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John Carmack Not Enthused About Android Marketplace 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the hit-with-a-fragmentation-grenade dept.
An anonymous reader writes "During an in-depth and informative interview, Doom creator and id Software co-founder John Carmack opines on iOS game development, the economics of mobile development vs. console development, why mobile games lend themselves to more risk-taking and greater creativity, and finally, why he's not too keen on the Android Marketplace as a money-making machine. '...I'm honestly still a little scared of the support burden and the effort that it's going to take for our products, which are very graphics-intensive.'"
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John Carmack Not Enthused About Android Marketplace

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  • Carmack's Rage for iOS has been done alright, now I am eager to see whether it is even possible to port such a demanding 3D game to Android. There are lots of obstacles like the crippled NDK, hardware fragmentation, poor native audio support and boatload of other issues. If Carmack is taking a stab at it then I am really excited see the results. Also, pity the WP7 devices' capable hardware is DOA for such a development due to lack of native code support.
    • Re:Rage for Android? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by polyp2000 (444682) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:13AM (#34471314) Homepage Journal

      "now I am eager to see whether it is even possible to port such a demanding 3D game to Android" ;

      It Is absolutely possible , let there be no bones about it.
      The hardware of latest iPhone is pretty similar to many high end android devices, in fact some Android devices actually have slightly higher specs in terms of horsepower.

      Google have the market saturation now though - its time to reign things in a little bit and tighten things up. Perhaps they should consider some sort of
      hardware rating system to help developers and consumers have some sort of target to aim for. Better still have some dialogue with luminaries such as Carmack and find a solution.

      N.

      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @10:50AM (#34473368) Homepage Journal

        Yes but that is the problem with Android. I have a one year old Android phone. When I picked it because at the time it was the fastest CPU, had an OLED screen, and used stock Android.
        Now it can not play Angry birds and is not getting 2.2 much less 2.3! This is not a super old phone but the Samsung Moment is is a dead end device.
        It was the best phone I could get at the time. So if you were to write a game for Android what do you target as the lowend? The Droid? The Epic? The Nexus S?
        I like Android but Google needs to "lock down" the manufactures a bit more IMHO. Right now I would buy a Nexus S if Google offered it on Sprint. I am tired of dinking about with vendors skinning Android and with Vendors and Carriers not updating the OS.
        What I would like to see is for Google to certify some phones as Google Prime or some such thing. They would have stock Android and would get updates right from Google. Sort of a Nexus but one that any manufacture can make and any carrier can carry.

      • The hardware of latest iPhone is pretty similar to many high end android devices, in fact some Android devices actually have slightly higher specs in terms of horsepower.

        But what Android device is comparable to the iPod touch 4? The more powerful Android phones typically aren't available in a non-cell-phone version without 3G and without a price tag set with the expectation of a carrier subsidy in mind.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          Archos 43? Except that it lacks various sensors, so Google will not ok Market being bundled with said device.

          Basically, there have been many non-phone Android devices made. But none of them are "Google Android" devices as they lack some requirement or other (before 2.x Google actually required devices to be phones). And it is not a small list. There is accelerometer, compass, gps, camera of a certain minium quality (and with 2.2 and later, bluetooth). I can understand the accelerometer, but the compass, gps

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        The hardware of latest iPhone is pretty similar to many high end android devices, in fact some Android devices actually have slightly higher specs in terms of horsepower.

        To be absolutely correct, the iPhones have worse hardware than the Androids. Original iPhone, iPhone 3G - 400MHz CPU. G1 - 525MHz CPU. iPhone 3GS - 600MHz CPU, everyone else running 800+MHz CPUs. iPhone4 - 800MHz CPU, high-end Androids - 1GHz. iPhones have lower end hardware compared to the high-end Android devices. Sure there are architect

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        But that is the thing, it's not about "Porting to Android" anymore, it becomes about "Porting for Specific Device".

        Carmack wrote Rage not for the iOS, but specifically for the two GPUs the iOS currently runs on. He even made note that had he known more on the specs he may had just gone to support the latest one (shared by iPhone 3gs, 4, iPod 3rdGen, 4rthGen, iPad)

        With Android, you have a huge array of specs, and measuring the CPU speed alone is not enough, you need more info on each unit and their GPU,

    • Android's biggest strength is also its biggest weakness - Java.

