee and Romero.

  13. DrScuttles says:

    It’s great to listen to Carmack talk. I just wish I could love any id game made after Doom 2.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yeah :( The original quake was fun for multi-player in CS labs, because you could run it on Solaris workstations. But that’s the last time I enjoyed an id game. If I could have only one id game I’d take Doom 2.

      • DrScuttles says:

        It’s possible that Quake and Quake 3 were the bee’s knees in terms of Quality Multiple Player Face Gibbing Action. Not really my cup of tea though. Multiplayer games are that vile instant powdered cack compared to the wonder of Doom 2’s Earl Grey, hot.
        And like Earl Grey, Doom 2 is full of antioxidants.

    • fartingstranger says:

      Its sad that I completely agree. :(

  14. Crosmando says:

    I will always love id for releasing source code for their games. When I play GZDoon or Brutal Doom I know it wouldn’t have been possible without that source code.

    But I can’t in good conscience say I have liked any id game is a long time now, including Doom 3.

  15. Edgewise says:

    “4:30 PM Central”? If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? How about Eastern and Pacific, and let flyover country do the math?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Yes, we wouldn’t want to stress the math skills of the coast dwellers.

    • Reefpirate says:

      The event probably happened in Texas, which is probably Central time… And is probably one of the top 3 biggest states. And they probably don’t like being called ‘flyover country’.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Flyover country is Belgium

  16. engion3 says:

    GATHER AND LISTEN. I’ll be the guy repetitively writing penis over and over in the chat.

  17. Engonge says:

    Rage was a bad game, you have no excuse old man.

    • bstard says:

      Rage the game was crap, but I liked that id tech5 engine a lot.

      But, hey listen up mr Carmack you old noob, go out and make a splatter Doom with that id tech5 engine, not that pikey nonsense you called Doom3, and add to it really good team based MP, preferably done by the old guys from Splash Damage. MP with replay saving, quake2 like scripting, moddability so things like ETpro can be done. Now thats more worth as talking crap for hours.

  18. engion3 says:

    I’ve never seen anyone just sit and talk nonstop for so long. Is anybody listening to me? Do horses wear socks? Also he has cool cargo shorts.

  19. tomek says:

    Latency will take a while, he is obsessed with it, i only wished other people in the industry were too.

    • Engonge says:

      So people would stop being productive? His focus is misplaced, rage doesnt have any latency issues but it simply isn’t fun. I’m glad other people are not obsessed with latency.

      • engion3 says:

        We need improvements to latency in terms of vr like the oculus. I believe that’s where most of it stems from.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Concerns about latency are not misplaced. We need to solve these issues if we hope to start implement next generation video games and play them on video cards that won’t cost an arm and a leg. 3D performance has always been a major problem. He’s not starting a trend or talking about something meaningless. He’s just doing what software developers and hardware engineers have been doing for the past decades.

        You may be satisfied with games design. And that’s great. But if that’s your concern, Carmack is not the man you should listen to. He’s not a video game designer and never has been one. He’s talking about programming. Something you may find boring…

        • Engonge says:

          With stereoscopic displays yes there is latency issue,it immediately breaks immersion, But it is not a general concern of gaming, just to a “form” of gaming.. That’s my point. And he is mainly a game programmer so I don’t see your point.

          • tomek says:

            Latency, low refresh rates and desyncd images are very much a general concern for gaming and there has been very little progress on it because it gets ignored by the industry while they push much less important features like higher resolution, contraproductive override modes and other nonsense.

            You are prolly one of those people that are fine with 30fps in 3D games…

          • jrodman says:

            A *lot* of games are fine with 30FPS.

            Some are compromised.

            It varies.

            But if the hardware has such shit latency then it makes it harder for everyone. I’m not sure that there’s any reasonable position to argue that it doesn’t matter.

            (Note, 30FPS *could* mean 1/30th of a second latency, which as a total figure would be pretty much fine.)

