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is John Carmack's opinion still as "relevant" in the industry?


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#1 Grimunlock   Members   -  Reputation: 128

Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:02 PM

Just wondering, color me naive. The guy used to be the "3D engine" God in the community back in the day. It's like everyone used to hang on his every word + presentation, even 3D hardware vendors.

But it seems like ID's relevance in the engine market has completely disappeared in last decade. Think of CryEngine and the countless other things developed by hundreds of other developers.

Carmack will always be an uber-programmer and highly respected, but my whole point is - is he still considered the 'top dog'?




by all means, ID seems to be marginalized in the 'engine world' right now..



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#2 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:29 PM

Of course his opinion is still relevant. Just by the nature of being such an expert in his field his opinion would be relevant, even if he stopped making games and dedicated his time to buildin dem rockets.

#3 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2389

Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:34 PM

Technology stack today is a commodity.

For big publishers, such as EA, the entire cost of development (design, art, code, testing, packaging) is somewhere between 10-40% of entire cost of product. That's not even counting the franchises as a whole. It simply doesn't matter, revenue is completely unrelated to technology. By consequence, it doesn't matter.

#4 Gamer Gamester   Members   -  Reputation: 136

Posted 12 March 2011 - 03:13 PM

By consequence, it doesn't matter.




It does not matter in the "industry". And here in the US, all that matters is industry (which industrially fights to keep things that way).

#5 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4678

Posted 12 March 2011 - 03:20 PM

Technology stack today is a commodity.

For big publishers, such as EA, the entire cost of development (design, art, code, testing, packaging) is somewhere between 10-40% of entire cost of product. That's not even counting the franchises as a whole. It simply doesn't matter, revenue is completely unrelated to technology. By consequence, it doesn't matter.

But stays that way because of middleware, does it not? I mean if they had to build an engine every time that would raise time and cost significantly. So I would think it does matter.
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#6 Sirisian   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1626

Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:01 PM

You're referring to his recent comments that DirectX is better than OpenGL? Listening to the conversation on IRC last night it would appear he made that comment a few years ago when DirectX10 was released. I think his opinion is still valid. Rage isn't exactly old technology.

#7 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6472

Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:06 PM

Certainly I think we're at a point where the impact of his work is less visible -- back in the day iD was basically first to come with Wolf3D-style, DOOM-style and Quake-style engines. We haven't had any super-huge paradigm shifts in graphics (like say, if someone came up with a viable ray-tracing engine) only a steady and much less earth-shattering advancement. Still, though the advances that have happened may not be as in-your-face as they once were, there's still a lot of great technology being invented, and Carmack has been in that mix all along -- Think Mega-Texture.

Another part of this perception is that there are games which have usurped the "graphics crown" -- for example, Unreal 3 or crysis -- despite being, largely, a collection of clever hacks of fairly pedestrian technology. Not to knock that, as that's largely what real-time graphics is -- but just because something looks better, doesn't necessarily mean they're pushing the boundaries in any new direction. For example, practically no one is working on, or at least talking about, truly multi-core renderers. Carmack's mega-texture, while simple in concept actually is a fairly substantial new technology that fundamentally changes what is possible in games, as well as having benefits for artist's work on the production side (which is perhaps its biggest feature, from a business perspective, given that budgets now skew towards art production so heavily.)

Another thing is the hardware side -- we've reached the point of "good enough" for lack of a better term. We'll always be happy to eat up more resources, of course, but we've reached a point where we can scale our solutions down to current low-end hardware with acceptable results. From another angle, look at each generation of console we've had. Is the difference between the NES and SNES more pronounced than say, the difference between the Xbox and Xbox 360? I think it is -- that is, the delta between console generations becomes less pronounced with each passing generation of hardware, and this also comes simultaneously with consumers' expectations of progress further obscuring technical progress -- oppinion is less often now "Wow! Its amazing they can do this now!" to "Finally! Its about damn time!"

I don't think Carmack is any less influentialor interesting today than he was 10 or 15 years ago.

#8 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 16679

Posted 12 March 2011 - 05:00 PM

Carmack recently did some project work on the iPhone, a platform he had absolutely no experience with, and made one of the most graphically impressive apps on it. He knows how to play with the hardware well. If you care about performance, eeking out extra speed for your games, or if you care about graphics, he was the first to implement most of the major algorithms in in 3d graphics in ways that allow them to be run in realtime. That doesn't mean he's always right in every prediction he makes - but he'll certainly be alot more accurate then you or me.

He recently wrote something on Bethesda's blog, by the way, (id software was bought out by ZeniMax, the same people that owns Bethesda), if interesting in figuring out for yourself whether he's still relevant or not.

