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Thursday, August 12, 2010, 06:00 pm PT (09:00 pm ET)

John Carmack shows 'Rage' 60 fps game engine on iPhone 4

Speaking at QuakeCon, id Software cofounder and video game luminary John Carmack demonstrated the company's id tech 5 gaming engine running a Rage-themed demonstration on iPhone 4 at an impressive 60 frames per second.

The demonstration keynote, live blogged by Kotaku, profiled an upcoming release of the new Rage engine in an iOS title which Carmack said would run on not just iPhone 4 but also "runs great on an original 2G iPhone" and is "incredibly cool on an iPad."

The Rage demo lights scenes with radiosity to accurately simulate diffuse indirect illumination and shadows, and also features id's MegaTexture technique of using a single large texture rather than repeating a single small texture tile over a surface. That results in a mobile game in the hundreds of megabytes, Carmack said.

Calculating 60 frames per second is a major battery draw on mobile devices, so Carmack said the game would ship with an option to run at 30 frames per second as well.

iPhone as games platform

The new App Store title will serve as a low-priced promotion for the later, larger Rage launches aimed at console gaming platforms next year. The iPhone app sprang from an initial experiment to do something on the Nintendo Wii. Carmack also noted that an effort to deliver DOOM 3 on the Wii turned into a project that instead created Doom Resurrection for the iPhone App Store.

Carmack said in 2008 that the iPhone was "more powerful than a Nintendo DS and PSP combined," and now says he could use it to "kill anything done on the Xbox or PlayStation 2."

In addition to impressive graphics capabilities, the iPhone also has a business model that supports development. Carmack said id could bring some of its iPhone games to Android, but is still "spot-surveying the market," and that "it won't happen this cycle."

The developer has already launched a variety of iOS titles that brought a series of existing and classic games to the iTunes App Store, including Doom, Doom II, Doom Resurrection and Wolfenstein 3D, all of which are on sale through Sunday as part of a promotion during the QuakeCon event.



Apple on video games

Carmack also said he has been talking with Apple on future directions, noting that former id game designer Graeme Devine is now working at Apple in its iPhone Game Technologies group.

"At their heart and core they're not really a game-friendly company," Carmack said of Apple, echoing comments he made a year ago that top executives in the company were surprised that gaming has become popular on the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad and somewhat reluctantly had to get behind gaming while really wishing that the mobile platform were used for more serious tasks.

Carmack began his career working on the Apple IIGS and built the original DOOM gaming engine on NeXTSTEP. In 1997, Carmack called the classic Mac OS "the only OS other than win32 that matters, and it doesn't matter all that much," adding that, "I have zero respect for the MacOS on a technical basis. They just stood still and let Microsoft run right over them from waaay behind. I wouldn't develop on it."

In contrast, he noted that NeXTSTEP was his "favorite environment" and that "it just makes sense on so many more levels than Windows." He expressed hope that Apple's acquisition of NeXT would "do the right thing," specifically noting "if I can convince Apple to do a good hardware accelerated OpenGL in rhapsody, I would be very likely to give my Win NT machine the cold shoulder and do future development on Rhapsody. (I really don't need QuickDraw 3D evangelists preaching to me right now, thank you)."

Apple subsequently dropped its own QuickDraw 3D to embrace OpenGL in Mac OS X. Carmack has commented that working with Apple in gaming continues to be a roller coaster experience, an opinion shared by other top game developers including Valve Software's Gabe Newell, who recently brought Steam to the Mac platform.

Future of gaming

Carmack said he knew surprisingly little about future of Sony and Microsoft's next consoles, but said is he's ready to be making motion-based games and is not a fan of 3D TV.

Currently, the video game console market is busy pushing motion based gaming largely in reaction to the successful Wii, while TV and BluRay vendors are trying hard to sell 3D as feature in sets.

While Apple hasn't jumped into the stereoscopic 3D area yet, it was first to bring gyroscope six axis motion control to mobile devices with iPhone 4. Apple is also working to build Game Center as a new centralized service for developers and gamers on iOS devices.