Id Software co-founder John Carmack has said he is dissatisfied with the industry abandoning aging console generations and the huge audiences that they have in favour of rising costs and added risk.
Speaking to Wired on the 20th anniversary of Doom, the trailblazing first-person shooter he co-created with Jon Romero, Carmack said he had misgivings about the industry’s ongoing pursuit of more powerful hardware for the comparatively small number of dedicated, tech enthusiasts.
Carmack himself has led many technical and graphics breakthroughs at Id. But now, with PS4 and Xbox One starting a new console cycle, Carmack feels that there is a great deal of untapped potential in the previous systems, and said he can no longer justify being in the race for cutting-edge tech any more.
"Even to this day, I struggle a little bit with that," said Carmack.
"There’s so much you can still do on the previous console generation. The 360 and PS3 are far from tapped out in terms of what a developer could do with them, but the whole world’s gonna move over towards next-gen and high-end PCs and all these other things.
"Part of me still frets a little bit about that, where just as you fully understand a previous generation, you have to put it away to kind of surf forward on the tidal wave of technology that’s always moving. That’s something that we’ve struggled with in every generation. And now I at least know enough to recognise that some of my internal feelings or fondness for technology that I understand or have done various things with usually has to be put aside. Because data has shown over the decades that that’s usually not as important as you think it is."
The pursuit of graphics, such as Carmack’s fabled MegaTextures, meant that Id Software’s production cycle gradually got longer and longer. On this issue, Carmack said that he would have like to have released more games during his time at Id Software.
"The worst aspect of the continuing pace of game development that we fell into was the longer and longer times between releases. If I could go back in time and change one thing along the trajectory of id Software, it would be, do more things more often.
"And that was id’s mantra for so long: ‘It’ll be done when it’s done.’ And I recant from that. I no longer think that is the appropriate way to build games. I mean, time matters, and as years go by-if it’s done when it’s done and you’re talking a month or two, fine. But if it’s a year or two, you need to be making a different game."
Carmack left Id in August to work full-time at Oculus VR. He exited the studio he co-founded as development of Doom 4 looks no closers to be finished. Earlier this year, the project was said to have been completely rebooted after running into trouble.