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#9 phantom   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6652

Posted 12 March 2011 - 05:11 PM

Right now if you asked me who I pay attention to in the graphics space my answer would be, in order; DICE, Epic, CryTech, iD.

So, yes, I think the things he says are still relevant although due to lower visibility these days I find the things coming out of other studios to be more intresting and directly impact my job more. Still if he didn't come out with intresting/useful/insightful things from time to time I wouldn't follow him on Twitter :)

But, honest, right now, I think the most impressive stuff is coming out of DICE; some might point at the recent UE video but, to quote a licence 'sure it looks nice, but it is running on an i9 with 3 fermi cards...' where as DICE have their stuff working on a PS3 ;)

#10 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 12 March 2011 - 07:33 PM

Right now if you asked me who I pay attention to in the graphics space my answer would be, in order; DICE, Epic, CryTech, iD.

So, yes, I think the things he says are still relevant although due to lower visibility these days I find the things coming out of other studios to be more intresting and directly impact my job more. Still if he didn't come out with intresting/useful/insightful things from time to time I wouldn't follow him on Twitter :)

But, honest, right now, I think the most impressive stuff is coming out of DICE; some might point at the recent UE video but, to quote a licence 'sure it looks nice, but it is running on an i9 with 3 fermi cards...' where as DICE have their stuff working on a PS3 ;)


I'd say john carmack as an individual knows as much about everything related to graphics programming as anyone. I'd say John Carmack is one person that doesn't need constant deliverables to have his advice be pretty relevant. He's developing the best looking mobile engine, a really solid next gen game engine, and building rockets ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

As a team I would agree Dice is doing very well, but for an individual...

#11 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18363

Posted 12 March 2011 - 11:20 PM

Regarding the D3D vs OpenGL statements this week...


The statement itself wan't much of anything newsworthy. His comments were mostly a summary of historical fact, there was no grand reveal. D3D handles several new hardware features and has been giving new features at the cost of backwards compatibility, OpenGL has introduced far fewer innovations over the last decade. This is not news, just summary.

He stated that even though he thought D3D was better in terms of modern functionality he would not be making the effort to switch his code.

He called making the change "a dubious win".



To me that sounds like only a tiny bit of praise for D3D, not a grand statement in its favor.
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#12 Tachikoma   Members   -  Reputation: 548

Posted 13 March 2011 - 07:05 AM

I think part of the problem is that people put him too high on the pedestal; and when he comments on something that is quite ordinary, people expect him to be prophetic and then up being disappointed. I think that is a real shame. Carmack is an inspirational figure. As an individual, he managed to innovate and literally influence the gaming industry like no other. Not a quality you see often in a person. For me, as an aspiring game developer, that's enough to get me going and keep toying around with programming.
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#13 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2389

Posted 13 March 2011 - 08:44 AM

I think part of the problem is that people put him too high on the pedestal;


Let's give credit where credit is due. Today, many developers learned graphics and other techniques. But back in the 90s, he did push the envelope, effectively singlehandedly (with the team). The original Doom and Quake engines were a complete shift in perspective and made things possible that many dismissed from the start. There was also no internet back then in the sense there is today. One could not just Google for something, be it algebra, API, something math-like. One could not just email the author of an algorithm or an API or OS. BSP and ray-casting, as obvious as they are today, were a breakthrough that made certain things possible several orders of magnitude cheaper. Neither of them were invented for that purpose, but being applied took that extra insight.

Moore's law made most of these obsolete, ubiquity of communication changed the development process.

Technology is specific application of science. As such it doesn't matter how advanced it is, adoption wins out each and every time. Historically, no technically superior product won. Only those that traded advances for simplicity and adoption.

Back around Q3 era Unreal engine was being developed. During that time, it was inferior as far as cutting edge goes and it also performed worse due to bigger reliance on standards (OGL/DX/whatever was back then). Even though it came out with an amazing software renderer that in some cases outperformed 3D cards, it was the long-term aspect that mattered. Q3 went different way, trying to be smart and squeeze out as much as possible here and now.

Instead, Unreal engine focused on tools. It came with top notch editor that could become part of development pipeline from day one. Q3, due to being too advanced, had higher barrier to entry. Unreal won over the long run.

These days, Unreal is far from advanced by design. Engine aims to scale as transparently as possible, so it supports roughly factor 3 in performance difference. Engines like CryEngine or similar scale much further but require considerably bigger input from developers. They need to plan for differences in scale, from slow, memory limited machine to dual-CPU, quad-GPU monsters. And at least part of them will be left disappointed, either due to low fidelity or due to poor performance.

