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John Carmack Joins Oculus VR As CTO 125

Guspaz writes "In a surprising move that in retrospect makes a lot of sense, Oculus VR has announced that John Carmack will be joining the company full-time as CTO. Carmack also tweeted that his time division would be 'Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!'" From the press release, quoting John Carmack: "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. 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; probably by people reading this message. It's certainly not there yet. There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don't even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them. It's going to be awesome!"

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John Carmack Joins Oculus VR As CTO

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @12:02PM (#44498317)

    How long has it been since Carmack had the chance to really get down and dirty with development work? Over the past few years it sounds like he's been chafing against the demands of corporate reality and yearning to get back to actually making cool stuff. Whether or not he is actually going to get a benefit out of a startup environment is debatable though (he has a sizable personal fortune).

    • by Doug Otto ( 2821601 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @12:05PM (#44498355)
      He also needs a cash infusion for Armadillo. This (potentially) gets him both.
      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        Clarification needed. Why would Carmack's wholly owned company get funding due to successes at an unrelated company selling unrelated products he is an employee (and perhaps partner) at?

        • by Doug Otto ( 2821601 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @01:06PM (#44499179)
          He mentioned a few days ago he's putting Armadillo in hibernation until he makes his next million. As CTO, he stands to make a fair amount of cash if things go well.

          With Armadillo currently in hibernation, Carmack said he is actively looking for outside investors to restart work on the company’s rockets. “If we don’t wind up landing an investor, it’ll probably stay in hibernation until there’s another liquidity event where I’m comfortable throwing another million dollars a year into things,” he said. Funding Armadillo, he said, has “always been a negotiation with my wife,” he said, setting aside some “crazy money” to spend on it. “But I’ve basically expended my crazy money on Armadillo, so I don’t expect to see any rockets in the real near future unless we do wind up raising some investment money on it.”

          Article []
        • by Alejux ( 2800513 )
          Someone like Carmack would not go to a startup company as a simple employee. He must have some serious stakes in the success of Oculus VR. If you want a good similar potential example, look at Eric Schmidt's $8 billion fortune. He wasn't the founder, you know.
        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          Why would Carmack's wholly owned company get funding due to successes at an unrelated company selling unrelated products he is an employee (and perhaps partner) at?

          Because Carmack is both the link between these two companies and a ready conduit for the appropriate transfer of funds. In other words, he makes money at the new business and transfers some of it to Armadillo. You would do something similar, if say you bought a laptop with money you made while working at a completely unrelated business to laptops.

    • I think this is great.

      Does the world really need Doom 4?

      Although sucks to be everyone else at id software.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Although sucks to be everyone else at id software.

        Considering that ID has been sucking towards the bottom for awhile, it shouldn't matter. Really the only hope they had for continued existence was getting bought out by Zenimax(aka Bethesda).

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          Quake 4 was not terrible. Rage was a bit of a let down though. the ending was bad, the open world driving was pointless. Had it been sold as a new dungeon crawler it would have been fine, but it tried to be something it was not.

          • I honestly had fun playing Rage, liked the aesthetics, the world, the driving could be fun sometimes. The biggest problem was that it was only 1/3 of a game.
            • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

              That is the fault of DLC... It is bullshit to buy a game for $60 and then extort more money from you for the rest of the game.

          • by jandrese ( 485 )
            Rage suffered because it was clear that the developers were split between making a FPS and making a Carmageddon style driving game, so they tried to do both but ended up not having enough time to actually finish either. I think both parts of the game worked pretty well, but there wasn't enough meat to sustain it.
          • I just wish Bethesda would leverage the talent at id to produce quality *stable* games. Through around 80 hours of playing Rage, I think I had 1 maybe 2 crashes/hangs. I get more than that per *hour* playing Skyrim or Fallout: NV.
            • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

              I just wish Bethesda would leverage the talent at id to produce quality *stable* games. Through around 80 hours of playing Rage, I think I had 1 maybe 2 crashes/hangs. I get more than that per *hour* playing Skyrim or Fallout: NV.

