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John Carmack Answers

Hemos posted more than 15 years ago | from the his-grace-answers dept.

Quake 327

A few days past, we solicited questions from you folks to ask QuakeLaird John Carmack [?] . We sent the questions over to him, and he answered. A lot. It's definitely one of the best interviews we've had yet - click below to read more.

1. Inazuma asks:
I know that you and id are doing simultaneous development of Q3 for Windows, Mac and Linux. Which of those is your favorite OS to use, and which to program for?

John Carmack Answers:
I use WinNT, Win98, MacOS 8.x, and linux on a regular basis. I also spend some time with MacOS X and irix.

There are individual pros and cons to each system, but if I had to choose only a single platform in its currently shipping state to work on for the next year, I would choose WinNT.

I'm going to risk my neck here and actually defend microsoft a bit:

There are plenty of reasons to have issues with MS, but to just make a blanket statement like "everything that comes from microsoft is crap" is just not rational. There are a lot of smart people at microsoft, and they sometimes produce some nice things. There are some damn useful features of MSDEV that I have not seen on any other platform - all the intellisense pop up information and edit-and-continue, for instance.

I chose NT as our development environment because, after evaluating all available platforms, I decided it was the best tool for the job. NT had the added advantage of running the native executables of our largest target market, but the important point is that it would have won on its own merits even without it.

It offered quality 3D acceleration on intergraph hardware, a stable platform, a good user environment, apps for basics like mail and document editing as well as high end media creation tools, and a good development environment.

I made that decision over three years ago, and I think it has proven to be the correct one. NT is definitely going to be the primary development platform for our next project, but I will be evaluating alternatives for a possible transition after that. The contenders will be linux and MacOS X. None of the other unix workstations would be competitive for our purposes, and I don't think BeOS will offer anything compelling enough (they can always prove me wrong?).

I haven't really been using Win2K, but from a cursory glance, it looks like a reasonable evolution over NT 4.0. The only real downsides to NT 4.0 for me are the bad sound latency and poor input fidelity, and these should be fixed in Win2K.

The current MacOS X server is a bit of a disappointment. I really enjoyed NEXTSTEP on a lot of levels, and if it had workstation quality 3D acceleration, I probably would have stayed there. Unfortunately, much of the development effort spent on it during its transformation to MacOS X seems to be steps sideways instead of forward. Macifying the user interface, porting to PPC, deprecating ObjC for java and C++, etc. They probably all had to be done, but it just hasn't brought anything new to the table. As a user environment, it still feels sluggish, and it still doesn't have 3D graphics.

Linux has progressed a lot in usability in the time since I made the last platform decision. Sure, the guts have always been good, but the user environments were very weak compared to windows or the mac. Some people may think six xterms and a few athena apps are all the UI that anyone should need, but I disagree. The Linux user environment still isn't as good as windows, but going from redhat 5.2 to redhat 6.0 was a whole lot more impressive than going from win95 to win98, or MacOS 7 to MacOS 8. If there is another jump like that, I wouldn't feel too bad inflicting another non-windows platform on everyone else in the company.

2. DanJose52 asks:
How'd you start, personally (I mean on the inside, like emotionally and morally), and how has Id software changed you? for better or worse?

John Carmack Answers:
I knew I wanted to work with computers from a very early age, but there were also a lot of other stereotypical geek aspects to my life growing up - phreaking, hacking (nobody called it "cracking" back then), rockets, bombs, and thermite (sometimes in not-so-smart combinations), sci-fi, comic books, D&D, arcades, etc.

I was sort of an amoral little jerk when I was young. I was arrogant about being smarter than other people, but unhappy that I wasn't able to spend all my time doing what I wanted. I spent a year in a juvenile home for a first offence after an evaluation by a psychologist went very badly.

I went to a couple semesters of classes at the University of Missouri (UMKC), taking nothing but CS classes, but it just didn't seem all that worthwhile. In hindsight, I could have gotten more out of it than I did, but I hadn't acquired a really good attitude towards learning from all possible sources yet.

I dropped-out of college to start programming full time, but trying to do contract programming for the Apple II/IIGS post 1990 was not a good way to make money, and I only wound up with between $1k and $2k a month. Not having enough money is stressful, and I did some things I didn't want to. I wrote a numerology program for a couple hundred bucks one time...

Softdisk publishing finally convinced me to come down to Shreveport for an interview. I had been doing contract work for Jay Wilbur and Tom Hall, so I knew there were some pretty cool people there, but meeting John Romero and Lane Roath was what convinced me to take the job. Finally meeting a couple sharp programmers that did impressive things and had more experience than I did was great.

After I took the job at Softdisk, I was happy. I was programming, or reading about programming, or talking about programming, almost every waking hour. It turned out that a $27k salary was enough that I could buy all the books and pizza that I wanted, and I had nice enough computers at work that I didn't feel the need to own more myself (4mb 386-20!).

I learned a huge amount in a short period of time, and that was probably a turning point for my personality. I could still clearly remember my state of mind when I viewed other people as being ignorant about various things, but after basically doubling my programming skills in the space of six months, I realized how relative it all was. That has been reinforced several additional times over the seven years since then.

All the time from working at Softdisk, to founding Id and making the products we are know for has been pretty seamless for me. I have been learning as much as I can, working hard, and doing my best.

I know that most people won't believe it, but a 100x increase in income really didn't have that big of an impact on me as a person. It is certainly nice to be in a position where people can't exert any leverage on you, but it's definitely not the primary focus of my life. I get to drive a ferrari in to work, but my day to day life is almost exactly the same as it was eight years ago. I get up, go in to work, hopefully do some good stuff, then go home. I'm still happy.

3. by moonboy asks:
I once read, in Wired, an article that said you have an incredible headstart on everyone else for making "virtual worlds" on the Internet using your engine from the Quake games. Do you have any intention of doing this? Has anyone approached you about it? It would seem like a fantastic use of the technology with online gaming being so popular. Entire worlds online could be created virtually and very life-like with many different purposes.

John Carmack Answers:
Making Snow Crash into a reality feels like a sort of moral imperative to a lot of programmers, but the efforts that have been made so far leave a lot to be desired.

It is almost painful for me to watch some of the VRML initiatives. It just seems so obviously the wrong way to do something. All of this debating, committee forming, and spec writing, and in the end, there isn't anything to show for it. Make something really cool first, and worry about the spec after you are sure it's worth it!

I do think it is finally the right time for this to start happening for real. While a lot of people could envision the possibilities after seeing DOOM or Quake, it is really only now that we have general purpose hardware acceleration that things are actually flexible enough to be used as a creative medium without constantly being conscious of the technical limitations.

Two weeks ago, I pitched a proposal to develop some technology along these lines to the rest of the company. I may wind up working on some things like that in parallel with the next game project.

4. justin_saunders asks:
Many people consider you to be one of the best programmers in the game/graphics scene, based on your ability to keep pushing the limits of current PC hardware.

I was wondering what measures you use to gauge the skill of a programmer, and who, if anyone, you look up to and consider to be a "great" programmer.

John Carmack Answers:
Like most things, it is difficult to come up with a single weighted sum of the value of a programmer. I prefer to evaluate multiple axis independently.

Programming is really just the mundane aspect of expressing a solution to a problem. There are talents that are specifically related to actually coding, but the real issue is being able to grasp problems and devise solutions that are detailed enough to actually be coded.

Being able to clearly keep a lot of aspects of a complex system visualized is valuable.

Having a good feel for time and storage that is flexible enough to work over a range of ten orders of magnitude is valuable.

Experience is valuable.

Knowing the literature is valuable.

Being able to integrate methods and knowledge from different fields is valuable.

Being consistent is valuable.

Being creative is valuable.

Focus is extremely important. Being able to maintain focus for the length of a project gets harder and harder as schedules grow longer, but it is critical to doing great work. (Side note - every time "focus" is mentioned now, I think of Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky", currently my favorite SF novel)

I certainly respect the abilities of my primary competitors. Back in the DOOM days, Ken Silverman was extremely impressive, and today Tim Sweeny is producing much of value.

5. ajs asks:
I read a sort-of-analysis that you wrote way back comparing DirectX 3D handling to Open GL (with Open GL being far preferable to you). Do you feel that the tools that you and others will need to create the next generation of games exist now under Linux or other Open Source operating systems, or is that still a long way off? What would you recommend that we developers and developer wannabes dedicate our time to?

John Carmack Answers:
To develop a game, you need coding tools, pixel art tools, modeling and texturing tools, sound tools, and usually music tools.

Coding tools are basically fine under linux, and there is already plenty of force behind their improvement.

Gimp looks serviceable for pixel editing, but I don't know of any professional game developers using it.

I assume there are some basic sound tools available, but I would be surprised if they are equal to the best windows or mac tools. That is probably the most approachable sector to work on improving.

Modeling and texturing tools are the biggest lack, but it is also the hardest to address. They really need to be built on top of solid 3D infrastructure, and that is still in its infancy right now. It would probably be possible to build a simple, focused modeling and texturing program that could get the job done, but full featured programs like MAX and maya have an immense amount of work invested in them. Maybe SGI will get maya ported to linux...

We are going to try to build our next level editor cross-platform, which will probably sort out a bunch of 3D content creation issues. I will be improving the matrox GLX driver as necessary to support the effort.

6. thebrit asks:
Is it possible ID may join Ion Storm for a future project together , or are the 'artistic' differences between you too great ?

John Carmack Answers:
Future technology licensing is certainly possible, but as for actually working together, there is very little chance of that for a project that we considered important.

If I decided to spend a little discretionary time whipping up, say, a color gameboy port of Commander Keen (an idea I have sort of been toying with), then I might ask Tom and John if they wanted to make some levels for it.

7. Scott Francis[Mecham asks:
Recently someone posted about their experience in determining the file structure of the Doom WADfile. How did you feel when people were discovering how to modify Doom, from building new levels, to changing the executable itself(dhacked) originally without any information from id? In your opinion, is the modding community a valuable place for creating future game developers?

John Carmack Answers:
The hacking that went on in wolfenstein was unexpected, but based on that, DOOM was designed from the beginning to be modified by the user community.

The hacking that went on with the leaked alpha version was obviously not approved of, but after the official release I did start getting some specs and code out. I had sent some things out early on to a couple of the people that had done tools for wolfenstein, but in the end it was pretty much a completely different set of people that did the major work with DOOM.

The original source I released for the bsp tool was in objective-C, which wasn't the most helpful thing in the world, but it didn't take long for people to produce different tools.

Dhacked was a bit of a surprise to me, and I always looked at it as something that maybe shouldn't have been done. I'm not very fond of binary editing an executable. It clearly showed that people were interested in more control, so it probably argued for the greater freedom given with quake.

I still remember the first time I saw the original Star Wars DOOM mod. Seeing how someone had put the death star into our game felt so amazingly cool. I was so proud of what had been made possible, and I was completely sure that making games that could serve as a canvas for other people to work on was a valid direction.

A doom/quake add-on has become almost an industry standard resume component, which I think is a Very Good Thing. The best way to sell yourself is to show what you have produced, rather than tell people what you know, what you want to do, or what degrees you have.

In the modern gaming era, it is very difficult for a single person to produce a complete looking demonstration game from scratch. It does happen, but a much more reasonable scenario is to do an add-on that showcases your particular talents, whether they are in coding, design, or media. You want to be able to go to your prospective employer and say "There is a community of ten thousand people actively playing a mod that I wrote in my spare time. Give me a job and I will be able to devote all of my energy to gaming, and produce something vastly superior."

8. jflynn asks:
Many people think that the extreme sucessfulness and longevity of DOOM and Quake was partly due to the internet communities that sprung up around them, to discuss playing them and write new levels for them.

How important do you feel a viable gaming community is to the success of a new game today?

John Carmack Answers:
I have always been a strong proponent of supporting the gaming community, but arguments can be made that it isn't that important for success.

Most entertainment media is designed to be throw-away, where people buy something, have a good time with it, and move on. Myst, the most successful computer game of all time, has no community.

A lot of companies would prefer to look at their games like movie releases. Every couple years, you go see the latest by a director you like, then don't think about it too much until the next one.

The game-as-a-lifestyle type of community that has sprung up around a few games is an interesting phenomenon. The plus side is that there is a lot of wonderfully creative things going on, and it does attract more attention over the years than any single media blitz.

The downside is that it breeds a lot of zealotry, which can be a bit ugly. I get some fairly hateful email from people that are too wrapped up in it and disagree with some direction I am taking.

At this point, I think it is clear that the community has been a positive thing. I was very pleased when, earlier this year, Kevin Cloud came around and agreed that the community has indeed been good for us. For years, it felt like I was just being humored by the other owners at id when I pushed for all the code releases.

9. mpav asks:
This is a break from the usual questions from this group, but I thought it would be interesting to know.. You have a couple of exotic sports cars, one being a 1000 horsepower/750 ft-lbs of torque (insane!) ferrari, and I was wondering which one you generally drive to work?

John Carmack Answers:
I drive my twin-turbo F50 almost all of the time. It took a while to get all the bugs sorted out, but it is almost a perfect combination right now. It is light, nimble, and responsive, and 600 hp at the rear wheels is just about perfect for a street car of that configuration.

I only drive my testarossa now when I am low on gas in the F50 or if I need to drive someplace where I think the extra inch or two of ground clearance is important. It is heavy and ponderous, but every time I do drive it, I am impressed again with the power. 1000 hp at the rear wheels is excessive. It takes a while to spin the turbos up to the full 24 psi of boost, but when it has a full head of steam going, it moves like nothing else on the road. It runs away from superbikes on the highway. However, when exercising it, you have a very clear sense that you are taking your life into your hands.

I will probably be getting rid of my TR when my next project car is completed. It is a custom carbon fiber bodied ferrari GTO with a one-of-a-kind billet aluminum twin turbo V12. It is going to make a bit more power than the TR, but only weigh about 2400 lbs. I have a suspicion that we will wind up detuning the engine, because 1 hp / 2 lbs is probably quite a bit past excessive and into the just-plain-stupid realm.

It was supposed to be done two years ago -- mechanics are worse than programmers.

I also have a little MGB that I am theoretically working on myself, but I haven't had time to touch it in six months?

10. Hobbex asks:
Though it unlikely that games will ever be free (ala beer), since so much effort goes into them from all angles (not just code, but also art, music, design etc), but that does not necessarily preclude open source game engines.

Admittedly (and I don't mean this as a slam against you) game engines today do suffer from many of the same problems that Open Source activists attack in Operative systems and other software: bugs, instability and sometimes even bloat and vaporware.

Do you think that Open Source will play a part in the future of game development?

John Carmack Answers:
I have spent a lot of time thinking about that.

I was trying hard to get an article together about game code licensing to go out with the interview questions, but I just didn't make it in time. I had written three pages of article and four pages of other stuff that I had ripped out because it was going off on various tangents.

First, it is interesting to examine how coding is similar or dissimilar to art, music, design, etc. Most GPL works don't have to face the issue, because the work is clearly dominated by code. A few little icons aren't enough to make people really think about it. The argument is significant for games, because coding is only about a third or less of the work in most cases. The arguments that RMS puts forth for the ethical rightness of free software also seem to apply to all digital media. If you take them seriously, the spirit of the GPL seems to want to say that all digital media should be free. That isn't a pragmatic battle to try and fight.

If you just focus on the code, I think there is indeed a viable business model for a line of titles based on open source code with proprietary data. It will take either a very small company, or a very gutsy big company to take the first step. The payoff won't be until the second product.

I think open source is at its best with games (and probably most other things) in a post-alpha model. Fixing, improving, and building upon an existing core is obviously extremely fruitful in an open source model.

Going open-source from development day one with a game probably doesn't make much sense. Design by committee doesn't work particularly well, and for something with as much popular appeal as games, the signal to noise ratio would probably be very low.

I tagged along at the beginning of a from-scratch open source gaming project (OGRE), and it more or less went how I feared it would - lots of discussion, no code.

While the mod communities may not be exactly OpenSource?, I think they work very well. There is some value in having focused areas to work in, rather than just having the entire thing dumped in your lap.

I am going to be releasing the majority of the code for Q3 soon, but there will still be proprietary bits that we reserve all rights to. We make a fairly good chunk of income from technology licensing, so it would take some damn good arguments to convince everyone that giving it all away would be a good idea.

Something that is often overlooked about Id is that Kevin and Adrian together own 60% of the company. They are artists, and most definitely do not "get" free software.

John Carmack

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To Serve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611454)

Master, thank you for humbly for your time. Please take this offering of pizza as a sacrifice given freely by your ever faithful legions. void pizzacode(toppings, crusttype, radius);

great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611455)

so when is all this 3d technology gonna be put to use for something worthwhile instead of just another release of the same point-and-die game we've been playing since wolf 3d?

Carmack really has some guts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611456)

To say he (*GASP*) likes NT on slashdot.org Could slashdot really allow pro-NT statements here? Did hell just freeze over?

Maya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611457)

...just to say that SGI is going to release Maya for linux (it was announced last week)... lg (too lazy to check for my password)

Re:To Serve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611458)

Uh...I think your return type should be pizza, not void man.

