by Joseph Leray
John Carmack, the famously brilliant humanoid cyborg who founded id Software, created the id Tech engine, and designed “Wolfenstein 3D,” “Quake,” and “Doom,” has joined Oculus VR as the Chief Technology Officer.
A long-time tinkerer in virtual reality, Carmack was an early supporter of the Oculus Rift: he demoed it at E3 2012, created a virtual reality version of “Doom 3: BFG Edition” as an Oculus Rift Kickstarter reward, and made sure that (the troubled) “Doom 4” would support the Rift as part of its development process.
The “Doom 3” deal eventually fell through, but Carmack has remained a staunch evangelist for virtual reality in general and Oculus in particular. In other words, Carmack’s latest endeavor is a long time coming.
“John’s early experiments with the Rift put Oculus on the map and helped create an amazing amount of momentum around virtual reality,” writes Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey in a press release. “His technical genius and passion for solving hard problems makes him the ideal CTO.”
“The dream of VR has been simmering in the background for decades, but now, the people and technologies are finally aligning to allow it to reach the potential we imagined,” said Carmack in that same release. “I’m extremely excited to make a mark in what I truly believe will be a transformative technology.”
“I have fond memories of the development work that led to a lot of great things in modern gaming – the intensity of the first person experience, LAN and internet play, game mods, and so on,” Carmack continued on the Oculus web site. “Duct taping a strap and hot gluing sensors onto Palmer’s early prototype Rift and writing the code to drive it ranks right up there.”
“Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today,” he said.
In addition to a new full-time position at Oculus, Carmack will continue to provide “technical leadership” for games in development at id Softwhere, according to parent company Bethesda Softworks.
As technical director at id, Carmack spearheaded the development of the id Tech 5 engine, which was used for “Rage” as well as upcoming games like MachineGames’ “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” Shinji Mikami’s “The Evil Within,” and “Doom 4.” With the heavy lifting on id Tech 5 presumably complete, Carmack’s work at id will be “unaffected” by his move to Oculus.
If Carmack’s polymath status weren’t already established, keep in mind that he’s also the founder of Armadillo Aerospace, a startup company that builds suborbital spacecraft. In addition to revolutionizing PC gaming and pioneering virtual reality headsets, John Carmack is a literal rocket scientist. He also recently coded a Sudoku solver on his iPad, during some down time in airport.
“My time division is now Oculus over id over Armadillo,” Carmack tweeted yesterday.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter