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Games Entertainment

A Short Interview with John Carmack 15

The Guardian Gamesblog had the chance to pick John Carmack's brain about mobile gaming's first official doom title: The Doom RPG. From the article: "Q: On your blog you talked about getting into Java programming as a means of resetting some assumptions and habits after working on Quake III. So did Doom RPG help? How? A: It wasn't so much the Java aspects as the mobile platform that is the diversion. It has been worthwhile, but I didn't get to go all that far down the detour before my primary responsibilities asserted themselves. I did three major blocks of coding on the project and regular design review meetings, which was all I could spare the time for. The crew at Fountainhead did a great job of following up on the direction and turning my rough project into a polished product."
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A Short Interview with John Carmack

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  • design flexibility (Score:4, Informative)

    by 6350' ( 936630 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @07:04PM (#14348458)
    A hint of hope for the future, perhaps: "There is so much flexibility and power available now that there aren't a whole lot of beneficial trades that we can do to make something radically better by restricting the game design in a particular way, so the game design is a lot less technology driven than it used to be."
  • by MiceHead ( 723398 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @07:09PM (#14348482) Homepage
    Carmack's last blog entry [armadilloaerospace.com], waaaaay back in March, goes into further detail about why it's tough to optimize for mobile platforms:

    Gamers generally have poor memories of playing over even the highest speed analog modems, but most of the problems are due to having far too many buffers and abstractions between the data producers/consumers and the actual wire interface. If you wrote eight bytes to the device and it went in the next damned frame (instead of the OS buffer, which feeds into a serial FIFO, which goes into another serial FIFO, which goes into a data compressor, which goes into an error corrector, and probably a few other things before getting into a wire frame), life would be quite good.
    I'm interested in developing mobile games -- it seems like it's indie-developer friendly, as Palm OS was back in 2000. However, as Carmack suggests, developers are constrained by the architecture. Things like a 64k memory block limit (remember the days of 16-bit programming?) are a pain in the rump. Here's hoping for a good Mobile Python [theregister.co.uk].
    • The thing that makes mobile gaming such a non-starter is the awful interface though. I mean, maybe this is one regard that the N-Gage got right, since they have a real D-pad and the phone can interpret multiple simultaneous button presses, but most other phones can't.

      There's also a lack of reviewability for cellphone games, since the experience is variable across cellular platforms, and a general lack of interest, in my opinion. My phone can handle 3D games, supposedly, but given the performance I've seen
    • Actually it is better and worse. First of all Java is quite nice to use on those phones, but you run into myriads of small issues. First there is speed, like Carmac said you have such a huge diversity in speed that you have a range of 1-20x speedwise over various phones. Secondly there is the jvm version problem. While most mobile phones should be on newer midp levels which have standardized interfaces for networking, sprites and sound (the most important stuff for 2d gaming) you have still phones which ar
  • by 88NoSoup4U88 ( 721233 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @07:29PM (#14348574)
    I highly recommend DoomRPG [doomrpg.com] to anyone who loved Doom back in the days, and who likes to see viable alternatives to playing first-person shooters on a mobile:

    The designteam clearly noticed the limitations on a mobile phone, and instead of playing the game 'real time', it's now turn-based.
    This obviously makes aiming not to be important, and instead the player is given different stats as he levels up through killing monsters/fullfilling objectives.

    As said, get this game: It's been worth its money for me for sure.

  • Finally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @09:28PM (#14349285) Homepage Journal
    It's good to see them recognising the restrictions of the mobile platform and working around them compared to creating a sub-par quality game that follows the original goal of Doom, three cheers to the developers for having an open mind.
  • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @01:08PM (#14352570)
    An Imp appears!
    >kill imp
    Imp hits you.
    You hit Imp hard.
    Imp scratches you.
    You hit Imp very hard.
    Imp falls to the ground.
    Imp is bleeding to death.
    >kill imp
    Imp has died.
    You got 4 gold.
    An Imp appears!


    Um, yeah. Count me in...
  • It surprises me that he would only answer seven of the questions since he loves to be public about a lot of his ideas... but it sounds all like the unpreditable John Carmack hiding his Quake 2 ideas from John Romeo before his launch of Daikatana. I look forward to any idSoftware game every day of the week. RPG, FPS, whichever -- John Carmack's games are never disappointing to me.

A list is only as strong as its weakest link. -- Don Knuth

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