Was John Carmack a really good programmer or...

RIPATI

Limp Gawd
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He's a great programmer.

He may never again be as influential as he was in the 90s, but wtf. He was SUPER influential for like a damn decade. Does he need to be at the cutting edge of tech development for his entire career to be considered good?
 

Nytegard

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The same thing can be said about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

In the right place at the right time.

I'd replace Jobs with Woz.

To the OP, yes he is a good programmer. There are probably many programmers who are just as talented, but just don't have the same opportunities, for one reason or another. Even with Gates and Zuckerberg, a case can be made against their abilities. It isn't even as easy as just being in the right place at the right time.

But the fact is, he was at the right place at the right time, which I think makes much of his fame more hype than reality. In the book iWoz, Steve Wozniak makes a statement near the end to the engineers who consider themselves dreamers, of not to work for someone else, and work for yourself. That working for another person will only limit your abilities, because you're not working on your innovations, but someone else's project, which might not even be innovative.
 

Silus

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The engine can limit your map design. Also, how do you know id Tech 4 is one of the less buggy engines ever made? It had 8 games. Maybe if 100 games were built on it, we'd see a hell of a lot of bugs. Course, the engine was worthless for consoles too. Every console game using it was buggy and looked like ass.

"The engine can limit your map design". Is this a "fact" about id Tech 4 or are you assuming id Tech 4 suffers from this ?

And you're not denying that you don't know of many bugs attached to it. Your argument being that because there were only 8 games using id Tech 4, then you can't really say if it was buggy or not...By that argument, I guess UE3 is the best game engine of all time, because it's used left and right. Not really a good argument there.

krotch said:
Hopefully Carmack learned from his mistakes with id Tech 4 and fixes all the flaws with id Tech 5. Which looks like that might be the case. I fear he won't put much time into consoles and the engine will end up another failure. Not to mention that any game using the engine has to be published by Bethesda Softworks. Ya, good luck with that.

What ? id Tech 5 was made thinking of seemless development between all platforms. It even runs on the iPhone...
And what's wrong about being published by Bethesda and what does that have to do with the quality of the engine ??
 

Plague_Injected

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Good programmer but not much of a game developer. Id went downhill after Quake in that regard (excluding Quake III Arena which was MP-only), and Rage looks less than thrilling.
 

Silus

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Good programmer but not much of a game developer. Id went downhill after Quake in that regard (excluding Quake III Arena which was MP-only), and Rage looks less than thrilling.

Carmack is a technical guy. He's mostly involved in the game engine and integration of new features in it. Not really a game developer. He doesn't design maps or create models for characters, weapons, objects and all that.
 

Bigbacon

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The man coded a software renderer for Quake that used super advanced pipe lining (at the time). In C and Assembly. For a 50-75 MHz processors.

and the game still works even today...which is what amazes me more. Copy to another machine and boom, it just runs.
 

krotch

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"The engine can limit your map design". Is this a "fact" about id Tech 4 or are you assuming id Tech 4 suffers from this ?

It's fact. The id Tech 4 engine limited map sizes. It wasn't until they created MegaTextures for it, that allowed large map areas.

And you're not denying that you don't know of many bugs attached to it. Your argument being that because there were only 8 games using id Tech 4, then you can't really say if it was buggy or not...By that argument, I guess UE3 is the best game engine of all time, because it's used left and right. Not really a good argument there.

The more you use something, the more bugs you'll find. If only 1 person used Windows ME, you could probably claim it has less bugs than any Linux distro.

What ? id Tech 5 was made thinking of seemless development between all platforms. It even runs on the iPhone...
And what's wrong about being published by Bethesda and what does that have to do with the quality of the engine ??

id Tech 4 was suppose to be multiplat, too bad it was flawed in that regard. Just look at reviews of id Tech 4 games on consoles.

As for Bethesda, I don't have a problem with them. It's the fact that other companies have their own publishers. Who is going to want an engine that requires they use Bethesda as their publisher, when they can use their own.
 

Silus

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It's fact. The id Tech 4 engine limited map sizes. It wasn't until they created MegaTextures for it, that allowed large map areas.

MegaTexture is more than just allowing it to handle large map areas. And that perception of the engine was flawed and never really existed. Just because Doom 3 didn't have large areas, doesn't mean the engine couldn't handle it. The only game that uses id tech 4 and MegaTexture is Quake Wars and still Wolfenstein and Quake 4 have fairly large areas, while using id Tech 4.

krotch said:
The more you use something, the more bugs you'll find. If only 1 person used Windows ME, you could probably claim it has less bugs than any Linux distro.