  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @05:52AM (#34471252) Homepage Journal

    Google, are you listening? .. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS !!!!

    There should be no reason for to be grumbling about things like this - I would at least hope Google should be listening to when people like John Carmack have something to say. Particularly when there is so much of an opportunity here when other Android devices start hitting the shelves eg: GoogleTV may be a much more viable gaming platform. I say Fix this Meme - as soon as possible - a little brown nosing might be in order.

    N.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:46AM (#34471462)
      For games that need more performance than a Java-like environment can offer ...

      iOS has two advantages. A single native binary can target all iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. There is a single digital distribution channel, the App Store.

      With Android handset/tablet manufacturers are free to use different CPUs, GPU, etc. They may also be using different versions of Android. Different versions of the game may be necessary for the different permutations. This complicates the coding and testing. Having to deal with manufacturer specific stores might add to the overhead. These sort of problems are the "cost" of having an open platform like Android and there is not really anything Google can do about it.
      • by fredrik70 (161208)

        You can set what android version you are targeting in the market, I also belive that the latest version of android comes with a minimum hardware spec,

      • by master_p (608214) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @08:29AM (#34471952)

        It's the Computer vs Console battle all over again. In the end, someone came out with an API for games (Direct3d), and therefore the problem was minimized quite a lot. As handheld devices become more powerful, someone will introduce an API that makes game programming much easier for Android devices.

      • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @09:07AM (#34472146)

        Why do you assume Google cares? You are not their customer (unlike Apple). The carrier is Google's customer. You are just eyeballs for advertising.

        Google wins when every crappy phone has Android on it, regardless of the end user's experience. They don't need quality, they need quantity. Being able to use different GPUs and CPUs is critical because that is why you can find Android phones for 1/4 the cost of the high end smart phones.

        • by tepples (727027)

          The carrier is Google's customer.

          If Google wants more customers, then why hasn't it made more of an effort to expand Android past phones? Google could compete with iPod touch by allowing access to its Market from portable media players such as those made by Archos.

          • by tgd (2822)

            Have you completely missed all the Android-based tablets, or the Google TV?

            Android is all over the place in embedded consumer systems.

            • Have you completely missed all the Android-based tablets

              The two Best Buy stores in my home town appear to have "completely missed all the Android-based tablets". Each store has the Archos 7 and one other 7" tablet, and that's it. No Archos 5, no Archos 43, and those that are there don't have official access to Android Market but instead have AppsLib, which has a far smaller selection. The fact that telephones have Android Market but tablets have AppsLib is part of the fragmentation that Mr. Carmack complains about. And as for buying an Archos tablet online befor

  • From what I could understand from TFA, the problem is with the limitations of the Marketplace, not Android itself.

    If a distribution service with support for games' specific problems is needed, wouldn't there be a market opportunity in developing a Steam-like app with its own distribution service and game library management?

    The only problem I can see is that apps can't install other apps, but they can download the APK and call the installer for it, so it might not be that problematic...

    • Maybe, but then you start having to support multiple distribution points, chances are with their own rules, and own payout rules, etc.. That starts to be a hassle. One thing that Apple makes easy is one place that handles all the hosting and payments. Yeah, 30% sounds like a lot, but right now the costs of maintaining our own servers and doing our own marketing for our desktop app accounts for 40% of the costs. I have one full-time employee doing nothing but handling the payments and another maintaining

      • On the contrary, if a Steam like app was developed, you could have one distribution point for all the mobile platforms except the iPhone/Pad, because Apple wouldn't allow it (it's competition to their store).

        And it could handle all the hosting and payments, so I don't see the downside compared to the Apple App Store.

        • if a Steam like app was developed, you could have one distribution point for all the mobile platforms except the iPhone/Pad, because Apple wouldn't allow it (it's competition to their store).

          Not really. Like Apple, Google chooses not to carry Market alternatives to the store. So the user would have to turn on "Unknown sources" and install a Market alternative through an APK, but AT&T has customized the firmware on its Android phones, such as Motorola Backflip and HTC Aria, to keep "Unknown sources" permanently off.