Meta-moderation gonna git you sucka (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611459)

The above post contains an interesting and useful link related to this article, and it gets moderated down as "flamebait?"

I can't wait for this one to show up in meta-moderation.

Re:It's not "Pro-NT", it's a Linux Bug Report. :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611460)

"Neat how this works, huh? The better our friends in Redmond do, the more they provide us with material to learn from. You cannot, in the long term, out-feature Open Source."

By doing this you are doomed (no pun intended considering the context) to second place. If all you do is implement what has already been done on NT how will you get ahead? By the time it's done the competition will have moved on to something else, which will then need to be copied... The Linux community needs to come up with something new and usefull not just copy NT (or Be or Mac or OS/2) features, that will just ensure Linux is a step behind.

Re:SF book mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611461)

It's been out in hard back since last Feb., the paper back release is set for Jan. You might want to read "A Fire Upon the Deep" first, same universe just 30,000 years later (and a better book IMHO).

Memoires a quake ninja. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611462)

When quake appeared on the internet scene, I was there and awestricken by the sans-monster demo. It was a revolution in graphics and I was able to experience it on a lowly pentium overdrive. When the demo came out that included internet play, I was there, blasting hellfire across the internet at twenty-eight thousand bits per second. When capture the flag came out my projected self was in Mckinley base, spraying bullets at the entrance while the opposition stormed in, trying to get my flag. Ah back when the internet was fast enough that a 28.8 modem could get 100-120 pings. Nowadays every fucking thing gets routed to timbuk-two and back, rendering us lowly modem users with a simulated parkinson's disease in the virtual gladiator arena. Sure, games have gotten good at *hiding* the lag but it's still there. I don't online game anymore. Feels awkward and detached. But that's ok. My tastes have changed too. Blowing people up on the internet just doesn't do it for me anymore. Time for the next step, blowing people up in real life!.... Just kidding!!! What I mean is VR, like JC was saying. We now have hardware that is fast approaching the capability to render *near reality* scenes. That will result in the second revolution, when people start competing in the pursuit of replicating perspectives of reality. What I find satisfying, is that the programming skill is already here. Once the hardware catches up, we will have some incredible things to play with on our computers. 5 years from now, the original and succesfull implemantation of the Snowcrash "Metaverse" will still be impressive but seem a little rustic compared to what's capable with the 2005 crop of Voodoo(n)'s or Matrox(n)'s

Re:No good email program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611463)

I was a pine user forever, but I've been forced to use Outlook at work for the last two years and I've grown to like it. It is bloated, but the group scheduling features are indispensible in the business world. I also get attachments with the vast majority of messages I receive at work, and the iconic representation of attachments within the message body is a great feature.

I still do use pine at home, but I long for a stable graphical client under Linux that supports POP3 directly (so I don't have to run a separate mailer) and allows me to view attachments as icons inline.

Mike Abrash = Microsoft employee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611464)

Mike used to, and returned to, Microsoft after working at id. He's a hardcore programmer there. Cool no?

Re:No AC's again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611465)

I love it. I really do.

An AC makes a valid point and gets marked up to a '1'.

Two nickboys respond and get bumped down to zero.

Sometimes things do go right at /.

In fact, I even had a less-than-complementary post I made regarding Linux upped to a 2 last week.

Re:Nice comments on OS X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611466)

we gotta give OS X a break, it's v 1.0

Technically ... its a v1.0.2. They've released 2 patches. Everyone expects them to release a minor update (maybe v1.1) this winter to add drivers for all of the new hardwar that's been released since OSX Server came out (in April/May).

esp. the Java vs. Obj-C argument

Not to beat a dead horse, but just because there are more people who claim to know Java doesn't make the programs it produces any better. I think that there are more people who know C then know Java. Obj-C is clearly more powerful, but has fallen behind in terms of marketing because of Sun's brut force, MS-esque approach (superior marketing --- resistence is futile).

Both languages are usefull in their own nitches. Want to write an applet use Java. Want to write a real application use Objective-C (Corell anyone :-)

Re:It's not "Pro-NT", it's a Linux Bug Report. :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611467)

Linux has never, ever, been about creating anything new. It just hasn't. GNU isn't the complete opposite of New, but it's definitely NOT just an alternate spelling.

Ah, but we innovate too, Grasshopper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611468)

While literal copying the best of what's out there is a good thing, we undoubtably need to innovate alongside of that.

A duplication of the NT game developing environment Carmack likes won't be enough to seduce him away from NT - it needs to have all the features that make the NT system work, none of the annoying cruft that it already has, and some new, kick-ass features besides.

A tall order - but one I'm sure we're up to.

Especially with the reward involved: John Caramck publically stating that he switched id from NT to Linux because the IDE that we wrote was so kick-ass. That's like Jacques Villeneuve (uhhh, maybe Jeff Gordon for the Yanks) saying our car is better than anyone else's.

There's a mission for the GLIDE guys - "Convert Carmack!"

Re:Hate to admit it, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611469)

However, much of this has less to do with the merits of NT as an OS and more to do with it's merits as a market force.

Carmack himself implied this by talking about the apps that he finds useful under Win32 rather than Win32 itself.

Oh, and I think he's wrong that acceleration infastructure has to be developed before the apps. A proper API can separate the interface from that aspect of the problem well enough that development can move forward well enough.

This is what has occured with Blender and Maestro, with the developers of the latter admitting that noone will be motivated to improve acceleration before there is something to accelerate. The same could be said for the GL versions of Doom and Quake as well.

Re:Hate to admit it, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611470)

Actually, its quite easy to deliver a version of Mesa or SDL to be used with a particular GAME. Furthermore, Linux will better tolerate multiple versions of shared libraries and legacy versions. Your comments in that regard are just plain wrong.

reuse is prevelant in all creation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611471)

Artists, programmers and nature itself employs design and "code" reuse.

Re:Nice comments on OS X - What is Objective-C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611472)

OK, you old NeXT people. You always jabber about how greate Objective-C is. Why?

I'm stuck doing C++ stuff right now and can tell why I hate it, but what's better?

Re:Open Source, RMS, digital media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611473)

There might be utility in building a large library of GPL or PD artwork that can be freely built upon. There might also be artists more inclined to contribute under a GPL approach or a BSD approach, just like coding. There are bound to be plenty of easily reusable bits of 'art code' that can prevent the same sort of constant re-invention that reusing source code does.

This is another effect (intended by rms or not) of Free Licences.

of course they apply to all media (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611545)

Haven't you ever seen RMS complain that OReilly doesn't give their books away online? Anything that can be made digital-books, music, paintings- Stallman wants under his license.

Re:A call to arms for Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611546)

One reason OS X client is taking so long is the new graphics model. It will be very cool. Essentially they have ditched display post script (to get out of paying royalties to Adobe) and have moved to a display PDF-esque system. It will be very fast with native alpha chanels & other fun stuff.

Also with their agreement with SGI, they have Open GL in their new system.

...and the ease-of-coding of NeXTSTEP.

I think that they can only do this if they start pushing Objective-C into the main stream. I have not seen any recent Objecive-C books published by Apple. Admitly, they've been a little busy on the hardware side. But, now that they are getting their house in order, they should really start to get the word out on Objective-C (its in gcc/egcs). Once you use Objective-C, I have never seen anyone want to go back to C++ or Java.


Re: Prometheus and the tool metaphor (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611547)

I think I see what you're getting at. Code can be seen as a tool for creating other stuff. The same is not really true of paintings or music. Making your code open-source has a couple very significant consequences. Not only do you get a lot of help troubleshooting and refining your code, but you also enable others to use the tools you've created. It's sort of like being a latter-day Prometheus.

Re:Sound tools? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611548)

Reality, Reaktor, Retro AS-1, SoundForge, T-Racks, and other professional packages.

No AC's again. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611550)

Oh that's nice, not a single AC question was submitted once again.

That's too bad, as there were some good ones.

Re:Hate to admit it, (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611551)

it kind of makes sense ... that NT *would* make a good development platform for *games*?

Well, no, not really; NT4's DirectX support is not brilliant, and never will be. It's the quality of the developer tools that's so attractive. DevStudio is a bloody good piece of software for developing anything.

The most frustrating thing with NT is how installing one program seems to incur a 20% chance of breaking something

Linux is no more free of application interdependencies than NT is; this is something that can only get worse on Linux, IMO.

Kernel panics happen, too; crap hardware is still crap, even if it's running Linux; I've had my share of machine lockups (usually X-related) and kernel panics (usually SCSI-related). NT on the same hardware was rock-solid, BTW, because the drivers were that bit more mature. That's nothing to do with the OS.