              Perhaps you've got a system issue then, and by that I mean it's most likely driver related. Both NV and Skyrim are exceptionally temperamental with video drives. There was a case back with I think the 260 or 250ish series that slowed loading in skyrim to a crawl. I can easily go 10-15 hours before crashing in Skyrim, and that's with a 108 mods loaded. NV wasn't a Bethesda game, it was an Obsidian game. The biggest problem with that game though was they pushed the engine to the absolute limit, and that

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Fully VR immersed Doom or other FPS? Oh....Hell.....Yeah.

        Honestly these guys have the ability to completely disrupt the home video game ecosystem overnight, they just increased their chances drastically with him on the bridge...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by spire3661 ( 1038968 )
      He doubled down on mobile for awhile, his output was less then inspiring.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by somersault ( 912633 )

        Less than what? Good think that it then became inspiring?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Good think that it then became inspiring?

          +5, Ironic - Grammar Nazi uses "think" instead of "thing".

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Ve haff ways of making you spell.

          • Typical Muphry's Law. I also meant to have an exclamation rather than a question mark to punctuate the last sentence.. :p

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )

      Whether or not he is actually going to get a benefit out of a startup environment is debatable though (he has a sizable personal fortune).

      Money is not the only kind of benefit there is.

  • Oculus Rift already looked promising before. With Carmack on-board, I now feel that the OR will be THE AWESOME MUST-HAVE GAME GADGET of 2014, or whenever it is released. ---- I'm definitely buying a RIFT when it comes out. And so will tens of thousands of other gaming enthusiasts, methinks!!! 5 thumbs up for this news!!!
    • I'm guessing that whatever Rift drive code Carmack writes will find itself embedded into iDTechn+1, meaning that any game that leverages that version of iDTech will automatically work like a champ with the Rift. VR at no added cost. Game developers might actually be drawn to this, especially with Carmack's track record. Now if the doodz behind the Unreal Engine throw their .02 in too, that would seal it.
      • Now if the doodz behind the Unreal Engine throw their .02 in too, that would seal it.

        Unreal, Source, and Unity engines already have full support. So... what?

      • The Rift already has development support from the Crytech, Source, Unity and Unreal engines, and Carmack had already announced the next iDTech would support it as well. So nothing new there.

        All of those use the driver from Oculus which is what I will assume Carmack will be key in improving, along with the firmware running on the Rift. His experience with Armadillo will be directly applicable (and already has it seems) to aspects of real time head tracking that have a big impact on VR. I'm guessing the tim

      • ClifferyB has already put a lot of weight behind Occulus. Sony has been using them in house with Planetside 2.

        I've been shouting this from the roof tops, but if someone wants to make a fortune, they could make a little console box that has only one output. Occulus. It would be bigger than Wii. It would be Neuromancer prime. The entire OS could link you into a virtual world and you go from there. It could be such an amazing game changer.

    • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @12:18PM (#44498493) Homepage Journal

      I love my rift, I just got it, but John Carmack's existence won't magically cure the motion sickness. For "real games" and not tech-demos, I can play maybe a half hour of rift at a time, before I have to go lie down.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Are you prone to motion sickness otherwise?
        Does dramamine help?

        • Dramamine increased my tolerance by maybe 15 minutes, and no, I'm not. My girlfriend is motion-sickness prone, and she gets more like 10 minutes at a time.

          • You'll quickly build up a tolerance, if my own experience, and others I've heard from, is any guide. Don't overdo it, just 10-15 minutes a day for a week or so and you'll be fine in no time.

            Your wife may even find that a few more controlled sessions on the Rift actually improves her motion sickness in other contexts too. Some people have reported curing their own car sickness that way.

      • I think they have been making good progress at improving the experience. One big one will be when they get the full positional tracking into the next version of the kit. Right now it only does orientation tracking and some inferred positional tracking. A couple demos use a Razer Hyrda to hack this in a bit and I found it helps the disorientation a LOT. If you follow some of the blogs of people working on it there is still a lot of work to be done in the prediction algorithms which will improve the effective
        • Yep, I agree. There's a lot of software/hardware improvement to make. But as soon as you press the W key and start walking forward, there's something no hardware can fix happening. Your eyes see forward motion, your inner ear doesn't.

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            your inner ear doesn't feel foreward motion once you are at a set speed in a car. If it did most people would instantly puke once they turned their head to talk to the driver.

          • But as soon as you press the W key and start walking forward, there's something no hardware can fix happening. Your eyes see forward motion, your inner ear doesn't.