#14 Tachikoma   Members   -  Reputation: 548

Posted 13 March 2011 - 11:04 AM

Let's give credit where credit is due.

Sure, and I have in my earlier post. With the 'pedestal' comment, I was implying that some people see Carmack as some kind of an oracle, as opposed to a very talented innovator in a practical sense. In my opinion, this leads to disconnect between Carmack's actual achievements and the masses' perception of his capabilities.
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#15 Lode   Members   -  Reputation: 953

Posted 13 March 2011 - 11:58 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but imho the days of amazing game graphics engine leaps (like how it went from Wolf3D -> Doom, or Quake -> Quake II) are over. The graphics are realistic enough.

I think today the art is more important for the visual quality of the game than the engine that renders this art. And producing this art is as hard, if not harder (= more expensive), than shooting a commercial movie.

So the days of being amazed by the next cool 3D engine are over, and that's sad because I liked it :(

Wake me up when games do realtime raytracing with global illumination and produce the same quality as todays rendered movies :D

#16 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18363

Posted 13 March 2011 - 10:45 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but imho the days of amazing game graphics engine leaps (like how it went from Wolf3D -> Doom, or Quake -> Quake II) are over. The graphics are realistic enough.

I think today the art is more important for the visual quality of the game than the engine that renders this art. And producing this art is as hard, if not harder (= more expensive), than shooting a commercial movie.

He was involved with leaps even before then. His graphics work enabled quite a lot of growth in the early side-scrollers and in early cart racing games.

Just because that particular bottleneck of rendering has been loosened does not mean the man is irrelevant. He is highly connected both as a skilled software engineer and as a seasoned executive.

I'll read his blurbs, just like I'll read the quotes that come from John Riccitiello, Mike Morhaime, or John Lasseter. It's a sad practice to discount people's ideas just because you think they may be a has-been. Learn from any experiences that people are willing to share. This is especially true from those who are now or have been in positions of influence and authority.
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#17 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 14 March 2011 - 08:52 AM

I'll read his blurbs, just like I'll read the quotes that come from John Riccitiello, Mike Morhaime, or John Lasseter. It's a sad practice to discount people's ideas just because you think they may be a has-been. Learn from any experiences that people are willing to share. This is especially true from those who are now or have been in positions of influence and authority.


especially since he isn't a has-been, he's just working on amazing stuff that isn't necessarily a blockbuster AAA game; even though rage is looking pretty awesome in large part due to him. His Rage Iphone app is really impressive, AND HE BUILDS ROCKETS AS A HOBBY. It's not like he's doing nothing or producing a bunch of games that are looking worse and worse compared to other titles.

According to wikipedia (granted probably not totally accurate), Crytek has almost 3 times the employees that iD has and Dice has almost twice as many.

#18 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4678

Posted 14 March 2011 - 09:25 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but imho the days of amazing game graphics engine leaps (like how it went from Wolf3D -> Doom, or Quake -> Quake II) are over. The graphics are realistic enough.

When people stop looking like plastic, I'll agree with you :rolleyes:

I think today the art is more important for the visual quality of the game than the engine that renders this art. And producing this art is as hard, if not harder (= more expensive), than shooting a commercial movie.

So the days of being amazed by the next cool 3D engine are over, and that's sad because I liked it :(

Agree, but even the cel-shaded games don't quite look as fluid as cartoons. The ink-style graphics of SFIV could be further researched to be put into a real-time playing environment. And have we conquered non-photorealistic graphics in games yet?

Wake me up when games do realtime raytracing with global illumination and produce the same quality as todays rendered movies :D

Same quality or same render at the same speed?
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#19 wanderingbort   Members   -  Reputation: 136

Posted 14 March 2011 - 09:42 AM

Wake me up when games do realtime raytracing with global illumination and produce the same quality as todays rendered movies :D


This is tangential at best, but I have a severe allergy to problem statements that prescribe a solution. Will it be good enough if we wake you when games produce the same quality as today's rendered movies?

This is actually why Carmack is still relevant and why Dice and CryTech have become such amazing graphics-tech houses: they think outside the box and create solutions that match the need and the capabilities of the time. They create buzzwords, they don't implement buzzwords.

#20 RivieraKid   Members   -  Reputation: 362

Posted 14 March 2011 - 02:05 PM

super inteliigent mathmatician he may be but i wouldnt ask him to work with a team of web developers. His code is a total mess. EPIC wrote clean modular slower maintainable code.

if he didn't spearhead his own company with his enthusiasm he would have been that guy who just hacks shit together which nobody else can understand. 6 months down the line the code breaks because carmack got another job.

he is still awesome though.




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