One of the godfathers of modern gaming technology, John Carmack, has joined VR company Oculus as its new technical lead, the firm announced today. Carmack will help fill a void left by the untimely death of Oculus co-founder and technical lead Andrew Scott Reisse.
Carmack has often spoken in public of his fondness for the Rift VR headset being developed by Oculus, as have several other influential figures in PC gaming. The Rift's development is being funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign, and the early version we tried at CES earlier this year is already light years beyond anything else like it, an achievement with staggering potential.
Oculus says Carmack will work out of a new office in Dallas, where he already lives and works as Technical Director at id Software. Early reports have had conflicting information about how Carmack's new role will affect his employment at id, so he took to Twitter to offer a brief clarification:
My time division is now Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!
So it appears Carmack will continue working at id Software in some capacity, although Oculus will be his top priority. Armadillo, of course, is Armadillo Aerospace, Carmack's rocketry start-up. That effort will be winding down soon, as Carmack noted in his recent Quakecon keynote.
Oculus should present Carmack with a number of intriguing challenges. Early Rift VR headsets and dev kits are already in the hands of Kickstarter backers and developers, but the firm needs to convert its promising technology into a viable, mass-produced consumer product. Carmack and company will have to reduce the latency between user movements and headset responses in order to eliminate the vertigo effect some people experience with Rift prototypes. They need to incorporate a higher resolution display to really sell the illusion. And they need to do it all while keeping costs down and persuading studios to pour hours of engineering effort into building games that use the hardware to full effect.
That assessment is probably just the tip of the iceberg, too. Still, these are exciting times in PC gaming.