            I wonder if adding in the mechanics of moving (e.g. an Omni []) might help matters.

          • Actually, there is a possible hardware fix []. Palmer Luckey has been looking into it for some time. But it's something that has to be treated with caution, for fairly obvious reasons.

      • by tuo42 ( 3004801 )
        This, exactly!

        Have my Rift for a couple of weeks, and besides Techdemos, I cannot use it longer than twenty minutes. If I cross that "certain" point, I feel awful for the rest of the day. Already caused me problems with customers as I was not able to work efficiently for the rest of the day. I cannot even describe the level of uneasiness that remains.

        I am not sensitive to motion sickness. I can travel on ships even in harsher sea. As I kid, I used to have problems when reading inside a driving car, b
      • I have to say, this is a strange issue I have (err...had) with my rift. Many of the demos using the latest sdk make me sick (I don't think I have my IPD quite right?) Vireio makes me sick, quickly, no matter what. But the Tridef beta rift drivers are a DREAM...and there's no real IPD setting, it's weird. Suddenly, I'm VR "hardened" - though the headtracking support doesn't emulate trackir the way I wish.

        My point is, it's different for everyone - for sure. But there's a lot of things to tweak, preferably

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @01:37PM (#44499729) Homepage

        Yes it can, increased response and speeds will eliminate it. It's the lag that is making you a puke fountain
        Disclaimer, I worked on VR in college with some of the top professors in the day... . Lag from turning your head to having the view change, even as low as 20ms is enough to make people sick.

        • Have you seen their recent work with predictive tracking? [] It seems they were able to improve the perceived lag a great deal from the version that shipped with the developer SDK.
          • When I was working on this stuff at Sun 10 or so years ago we had high hopes for predictive tracking as the cure for latency sickness. We used linear and least squares interpolation through the last few head and controller positions and orientations and extrapolated the curves a few frames into the future. But it still had a number of disorienting effects due to intermittent errors in the prediction -- better in some cases then no prediction, but not good enough to enable it in the production code.

            I think

      • Magically, no. Technologically, quite possibly.

        To some extent, the fault lies with the games themselves. First person games are going to have to make an effort to accommodate VR in what types of motion the in-game camera is allowed to depict. But a lot of it is just a matter of getting the latency between the head-tracking and the display update down low enough to pass the threshold he's discovered (or possibly just confirmed) experimentally. Over 20 ms is much badness. Under 20 ms, suddenly your brain

        • The current Rift is a lot better than 100ms, but yes, there is room for improvement. I've been able to use mine for over an hour and only had issues when HL2 hits me with a load screen or otherwise turns off the head tracking for a bit. I'm wondering if some people have checked their frame rates and tried turning down some settings to make sure they are running at 60FPS. I had disorientation nausea for the first week but then it has mostly gone away and only persists for a few minutes after using it. I also
          • Good to hear it's already better than the number Mr. Carmack quoted in his blog post earlier this year.

            Me, I get motion sick quite easily, so I've been slow to buy the developer Rift. I get seasick on Lake Michigan, while less than a mile from shore. I can't read in a car while sitting up (but I can while lying down; go figure). I may need to wait for the consumer release, with the faster displays, or I could have trouble.

        • Sounds like only a top-drawer graphics card will do the job. Better start saving.
    • by BenJury ( 977929 )
      Aye, me too, I'll be queueing up to get my hands on this on a consumer release. Personally I see anything that will speed up getting this to market is all good.
    • Doom 3. Nuff said.

  • by goruka ( 1721094 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @12:22PM (#44498535)
    Occulus has success warranted, even if it by rare chance doesn't become a revolution on the way we play video games , it will be a revolution in the way we watch porn.
    • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

      The probability of Oculus Rift making me want to spew will likely be near 100%. All virtual 3D seems to, and even some actual 3D (reading in a car) so I'm not holding my breath.

      • If you can't handle 3D for any reason other than the dimmed visuals at the theater, obviously a 3D display like the rift is going to be the same problem for you. People vary in how they process depth information, and stereoscopic displays can only fake some of us out. Fortunately I have no problem with 3D or HMDs.

        It's going to be interesting to see what % of the population can't use this device because of the way their brain's are wired for visual perception.

        This clearly won't be suitable for some s
  • dribbling the remains of victims cadaver from its lusting mouth?

