I originally sent my questions to American McGee with the firm intention of wrapping an article around them. American, it seems, was too busy to do interviews at this moment, so I risked bothering John Carmack with the same questions. I did not do this lightly, taking about 5 days to consider whether he should be bothered or not. However, I thought my questions were sufficiently well thought out enough that John might actually WANT to answer them. Boy was I surprised when I looked in my email this morning.

I originally thought I'd get a sentence or two in response to my questions and base my article on those answers. It looks like John Carmack decided to write the article for me. I want to thank him for the time it took to answer my questions so thoroughly. He is an incredibly busy man who has a very active fanbase that sends him 50 emails a day. Please take note of his PS note at the bottom. Respecting this, I will ask for no more interviews from him until at least 1998 :). I think he would appreciate it if everyone else took his caution to heart and not start sending him a lot of email with questions.

This interview and further editorial articles will be posted on Dark Requiem's homepage as soon as DR_|2| has enough free time to devote to the new "Dark Tribune" section of the page. This has been in the works for a while, and already has several articles ready to go. DR_|2| is also a busy man, and his professional concerns take precedence over the "Dark Tribune". It'll be up "when it is finished" :).

DR_Bone
Clan Dark Requiem

Bone: Just a recent development. Shawn Green has left id for Ion Storm. It seems that there have been a LOT of defections from id over the past few months. How does this affect id in terms of workload? Id has always been a small development community, but aren't you guys reaching critical mass where the workload becomes too much?

John Carmack: Lots of people will read what they like into the the departures from Id, but our development team is at least as strong now as it has ever been.

Romero was pushed out of id because he wasn't working hard enough.
We have hired Paul Steed, a new artist.

That is the balance of changes to our development team. I believe that three programmers, three artists, and three level designers can still create the best games in the world.

The other departures have been from our biz/support side, which doesn't have anything to do with product creation. We are scaling back our publishing biz so that we are mostly just a developer. This was always a major point of conflict with Romero -- he wants an empire, I just want to create good programs.
Everyone is happy now.


Bone: As always, id leads the industry in technical terms, and others follow behind. However, isn't there a boundary to how much more you can do given current input/output technologies? Doesn't it then fall to the point of "artistry"? What prompts this question is many of the screenshots I've seen of Unreal. Some of the texture-mapping and monsters are just stunning in their artistry. How can id compete with companies that employ dozens of artists in their 3d efforts? It just seems that the "push the technology farther" answer is simply not much of an option anymore until the next input/output technological breakthrough comes along.

John Carmack: The official codename for the next generation game engine is "trinity". There is no information to be gleaned from that, we just need something to call it when it is discussed.

The architecture for trinity is well underway, and it will be dramatically better in many ways. In fact, this next generation has more distinction than any before it, because it is the first of the transition from the pixel to the texture mapped triangle. Assumptions change and new capabilities arise beyond what a simple processor speed increase would have given. Pushing the technology is a long way from over, trust me.

As far as unreal goes, we can't compete with an unreleased product, because a non existent product does everything you dream of and has no faults. Think back to what everyone thought quake was before anything was released. I wish Epic well, in any case. Unlike some other companies, the principle developers at Epic have not involved themselves in any mudslinging.

It is also a mistake to think that Id's games ride on technology alone. DOOM and Quake aren't just the minimum work required to make a 3d and networking engine a game -- they are the right game elements as well.

A user always wants more of everything -- more features, more artwork, more levels. The assumption that hiring more people gives a better product is often incorrect. It might (but not always) get you MORE product, but not necessarily BETTER product.


Bone: In the heyday when Quake was about to be released id had a strong presence on the net with informative .plan files, and romero would actually appear on the undernet sometimes to brave the IRC nightmare to answer questions and just be involved. It seems that id has closed up since then and not been as involved with communicating with their end-users. Some of the people complain that id has stopped being interested in getting the community *involved* with the process of software development. They feel left out. I have not felt this personally, since I was part of the beta program for QW, but I was in the extreme minority. Is this lack of info simply because you are too busy with Quake II or is it a reaction to the fact that the main ego at id (Romero) had left and there simply wasn't a spokesperson left?

John Carmack: Romero was going on IRC when he should have been working, from my point of view.

I listen a lot to the user community, but I make no apologies for prioritizing heavily. A suggestion or opinion from Blue, Scary, Disruptor, or one of the many people that publicly devote much time and effort to the quake community gets orders of magnitude more weight than Joe Random User's one-liner on IRC.

I get about 50 emails a day, which chews up quite a bit of time that could be used for programming. I'm not willing to sacrifice any more of my time to be active on newsgroups or IRC.

BTW, I rejected two other interviews today.