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John Carmack on PC & Console Hardware

Carmack speaks out on hardware issues on Eurogamer reflects comments from the id Software technical director that while it would be "great" if the console life-cycle would be longer, the lure of "first mover advantage" will probably "be far too tempting" and will inspire an acceleration of the release of new hardware. Thus he hopes that Rage will hit store shelves during the sweet spot of the current console cycle, "and not when everybody knows what's coming next Christmas." He concludes with a discouraging outlook for the PC, as he feels that no amount of console missteps will reestablish the PC as the dominant gaming platform:

I think there are inherent challenges for the PC platform that consoles don't have that I would be surprised to see that desktop PC box making Sony and 360 and Wiis and everything obsolete. I don't think that's going to happen.

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19. Re: Probably an unpopular opinion but... Aug 2, 2008, 13:48 4D-Boxing
 
Yep Verno ...sleeping in silk PJ's got to Carmack.
He should focus on releasing a go product...last good ID tile was RTCW.

 
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18. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 23:06 Enahs
 
So you're considering just computing power as the similarities between a PC and console? Why not the processor architechture, or the OS capabilities, or most importantly in becoming standard how open/standard the platform is?

Do you speak English? I said the difference between phones and PC's are processing powers, not PC and consoles.

And as I said earlier from a technical standpoint that consoles are essentially PC's with a operating system designed to limit functionality.

I do not see in the future people buying 10 virtually equivalent pieces of hardware for various functions, as since the hardware is the same one machine can perform the function.





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17. what Aug 1, 2008, 21:47 Kxmode
 
I think there are inherent challenges for the PC platform that consoles don't have that I would be surprised to see that desktop PC box making Sony and 360 and Wiis and everything obsolete.

It sounds like John is bashing PCs while praising it?! I'm so confused...

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16. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 21:14 sponge
 
So you're considering just computing power as the similarities between a PC and console? Why not the processor architechture, or the OS capabilities, or most importantly in becoming standard how open/standard the platform is?

There is nothing technical stopping the consoles true, however there IS what Sony, MS, and to a lesser extent Nintendo intend for the platform. And they have showed so far that they aren't interested-- the 360 is locked down despite the huge homebrew scene of the XBox (which included running WindowsCE and Linux) and the PS3's Linux implementation is just a token gift from Sony that really doesn't do much.

For the purpose of web browsing and office suites, a 400-600MHz ARM processor as is used in many phones, PDAs, etc, are all more than capable. The trend on the PC side has been sizing down, as can be seen with the whole netbook movement on the laptop side.

The perception is that consoles are for video games. Throwing a mouse and keyboard, and maybe a monitor won't change that perception.

 
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15. No subject Aug 1, 2008, 21:01 KilrathiAce
 
What Verno said.

 
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14. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 19:08 Enahs
 
Those share many more architectural similarities with a PC compared to any current-gen console, but I've never heard someone make similar comments about them.

Those are orders of magnitude difference in computing power.

For what 95% of the people in the mass market use PC's for, the expensive console system can do just as well as the typical PC. I do not see the future as 10 different expensive high powered computer systems that are essentially the same but forced to be only allowed to do one thing; when any one of those system can do the others.

If you only need web browsing and office suite, why in the fuck if I own a 400 console do I also have to buy a 400 computer to do those; when the console can do it just as well?

As the next gen consoles approach and more information is released about them, they are on a technical aspect turning more and more into PC's then the current generation.



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13. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 17:43 The Raven
 
I do not see consoles lasting many more generations, not in as popular form.

Completely the opposite you know.

First, think on this... in the 1950's, a calculator took up hundreds of square feet. In the 60's, a small room. In the 70's, we got expensive handheld calculators. In the 80's, the calculator was cheap and small and chips of equivalent power started being embedded in many devices. Now, scientists can **print cardboard** that has more processing power than Eniac. Processors are *everywhere*. Your laptop battery and your ink cartridge have processors in them that would have made IBM drool in the early 60's. Your car's computer is probably faster than a desktop computer from the early 90s.

The point is, as we move forward processing power is becoming a commodity, rather than a premium. As you make it easier and easier to do, you start putting it in everything. Games are common in our phones now... our goddamn phones! Do you remember that heavy ATT plastic phones from the 70's? Thinking back to that time, could you possibly picture playing Tetris on a phone? It would be ridiculous to think of... but go forward 30 years, and it's commonplace.

Computers *will* become commodoties, especially since Moor's law is slowing down, and multi-processing is getting more important. Imagine 30 years of work into making parallelization easy... imagine devices that utilize spare cycles in all of your home entertainment system to work together.

30 years ago, a home computer had less processing power than an 16 pin chip that comes embedded in tens of thousands of devices nowadays. When you're done imagining fitting the equivalent of a P4 with a GB of RAM onto a 16 pin chip, try to imagine that combined with 30 years of work into massively parallel computing and close area networking.

Why bother with a $500 box to play games with when your wallpaper can display 15 megapixels of massively parallel ray-traced graphics?

Half of what I just said probably won't come true. The other half probably will. Nobody knows which is which yet, and that's what makes the future exciting.
 
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12. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 16:16 sponge
 
I am saying technically they are not really different physically.