      • A myriad [wikipedia.org] is over 9000.

        but right now the costs of maintaining our own servers and doing our own marketing for our desktop app accounts for 40% of the costs.

        App Store doesn't do all the marketing for you. Helping users find and choose your app from among the myriads of apps in the App Store is your job. If promoting your application with advertisements is 10% of the costs, then you're breaking even with Apple's cut.

  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:26AM (#34471372) Homepage Journal

    That which apply to both Android and iPhone.

    In that touch screen interfaces are a burden to game design.
    "You're somewhat hampered by the touch interface—there's a lot of places where tactile controls really are better—but you can definitely do a lot."

    Its possible to get creative - but it doesnt matter how many polygons NG smartphones can push - a touch screen is not a good interface for Doom 3 for example.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      Its possible to get creative - but it doesnt matter how many polygons NG smartphones can push - a touch screen is not a good interface for Doom 3 for example.

      Its not even much good for Doom 1.

      • by adolf (21054)

        Having played Doom 1 on my first-gen iPod Touch, I must say that it works fine. The biggest problem for basic gameplay was that my fingers were in the way all of the time, and the first-gen lacked any manner of speaker.

        Back on the topic of Android and gaming: I've seen some really incredible graphics on that old iPod (and Doom wasn't it), but with my fancy-pants overclocked Droid the most impressive game I've seen is Angry Birds.

        IIRC, Google Earth runs better on my iPod than on the Droid, too.

        But so what?

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Having played Doom 1 on my first-gen iPod Touch, I must say that it works fine

          Having played doom 1 on my first gen ipod, and iphone 3G I must disagree.

          The first couple levels were playable.

          The later levels at advanced difficulty were not playable because the controls were too limited.

    • by slim (1652)

      a touch screen is not a good interface for Doom 3 for example.

      ... but it's the perfect interface for Angry Birds, or Slitherlink, or Small World.

      I'm sure someone could conceive of a game that's graphically demanding and suits touch screens. Whether it would be more compelling than the existing, less graphically intensive offerings, is another matter.

      • it's the perfect interface for Angry Birds, or Slitherlink, or Small World.

        I've got a 3gs, it runs Carmack's Rage rail shooter quite well, but Angry Birds really seems to have a problem with responsiveness and smoothness. In general, you can get a lot of graphical punch from the same resources used to cover inefficient coding. Seems like the Angry Birds developer need more computational grunt much more than JC does.

        • I havea 3GS too, the responsiveness issues may be related to its Gamecenter integration. It stutters frequently when I have wireless or 3G on, but I was in airplane mode one time and found it was back to it's usual smoothness.

          Not to excuse the devs, they should still improve whatever code is causing the stuttering.

    • The touch screen interface problem is what makes me wonder why the hell Carmack is so eager about iPhone development. It just plainly sucks to control a game by moving the device. For a FPS you want to look at the screen from the same angle all the time, no matter how good the screen may be.
    • touch screen interfaces are a burden to game design

      Any more than gamepads "are a burden to game design" on consoles? Or small screens that only one person can comfortably fit around at a time "are a burden to game design" on desktop PCs? Different platforms have different favorite genres.

  • I agree with Carmack (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:33PM (#34477882) Homepage
    I own an Android phone and I love it but I'm not sure I could be bothered to develop for it. You can't guarantee what the user will have and you can't even rely on the store to show your product in the best light.

    For instance, there was some fuss being made over Angry Birds. I decide to check it out. It shows up in my app market, there are no limits listed so I download it. It fails. No error message than it's not gonna happen. Was it a bad net connection or was my phone not up to it? Fuck if I know.

    Google maps was updated and crashing constantly (like upon boot up) and as long as it went on I suspect it was only happening to older versions like mine (1.6). Another app bricked my Android and considering I mainly only use Google made apps and connect bot it's not like I'm downloading shit.

    The hardware guys aren't willing to update my software and Google isn't doing enough to guarantee I only see apps I can run. That's shit and something like Rage would cause such a hassle for ID, imo, so I wouldn't bother if I were them.
  • He can be enthusiastic, but he cannot be "enthused".

    "But but but it's in the dictionary, LLOOLLOLO!"

    Most dictionaries are written by descriptivists who record how language is used, even if it is wrong.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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