Linux may or may not surpass NT in the future; BeOS might pip both of them, but what's important is the toolsets available and right now the big problem area for OSS development is native application support for file formats. IMO this is far more important than how big your uptime is.

If you're looking for an open source 3D engine.... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611552)

Check out http://crystal.linuxgames.com

Here's a great list of 3d engines, some of which have source:

A good programming reference for your "How do I program Quake" questions is Michael Abrash's Black Book of Graphics Programming. It's a huge book which has a lot of cool stuff on BSP trees, Quake data structures, etc. at the back of the book. To be fair, it also has some outdated info on programming in DOS and assembly programming for outdated processors, but Abrash is one of those rare talents who can write and program extremely well. And he worked on Quake, so he knows what he's talking about.

jeff s.

It's not "Pro-NT", it's a Linux Bug Report. :) (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1611553)

While Linux kicks NT's behind on many, many things, it stands to reason that it - as a system still very much in development - that it can't beat NT in *everything* - yet.

The good Mr Carmack has just pointed out an area where Linux could be improved.

More importantly, he has just created the Mother Of All Opportunities for some hackers in search of some ego-boo. How'd you like to be the guy that wrote the game development environment that converted **Carmack**?!!

I expect we'll see a flurry of coding on this very problem, and NT will lose again.

Neat how this works, huh? The better our friends in Redmond do, the more they provide us with material to learn from. You cannot, in the long term, out-feature Open Source.

There's also... (1)

Scott Francis[Mecham (336) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611554)

..Blender. Although right now it isn't as suitable for game development, since it can't export viable format or skeleton data, it's still a pleasure to use. Can always make 3D-rendered 2D graphics..

Hate to admit it, (5)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611556)

As much as it galls the little open-source fanatic in me, it was really good to see someone at last come out with a very well-reasoned decision to use NT as a development platform.

It's usually easy for people in the OSS community to bash Windows because the people who make the decision to use it generally do so because they're uninformed sheep, following whatever PC Week told them. Overall, I think this ease of attacking leads us past some of the actual advantages of using NT. We sit here and back Gartner or ZD, moan about how much Bill pulls down, and all the time we are blind to those certain places where MS still "ownz" Linux.

But you can't really argue with what Carmack said, and even if you do you've got to have the creds to stand up to frickin' John Carmack (I can think of a half dozen names at best who'd even get that sort of time of day, and they better have a damn good arguement).

Overall, I give Linus and Carmack the most points for being the most grounded hackers out there; whenever they take a stand on an issue, you generally realize (either then or later on when all the pieces have fallen into place) that they were right -- I remember Carmack talking about lack of an easy-to-use email program under Linux a few months back, and he is (or was, this new KDE email program looks pretty hip) 100% right.

One last thing that's a little off-subject: Why do we have to put up with people posting comments like "Right on!" just so they can be in the top few comments? I'm not sure what can be done about it, but it's really starting to cheese me off. Maybe just saying out loud that they're morons in enough, but I'd really rather that people started posting more intelligent, though-out and well reasoned comments that at least demonstrate that they've read the article. Rant mode off, sorry.


Counterpoint (1)

Chris Johnson (580) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611558)

It's perfectly valid to object to Windows NT on the basis of the consequences of such support. Taking a stance of complete moral neutrality and blindness is not necessarily wrong (you have to pick your fights, and leave some other ones alone for people who are more interested or committed), but I disagree that it is in any way ethical.
I would say this decision of Carmack's was courageous, gutsy, but not in the slightest ethical. He could have chosen to base the decision on ethical grounds, at which point endorsing Microsoft products may not have seemed like the winning move. Instead he decided to go with total pragmatism based on the current snapshot of the industry, and when it changes he'll re-evaluate. On the one hand I believe and respect that, on the other he has personally taken action to impede its changing- Carmack endorsing NT at the current moment _is_ valuable to MS, make no mistake, and that value and advantage will be spun and used as a weapon whether he meant it that way or not.
So it's not really about whether Carmack can identify the optimal platform for his needs at the moment- if that's all it was, then NT could always be that platform, thanks to MS sabotage and buyouts if necessary. The question is whether that alone is enough, and that's a personal question that everybody must answer for themselves.
I know that for myself, I've already thought about this question a lot (obviously, since I'm a Mac/LinuxPPC user), and my answer is that I'm ready to be inconvenienced in some ways in order to get other conveniences, and in order to feel like I have options in the industry. If I chose to endorse Microsoft products, that would mean that I had intentionally changed my mind and decided that it was best to encourage a situation where only one vendor won, and everything else was basically crushed, because that's what Microsoft does. Currently I'm not ready to 'endorse' that, and for me these concerns are inextricably bound up with the more pragmatic concerns: for this reason I was completely unmoved by Carmack's perspective. I'd considered that already, and it lost to 'broader social concerns' or however you want to phrase it.
I hope other slashdotters are able to take this in the proper context. There seems to be a sense of 'Carmack says NT, therefore everybody should use that until Linux is better', and I don't consider that a sensible position.

Re:Sound tools? (4)

Chris Johnson (580) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611560)

I don't know about Windows and would question whether there's much that really hits the professional level like certain Mac stuff, but on the Mac think Digidesign Pro Tools, which also implies specialised hardware. Ensoniq has a digital audio workstation package for several grand called Paris- as usual for this sort of thing, it comes with an outboard patchbay/mixing console. Expect to pay thousands for this stuff.
As for the _software_ specifically, again, look at Pro Tools. It's possible that you might go with a GIMP-like 'zillion add-ons' scenario, but there are certain things that must be there, and without them you're nowhere professionally but with them platform means nothing to a DAW:
  • internal calculations at vastly higher bit depth than your output bit depth (which will be 16 or 24 bit- internal needs to be 32 or 64 or more)
  • seriously great dithering to translate the final output to the desired bit depth, otherwise the added depth is wasted
  • realtime. This is where the Mac shines, as you can starve the OS of cycles with trivial ease. To be professional there must _never_ be a dropout of even one sample in duration. To produce pro-quality DAW software, first work out how to make it realtime, even if you don't think it's necessary. You _have_ to treat it as necessary because eventually something will get tangled up and unless you have it running as realtime priority, able to starve _anything_ in the machine to play continuously, you'll get a hiccup- and have to do it over- at twenty thousand dollars an hour (not unreasonable for the total cost of having a superstar group in a really topflight recording studio).
That said, there's no reason why Linux couldn't seize this market, given a suitable understanding of its requirements. However, it's important to not make the mistake the GIMP made- to the best of my knowledge, the GIMP calculates internally in RGB color. (If it calculates internally in 128-bit RGB color, downplay this critique, but gamut is still an issue). Its pro-tool competition, Photoshop, calculates internally in LAB color, which exceeds the gamut of RGB color, and this causes every single operation it offers to be done with a broader palette of colors (not necessarily higher resolution! But a broader gamut).
As far as I know, there _are_ no other pixel editing tools that calculate in LAB (Luminance, A and B) color, so the GIMP can basically beat everything else, but this core design decision is limiting. A comparable digital audio opensource project would be well advised to overdesign from the start. On the bright side, there's nothing quite the same as the gamut problem in digital audio, so the main thing would be to calculate in a high enough bit depth and make sure there are never dropouts or error-corrections- given that, future amazing dithering algorithms could be done as plugins, and the project could rival or beat anything commercial :)

Re:Hate to admit it, (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611561)

Linux is no more free of application interdependencies than NT is; this is something that can only get worse on Linux, IMO.

I'm not sure how to parse that. Are you saying that the only place where application interdependencies can get worse is Linux (as in, that NT is certain to improve in this area), or that linux is certain to get worse?

I'd hope the first to be true; Also, I'd hope that the second one wouldn't be. With GNOME/KDE and its ilk, however, I'm concerned that this second hope may be a bit less than certain (Modify the version of your gnome-core and all sorts of interesting things are liable to happen, I've found). On the other hand, NT's been due to improve its library versioning for quite a long time. Though I hear that Win2K will have significant improvements in this area, I'm not certain that it's quite what it should be (anyone better-informed care to comment?).

Btw, what SCSI hardware do you use? I've had no prolems whatsoever with my BusLogic/Mylex drivers.

Re:doh.. (3)

MassacrE (763) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611563)

yah, they've met, I don't know any details other than Carmack visited Transmeta and they talked about things like 3D on Linux (and things needed for the kernel)

Re:Hate to admit it, (2)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611565)

Well, I think there are few serious people who would not concede that NT is good for *something*.

And, it kind of makes sense, doesn't it, that with Microsoft's concern for things like DirectX on NT (Yes, I realize Quake uses OpenGL), that NT *would* make a good development platform for *games*?