    Still, the firepower may not be enough if you're slow.

    Let us hope Oculus is faster at moving on, agressively.

    My eyeballs are waiting.

  • Hey, 'member the 90's?

    Virtual Reality was all the rage in the 90's but the tech wasn't really there to power it. I find it interesting to see the tech catching up after everyone (mostly) has let it fall off the radar...

    • It's really the tech going into smart phone development that has paved the way. Lots of good, cheap, and small sensors, chips, and screens available. And of course, that 3d games actually look like not-a-pile-of-feces these days helps too.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not quite.
        All the sensor development was done for cars. First was airbag sensors that needed to be durable, reliable and cheap. Once ABS (with wheel mounted hall effect sensors) became ubiquitous, manufacturers realized that with six axis sensors they could do yaw control on the top-heavy trucks that were selling like hotcakes a decade ago. The economies of scale for cars really helped bring the tech down in cost. Now stabillity control is MANDATORY in the USA, (one ot the reasons I won't buy a new car)

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @12:33PM (#44498661)

    ...John Romero is still waiting to make somebody his bitch.

    Suck it down.

  • But wearing a big douchy snorkel like headset is the reason why VR has never taken off in the 30 years that is has been promised.

    I mean this is not a new concept and the technology to make it happen has existed for 30 years. I don't agree that computer's were not powerful enough, BS. I don't agree that screens were not small enough, BS. Occulus Rift is under some huge delusion that they have innovated a product that nobody else has thought of and this will be a huge hit all of a sudden. There is a reaso

    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @12:59PM (#44499071)

      Really? That's the big reason VR won't take off, in your opinion? "It looks douchey"? The appearance is completely 100% irrelevant: the device locks you out from the outside world (thats the point), which means it will always be used when you are alone, or with a group of people also wearing it, which means no one will even see you wearing it anyways. You do realize people aren't going to be wearing these things walking down the street, right? I ask, because given the rest of your comment, I'm not actually sure.

      I mean this is not a new concept and the technology to make it happen has existed for 30 years. I don't agree that computer's were not powerful enough, BS. I don't agree that screens were not small enough, BS.

      Well, you're wrong. Just, wrong. No other way to put it: completely 100% wrong. You need light weight low latency LCD displays (cheap enough for consumer-level equipment), which didn't exist until 4-5 years ago. You need GPUs powerful enough to run 1080p resolutions at 60fps or higher, with decent looking textures, which didn't exist till... well, actually, right about now. Real time 3D rendering didn't even exist 30 years ago in consumer hardware.

    • Where, exactly, do you anticipate wearing them that how they make you look matters? Your argument about Google Glass is somewhat founded. But not Rift. Hell, the whole point of Rift is that if you and the other people in the room are all wearing them, to each other you look like the ripped manly warriors slaying Orcs in the forest rather than a bunch of flabby gamers waiting to cancer from the radon in your parents' basement.
    • by Alejux ( 2800513 )
      What does it matter what you look like while you're doing VR? Seriously, who gives a crap?! In the future you'll probably do VR while lying on a bed or attached to a special chair anyway.
    • by martas ( 1439879 )
      I don't think you said "douchy" enough times to make your point. Here, I'll get you started on a revision:

      But wearing a big douchy snorkel like douchy headset is the douchy reason why douchy VR has never taken off in the douchy years ...

      There, hope that helps. What the fuck is up with the rampant, vicious technophobia on slashdot?

      • It's all part of the great dumbing down of Slashdot. The site used to be made up of seriously smart people, and now there are a ton of derpy reactionaries that respond poorly to just about everything.
    • by jeti ( 105266 )

      VR for personal use so far has failed because the hardware was crap or unaffordable. I will buy an Oculus Rift and I don't care how it looks. I won't use it for an audience.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I mean this is not a new concept and the technology to make it happen has existed for 30 years. I don't agree that computer's were not powerful enough, BS. I don't agree that screens were not small enough, BS.

      >60 fps 3D rendering with lens distortion correction via pixel shader at greater than 1080p resolutions on sub-7" panel displays with a prospective sub-$300 price point?

      Your issue with the aesthetics I'll grant you, as that's your opinion. But everything else you said is dead wrong and makes you look like an idiot.

    • wearing a big douchy snorkel

      What kind of fucking douche says "douchy?"