Which isn't the same thing now is it ? Those 8 games were played by millions of people. Bugs would have been found. Especially Doom 3 that sold over 3 million copies, yet there weren't many bugs related with the engine and even the game itself. It was almost flawless.
Every game after Doom 3 and its expansion, used altered versions of the engine, not under id Software's control. So again, in terms of game engine polish, id Software is unbeatable thus far.

krotch said:
id Tech 4 was suppose to be multiplat, too bad it was flawed in that regard. Just look at reviews of id Tech 4 games on consoles.

As for Bethesda, I don't have a problem with them. It's the fact that other companies have their own publishers. Who is going to want an engine that requires they use Bethesda as their publisher, when they can use their own.

Link to where it was supposed to be multiplatform ?

The game first using it, was released in 2004 and game consoles were quite far from what they are today, so it made no sense to think of a multiplatform engine.
 

Proxy

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Great programmer. Carmack's game engines are smooth and stable. Very solid engines. As for the games themselves, Carmack just makes the engines.
 

nakedhand

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I am not a programmer, but I´d imagine that you have to be a VERY good programmer to build a solid 3D engine. One of my friends did this actually (over the course of 7 years in his spare time), he has a complete lack of business savvy, so it remains for him to develop and play with, it´s crazy.
 

Plague_Injected

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I'm not a fan of this "everything great about Id games is because of Carmack, but Carmack has nothing to do with everything bad about Id games" line that Carmack fanboys peddle. Yes, Carmack fanboys. It's that bad.

Great programmer. Carmack's game engines are smooth and stable. Very solid engines. As for the games themselves, Carmack just makes the engines.

Wasn't Carmack responsible for sending Quake into the shitty sci-fi alien invasion realm?
 

krotch

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MegaTexture is more than just allowing it to handle large map areas. And that perception of the engine was flawed and never really existed. Just because Doom 3 didn't have large areas, doesn't mean the engine couldn't handle it. The only game that uses id tech 4 and MegaTexture is Quake Wars and still Wolfenstein and Quake 4 have fairly large areas, while using id Tech 4.

What large areas? Something the size of a small factory?

Which isn't the same thing now is it ? Those 8 games were played by millions of people. Bugs would have been found. Especially Doom 3 that sold over 3 million copies, yet there weren't many bugs related with the engine and even the game itself. It was almost flawless.
Every game after Doom 3 and its expansion, used altered versions of the engine, not under id Software's control. So again, in terms of game engine polish, id Software is unbeatable thus far.

Ya, hence why the games kept coming out with patches. The multiplayer fixes I don't count as much, as most of them are probably balancing fixes.

So as long as it's out of id Software's control, then the bugs don't count. Should the same be said about any other engine? Unreal? CryEngine?

Link to where it was supposed to be multiplatform ?

The game first using it, was released in 2004 and game consoles were quite far from what they are today, so it made no sense to think of a multiplatform engine.

I must be wrong. id Tech 4 definitely wasn't designed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. They also didn't add in the ability to run on consoles either.
 

Youn

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I feel Carmack's best attribute is that he seems to know the limitations of new tech and how best to deal with it in a simple, practical, way. I don't think he's interested in pushing hardware past what he feels the norm could handle - or at least he respects performance-related issues above all others.

Also, looking at his source code has always been very enjoyable, and easy to understand, unlike many other people's code which can easily be a spaghetti-monster fest!
 

Silus

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What large areas? Something the size of a small factory?

The initial scene in Quake 4 is a good example, plus some of the boss battles. And Wolfenstein has many big levels too a notable one being the farm level and that big structure under the ground and also some boss battles.

krotch said:
Ya, hence why the games kept coming out with patches. The multiplayer fixes I don't count as much, as most of them are probably balancing fixes.

So as long as it's out of id Software's control, then the bugs don't count. Should the same be said about any other engine? Unreal? CryEngine?

Yes, since the game engine is being changed by third parties, id doesn't control them. When adding software, you're not exactly correcting past flaws (if any). You are potentially adding more.

As for patches, you would do yourself a favor in looking up for Doom 3 patches for example and at the bugs it fixes. The last patch IIRC, is related with compatibility with Windows Vista...an OS released in 2007...Doom 3 was released in 2004...
Any piece of software, especially as complex as a game, has bugs. But Doom 3 and id tech 4 in its initial form, doesn't have many.

krotch said:
I must be wrong. id Tech 4 definitely wasn't designed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. They also didn't add in the ability to run on consoles either.

No. It simply used OpenGL as its rendering path, which is supported by any platform. You may argue that that's a design choice to support more platforms, but it was just id's preference for many years.
 

Master Blaster

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Life is always about being in the right place at the right time, for everyone too. Does this make what John has done any less meaningful or make him any less smart?

//On Topic
Carmack was only the fourth person to be inducted into Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.

Did you skip the part in Masters of Doom where he eventually coded an entire Mario clone (with parallax scrolling) onto the PC? The man is no dummy. He's the most humble person given his street credit. I can't say the same for his counter parts, Gabe Newell or Yerli. I'm an admitted id fanboy. If you weren't there in the beginning, you'll never understand.

