John Carmack: Treating Consoles Equally Was A Big Mistake

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John Carmack, that bloke known for creating insignificant little engines for unknown games such as, I dunno… Dooms, Quakes and now Rage has said to PC Gamer in a video interview that treating consoles as equals was a big mistake and that PCs will be priority from now on.

The major issue seems to be that when they started working on Rage 6 friggin’ years ago, the technology was almost the same. That just isn’t true anymore, more after the jump.

RockPaperShotgun reports (via FiringSquad) that the PC Gamer video interview that spans around 20 minutes has Carmack speaking about what the game engine wonder-child thinks about the current state of things with Rage’s engine and the programming world.

Here are some snippets of the interesting points he had to make:

When we started on the game six years ago, I looked at the consoles and said ‘These are as good as the PCs that we’re on here’, and our development strategy was set up such that we basically developed live on all the platforms there. And now when we’re looking at PCs that have times the horsepower of the consoles… I’m making a large change in my direction, just saying ‘We should be focusing on building things efficiently on the PC and [then] deploying on to consoles.’ And we didn’t make that as crisp of a distinction as we should have.

My development system now has twenty-four threads and twenty-four gigs of memory, and we can start putting on half a terabyte of solid state drives, and these are the things that are gonna drive the development process on the PC. So, I’m actually as excited about how we’re developing tht titles in this coming generation as the graphics enhancements and things that I’m gonna make.

It is a little bit of a shame that, despite the raw horsepower, we are hampered by kind of the arms-length API interface. Because it is… unhappily true that we have the consoles here running at sixty frames per second, and we could have these massively more powerful PC systems that struggle sometimes to hold the framerate because of unnecessary overheads. Where, if we were programming that hardware directly on the metal the same way we do the consoles, it would be significantly more powerful. But there are a lot of moves afoot to be improving that, and we are working closely with all of the vendors to kind of address that.

Well, you can’t say that Carmack doesn’t know what he is talking about although it still goes to show that even though consoles can be way behind in the technology, that the technology itself is still coming second to the convenience and consistency that keeps consoles selling so well.

Last Updated: October 6, 2011

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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