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Zenimax Accuses John Carmack of Stealing VR Tech 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-missed-the-boat,-get-over-it dept.
John Carmack made waves last year when he left id Software, owned by Zenimax, to join Oculus VR in order to help create its virtual reality headset. Now Zenimax has sent documents to Oculus's legal department claiming Carmack "stole" technology from them when he left. They said, "The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax's legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval." Carmack says, "No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don't own VR." Oculus was also dismissive: "It's unfortunate, but when there's this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims."
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Zenimax Accuses John Carmack of Stealing VR Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They've proved to be trolls before, so this doesn't surprise me in the least.

    • Re:Zenimax again? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:24PM (#46894629)
      It sounds to me like Zenimax doesn't understand that in California, "no compete" carries zero legal weight. I seriously doubt Carmack stole anything, they just don't like that he's using his knowledge and experience at a different company.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well the joke is that he left because zenimax didn't want to give him time to work while at zenimax.

        though, I think zenimax doesn't understand that a single source properiaty VR gaming is never going to go far. the provider needs to be an outsider to all game making companies..

        seriously though, give me my fucking HD rift already! then I can stop paying for cleaning, hah.

        (oh and about using knowledge and experience, zenimax is trying to claim that they own Carmack and his experience because some of that was

  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:31PM (#46893337)

    Ah, John, you make deals with the devil... are you then surprised when he comes calling for repayment? It's unfortunate that so many smaller, independent studios are absorbed by larger companies, who then proceed to strip-mine them of their IP and talent, leaving a dessicated corpse of a company in their wake to be discarded at their convenience.

    I'm sure their partership with Facebook will be *completely* different.

    • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

      Companies aren't people and the "dessicated corpse of a company" is not something to cry about.

      The good people are absorbed into the acquiring company, and the dead wood is cast off. The "company" is an illusion and it dissipates into the aether as it should.

      Nothing to cry about, unless you're part of the dead wood I guess.

      • by Zephyn (415698) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:42PM (#46893471)

        It's not just about people, it's also about the before buyout/after buyout difference in the quality of the products produced by the 'wholly owned subsidiary'.

        People who enjoyed games by Westwood, Bioware, or Maxis before they were bought out by EA understand this.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        How's life over in fantasy land?
        Anyone half talented jumps ship as fast as possible, leaving the dead wood and the rights to a franchise. Which will be driven into the ground within one or two releases by a bunch of MBAs playing buzzword bingo in a "design committee".
        See: SimCity 5.

        • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

          Who cares. The good people go elsewhere and more good product is made under a different name.

          Also I dispute that anyway. Many good people may stay on indefinitely because they like their position in the new company. It happens.

      • by hibiki_r (649814) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:49PM (#46893577)

        You must have a very different experience with buyouts than I do. I've seen a few over the years. If there are no relocations, some people stay as long as required to get the customary retention bonus, and they they all disappear en masse.

        Companies have a culture. Some cultures are pretty good, others are terrible. An acquisition tends to obliterate the purchased company's culture, while bringing in part of the culture of the buyer, except that the team that remains doesn't really buy in that parent culture in the slightest.

        So maybe companies aren't something to cry about, but nice relationships and a culture that is destroyed, all for what in the end is seen is a failure of an acquisition, is something that can make people sad, and for good reason.

      • by Dutch Gun (899105)

        If you've ever been a part of a really great team, then you know that the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. It's an almost impossible thing to engineer, and extremely difficult to sustain it over a long period. A buyout has a high likelyhood of destroying the magic of that team due to outside interference. A company provides a place to nurture and develop highly effective teams, and has a big part in defining the overall culture at its workplace. I don't think that's an illusion by any means.

      • Companies do have a 'corporate culture' - the collective personality of all the decision-makers. Some of these are more friendly to society in general than others.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Companies aren't people and the "dessicated corpse of a company" is not something to cry about.

        The good people are absorbed into the acquiring company, and the dead wood is cast off. The "company" is an illusion and it dissipates into the aether as it should.