      • Gap Gen says:

        I agree, Rage was unfinished. It worked OK, it just felt like stuff was missing. Such as an ending.

      • Reefpirate says:

        I don’t think Carmack is a game designer at id. Or an artist. Or a scripter. Or any content at all, really. I’m not sure if he ever was… He’s just their resident lengendary master software engineer.

  20. Mario Figueiredo says:

    The auto-play video is killing my meager transfer limits (5GB monthly). Can you guys stop this from doing it?

    • Alexander says:

      Put your browser to stop auto play for plug-ins. Am not sure if this works with twitch, though.

      • Supahewok says:

        It oughtta, I know that I for one am not having autoplay issues here.

  21. waltC says:

    Carmack is simultaneously the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of id software. If id could ever move him off to the side to specialize in a game’s graphics build [let’s just laugh and forget “megatexture” ever existed] and get in someone else with oodles of creativity and talent who can actually conceive a great game from start to finish without getting mired in the minutiae of graphics programming nuances–id might be able to put out a game that didn’t have to be constantly defended–and patched–and patched again.

    Carmack’s central problem in the graphics arena–he has no ability to write or plot–is that while he’s writing code for the PC platform he’s thinking about coding a teeny cell-phone gpu and so when the PC code is done it almost always has to be rewritten because it’s as anemic as mud and rather looks like mud, too. Carmack has always had a very hard time concentrating on id’s platform of interest at the time, his mind undisciplined is almost always roaming…far afield…from these earthly pastures, from the idyllic–(never mind, you get the point.) I’ve often speculated that Carmack’s biggest impediment is not talking but listening–as in listening to what his market is telling him it would like to see.

    • Supahewok says:

      “…get in someone else with oodles of creativity and talent who can actually conceive a great game from start to finish without getting mired in the minutiae of graphics programming nuances…”

      They had that guy. His name was John Romero. And ever since the two of them split neither has made a game worth anything. What does that tell you?

      • Sakkura says:

        That they are the John Lennon and Paul McCartney of gaming and there should be an Epic Rap Battles of History featuring them.

    • Don Reba says:

      I think the man can afford to do what he finds most interesting, not what the market dictates.

  22. Josh W says:

    Interesting Carmack’s discussion of purely function based game code, I imagine it could be pretty good for space games; strong momentum could be used to cheat your way through the problems of collision detection, because knowing the momentum of other craft could allow each entity to think ahead from this world state to future ones, especially if there is sufficient lead time on accelerations.

    It also has a fascinating individualism to it, as if all the game entities are gods; shoot it, and your bullets tell it to injure itself, if it chooses not to, or it’s specific code is bugged, it may just not implement death and be immortal.

    The way that bugs could interact in this situation could be less about broad problems with certain kinds of functionality and more about specific monsters that do not behave as expected; functioning programs will listen to their input and implement changes to themselves, the monster programs will ignore the changes they are expected to make and rampage about. Lots of lovely possible bugs like things with delayed and broken death animations blended into their motion, cliping through walls like vengeful ghosts.

    It also makes me wonder whether things should take a leaf from distributed version control and differential system dynamics and write diffs to the world, set changes, and those that can in principle be applied in any order. That means then that you won’t have the daft situation of a number of heat sources reading the local temperature, and then each overwriting it with a value increased by one. Instead they would output their changes to the world state,” +1″/”-1″/”+3″ etc. and then some general world function would take these off them and compute the result. This’d be nice because it’d allow you to happily roll up AI processing, animation and all the rest into these functions, parcel out the publically available data to them, and see what they do with it, without any timing issues appearing.

    Aside from weird resource assignment issues, it seems like this approach could be great for weird knotty expanding simulation games, because you’d have all the channels and side effects laid out politely for you in the code, and you could just tinker around with the insides of creatures to slowly add in all kinds of extra stuff.

    • elmo.dudd says:

      Thank you for being relatively on topic to the discussion in the video, rather than talking about the value of the video being watched.