Do you consider PDA phones like the iPhone, Palm Treo, or any HTC phone to be not really different physically? Not talking usage here, either.

Those share many more architectural similarities with a PC compared to any current-gen console, but I've never heard someone make similar comments about them.

 
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11. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 16:04 Enahs
 
Enahs, I'm a long time PC gamer too but I think you are missing something when you say that consoles offer little or nothing over PC's.

I am not saying they are not different in usage. I am saying technically they are not really different physically.


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10. Re: obsolesence Aug 1, 2008, 14:39 sponge
 
What matters is the actual software. People buy hardware to run software. So go make your game kick ass and stop your compulsive thinking on the subject.

This would be true if you would ignore the fact that Carmack's concern is engines, not gameplay. They have gameplay designers for that reason.

 
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9. Re: obsolesence Aug 1, 2008, 14:11 Orogogus
 
It's really not like this was the only thing he talked about in his keynote. The linked article puts it somewhat out of context; the link in that article to their roundup seems to give a better impression of what it was like:

http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=203569&page=1

 
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8. obsolesence Aug 1, 2008, 14:02 LittleMe
 
Carmack, software primarily is what makes a current console or any platform obsolete or not. It doesn't matter that desktop PC's will or won't make them obsolete. What matters is the actual software. People buy hardware to run software. So go make your game kick ass and stop your compulsive thinking on the subject.

Oh yeah, you are a great thinker but apparently you don't know how to stop thinking. It is the prison of the mind, the ego, the false self in control.

 
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7. Re: No subject Aug 1, 2008, 13:59 Orogogus
 
Eh. I think for PCs to be the dominant platform, the cheap everyman desktops and laptops that people actually buy need to stop shipping with crap video chipsets. It's just too easy to buy a computer that can't play games, and I have a hard time imagining the console market suddenly drying up due to the audience waking up and becoming savvy about video cards, graphics slots, constant driver updates, DirectX and all that jazz.

 
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6. Re: Probably an unpopular opinion but... Aug 1, 2008, 13:53 Overon
 
I agree with Verno so flame me too.


 
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5. Re: Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 13:51 LittleMe
 
Enahs, I'm a long time PC gamer too but I think you are missing something when you say that consoles offer little or nothing over PC's.

Consoles offer convenience and a lower price entry, usually. Now MS and Sony have made mistakes with the last generation but overall, consoles have been in the $150-$300 price range. This convenience is also one of a relaxed 'living room' experience while PCs work better at a desk.

Now convenience comes in the form of a much simpler user interface, a easy to use controller, and also vastly easier to troubleshoot. Of course, in all that something is lost too. PC's offer vastly more flexibility but that's another topic.

Convenience is huge money these days. Dumbing things down is how many businesses make billions.

 
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4. No subject Aug 1, 2008, 12:35 dryden555
 
ID has to project itself like a newbie into the console marketplace and hope publishers who want console games are listening. I wish him luck even if Doom 3 was a dog.

 
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3. Re: Probably an unpopular opinion but... Aug 1, 2008, 12:26 PointlesS
 
lol unpopular indeed...I don't quite agree with any of that but I'll let someone else with more time to flame you

while I agree consoles are getting more pc specific functions...they'll evolve into something in the middle...non-upgradeable (besides disk drives) multimedia machines that get released every 6 years or whatever cycle they're on...sure consoles are becoming upgradeable but it's all hard drives...you can't upgrade the processor or graphics card...and besides the only problem developers have with this is on the 360...where a hard drive isn't standard...but the next round of consoles definitely will...laptops are outselling desktops and I'd imagine pcs will just be laptops and workstations while all gaming is done on consoles...

I'm sure this will be wrong in 10 years but it's all predictions...technology is growing so fast no one knows where we'll be at in 10 years

 
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2. Probably an unpopular opinion but... Aug 1, 2008, 11:25 Verno
 
I feel like Carmack has been out of touch with the gaming market for a long time. I'm sure he's a technical god but maybe he should stick to speaking about that. Every time he opens his mouth these days it's all doom and gloom when he hasn't put out a worthwhile game in several years. Doom 3 was an amazing engine but the game itself played like Monster Closet.

So John, be quiet and make Rage worth buying and please stop retreading your tired old deathmatch franchises. I hope to god people stop buying Doom and Quake just so they'll be forced to make something other than brainless FPS games.

 
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1. Ehh Aug 1, 2008, 11:20 Enahs
 
I respect Carkmack a lot. But I do not see consoles lasting many more generations, not in as popular form.

They are just PC's. Very specific hardware requirements, but they are still just PC's with operating systems geared towards gaming. At the same time, all of them have more then enough horsepower to run Office suite and good web browsing with every feature in web browsing available on the PC.

They are also becoming so expensive that they are releasing different versions of consoles with different hardware, giving developers headaches already.


I just do not see how people can keep paying so much money for what is essentially a PC but not allowed to do everything the PC does. And as more and more talk about next gen hardware comes out and different versions, the hardware variability is just increasing. Video game consoles are on the fast track at another attempt of a PC in the living room a'la WebTV, only better.



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This comment was edited on Aug 1, 11:21.
 
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