Add Doom creator John Carmack to the list of video game developers who don’t think there is a pressing need for next-gen hardware. Speaking with Games Industry International, Carmack asserted that the future of video games is not founded in improvements to graphical fidelity or processing power, but rather in changes and innovations in the gameplay experience.
“In many ways I am not all that excited about the next generation. It will let us do everything we want to do now, with the knobs turned up,” Carmack said. “Sony and Microsoft are going to fight over gigaflops and teraflops and GPUs and all this. In the end, it won’t make that much difference.”
What will make a difference, in Carmack’s mind, is the application of head-up displays in gaming. As reported last month, the re-release of id Software’s Doom 3 will include support for head-up displays. For Carmack, 3D, motion controls, and other gimmicks in gaming are nice, but virtual reality will fundamentally alter the way we play video games.
“It won’t sweep the world in a year or two, but so much of what we’ve always been trying to do with games is simulate that holodeck experience and put you in a different world. This could do it in a way that you could never, ever get in a traditional game,” Carmack proclaimed.
Regarding motion controls, Carmack praises Nintendo for introducing the world to a new control method with the Wii, but feels that Microsoft missed the boat with their effort in the multi-million seller Kinect, and should have instead invested their R&D dollars in virtual reality.
“They screwed up the latency on all of it… I still think it is unfortunate; they did some very good software work in that, but it should have gone into something like this though,” Carmack maintained.
It seems the number of developers who feel that the processing power of gaming hardware has plateaued is steadily growing. These developers feel that advances in varying the gameplay experience will usher in the new era of gaming, not beefed up consoles with quad-core processors or multiple gigabytes of RAM. Though I do think good graphics are an unavoidable component of a good video game, it is refreshing to know that modern developers place just as much importance on gameplay, as varied, interesting, and good gameplay is an inextricable component of an excellent video game, not graphics alone. Just look at the difference between the original Assassin’s Creed and its follow-up. Both were beautiful, but the introduction of varied and interesting gameplay elevated a game that was boring as crap to a deeply satisfying experience. Though I am not sure head-up displays and virtual reality are the innovations that the will push the industry forward, I salute Carmack for his innovative drive. Also, Doom 4 would be nice, too.
[Image Source: Official GDC]