        The whole is more than just sum of the parts. A company is not just a bunch of assets, it's also a container for the organizational culture. This culture is ultimately the difference between succesful and failing companies, and is often lost when the c

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not sure they own his "know-how". If they patented something, show us the patents. Otherwise you really can't own the fact that the person who developed a technology know that technology.
    The fact that they say that creeps me out a bit.
    • In a lot of cases, the legal theory called inevitable disclosure [wikipedia.org] gets tossed around. It's a way to make a non-disclosure agreement act like a non-compete agreement in jurisdictions that forbid the latter, by convincing a judge that an employee has an unacceptable risk of disclosing trade secrets that he brings with him.
      • by jandrese (485)
        I have a tough time seeing this fly in a court that is already hostile to non-compete agreements.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:34PM (#46893375) Journal

    ...insofar as their product is complete vaporware to date, Romero can clearly claim prior art (pretty much anything he's started where someone else wasnt clearly carrying him).

    Just sayin'.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Prior art matters in patent disputes. This is not a patent dispute.

      • Re:then again... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Frobnicator (565869) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:43PM (#46894163) Journal

        No, it isn't. From the ZeniMax statement in the article:

        The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax.

        So they are claiming that he also stole the "know-how".

        If he actually took some ZeniMax programs, that is one thing. And if true, I can see how ZeniMax might have some claims.

        But the term "know-how" tends to be common in unenforceable non-compete agreements, and are generally shunned in courts. People learn stuff, making the people more valuable. That is just how life works, and that is not usually a valid claim. When the people move on they can still keep secrets, but they cannot be made to unlearn that which they have learned.

        • If they can prove it was a trade secret, maybe. You don't get to take that "know-how" (depending on laws and agreements) if it's not out.

        • by citizenr (871508)

          If he actually took some ZeniMax programs

          Its about him _thinking_ about VR while on zenimax clock. This is the know how they want back - his ideas while being employed by them.

          Pretty hilarious from my european perspective, but I bed expensive US lawyers can extract some money from fb just on tha retarded merit.

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:54PM (#46893617)

    What we're dealing with here is a trade secret dispute. Zenimax alleges that Carmack was privy to inside knowledge of Zenimax's work on VR tech while he worked there, and now he's allegedly run off with that knowledge and given it to Oculus VR.

    Think of it like the formula for Coca Cola - it's not patented, never has been, but it's protected by trade secrets law. If someone works for Coca Cola and discovers/absconds with the formula, and then sells it to, e.g., Pepsi, then that person violates trade secrets laws by doing so. But if Pepsi independently discovers or reverse engineers Coke to discover the formula on their own, without relying on Coca Cola's inside knowledge, then more power to them.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:08PM (#46893789)

      If someone works for Coca Cola and discovers/absconds with the formula, and then sells it to, e.g., Pepsi, then that person violates trade secrets laws by doing so.

      Back in 2006, this actually happened [foxnews.com]. Instead of using the formula, Pepsi notified Coca Cola, and Coca Cola then reported it to the FBI. It makes sense that Pepsi would decline the offer, since in blind taste tests most people prefer Pepsi. Coke is successful because of their marketing and brand, not because of the taste of their "secret formula".

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        If you say so, Pepsi is like Mountain Dew. Not quite as bad though, and Dew tastes like hedgehog piss and liquid sugar.

        • With Dew the problem is that there isn't any sugar in it any more. I've all but given up on obtaining any in the UK, as the imported stuff all seems to have that HFCS muck in it.
          • by Lehk228 (705449)
            mountain dew throwback
          • You can't order the Throwback version? That is made with the real sugar. In fact when i drink soda now I only drink the stuff with real sugar. I can taste the nastiness of the FRUCtose in everything else. Jarritos is a good brand from Mexico that uses real sugar and natural flavors.
            • So what's "real sugar"?
              Glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose?

              • by Anonymous Coward

                The real sugar (eg sugar cane or sugar beets) is primarily sucrose.
                HFCS is roughly 50/50 glucose, and fructose. (There are three different popular ratios, the two most popular are roughly 50/50).

                So what was your point again, besides trying to feel superior?

            • by Agent0013 (828350)
              Actually, all the sodas, even common ones like Coke and Pepsi, use real sugar when their market is Mexican people. Even soda sold in Mexican food stores in the US sell the real sugar version. They don't like the HFCS, so the companies make what will sell better. I don't know why us US Americans have such a weak will that we have to buy what they give us whether it tastes good or not. Brainwashing perhaps?
              • by chis101 (754167)

                Actually, all the sodas, even common ones like Coke and Pepsi, use real sugar when their market is Mexican people. Even soda sold in Mexican food stores in the US sell the real sugar version. They don't like the HFCS, so the companies make what will sell better. I don't know why us US Americans have such a weak will that we have to buy what they give us whether it tastes good or not. Brainwashing perhaps?