//Off Topic
Why do people come to this thread to discredit what he or id software has done, knowing that you could not do that same - it sickening. I enjoy what id has to offer, and I appreciate where id is going. Long gone are the days where games are exciting as they were when the technology was new, this isn't id software's fault, it's what happens in life. Stuff gets stale.

Also, It seems people are bickering over game design rather than engine design. Honestly, I don't think id software is a weak player in the video game biz, but loosing Romero was a considerable blow due to his uniquely awesome game designs as he served to be the balance Carmack's abilities out with his own.


PS. Read the book tipping point if your all about being in the right place at the right time.
 

madFive

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Carmack seems to have some really amazing problem-solving skills when it comes to engine creation and balancing system resource-management with the maximum sensorial experience. The few interviews and articles I've read about him tend to give a lot of interesting info about how he has been able to optimize and upgrade each engine to take advantage of the hardware of the day and make new headway for future engines. I think it's safe to say that much of the modern graphics era has been possible because of innovations he has made, and the reason so much of the graphics in the industry today look as good as they do is because they have been able to stand on the shoulders of giants like this.

Whether or not you like the way the ID games have gone in the last several years, I think it's safe to say the Carmack has done his part to keep the engines innovative and reasonably close to the cutting edge.

I'm not sure how much of a part he currently takes in engine creation with ID, but it makes sense that he'd be ready to retire or at least transfer his role in development after the number of years he's put into this work. He's earned a break, if that's what he decides.
 

phide

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The guy can go toe to toe with Michael Abrash. If you can do that, you're a fucking fantastic programmer. He's no God, but he is exceptionally good at what he does.
 

phide

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Gabe spent a number of years trying to bring Abrash over to Valve. He eventually succeeded :)
 
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yet in another thread on here saying that Valve isn't developing any new engines. hrmm... so why did they hire Mike?
 

phide

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Abrash is an optimization guru. He isn't specifically an engine developer. I imagine most of the work he's doing is with respect to rolling through the current build of Source and making optimizations where needed.
 

BallerX

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About JC..
I think he was simply in the right place at the right time

This statement could be perceived as true based upon the likes of people we know of that have found them selves in similar situations.

I don't know this man personally. I only know what he has said and the way he portrays himself in public venue.

From that material alone, I have made assumption that he is highly intelligent (gross understatement) and appears to be honest and moral. You can tell he is uncomfortable during camera appearances. (He would rather not be there.) He has a start-up aerospace outfit that has won contracts and appears to be successful. Not to mention, actually builds things that I have seen work. The people around him seem to be his actual friends and not just people he works with. (A lot to be said for that.)


I wish the man everything good in life and I hope he will continue to make cool things for all of us. I have a feeling that this new game (RAGE) is going to be much more than what most are expecting. If it isn't. I'm not gonna hate the guy for it. No doubt I was underwhelmed with D3 and I thought Quake4 was only a bit better. They were still better that 99% of the shit the other companies have been hitting us with for the last few years.
 

ShuttleLuv

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Best programmer this planet has seen gaming wise. Absolutely absurd post. Carmack has been a step ahead of the fray since 1991.
 

Crash250f

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From that material alone, I have made assumption that he is highly intelligent (gross understatement) and appears to be honest and moral. You can tell he is uncomfortable during camera appearances. (He would rather not be there.) He has a start-up aerospace outfit that has won contracts and appears to be successful. Not to mention, actually builds things that I have seen work. The people around him seem to be his actual friends and not just people he works with. (A lot to be said for that.)

I have no personal opinion on how moral John Carmack is, but I remember reading this on wikipedia, and it popped into my head when you said he was honest and moral. :p

As reported in David Kushner's Masters of Doom, "when Carmack was 14, he broke into a school to help a group of kids steal Apple II computers, but during the attempted break-in one of the kids set off the silent alarm. John was arrested, and sent for psychiatric evaluation (the report mentions "no empathy for other human beings"). Carmack was then sentenced to a year in a juvenile home
 
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Only large areas I remember in Prey, were ones I couldn't do anything in.
Then like I said, you don't remember it very well, because there were several (in which you can do plenty).

I don't see how your ability to "do something" is relevant. That's a game design decision. The mere fact that the area exists says it's not an engine limitation.
 

krotch

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If you can't do anything in it, then how do I know it's actually part of the area and not just some map trickery to make it seem like a large area. If you are running through a tunnel with a few windows showing a larger area outside, would you consider it a large area? You can't get to it, cause you're stuck in the tunnel. Is this a large area or a small area?
 

phide

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You can open map files in the editor and see, if you're so inclined. As far as I know, id Tech 4 doesn't support virtual skyboxes (the 'trickery' you're referring to).
 