    • Yeah whatever, go sit in front of your CRT and carry on with your tan, I'll be in Tamriel hunting dragons.
  • But I have my doubts on Oculus VR's ability to use Google. For example, there are 500ppi displays available in Japan, yet Oculus doesn't know how to find them (hint, google 500ppi).

    Frankly they need a minimum of a 500ppi display for this thing to be screen-door effect tolerable .. even if they layered a diffusion sheet to break it up.

    For it to be perfect I don't see how they can do it with under 700ppi .. which may make it prohibitively expensive. Still for it to be a success in the mainstream 500ppi is the

    • I'm sure they're well aware of the highest DPI displays. They also know what you don't: that acquiring them in volume is either outright impossible because the full production run is already spoken for by a mobile phone developer, or prohibitively expensive because yield is still very low.

      Development of mobile hardware is a double-edged sword, for VR. Without it, the displays wouldn't have been made at all. With it, the displays are being made, but VR is very much a redheaded stepchild when it comes time

    • I don't have any need for 3D, but I'll gladly GLADLY buy a 500ppi head-mounted display that I can use instead of a laptop screen, say 3x5". 700ppi would be even better.

      I looked at using a small Android tablet for this purpose, but the display interface options are currently too laggy.

    • by Wildclaw ( 15718 )

      Frankly they need a minimum of a 500ppi display for this thing to be screen-door effect tolerable

      The screen door effect is a result of pixel fill rate, not DPI.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @01:24PM (#44499495)

    I worked for a company in college that put Wolfenstein 3d into a virtual reality arcade system. I met Carmack when he flew to Louisville KY to try it out (we were working on licensing agreements with id). We were using a Virtual Research Flight Helmet head mounted display with a Polhemus tracker mounted on top. Carmack seemed to enjoy it. He found our scan converter particularly amusing. This was a prototype and we needed an NTSC signal to drive the HUD and graphic cards that put out NTSC were very expensive at the time (Paradise VGA cards were something like $1500 at the time iirc). So we pointed a camcorder at a CRT monitor. It is very interesting to see him effectively entering that field now. I wonder if he even remembers seeing our product back then. The company never was able to sell any units at the astronomical price of $80,000 per unit (iirc) so the licensing deal never went anywhere. The company was Alternate Worlds Technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I deeply respect Carmack's work with regards to the engines he produces. With that being said, I hope this forces some dramatic changes at id software. They've been circling the toilet bowl for so long, not making a truly amazing game since the 90s. Hopefully they pick someone other than Tim Willits as lead for their next deathmatch-focused game so that we can get something fun again, rather than something overbalanced like Quake 3/Quake Live that is neither fun for newbies nor suitable for all types of com

  • by jasno ( 124830 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:39PM (#44500649) Journal

    Is anyone else looking forward to using the Rift for non-gaming applications? The thing that excites me the most is replacing(well, complementing) my dual monitor setup with a 360Â desktop. I can't wait to have the extra desktop space available with a slight spin of my chair. Hell, you could even switch desktops by rolling your chair to the side or something. All I need is a keyboard/mouse tray attached to my chair.

    • by phorm ( 591458 )

      Mix it with something like the "Leap Motion" sensor (or a Kinect, but leap seems more versatile), and there are a lot of cool things you could do.

    • I want an entire OS built around this. I want to jack into my cyberdeck.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Usually when a group buys a software house headed by a 'famous' person, they get a few profitable titles from their purchase before the purchase contract allows the 'name' to move on. However, long before he sold id, Carmack had publicly stated he had ZERO interest in playing or developing AAA games. He proudly boasted he cared only for casual crap on the Wii that he could play with his kid, and rubbish hi-gimmick titles on the iPhone and the like.

    The Doom3 engine had only ONE (read that again) licensee tha

  • ... here's an archive of them: []

    Does anyone use .plan files anymore?

  • ...That way you could cover your peripheral vision. Imagine being in a darkened VR room with "something else" somewhere in the building and you keep seeing movement out the corner of your eye. I remember playing Doom 3 for the first time in a pitch black room with the surround sound cranked,it was the first game that made my arm hairs stand on end, VR would be awesome. I'd love to explore my 3D atomic virus models with this as well, it would make measuring and observing subtle changes so much easier. Awesom
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