                They sell Mountain Dew Throwback, which uses real sugar instead of HFCS. I actually don't like the taste of it. It tastes flat to me, like it was normal Mountain Dew that's been left open for a few days.

                That's just my opinion though.

                • Yes, for Americans, they market them as throwback (Pepsi, Mounain Dew, etc.). For Mexicans, thats just the regular Pepsi or Mountain Dew. Regular Coke sold to Mexicans is also the real sugar recipie instead of the version sold to Americans. If you find a bottle or can the has the label in Mexican Spanish, it will have real sugar. From a quick online search, it even looks like the Coca-Cola company calls it Mexican Coke, and insists it's made with real cane sugar.
        • > and Dew tastes like hedgehog piss and liquid sugar.

          Not sure how you verified that ... and I probably don't want to know. ;-)

        • by bongey (974911)

          Thanks I now know how hedgehog piss tastes like, wondering how you ending up drinking hedgehog piss .

        • by Agent0013 (828350)

          If you say so, Pepsi is like Mountain Dew. Not quite as bad though, and Dew tastes like hedgehog piss and liquid sugar.

          Blasphemy!!! Mountain Dew is the nectar of the gods! Anyone who does not see that is a filthy heathen!

      • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:23PM (#46893947)

        It makes sense that Pepsi would decline the offer, since in blind taste tests most people prefer Pepsi.

        This is pretty hilarious, seeing that Pepsi had to, at one point, buy Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken before they could force them into contracts that obligated them to buying Pepsi products, since no one wanted to sell Pepsi.

        • with all of those non-dollars they earned from non-customers not-buying their product of course, right? :)

          • by tlambert (566799)

            "Yum! was created on May 30, 1997, as Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. an independent company, as a result of a spin-out of the former fast food division of PepsiCo, which owned and franchised the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands worldwide. Because of the company's previous relationship with Pepsi, Yum! Brands has a lifetime contract with PepsiCo"

            Also, here's the citation Wikipedia is missing: https://www.princeton.edu/~ach... [princeton.edu]

            • cool. my point was more that some people clearly wanted to drink Pepsi, else Pepsi wouldn't have been able to afford to buy those restaurant chains.

      • by HannethCom (585323) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:22PM (#46894605)
        I have never seen Pepsi claim their blind taste tests are fair. This makes their saying that more people pick Pepsi in their blind taste test perfectly legal. Though I still think it is deceptive.

        I took the Pepsi blind taste test. I would even say that the cold, freshly opened Pepsi tasted slightly better than the warm Coke that had been opened over a hour ago. I ended up choosing the Pepsi because I all of a sudden got the craving for the Juicy Fruit that they give you only if you pick the Pepsi.

        How do I know the Coke had been open for over 1 hour and the Pepsi was freshly opened? I asked the guy. He said it was policy not to cool the Coke and make sure it was open at least 1 hour. Though they would sometimes cheat and only have them open for 30 minutes when things got really busy. The Pepsi had to be cooled and they were not allowed to use it if it had been open more than 5 minutes.

        As for the Juicy Fruit, that was common knowledge here at that time. If you choose Pepsi, you got it, if you choose Coke, you didn't.
        • It's not just what you claim as rigging. The taste difference works differently for a small amount vs a large quantity. For drinking a whole glass, you get a different result than the small shots of Pepsi.
          • by Agent0013 (828350)
            You know, this makes sense. I like the sweeter taste of Pepsi better. But after drinking a whole can of it there is a gross aftertaste in my mouth that I don't like. It also feels like Pepsi leaves a film on my teeth. Plus, it sometimes makes me more thirsty after drinking it, probably all the sugar needing to be diluted. So even though I like the taste of a sip of Pepsi better, I feel Coke is more refreshing to drink.
            • That's exactly what I heard about this from research - Coke is more refreshing for an entire glass, while Pepsi has a better one-off taste. It's actually an interesting problem for people doing market research like focus groups - a seemingly insignificant variable like quantity given can have a massive impact on the results. One of the specific comparisons was why focus groups with the blind "Pepsi Challenge" showed Pepsi out ahead substantially, but Coke had more market share - people tend not to drink a
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        pepsi challange was pure shit.

        btw the formulations and taste change whichever region licensed plant the product is from too.

