Carmack explains decision not to license id Tech 5

id Software's John Carmack talks about why the company isn't interested in licensing id Tech 5 to third parties.

16

Programmer John Carmack has become a public face of id Software, but he's still a programmer at heart. The legendary developer recently spoke out on a wide variety of topics, from the decision not to license id Tech 5 to his new-found coding freedom at the company.

When id announced last year that id Tech 5 would only be licensed to Bethesda-published games, there was some disappointment from PC fans, but Carmack says he didn't ever take the software licensing business as a major part of the company. "It was never really a business that I wanted to be in," he says. "In the very early days, people would pester us, and we would just throw out some ridiculous terms, and we were surprised that people were taking us up on it," he told Gamasutra.

"I didn't want to be in the process of supporting a lot of outside teams -- because we feel beholden to not make radical changes, and pull the rug out from underneath lots of other people. If it's your own team, you can make the sensible decision of 'It's going to be worth it. It's going to suck for a while, but we can make our way through it.' But you don't want to do that to other people."

Carmack is also attuned to how Rage's long development time reflects on Doom 4. He says that the team "rewrote too much technology," and needs to be more focused in the future. "But the other thing is just once you've made all the decisions, there's real value in being able to pile a hundred people onto a project. Now that id's grown to be multi-team, we should be doing more of that shifting resources around. As soon as Rage ships, the core tech team is going over to help the Doom 4 team. I think that's the more correct way." He says a "migratory work force" is more efficient than trying to hire a glut of new employees.

Finally, on the contentious issue of the state of PC gaming, Carmack argues that the platform is probably more active than ever -- just not in the way PC enthusiasts would like to see. "When you look at all the MMO money on there, there's still a lot," he says. "And when you include Facebook games and stuff like that, and all the web games. It's just, I think people regret the migration of the hardcore action game, which clearly has taken a move towards the consoles. But gaming on the PC, there's probably more hours of PC games going on now than there were five years ago. There's expansion in the market, different trends, and things like that. And sometimes, just the world doesn't always correspond to your wishes."

Editor-In-Chief
From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 22, 2011 9:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Carmack explains decision not to license id Tech 5.

    id Software's John Carmack talks about why the company isn't interested in licensing id Tech 5 to third parties.

    • reply
      August 22, 2011 9:58 AM

      i'd be more interested to know why the multiplayer version of this game is not a FPS, but more-so a vehicle-only combat mode? What was ID thinking to focus on a FPS story with no FPS Multiplayer mode???

      • reply
        August 22, 2011 10:02 AM

        My thought on the whole thing is the MP experience for this game is tacked on for the MP junkies too squeeze out more sales kinda like the DS2 mulitplayer. But that's just a guess on my part.

        • reply
          August 22, 2011 10:02 AM

          the non FPS mulitplayer is just strange too

      • reply
        August 22, 2011 10:22 AM

        I think it's pretty obvious what they were thinking: FPS (and FPS-like 3rd-person, ala Gears) multiplayer is massively saturated right now. Even if the FPS multiplayer for Rage was great, it would almost certainly be drowned out by the major multiplayer franchises.

        Multiplayer combat racing, on the other hand, is practically nonexistent. Going for that gives them an opportunity to distinguish Rage, and appeal to a different group of players.

      • reply
        August 22, 2011 10:58 AM

        Originally it wasn't going to have multiplayer at all. This thing is a relatively late addition, and as such, probably very tacked on. See Doom 3.

    • reply
      August 22, 2011 10:15 AM

      But gaming on the PC, there's probably more hours of PC games going on now than there were five years ago. There's expansion in the market, different trends, and things like that. And sometimes, just the world doesn't always correspond to your wishes.

      Funny how Carmack always seem to grasp the big picture and state it instead of just say what people want to hear.

      • reply
        August 22, 2011 10:20 AM

        There's too much substance (performance, intelligence, life goals, passion, productivity etc.) in Carmack to care about that fluff. Maybe the engineer geek thing makes him more honest as well, but in any case it doesn't hurt.

      • reply
        August 22, 2011 10:22 AM

        There's an earnestness about him that I really appreciate.

        • reply
          August 22, 2011 1:03 PM

          Yup, he's always been that way and it's part of the reason I like him. He's good enough at what he does and secure enough in his situation that he doesn't really need to pander to a certain audience or worry about pissing people off. He just kinda of says what he feels and talks about things how they are. And since he is who he is... instead of getting pissed off at what he says... other companies tend to take notes and change their shit to get in line with him instead of slinging insults etc. The fact of the matter is that usually, he's dead on right... and that's the way he talks.

          • reply
            August 22, 2011 4:46 PM

            The opposite of someone like Peter Molyneux. It's damn refreshing.

          • reply
            August 22, 2011 5:19 PM

            He's always been the best thing to happen to PC gaming IMO.

    • reply
      August 22, 2011 10:32 AM

      This helps my recent theory that in the near future, 75% or more of games will use either Unreal, Source, CryEngine, or some similarly mod- and license-friendly game. With things like UDK, the Source SDK and that recent CryEngine 3 thing, if you don't need C++ source code then you can even publish your game commercially and not pay any money for engine licensing up front.

      Sure if you're making a new Elder Scrolls game and you want to distinguish yourself from the market based on technology, or you're making Minecraft so the usual engines don't work for you then yeah, roll your own. But for the vast majority of new games it's going to get to the point where you just fire up the latest build of Unreal Engine and go from there. Same way if you're making a movie, if you're doing something special and unprecedented then you might have to develop a new camera for it, but for the majority of the films out there the stock cameras that are already on the market will work fine.

    • reply
      August 22, 2011 5:19 PM

      awesome this means doom4 and quake 5 will be out in like 2 months WOOT

Hello, Meet Lola