Of course, many of us have to do other things with our machines (particularly servers) than gaming (bummer, eh?). In those cases, there are few areas where NT really excels, IMHO.

It does have a pretty decent interface (though not as good as OS/2's), but the inconsistency of its behavior makes it unsuitable for most server tasks, IMO. The most frustrating thing with NT is how installing one program seems to incur a 20% chance of breaking something, somewhere in the system. Example: a guy who installed SQL Server, and it broke his InterDev menus. Just weird stuff like that.

And, there is one thing that I know from having to maintain NT machines for the past 3 years: Blue Screens Happen. Not on every machine, but consistently on some. And situations like the horrific SP2 release make it hazardous to even install fixes.

I hope id continues to use NT, as long as it really is the best solution for them. But, I hope they keep looking at Linux, because it will surpass NT in even these areas in a few years.

Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

Re:Wow, THAT musta hurt! (2)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611570)

I didn't see it that way at all. Keen was the franchise that got id off the ground, and porting it to the GBC could be a fun sentimental project for the 'original team'. I imagine that level design was what Tom and John did the first time.

Nice comments on OS X (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611571)

While, we gotta give OS X a break, it's v 1.0, I think a lot of folks at Apple should be listening to what Carmack is saying -

This guy is making a decision to standardize on a development platform. A leader of the game industry. This is BIG time here. And he's made some valid points about the future direction of OS X. Points I've heard made by many others. (esp. the Java vs. Obj-C argument).

One of the rumors currently circulating is that Apple is on the move, looking for a permanent CEO - Jobs will either go back to Pixar, or stay on as a consultant. Either way, I think Carmack's the man for the job, because as technical as he is, I think he's got his finger on the pulse of what's going to make or break the future of Mac OS.

"The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."

How to build a stable NT system (5)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611582)

I work in a severe corporate environment, so much that we aren't even "allowed" to upgrade system components (like service packs) or device drivers on our NT systems.

You might at first think this is horribly inefficient and a sucky way to manage (or let others manage) their systems, but it does have one tremendous payoff:

Our NT systems are collectively as stable as any Windows-based PC I've ever seen. I am forced to reboot my PC on average once every month, sometimes longer. Usually this is due to a memory leak of some kind (source unknown) where I start getting messages about insufficient resources.

People constantly bitch and moan about daily reboots (it's frequent that they're exaggarating, but that's beside the point), but if you manage your system cautiously, things like this don't happen.

  • Use mainstream hardware. Hardware that is popular and well-supported in the market will have the greatest chance of having bug-free device drivers under NT. It's usually the device drivers that cause blue-screens. This would be equivalent to using binary-only Linux modules. If these are the least bit buggy, your "stable" Linux kernel thus behaves buggy, and will crash.
  • Don't install experimental, unreviewed software or bug fixes. The reason our PC's are "managed" by the PC support people is that they are constantly reviewing released fixes and the latest versions of major pieces of software (such as Internet Explorer, Office, etc.) to ensure stability. If a product in its current form causes problems and conflicts, it is not permitted to be installed on the PC's. To this day IE's Active Desktop and even Outlook 98 are on this list. Of course, you're free to install these things if you like (I have IE5 and Outlook98 on my PC), but it's generally a Good Idea to trust your PC support folks. If they say a particular application is causing problems, it probably is.
  • If you don't have a PC support department of your own, just be cautious. Don't install a new release/version of an application immediately. Wait a few months to see what the reviews are like. Monitor the release of updates and bug fixes.
Under Linux, people are under the misconception that things like buggy software don't matter as much, since the Linux Kernel stays afloat.

This isn't entirely the best way to look at things. Sure, the kernel is A-OK, but is your WORK ENVIRONMENT the same? If you tickle a bug that brings your KDE/Gnome desktop down, is this really all that different from a Win* crash? You've still lost your GUI applications' data. In all fairness, though, if a large application dies under NT, there's a pretty decent chance you're about to experience some more evilness from NT, whereas under Linux, if a non-critical application dies, you're usually pretty safe. This may change for the worst, though, as we start seeing more "core" applications running providing services to other user applications. If there's a bug in the core or a bug in an application that the core doesn't know how to handle, it could just as easily bring your environment down.

the real killer of os/2.... (1)

drew (2081) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611586)

was probably the guy we just interviewed (and the rest of id software)

for at least a year or two, the biggest criticisms i heard about os/2 was "it doesn't run doom!!!"
while this probably wasn't an issue for commercial settings, i imagine that hurt it as much as anything else as an alternative on the home desktop....

Re:It's not Pro-NT, it's a Linux Bug Report. :) (1)

drew (2081) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611587)

> Just remember Redmond, we'll always be one step behind!

Is it just me, or does that not sound like something we should really be bragging about?

Re:great (1)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611588)

so when is all this biotechnology gonna be put to use for something worthwhile instead of just another release of the same insert-somewhere-moist game we've been playing since humans existed?

Re:Cool (1)

dangermouse (2242) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611589)

Yeah, Quake 3 is going to be nice (especially when XFree86 4.0 is released and it goes on my TNT2), but a reissue (Linux port? :) of Commander Keen... THAT I would fork over a big, big chunk of change for. I'd buy a color GameBoy in a heartbeat if there was a Commander Keen game available. God, I love that game.

Re:Interview with id CEO Todd Hollenshead up at.. (1)

substrate (2628) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611590)

Why was this moderated as flamebait? I could see not moderating it up, but moderating it down?

The Blackbook isn't that good. (1)

syntax (2932) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611593)

Really, I don't have a huge amount of respect for Abrash or the book.. Yeah, its good he wrote it, its a decent reference, but Abrash himself isn't that much of an inspiration programmer.. Each chapter in the book starts off with a really stupid story or him saying how Carmack told him how to do this. I'm not impressed. :)

Sound tools? (2)

Chris Siegler (3170) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611595)

I assume there are some basic sound tools available, but I would be surprised if they are equal to the best windows or mac tools. That is probably the most approachable sector to work on improving.
I know diddly about sound, but I'm curious which are the best windows or mac tools that JC refers to? A quick search of freshmeat brought up tons of sound related stuff (too much--wish you could order by number of downloads), but ecasound [wakkanet.fi] looks impressive for the Linux side, although I'm sure it's missing a lot.

Certainly, hacking on a sound tools sounds a lot easier than creating a Maya [sgi.com] clone.

Attributes of great programmers (3)

Chris Siegler (3170) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611596)

Focus is extremely important. Being able to maintain focus for the length of a project gets harder and harder as schedules grow longer, but it is critical to doing great work. (Side note - every time "focus" is mentioned now, I think of Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky", currently my favorite SF novel)
I agree with JC that focus is extremely important. But it also doesn't seem to be an acquired thing. People seem to have it or they don't.

I personally have never been able to maintain focus for long periods of time. Short is easy. I can study hard for finals and learn a lot in a short period of time, or read a textbook cover to cover, but a year seems impossible and a month is stretching it. And I don't know if it's possible to change.

The frustrating thing is that it's not a physical act that you can will yourself to do. I can push myself to run another mile, or swim another lap. But maintaining focus means being able to think clearly and imaginatively and all that (see, I'm already losing focus ;-).

Perhaps focus is like IQ, and can be improved upon but not conquered, although I certainly hope not.

Re:Sound tools? (1)

Watts Martin (3616) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611598)

Certainly, hacking on sound tools sounds a lot easier than creating a Maya clone.

Probably, yes. :-)

But, Carmack may be talking about things like SoundForge, CoolEdit, Logic, Aural Illusion, Nuendo and the like. These are not insignificant. I'm not sure there's even a good "SoundTracker" type program (creator, not player) for Linux.

He owns Ferraris ... and anMGB!?! (1)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611604)

Very impressed that he owns the same car as me (an MGB). It's just a shame I haven't got a Ferrari or two - although if I had that sort of money it would have to be a TVR Speed 12. Ferraris are just too flimsy ...

Chris Wareham

Re:Cool (1)

larien (5608) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611608)

I've played the demo (unfortunately, with no other players around) and it is visually stunning. Playability-wise, the controls were sound and I was able to use my preferred mouse/keyboard combo in the same way as I had QuakeII.

The only downside was that my P233MMX was looking a tad underpowered; the graphics showed a few jerks when running fast, although it was still playable. Once some bad guys are in, though, it might really show some problems.

BTW, that plasma gun looks evil!

doh.. (1)

doobman (6198) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611615)

Now that I've read the interview I thought of a really good question. Figures.

I wonder If he's ever met Linus or not. I'm sure they would get along great. I'd love to listen to one of their conversations though I probably would only understand about a tenth of what they talked about.

Linus and John just seem to be mirror images of each other some times. I just know linus would love to cruise in johns car while talking about software in general.

Re:No AC's again. (0)

Sethb (9355) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611619)

Well take the time to make an account if you want your questions answered. I hate to see "anonymous source" used in any journalistic publication, having an "anonymous interviewer" is even sillier. It's one thing to protect your identity if you're revealing confidential information, but how much "secret" information are you risking by posing a question? Very little.

Well Crap. (2)

TheAmigo (10935) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611620)

It would've been nice to know a bit about his personal life(besides cars). I know several of us asked questions centering on that.

Carmack's Maturity (4)

Grenamier (12799) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611626)

To me, one of Carmack's greatest traits is his maturity. I've been reading his plan updates for years, along with all the interviews and writings I can find, and I've never felt like he was being a punk, or using his immense talent as a proof of his opinions (e.g. "I'm the best game programmer there is, so I must be right"). He's a person who is willing to stand up in front of a crowd with a different view (I admire that he was willing to say on /. that NT serves his needs better than Linux...others might have tried to "please the crowd"). He can see value in things even when they're not useful for him, and he takes the time to decide properly how valuable something really is for him. I could honestly sit for hours talking about all things I respect about him, and how much he has impressed me with his focus and honesty, etc. but my fingers are tired and I'm starting to sound like I want to have his kid.. :)

From reading the .plans of other game developers on PlanetQuake and *some* of the comments on places like Slashdot, I wish other technical people could look up to Carmack for more than just his programming skills...respect for that is certainly well-deserved, but there is so much more than that that people could learn from him.

He isn't just a great programmer, he's grown into one heck of a complete person. Congratulations to him...I hope he enjoys continued success.

Re:Open Source, RMS, digital media (2)

theJeff (13638) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611628)

It seems to me that the difference lies in the modification rather than distribution. What originally started RMS on the whole Free Software thing, was not being able to fix a program he needed to use.(A printer driver, I believe. And I know there are philosophical reasons. From accounts I've read this was the trigger) This argument doesn't really apply other digital media.

Software is demonstratably improved by allowing users to modify it. Does anyone really think that would be the case with art, books, music etc. You can make a change to a piece of software that increases speed, stops a crash, add functionality etc, and there can usually be a reasonable concensus that it is an improvement. There are no similar hard and fast improvements that can be made to the other categories.

The argument that the cost of copying is zero so the cost should be zero applies, but with software there is a return to the author in the form of improved code, with creators of art, music, books etc, I strongly doubt most would consider any changes an improvement.

(Documentation and technical/reference manuals are probably an exception to this. They could profitably be made free.)


interesting. (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611631)

i was hoping he'd answer at least one question relating in some way to the future of ray-tracing/voxels/progressive algorythms (nervana) in 3d gaming.. but i think i'll settle for the interview we got.

Re:See Id Run ... Go Id Go (1)

Steelehead (14790) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611633)

I came to the same conclusion you did.
He seems well aware of his success (those cars! uberwoody), at the same time has both feet on the ground:
" it is certainly nice to be in a position where people can't exert any leverage on you, but it's definitely not the primary focus of my life. I get to drive a ferrari in to work, but my day to day life is almost exactly the same as it was eight years ago. "

Open Source, RMS, digital media (3)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611635)

First off - wow. Great questions, great answers.
The arguments that RMS puts forth for the ethical rightness of free software also seem to apply to all digital media. If you take them seriously, the spirit of the GPL seems to want to say that all digital media should be free. That isn't a pragmatic battle to try and fight.

I'm particularly intrigued by Carmack's comments about open source game licensing, and his observation that RMS' comments on free (as in speech) software seem to apply equally to all digital media - art, music, sound effects, models, what-have-you. Personally, I don't think that's the case, because code has applications (no pun intended) that music and art don't, but I'm not sure I can articulate my point of view any better than that.

I'd like to hear what you guys think about it. (Particularly if you're RMS, for curiosity's sake. :) )

Wow, THAT musta hurt! (2)

beernutz (16190) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611637)

If I decided to spend a little discretionary time whipping up, say, a color gameboy port of Commander Keen (an idea I have sort of been toying with), then I might ask Tom and John if they wanted to make some levels for it.

WOW, is it just me or did anyone else catch this slap in the face! Whew, definately still some bad blood there huh?

Re:great (1)

William Wallace (18863) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611639)

"Personally I prefer Quake II above Unreal since it has better gameplay. Unreal looks better though."

I agree, Quake/Quake2/Quake3 all have better
gameplay than Unreal. And Unreal looks better
than Q2, but Q2 still has a more realistic feel.
Looking all around you feels more realistic, the
way the projectiles fire carries more weight. I
was really hoping to like UT, because I wanted
something new to play.

Yet again id Software is the only company to
one-up themselves for serious deathmatching, with
Q3A... that thing is AWESOME. I can't wait to see
the next beta.


High End Linux Modelling Tools (1)

Agent Drek (18979) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611640)

John Carmack Answers:

Maybe SGI will get maya ported to linux...

FYI John:

Please see http://www.sidefx.com
Houdini is IMNSHO a much more powerful package than maya and now runs under linux ... Big news for us in the television/film 3D world

Re:great (3)

jilles (20976) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611643)

For that you will have to look at unreal instead of quake. The unreal engine has been licensed to a wide variety of companies who did all sorts of stuff with it. One of the things I read about a few months back was using it in a tool for architects.

The reason the unreal engine is chosen for these things is not so much its graphic superiority but more its superior flexibility. The unreal engine is highly customizable. From a software engineering perspective quake's customization capabilities are a bit clumsy. Clearly Carmack's talents are focused on the graphic side. I really hate the way you have to customize the game with the .pkx files. All of it seems so primitive.
Examples of cool unreal stuff: Unreal has some really cool scripting capabilities, a nice way of installing user mods & levels (basically fool proof), a nice way of varying game behavior (mutators are really cool). All these features make it easier to customize the unreal engine for other stuff than "point & shoot" style games.

Don't get me wrong, quake is great. Personally I prefer Quake II above Unreal since it has better gameplay. Unreal looks better though. I'm not sure about UT & Q3 yet. I played both of them a lot lately. I probably need better hardware to make a final decision (though UT is superior when it comes to visual quality).

Re:id's Law ->Absolutely (1)

cancrman (24472) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611647)

Same thing for me:

Wolf3d -> Dad's 386 4mb ram
Doom1/2 -> 486-33 8mb ram
Quake -> 436-66 16mb ram (didn't work quite so well)
Quake 1/2 -> p200 96mb ram (voodoo 1)
Quake 3 -> Athlon 550 128mb ram (voodoo 3)

The funny thing is that I ordered the Athlon pretty much just to play quake3 on. Half Life and Unreal run OK on my current system (the p200). I'm hoping that my new box lasts as long as my current one ( I've had the p200 for 3 years now!). Quake3 would probably be sorta playable on my machine if I upgraded the video card. I have played Q3test and it runs surprisingly well. But Quake 3 is a good enough reason to upgrade than anything else


and... (0)

Wah (30840) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611656)

...there were some good jokes told in Afganistan today, but I didn't hear 'em.

If you want to be heard, Identify yourself. Be accountable.

id's Law (3)

Wah (30840) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611657)

"You will feel the need to upgrade your machine every 2 years...simply to play id's latest game"

at least thats how it worked for me
Before id's FPS 386-16

Doom-486-25 => DoomII-486dx2-50 => Quake-p100(voodoo1) => QuakeII-p200 => Quake3-pII450(voodoo3)

Not that I'm compaining, JC should be getting kickbacks from every 3d card manufacturer for creating a market for them. Great interview. Anyone who can say NT is better, for game developement than linux, on /. and not get flamed to all hell is a special kind of coder. I was actually looking forward to this one. Good job /.

Relativity and Ferraris (2)

SedentaryZ (31149) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611658)

The best comment in this Q&A is when John described his TR as "heavy and ponderous". Amazing how driving an F50 every day can change your world view...

Re:Wow, THAT musta hurt! (1)

grem (32975) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611659)

Nope, I didn't see anything nasty about that comment. You must be new to reading JohnC's writing. He meant exactly what he said; no more and no less. He's too straight-up to deliver a slap in a sarcastic tone like you've imagined. I've been reading his plan updates for around 3 years and have yet to read anything spiteful or nasty. Even when he had to publically acknowledge that Brian Hook's .plan updates were out-of-hand he did so in a quiet but firm tone.

Re:Hate to admit it, (2)

|DaBuzz| (33869) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611660)

Good points.

The system I was thinking of would not fix the problem you speak of, it would simply give those who want to participate a way of doing it without having to write a quality essay on the subject.