        if carmack took say id engine XX with him.. that hadn't been opensourced etc, then yeah, sure, sue him. but that's not the case. they're suing him because he could write something comparable to the id engine XX.. in other words because he is Carmack.

        if they think he was so fucking valuable with his expertise then maybe, just maybe, they should have paid what him wanted and more importa

      • by jandrese (485)
        The recipe for Coke has been known forever. The whole "secret recipe" is all a big marketing gimmick.
    • WRONG (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:28PM (#46894005)

      Zenimax agreed with Carmack working with Oculus, while still under his original contract with Zenimax. Zenimax accepted that Carmack was coding for Oculus, and actually had a signed agreement with Oculus acknowledging that fact, and claiming ultimate ownership of that code.

      Carmack and Oculus are more than happy to ensure that ZERO code owned by Zenimax goes into any future product- by all accounts the code was junk anyway, and every current significant promotion of Oculus Rift is done with other third party software, including code from Valve. Oculus Rift is literally STONE SOUP, which is why every informed person was amazed that the dummies at Facebook thought there was anything worth buying in the first place.

      Zenimax chose NOT to have a payment contract with Oculus when they allowed Carmack to work there. This is 100% the fault of Zenimax. Now, after the fact, Zenimax wants to unilaterally set a payment figure, and base this figure NOT on the work Carmack did, but on the fact Facebook paid 2 billion to buy Oculus VR. This logic will crash and burn in court.

      The real-deal is that Zenimax wants pay-back for their disastrous decision to buy iD in the first place. Zenimax is well over 100 million dollars down on that deal, and they'd like their money back "thank you very much". But everyone knew the hopeless state of iD before Zenimax wasted their money buying them. Carmack had ran the company into the ground, from a licensed engine perspective, with only one genuine OUTSIDE customer for the Doom 3 Engine, and no outside customers likely for the dreadful Rage engine. iD was desperate to sell, having sank their fortune into the horrible Rage game. Everyone knew iD couldn't design new games, and everyone knew that iD's main success, licensed game engines, was long dead as well. The only sane reason to buy iD was if Zenimax was convinced that it could exploit iD's IP, namely Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein- IP that even iD itself had failed to usefully exploit for years.

      Every decision made by Zenimax after the purchase of iD got worse. They paid to buy the rights to 'Prey', the ONLY outside (non-iD financed) title that used the Doom 3 engine, and lost a small fortune there as well, when the Prey 2 project collapsed.

      • Re:WRONG (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cheesybagel (670288) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:56PM (#46894337)

        Yeah the id Tech engines have lost any market share they had to Unreal Engine or CryEngine.

        When you consider that Zenimax itself did not use the id Tech engines e.g. Fallout 3 uses Gamebryo, Dishonored uses Unreal Engine 3, what was the point in buying it? Was it because they thought id Tech 5 would be worth it? With Carmack gone any further engine development is probably not going to happen. So id Tech 5 will probably be the last engine they will have.

        It was a lame duck buy.

      • RAGE is an incredible technical feat. What I've heard is it doesn't have the GUI tools. Carmak still does everything from command line...
        • by Anonymous Coward

          A bit dismissive, but there's a kernel of truth to that.
          Modern blockbuster games aren't the effort of 5-10 totally dedicated people these days. I don't think iD ever really made the transition.

          Also, the 'clever tricks' are made irrelevant with every step in GPU technology. And Carmack is (probably) past the age of wanting to live on the bleeding edge 24/7. He's interested in rocket science, and other stuff. Good luck to him. He did more to push 3D hardware than any other individual through sheer market dema

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What we're dealing with here is a trade secret dispute. Zenimax alleges that Carmack was privy to inside knowledge of Zenimax's work on VR tech while he worked there, and now he's allegedly run off with that knowledge and given it to Oculus VR.

      Think of it like the formula for Coca Cola - it's not patented, never has been, but it's protected by trade secrets law. If someone works for Coca Cola and discovers/absconds with the formula, and then sells it to, e.g., Pepsi, then that person violates trade secrets laws by doing so. But if Pepsi independently discovers or reverse engineers Coke to discover the formula on their own, without relying on Coca Cola's inside knowledge, then more power to them.

      You couldn't do it anyway. Coke contains ingredients dating back to when cocaine was still in it. It no longer contains any of the ahhh, medicinal, portions of the plant, but it still has some parts of it. Good luck importing any of that to the US though. Its very illegal. Unless you are Coca-Cola.

