id's Carmack talks engine tech in lengthy interview


— 11:39 AM on June 8, 2011

While John Carmack's influence in the industry has arguably decreased over recent years, hearing him ramble on about game technology is as interesting and thought-provoking as ever. If you've got 22 minutes and 12 seconds to spare today, I strongly recommend watching ComputerAndVideoGames' interview with the id Software co-founder. In the interview, Carmack touches on topics ranging from the benefits of playing Rage on the PC and id's development pipeline to geekier topics like latency, with some of his trademark observations about the industry thrown in.

On the subject of Rage for the PC, Carmack says PC gamers will be able to enjoy twice the texture resolution as their console-playing brethren. So, even playing Rage at 720p will get us crisper graphics than on the consoles—and at 1080p, we may get close to three times the number of unique pixels. That said, Carmack is also aiming to make Rage playable at 30 FPS on Sandy Bridge integrated graphics (though he's apparently not quite there yet).

Carmack also talks at length about input lag and his decision to make Rage a 60 FPS game, which he says was a "hard argument to win internally." The sacrifices purportedly paid off, though, because the game is much smoother and more responsive as a result—and "almost everybody" can tell. Despite emphasizing input responsiveness, Carmack doesn't view the extra latency induced by cloud gaming services like OnLive as a huge problem. Lots of shipping games with 30 FPS targets have "multiple frames of lag," he claims, so dealing with 50 ms of extra overhead with OnLive isn't as catastrophic as it might seem.

Looking forward, Carmack hopes to undertake "at least" another two graphics engine research projects. He hopes to tackle things like "mega geometry" and be able to "spend money on the PC and have these incredible supercomputer things." However, streamlining the content creation process is arguably a greater priority. "I don't want us going off and doing some navel-gazing graphics thing that's not going to make that much difference," Carmack explains. "We're in the entertainment business. We're in the business of producing experiences for people that they love so much, they're willing to pay for them, and we need to keep our priorities in mind."

   
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