Many times I've hit "reply" only to have nothing of real substance to say besides that I agree or disagree, hence I cancelled the post. It would be nice at times like those if I could still interact and give my opinion without clogging up the thread.

I too never really see first post or "right on" posts anymore, but I also never look. :)

An additional benefit to a mini-poll system would be that it would help the slashdot admins gauge what's popular and what's not with the GENERAL readers, not just those who are outspoken enough to comment on every article. It's a way for the silent masses to not be so silent anymore.

Just more random thoughts, carry on.

Just like to say ... (3)

|DaBuzz| (33869) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611662)

... that I've been a big id fan since I first saw my girlfriend's brother playing Wolf3D on a 286-16.

I've been following the FPS/Action3D genre for many years now and Carmack is one of the only guys who has stayed consistent throughout. There are many egos and one-hit-wonders out there while Carmack just churns along producing unbelievable technology combined with an ultra-enjoyable gaming experience.

I honestly believe he is the biggest driving force behind PC games today, both directly and indirectly.

Thanks John.

Re:Hate to admit it, (4)

|DaBuzz| (33869) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611663)

One last thing that's a little off-subject: Why do we have to put up with people posting comments like "Right on!" just so they can be in the top few comments? I'm not sure what can be done about it, but it's really starting to cheese me off.

Work that threshold baby!

If anyone who codes this stuff is reading this, maybe an option like Everything has where people can agree/disagree with the overall article without having to post "yeah, what he said!" or "this suck". Maybe each article should have its own mini-poll along with comments.

Something like:

What's your reaction to this article/feature:
A) This Rocks!
B) This Sucks!
C) It was interesting
D) ZZZZzzzzzz
E) Cheese.

Show a mini-poll results box up at the top so people can gauge some reactions without having to wade through each "This rocks!" post.

Just an idea, do with it what you wish.

Bring back NeXT! (2)

Absynthe (34189) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611664)

God, I feel him on being disappointed with OS X. The first code I ever compiled was objC. I've gotten used to it, but no other platform/os I've worked was as simple and elegant. The UI was beautiful.
Of all the 20 or so people I know who used NeXT, one of them is excited about OS X and is planning on developing for it. I don't understand where apple is going, what would have been wrong with supporting NeXT as a development platform, or even opening up parts of it to open source.
Oh yeah, that was rhapsody...I got the rhapsody developer kit in my email one day. I really can't decide if I'm more pissed at mac users that were just terrified by the thought of losing that stupid smiley face and their windowshades and their GODAWFUL memory management, and....(do I sound bitter?), or Apple for listening to them and watering down rhapsody into rhapsody II then watering it down to OS X.

speed 12 (1)

Bothari (34939) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611665)

They're not making them yet.... but a cerbera 4.5 would still be pretty cool (1200 Kg/420 hp)
No, I can't spell!
-"Run to that wall until I tell you to stop"
(tagadum,tagadum,tagadum .... *CRUNCH*)

See Id Run ... Go Id Go (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611669)

There's something about Carmack and Id that I just can't put my finger on. He's not exactly charismatic. Not in the way of, say, Steve Jobs anyhow. Maybe it's just a down-to-earth good natured sort of thing - the man just makes sense to me.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

RH changes (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611670)

Buddy - it's all configurable :)


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:He owns Ferraris ... and anMGB!?! (1)

Canadian AC (47292) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611683)

ummm...those Ferrari are built,there's not just the engine who's upgraded,the car is,unfortunately,it's all a question of $$$$,best power to buck ratio presently is a Camaro with a Lingenfelter engine,should cost around 45 000$ (16k$ for engine and the remaining for the car),if you want a used car,get a 300ZX twin-turbo (any years) and send it to stillen,forgot the hp for both solution: Camaro 450hp stillen 300ZX around 500 to 550hp depend on the mod level you choose.

url for both these tuner: www.lingenfelter.com and www.stillen.com

Re:Sound tools? (1)

Canadian AC (47292) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611684)

i've seen these tools in action,they're worth their weight in sex appeal !!!

IDEs (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611689)

The IDEs are with NT. Where the IDEs are the developers are. Slowly IDEs are being brought over or developed for Linux so I expect to see many more people seriously considering an alternative OS. I mean, if you can get the same EXACT job done in the IDE, what does it matter, really, what OS you're on?

Know Your Business vs. Know Your Job (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611692)

> He doesn't seem (like many other companies) to be focussed on making his company the
> dominant company, but focussed on making his engine the best engine.

Carmack knows the difference between doing his business and doing his job. Consider the folks who ran the railroads 60 years ago - they saw their job as "building faster and better trains", but their business was "moving stuff from A to B". When someone came out with a better way to move cargo and people from A to B, they were bypassed completely and lost horrific sums of money.

Most technology firms, IMHO, are making the same mistake. The "portal" trend is a prime example of these kinds of mistakes - not "diversification", but "di-worse-ification".

Selling games is a job. Building technology is a business. By building the best engine he can, he ensures ongoing revenue from licensing, and keeps his firm in the running for the "if someone builds Snow Crash, or an immersive 3D environment to replace the desktop paradigm, it might run on our engine" prizes. The really kewl games are a wonderful bonus.

Contrast this with a lot of gaming firms whose idea is "to produce a hit game every year or so, we don't care if it's an ultra-wow-3D-thriller- with-gibs-flying-everywhere or another copy of Trivial Pursuit, in fact, we prefer Trivial Pursuit since it's cheaper to develop", and you'll see where the smart money is.

Making a hit game is fun, but it's hit-and-miss; it's only a job. Building a technology with broader application, and releasing really cool games (or licensing the technology) to showcase it, is a business. It's fun enough to be worth doing, and it also pays the bills that allow you to keep improving that technology, ad infinitum.

Far be it from me to speak for Carmack - but judging from the quality and consistency of his releases - he not only knows the difference between his business and his job, he's using that knowledge of the difference to make a difference. (And having a damn good time at it too!)

WinNT!?! First angry, then understanding. (4)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611693)

Hmmm...WinNT? I had a knee-jerk skeptical reaction, but his justification makes sense. Linus and team have done a brilliant job on the kernel. A text-mode Linux box is the system for serving up web pages or running such behind the scenes applications, and it's great for no-nonsense programming as well. But Linux hasn't remained the sparkly gem in the transition to being a graphical desktop environment. Little things have accreted to make Linux less than the dream it once seemed to be:

1. X servers don't hold up the "solid as a rock, no crashes" reputation that Linux has built for itself. Sometimes this is because of buggy servers or window managers, but more frequently it's because of driver problems. The common advice is "You can still recover. Just ssh in from another machine and skill the server processes." But what about the single machine home user?

2. There are beautiful window managers, but most X apps are still butt-ugly and inconsistent.

3. The new wave of desktop environments, like KDE, seem to be bent on being "like Windows, only better," which makes one wonder why he or she just isn't using Windows in the first place. Bad Windows user interfaces, like the reliance on multi-level pop-up menus--are being duplicated, despite the cries of human interface designers and sites like The User Interface Hall of Shame.

4. XWindows is becoming reliant on a good drivers, but the general driver philosophy in the Windows world is "get something that will hold together until the next generation product comes along, then who cares?"

Somehow we need to rewind and re-gain the rock solid reputation.

SF book mention (1)

mister7 (56875) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611699)

(Side note - every time "focus" is mentioned now, I think of Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky", currently my favorite SF novel)

I looked this up on amazon...sez it's not in print yet(Jan 2000). Anyone know about it?

Re:SF book mention (1)

mister7 (56875) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611700)

My bad! Hardcovers been out since February. I was looking at the paperback listing. Doh!

Carmack's coments on development environments (2)

Chalst (57653) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611701)

Thought provoking comments on the differences between the development envirnoments he has used, and it is nice to see that he thinks that Linux is getting there: the games development envirnoment is probably the furthest away from Linux's natural strengths.

I'd be interested to see what Carmack thinks of tools like VMware: does he see it as bing useful to have NT and Linux on the same machine? Would it make his life easier?

A call to arms for Apple (2)

imac.usr (58845) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611703)

Graphics acceleration isn't a primary focus of OS X Server, but it damned well better be at least a consideration when OS X itself ships next year. Apple needs to continue the (admittedly slight for now) momentum it's been building in the game community by pushing for better ATI drivers or working with companies like Nvidia or 3dfx to write drivers for their cards, and delivering on its promise of a system with the ease-of-use of a Mac and the ease-of-coding of NeXTSTEP. Hopefully John will revisit this issue when OS X is available--and hopefully he'll bend some ears at Apple to make sure they understand!