      So even if you had a copy of Coke's secret formula handed to you be the CEO himself, you still couldn't produce a copy. Its literally illegal for you to obtain some of the ingredients.

    • Well he made a tweet to the effect that none of his ideas had been pursued as patentable
      and none had been patented.

      He also said they have and own all the code he wrote (note the past tense).

      There is a tangle here if Zenimax prevails because it implies that no programmer
      can move from one job to another.

      To protect himself he would also have to snapshot any and all revision control
      systems containing code he worked on (as protection). That however is specifically
      prohibited.....

      To prosecute an honest violation

    • by citizenr (871508)

      What we're dealing with here is a trade secret dispute. Zenimax alleges that Carmack was privy to inside knowledge of Zenimax's work on VR tech while he worked there

      Of course he was, HE WAS the only one working on VR at zenimax! So everything he wrote at home using laptop in his bed is zenimax property .. according to zenimax :)

    • by BillX (307153)

      Indeed, sounds like a non-compete-clause type of snit... the old "you can't work in the field you work in because you learned lots of stuff while working for us".

    • by delt0r (999393)
      Trade secrets don't protect ideas. Ideas are only kinda protected via patents, and even then only specific implementation of an idea. The idea of VR with low latency and different sensors for head orientation is not new. In fact i don;t see anything new that wasn't done years ago. The difference is that the technology has become cheap enough to be mainstream and fast enough to realistically deal with latency issues.
  • I wonder if this is actually a challenge under Trade Secret law rather than patent law. Depending upon what John signed as a condition of his employment, he could be in some hot water.
    • by jandrese (485)
      Trade Secrets don't have much protection under the law. That's kind of the point. In order to be protected you have to prove that you're willing to advance the public good (otherwise there is no public interest), but that requires disclosure and limited protections (they expire). So it's a tradeoff, either you keep it secret, or you make it public and get protections from the law. Obviously this was written before our current era of government as the enforcement arm of corporate policy, but it's still g
      • by chyminy (1713178)
        I think you are right that trade secrets would not provide much protection against that innovation being used by others if the invention was disclosed. Afterall, a non-patented idea was let out of the bag. However, I believe John could be challenged by a civil lawsuit if he has signed a non-compete agreement. And he's probably got a sizable pile of cash to make that worthwhile.
  • The nasty facts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:05PM (#46893759)

    Zenimax lost a fortune when it very foolishly bought iD. iD gave Zenimax exactly ONE game, the disastrous Rage that iD had sank tens of millions of dollars into prior to the sale.

    The Rage engine was simply the worst generic engine ever developed- its single greatest failure is completely misunderstanding the work-flow of artists and others that produce the necessary assets for a game. With Rage, Carmack solved an interesting technical problem (that crudely became known as 'Megatexture') that no-one had ever requested be solved for modern game production.

    After buying iD, Zenimax sank a new fortune into rapidly expanding the iD teams working on new games (what new games?). Rapidly, they discovered why iD had a reputation as the world's worst GAME designers. Carmack was discovered to be part of the problem, and the company was more than happy for him to "butt out" and go work with Oculus VR while still under his existing contract with Zenimax.

    Today, Zenimax has two games about to be released using the Rage engine. Both look visually very primitive compared with other current AAA titles, but at least they should make some profit. HOWEVER, neither game is created by the iD teams in Zenimax.

    Zenimax wants their money back. Normally, the world would respond "tough", but the whole Oculus VR/Facebook deal makes Zenimax thinks it may even turn a profit from its purchase of iD.

    John Carmack was a 'free' man when Facebook finalised the deal to buy Oculus VR, but he most certainly was promoted by Oculus VR as being a key player in the team that created their success when Carmack was 'owned' by Zenimax. Today Oculus and Carmack will happily state they'll throw out ANY code potentially contaminated by Carmack's Zenimax contract- they had long depended on third-party code from other sources like Valve anyway.

    So Zenimax relies on a factually true but nebulous position. And any court will ask why, if Zenimax cared about the assistance provided to Oculus by Carmack (which happened with Zenimax's explicit permission), they didn't reach an arrangement AT THE TIME with Carmack and Oculus. However, it seems that Oculus offered Zenimax some stock (long before the buy-out) which Zenimax couldn't be bothered to make a decision about.