  23. RProxyOnly says:

    Is Carmack still relevant?

    Isn’t ID pretty much defunct these days? They are releasing Doom 4.. Really?? (I’ll believe it when I see it.) Yes, they can build an engine, but they don’t do anything worthwhile with it.. Didn’t Id Tech 5 fall on it’s arse because of Rage not being as good as it was supposed to have been, same ol’ same ol’ bullshit hype? I’ve considered them naught a middleware dev for a while now, they may as well be designing trees for god’s sake.

    Carmack talks a good game, but everyone else seems to execute better.

    • Alexander says:

      Yup, Carmack hasn’t seemed to be interested in videogame design for a long time now. He and the id team don’t really make a … team, it seems. He would be great as some sort of adviser for the studio, while other focused and determined people could make some games. and decent ones. Carmack will probably always be relevant, just not as someone interested in videogames. He’s a great researcher and doesn’t seem to work well with teams and people that have to make products based on his research.

    • PoulWrist says:

      He’s still pretty relevant for what he has to say. He never developed a games, but made the development of them possible.

      What’s he working on now? Who knows. idtech 5 was basically built to allow artists to paint whatever they wanted, and Rage is a really good looking game, if you don’t go up too close to any surface and stare at the imperfections. Is it a useful engine for other projects? Meh, probably not. Too specialised to make it work elsewhere and too immense in its pipeline to be friendly to modders.

  24. CelticPixel says:

    Rage’s world felt a bit ‘invisible-wall-y’ but there was undeniably a lot of love and craftsmanship that went into the world visually, and although corridor shooters get sneered at, the corridor shooting was solid and I enjoyed it. I think the problem is their game design sense is a little out of date, but I still have a lot of respect for id. If Bethesda can inject some of their resources into helping the studio get back on track they’ll still do great things.

  25. RegisteredUser says:

    I find it ironic that most of the thread seems to revolve around “has been” and “doesn’t deliver” etc quips.

    If the guy were such an unimportant clueless dick not worth paying attention to, he also wouldn’t be worth all the troll-hate, either, as all the mad props you receive for epic trolldom and for being a dick about something does kind of have a proportional relationship to the magnitude of the stuff you are trying to troll.

    What I mean to say in perhaps a bit of an odd way: The more – in my opinion completely unjustified – hate, negativity, or pretend-blase-ness is being voiced, the more it just underscores that Carmack is anything but dead, unimportant or neglectable, and neither is id soft.

    I for one found the guns and effects of shooting stuff in Rage more satisfying than in many other shooters, and that is the one thing that id software has always done for me: let me shoot at stuff enjoyably.
    There is a good chunk of truth about him and id moving away from gaming-gaming and more towards tech research for which the games end up being kind of interactive tech demos, but if thats the worst thing you can say about someone(that he’s furthering your beloved genre’s technology, and fervently so), then I’m pretty cool with it.

    And if you don’t find JC just the most adorable little creature when he plops down to talk in his inimitable way, then I just don’t know. :p

    On another note: How come the unreal engine completely knocked out id’s and everything runs on that instead of id? Serious question. Are they so much better in terms of licensing or what?

    • Josh W says:

      Licensing, make something unreal contest->unreal development kits->no difference between modders and developers.

      They basically did to ID what unity did to them, make it really really easy to make games with their tech.

      • elmo.dudd says:

        There is a larger factor: id at the time of that potential race was still a small company, independently owned, and not looking to become huge in staff. They knew engine licensing would require a substantial sales staff, additional tools staff, substantial tech support staff, and more involved legal contracts. Basically another wing of the company. They weren’t interested in doing that, and continued treating engine licenses as something that would be done on a case by case basis as other parties were interested. Epic however did make the move to that, and it does have overhead, to the extent that they now have a separate office just for engine work and the licensing in the Seattle area, far from their North Carolina headquarters. Yes Epic won the race with id, but id was more so continuing its stroll down the road.