Re:It's not "Pro-NT", it's a Linux Bug Report. :) (1)

The Future Sound of (60863) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611705)

That's right.

They come up with a new way of doing things, and we'll catch right up.

Just remember Redmond, we'll always be one step behind!

Re:See Id Run ... Go Id Go (2)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611710)

He's more like Wozniak. The guy who did the work and let other people worry about being flashy.

Re:Hate to admit it, (3)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611716)

Well, it is nice to see some reality about NT around here. I've been somewhat annoyed at the some of the propaganda that seems to infect some Linux advocates. WinNT does not crash hourly. In fact, WinNT is a pretty stable OS.

I code for WinNT for a living, so I push it pretty hard. My box crashes maybe once every couple weeks. Now, that's not perfect, but given what I do to the thing daily, it isn't too bad, either. (Hell, I remember working in the old DOS days when a mere wild pointer could force a reboot.) Machines in our lab have little trouble running for months.

I used to code for OS/2, and that OS was slightly better than NT, but only slightly. I haven't worked full time on Linux yet, but my experience so far seems to be that it is also better, though not by any means perfect. I've crashed that box, too. (And yes, they were really XWindows crashes, but that doesn't really mean much when you are swearing at the screen!)

In my mind, all of this "Linux never crashes, NT crashes hourly" stuff hurts Linux far more than it helps. It hurts because anyone who has worked with NT much knows that that it is not true. Knowing this, one doubts anything these advocates say. The danger is that it isn't so easy to tell the good advocacy from the bad from the outside. The tendency is to ignore them all and discount any claim for the new OS. I saw that happen with OS/2, and IMO, that is one of the things that killed OS/2.

You are so right about the danger of "Service Packs", though. My personal opinion is that this is caused by the desire at Microsoft to tie everything together for marketting reasons. Very, very bad in an industry where modularity is important. With something the size of an OS, it is impossible to test all combinations, so you should be damn sure that all parts are discrete and modular. This is a great opening for Linux to succeed, but currently, Carmack is right. WinNT is a better platform for certain sorts of development.

Re:To Serve (1)

toast0 (63707) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611717)

no it shouldn't, the coder obviously eats the pizza in the function, and returns nothing (not even a tip, the ungrateful punk :)

John Carmack's Integrity (5)

Ted V (67691) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611720)

I am consistantly amazed at John's integrity every time I read something he's written. It seems like everything he says, he's thought about and has a good reason for it. If he's not sure, he says so. He doesn't walk into problems with a preconceived notion of "the best" solution, as exemplified by his choice of NT as their platform for development.

But hearing his description of his youth, he clearly wasn't always this ethical. :) Was it really the six months of real programming that turned him around? I'm curious how exactly he had a change of heart, because I know many many people who just balk whenever someone tries to teach them anything.

I guess what I'm asking is, "To what extent is John Carmack's integrity a natural extension of born love for the 'best solution'? To what extent did he learn integrity?"

Incidently, I think that John's ethics are one of the two main reasons he's *universally* beloved by gamers (unlike John Romero). The reason is that Carmack makes really kick ass games. :)


NT/Linux for Game Development (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611721)

> As much as it galls the little open-source fanatic in me, it was really good to see someone at last come out with a very well-reasoned decision to use NT as a development platform.

I'm not sure where you have been hiding :), but most fellow game developers [not just programmers, designers, artists, etc.] that I know, would rather use NT then Winblows 95/96/98/99. Only a few of us programmers run Win9X where I work, everyone else is using NT.

A lot of [game] developers wanted to use NT 4 when it first game out, but we had no choice, since D3D wasn't fully supported under NT (i.e. no hardware acceleration for D3D.) I don't even want to mention the huge OpenGL vs D3D that divided the community a few years back. Most developers agreed OpenGL was cleaner, but didn't want the hassle of fighting to get working (and fast) OpenGL drivers for NT/9X when MS was pushing DirectX drivers come hell or high water.

MSDev is a pretty sweet IDE. If the Linux community had an IDE just as good or better then MSDev, I could probably get the rest of my co-workers to switch over to Linux, or at least even consider porting our games. :)

I did manage to find a few Linux Dev Tools, but haven't had a chance to check them out.

Code Crusader

Exuberant Tags

GCC 2.95 Buglist

http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworld/lw-1999-09/ lw-09-vcontrol_2.html

Code Fusion review on /.
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/09/09/1054 237&mode=thread

Visual SlickEdit

BeOS is also pretty slick. You even get a free IDE with it ! If anyone has any info for porting Win32/Linux apps to BeOS feel free to post urls ;-)

Re:Hate to admit it, (2)

jauren (71647) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611722)

Of course, it may be that many who will post "Right on!" comments just to be at the top of the list really want to see their names there at the top. I don't usually see first posts by Anonymous Coward (though more prolific slashdotters may see patterns I have not noticed). An anonymous voting system on the quality of the articles may be useful in and of itself, but I don't know that it would get anywhere near solving the actual problem of idiotic first posts. I thought that was what moderation was for...

Re:He owns Ferraris ... and anMGB!?! (1)

vyesue (76216) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611728)

I'm gonna go completely offtopic here and just say that TVRs rule.

ok resume topic.

Hard to Admit... (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611731)

But Carmack has correctly assested the state of NT and Linux as development platforms for games.

One of the things that Microsoft has done right is invest huge amounts of manhours and money into their dev tools and it shows. Their development IDE is probably the only product I will give high praises and this is coming from someone who is used to EMACS and gdb. :-)

I've always said that if Microsoft really wanted to rule the world, they should have tried to crossplatform all of their APIs and tools. Forget the OS....it is sometimes hard to install another OS on a machine but you can change libraries on the fly! They could have owned UI world everywhere. But then again, maybe this isn't a good thing. :-)

Focus (3)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611732)

One thing about Carmack that impresses me most is how focussed he is. He doesn't seem (like many other companies) to be focussed on making his company the dominant company, but focussed on making his engine the best engine. If more top people at companies were focussed on that, the open source movement wouldn't be nearly as necessary as it is today.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a Quake engine be the basis of the first successful virtual reality engine. I think Carmack's legacy will not be the games, but something altogether more impressive.

Re:Interview with id CEO Todd Hollenshead up at.. (0)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611737)

Because the /. moderators are jackasses. I can't imagine why anyone would flame my post. I guess I'll just stop posting on /. at some point...

Interview with id CEO Todd Hollenshead up at.. (3)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611738)

An interview with Todd Hollenshead, the id CEO was posted today at The World Gamer's Front [tripod.com] . Stop by and check it out now that you have read some words from the mouth of god.

James Puckett
The supabeast
Editor In Chief, The World Gamer's Front [tripod.com]

Re:A call to arms for Apple (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611750)

Apple may not have to convince card manufacturers to write drivers... there are a couple of programmers porting the nVidia drivers from Linux to MacOS already (albeit not X yet). I'm sure the same port is possible to X, provided some programmer works on it and a graphics API such as OpenGL is available. I don't know if OpenGL or Mesa are available for X yet, tho.

Now if Apple wants SUPPORTED drivers, that might be an issue :)

No good email program? (2)

rotted (97941) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611752)

I remember Carmack talking about lack of an easy-to-use email program under Linux a few months back, and he is ... 100% right.
I think this is a feeling that comes from being used to a certain email program on another platform. Personally I can't stand bloatware like Outlook. I have used Netscape, Outlook, Eudora and a several others and by far the most efficient, productive email program for me is Pine! It's fast and light, never crashes, and most importantly it never gets in my way.

A question... (2)

D.A.Alderud (99349) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611756)

How come that when we talk about Windows someone always complains that
Windows forces everyone to get faster and more powerful hardware?

It is actually games, like iD's, that makes it so.

And why should only games be limited to use new hardware and not new "features" for Windows?
Sure, I don't want, or need, those bloated features... or Windows for that matter,
but someone obviously do.

Just curious.
I'm interested to see what you all have to say about this subject.

Re:To Serve (1)

Schnedt (99690) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611757)

No, the return type should be 'belch'

Re:A call to arms for Apple (1)

Schnedt (99690) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611758)

PDF isn't owned by Adobe?

I always thought it was MORE owned by Adobe than Postscript.

Re:A question... (1)

Schnedt (99690) | more than 15 years ago | (#1611759)

Windows hasn't forced me to get ever-faster hardware. I have Office 2000 installed with Windows 95 on my 486DX2-50 laptop (w/28 MB of RAM) and it runs fine.

I wouldn't try to create Powerpoint presentations on it, of course, and it's not my primary machine.

Games have "pushed the envelope" far more than Office apps have, though. People don't buy 3-D cards to build Powerpoint Presentations.
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