    The Law takes a dim view of companies that seek to manipulate a situation so they do the work first, and only THEN attempt to extort THEIR preferred reward. This kind of situation always smells like a well established con.

    So Zenimax is going to have to prove some form of dishonesty of the part of Carmack and/or Oculus. But I bet that proves impossible. Neither Carmack nor Oculus had a history of anything but complete openness. Indeed, it was in Carmack's direct interest to be as open as possible, given how stupid Zenimax was in the first place allowing him to work with the Oculus people without a clear contract between Zenimaz and Oculus.

    Most of us will expect Facebook to pay Zenimax something to go away, but Zenimax is a big company, and a 'little' pay-out is nothing to them. As I said at the top, Zenimax is actually looking to turn its financially disastrous purchase of iD into a significant profit . A quick Google suggests Zenimax paid north of 100 million dollars, but the income made subsequently from iD 'assets' wouldn't have even paid for the yearly running costs of their new purchase. So I guess Zenimax is looking for at least 100 mill from Facebook, and probably more like 150.

    • Re:The nasty facts (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:23PM (#46895105)

      The Rage engine was simply the worst generic engine ever developed- its single greatest failure is completely misunderstanding the work-flow of artists and others that produce the necessary assets for a game. With Rage, Carmack solved an interesting technical problem (that crudely became known as 'Megatexture') that no-one had ever requested be solved for modern game production.

      Oh please. You sound like a disappointed, angry fanboy lashing out at the wrong thing.

      Every time I've read anything Carmack's written about id Tech 5, he talks about how its design was driven by artist workflow. IIRC, they wrote tools which let artists edit world geometry and paint directly onto it, using the real game engine for rendering, in real time. That frees artists from a lot of extra work carefully splitting their artwork across hundreds or thousands of discrete textures, none of which has anything to do with the creative process. Instead, they can just focus on painting. It also frees them from needing to go through a long multi-step process to see how their art will actually look in-game.

      Speaking of which, I work on things which require a significant fraction of a day (FPGAs) or a year (ASICs) between making a change and finding out how it works in the real world. Even when we use simulation, there's still a delay. So I speak from considerable experience when I say that this sucks. People in my profession would kill to have a nearly instantaneous feedback loop. I cannot imagine the artistic process is any different.

      I can well believe that the actual tools id produced might not have been suitable for public consumption outside id, but that's a problem they always had. The operation they ran was so small and insular that their engines and tools were usually a little too specialized into the immediate needs of their one-game-at-a-time team, and they never tried to expand their operations to properly support external engine customers. That's why, even before Rage, they tended to lose the engine licensing wars to Unreal Tech and others -- support is at least as important as technology, if not more so.

      Also, the only sense in which id Tech 5 answered a question nobody had ever asked (hint: this is not actually true) is that some people (you) are blinkered by the narrow technological valley most game engines exist in. You aren't even able to ask the right questions if you refuse to believe there's a world outside the valley.

      After buying iD, Zenimax sank a new fortune into rapidly expanding the iD teams working on new games (what new games?). Rapidly, they discovered why iD had a reputation as the world's worst GAME designers. Carmack was discovered to be part of the problem, and the company was more than happy for him to "butt out" and go work with Oculus VR while still under his existing contract with Zenimax.

      Your knowledge of this derives from... what, exactly? Internet rumors? The same hole you pulled your opinions about game engine technology from?

      And if Zenimax actually did try to "rapidly expand" id's team, they were fools who hadn't been paying much attention. id had a long history of internal turmoil which would occasionally spill out into the public, and an equally long history of deliberately trying to stay very small. Many "id" games were actually produced by other studios (esp. Raven) because id did not want to be large enough to work on more than one game at a time. Regardless of what you think about that one team's competence as game designers, that culture was doomed to break badly if its new corporate masters did not use extreme caution when instituting major changes.

      And it's fucking crazy to assert that Zenimax is truly happy to see someone like Carmack go. Your entire screed about Zenimax needing ROI on their purchase ignores that Carmack himself would have been a huge reason for valuing id Software highly in an acquisition. If you can't keep him around, you have lost a huge chunk of your potential ROI, period. Why the hell do you think they're pursuing this spiteful lawsuit?

      • Zenimax should have said to John, make us an awesome walkaround engine please and let him go do it, but they were too stupid/micromanaging/political whatever.

