John Carmack Interview, January 2006

id Software's talented tech director and Doom brainchild takes time out with Kikizo to briefly discuss the latest goings on, and his thoughts on various gaming stuff.

When it comes to big names in games, few western creators come to mind as promptly as John Carmack, father of the legendary Doom series, and the technical mastermind behind other massive IP such as Quake and Wolfenstein.

And, with so much happening at Id Software right now - including an all-new RPG spin-off for mobile phones and the release of the big-screen Doom big movie, it's impressive that Carmack even has time for the press. But with Doom RPG finished and heating up mobile gameplay on mobiles as we speak, John took time out to catch up with Kikizo.

Kikizo: What would you say has been the highlight of your career to date?

John Carmack: Honestly, I spend very little time thinking about past events, and I certainly don't have them ranked in any way. I look back and think that I have done a lot of good work over the years, but I am much more excited about what the future holds.

Kikizo: How did the concept of using Doom for a mobile product come to be, and why the decision even to re-envisage it as an RPG?

Carmack: When I decided, essentially on a whim, to look into making a mobile game, my first task was to take a clear look at what characteristics differentiated it from other platforms. The generally low resolution and low speed of most target phones was an issue, but that was mostly just a matter of going back in time quite a few years. The biggest factor was the user input by way of phone keypad, which makes for a pretty crappy traditional game controller.

Doom RPG brought together a lot of positive traits - the turn based RPG play could be done one-handed with the phone, it could still leverage some of the immersion of 3D graphics with the smooth sliding between positions, we could borrow a lot of existing media from the original game, and it could be done at about the same time the Doom movie would be released, which we weren't able to do with any major PC / console title.

The mobile title, Doom RPG, is out now

Kikizo: What are your thoughts on spin-offs like the Doom board game?

Carmack: I never played the board game, and I'm not personally all that involved with most of the spin-off projects. Generally, extending the franchise is probably a positive thing, but we are still a small company, so we don't pursue it nearly as aggressively as a larger corporation would.

Kikizo: How did designing for a technically limited machine inspire the game structure?

John Carmack, Co-owner & Technical Director, id Software

Carmack: While a modern PC or console game can credibly be designed with few technical constraints, machines with the capabilities of current mobile phones are tightly resource constrained, and a game design that doesn't take that as a dominant factor will certainly suffer. I like working within tight limits because it makes the distinction between good choices and bad choices much more obvious.

Kikizo: Has the challenge of developing for mobile created any interest in developing on DS or PSP?

Carmack: If I could stop time or spin off a few clones, I would enjoy doing a DS or PSP game, but at this point I can't imagine having the time to be seriously involved in it. I might do some technical consulting on a project.

"Nobody expects a video game movie to be Oscar material"

Kikizo: The Doom movie: how much were you personally involved with it, and what do think of the final result?

Carmack: I intentionally stayed completely out of the process, so I was able to get a fair first impression at the theatre. I liked it. Nobody expects a video game movie to be oscar material, but I thought it was a solid action movie with lots of fun nods to the gaming community.

Kikizo: What are your thoughts on the next generation consoles, particularly Revolution - and what can we expect from id?

Carmack: The Revolution is the console I am least familiar with, so I can't really comment. I really like developing on the 360 because of the exceptionally good development tools and clean hardware design, but all of our decisions at this point are based on providing great support for the 360, PS3, and PC platforms. We will also support Mac and Linux, but we haven't really looked at the Revolution.

Kikizo: What's next for id after the new Wolfenstein?

Carmack: We are working internally on a completely new project, but we haven't made any firm plans yet for the future of the Wolf, Doom and Quake franchises.

Kikizo: Thanks very much for your time today John.

Kikizo Staff
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Video Coverage
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Doom RPG
Official trailer  
1.56m 14MB DF, SD, 30
Doom: The Movie
Trailer (high quality)  
1.17m 16MB SD, 30
Doom 3
Xbox-specific trailer
1.19m 13.8 MB WMV
Doom 3
Intro sequence
2.34m 29.4 MB WMV

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