Plague_Injected

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Best programmer this planet has seen gaming wise. Absolutely absurd post. Carmack has been a step ahead of the fray since 1991.

He was but Doom 3 wasn't significantly better visually than Far Cry or even Half-Life 2. Rage looks positively current-gen. I certainly won't bash him for no longer being at the top of the dog pile - no-one keeps that position for very long, much less forever - but I think his best work is definitely behind him. His legacy will be Doom and Quake, probably not idTech5.
 

krotch

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Ya, the CryEngine from Far Cry was amazing. Too bad it wasn't used much.
 

Silus

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He was but Doom 3 wasn't significantly better visually than Far Cry or even Half-Life 2. Rage looks positively current-gen. I certainly won't bash him for no longer being at the top of the dog pile - no-one keeps that position for very long, much less forever - but I think his best work is definitely behind him. His legacy will be Doom and Quake, probably not idTech5.

As I said before, many if not almost all of the games after quake and quake 2 used Carmack's code, because he and id had a policy of releasing their engines source code as open source. He was the first one, the base for almost anything first person ever since. That's enough to give the man credit for his entire life.

They are NOT making that mistake with id Tech 5 again and good for them!
 

ShuttleLuv

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He was but Doom 3 wasn't significantly better visually than Far Cry or even Half-Life 2. Rage looks positively current-gen. I certainly won't bash him for no longer being at the top of the dog pile - no-one keeps that position for very long, much less forever - but I think his best work is definitely behind him. His legacy will be Doom and Quake, probably not idTech5.


You're nuts buddy. Rage looks absolutely jaw dropping, the scope of it is unreal. Doom 3 had lighting that was two years ahead of it's time, it was artistically different that Far Cry, but Far Cry did look amazing I will say that.
 

MrCrispy

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This doesn't even merit discussion. Carmack is and always has been a genius programmer. People forget how hard and groundbreaking it was to write an entire graphics stack from scratch to run games on pitifully slow cpu's with no memory to spare. These days we have standardized DirectX, pixel shaders, SSE and whatnot to aid in that plus a vast library of well known idioms and best practices, and the internet to draw upon. When Carmack was coding he truly was a pioneer and is responsible for a lot of techniques.

In addition he has always been very focused and pragmatic, always choosing stability, quality and performance over grandiose features that were never delivered. So its all fine to say that so and so engine couldn't render open areas but you can be damn sure Carmack knew about any such limitation and was perfectly ok with it. There's a reason id engines have been used by so many games and were so versatile.

I also appreciate Carmack for being so willing to help and open, he was always sharing his ideas on Usenet and has been very vocal about supporting mods, open sourcing his code and supporting the community.

It could very well be said that the fps genre wouldn't exist without him.
 

Master Blaster

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You're nuts buddy. Rage looks absolutely jaw dropping, the scope of it is unreal. Doom 3 had lighting that was two years ahead of it's time, it was artistically different that Far Cry, but Far Cry did look amazing I will say that.

I totally agree. Far Cry looked good during its release, but nothing touched D3 for sometime. HL2 looked great, but used textures much different than D3. Rage does look great. I think were so oversaturated with eye candy that we expect much more than what devs can give. If you want Rage to look stellar, get it for PC, even then it will be capped out because of its console ports. Doom 4 is something im looking forward to seeing in realtime as its supposed to be nuts.

Also, you make a great point about the lighting. John cares about things beyond just regular eye candy. He's the goto guru for graphics trends for many websites and journalist for good reason. He knows what he doing. Just because the market is bigger doesn't negate what he has created for the industry, or where he's going.
 

eon

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gauging a single programmer on how good a video game looks and runs is flawed to say the least. Comments like "Rage doesnt look that good so Carmack is overrated" only show a lack of understanding in software development.
 

shawnmramsey

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Totally off topic, I hate it when he makes that strange "geek" noise like a weird laugh while he talks, lol. Other than that I think he is a great software engineer. To me that rage for the iphone demo looked pretty damn good,it looked like he just screwing with a few ideas for a short period of time (I really have no idea how long it to him, but he made it seem like he did it on a coffee break or something.)
 
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When you're that good you can do it in a coffee break time frame.... time is lost when you're "in the zone"
 

TheBuzzer

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John Carmack is one of the smartest programmers. Sure the games that his engine been on wasn't as great as it was in the past. However, they were groundbreaking features at that time. I am really looking forward to his new engine and his already working on id tech 6 which is ray tracing !!
 

GuyClinch

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Carmack was a fantastic programmer. Much of game design today has little to do with how good a programmer you are - and is more about art and vision. But dooms games stood out because he was able to get a ton out of the hardware..with very low level programming..

A better question is who are the programmers better then Carmack?

As for the current programming - they are working from an API - so there isn't the kind of optomization available there was back in the day when they wrote to the metal.. So I don't think his game engines will stand out as much.
 
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