  • by Torodung (31985) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:10PM (#46893809) Journal

    This is exactly the way "Force Feedback" products got thrown to the wolves. I hope it isn't a similar ending for VR headsets. This stuff has been tried for over a decade.

    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      You're saying that with a straight face? Force feedback was a stupid gimmick, good riddance to it.

      • by Agent0013 (828350)
        Unless it's a good force feedback steering wheel. That makes it so you can feel how much grip your tires have on the road and makes it feel like driving a real car.
        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          Oh, I thought you meant those little wobbly things in Playstation controllers. I don't know anything about steering wheel controllers. Never really been interested in owning one.

          • Well, I'm more of a PC gamer. So I won't comment on whether a Playstation steering wheel is any good or not. But my leather covered logitech wheel is awesome. Gas and brake peddles or the floor and F1 style shifter paddles on the wheel. But the feedback of the wheel is the main thing that makes it work great for driving. Gravel feels different than a paved road. Each bump you hit jerks the wheel a bit in your hands. A long tight turn will pull the wheel harder against you than a shallow turn does, so you st
  • I love this! For once an argument for not patenting software tech. The claims of something stolen without evidence? That's probably actionable somehow.

    • by jandrese (485)
      They're claiming that he stole the knowledge in his head. Basically their claim boils down to: we own John Carmack forever, because he learned stuff while on the clock for Zenimax.
  • Just like Blackberry.... losers!

    What happens is that the companies, on their deathbeds, make bad financial decisions and get in bed with mafia financiers. They then assign patent rights to patent troll lawyers, who's entire living is made by these bullshit claims.

    Good luck. Sounds like Zuckerberg has more money and better lawyers than you! Game, set, match.

  • The summary doesn't say, but "Mr. Luckey" is the FOUNDER of Oculus.

    This is really stupid though, because I think Zenimax is saying that Carmack stole secret technology for Oculus that Oculus was already aware of, but agreed not to release. In order for this to get settled in the courts, the "secret" technology will no longer be secret. What a stupid move.
    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      This is Zenimax suddenly realizing that with Carmack off, their entire id buyout has become worthless. Their engine is awkward and basically only used by id and some related devs. Their games have been subpar at best. The only thing they had was some bright people, and Carmack was the biggest chunk by far.

      They're now flailing wildly in the vain hope that they'll be able to get some compensation from somewhere.
      • by jandrese (485)
        As I understand it, the engine is nice enough to develop on, but Zenimax won't license it to anybody so it doesn't matter. This creates another problem where there is no mass of developers and foundation of knowledge around the engine, so anybody using it now would face early adopter hurdles.
  • What if... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Type44Q (1233630)

    What if Zenimax isn't operating alone here; what if they have a silent partner, someone with an incentive to delay Occulus; say, for example, Sony...

  • John loads his BFG and aims it at Zenimax, it fires ... screaming, flames, squishing noises and body parts everywhere.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:17PM (#46894563)

    This has happened before...
    http://scholar.google.com/scho... [google.com]

    This is why there is no CCR, and why Fogerty gave up music entirely out of disgust after this lawsuit. We missed decades of great music from a genius that we'll never get back. Remember this the next time a record company tells you that piracy is theft.

    • Wow! Interesting back story!

      Thank-you for exposing me to new music. Just bought CCR 20 Greatest hits off iTunes. Great to find classic rock when it still had soul before selling out.

      • I'm biased but for some reason that sounds to me like someone saying they've never had air before, or water.
        • I don't listen to a lot of music -- growing up or as an adult. As a result I'm not familiar with a lot of popular bands (from any era.) As a teenager I was too busy programming, tearing apart how games worked in assembly language, learning graphics; As an adult these days I spend most time on game dev, game design, and still gaming. I have very little time to listen to (popular) music -- I prefer music without vocals.

  • This is why like California, and one of the reasons the tech industry is out her (rather than, say, Boston). Non competes for ordinary workers are not enforceable. As long as he doesn't give his new company specific information, you are good. The skills you learned are yours. Around Route 128 (Boston), they sued people who switched jobs, people stopped, companies lost cross fertilization, and silicon valley cleaned their clocks. DEC, Wang, Prime, etc.

  • This smacks of a sneaky way to enforce a 'non competition' clause in an employees contract. Fortunately, in the UK, these are seen as a constraint on trade and are generally unenforceable.
  • I agree with the Lord above!

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