id Software co-founder criticizes Apple stance on iPhone games

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Apple has made "horrible decisions" when it comes to third-party iPod game development and isn't very supportive of the iPhone as a gaming platform either, says id Software co-founder John Carmack, who admits butting heads with Steve Jobs over these very issues early this year.

The gaming icon, responsible for titles such as the Quake series and the upcoming Rage, is known for his long vested interest in the Mac platform. This past June, he joined Jobs on stage at the company's annual developer conference to renew his studio's commitment to the platform, announcing plans to release Rage for the Mac alongside versions for Windows and game consoles.

Carmack, in a recent interview with GameDaily, also claims to be open to bringing some of his future titles to the iPod and iPhone. However, Apple's less than ideal iPod programming tools and reluctance to allow any iPhone development until the announcement of a native development kit for February have made writing games impractical for either platform, according to the game programmer..

"The honest truth right now is that Apple's not exactly hugely supportive of [games for the iPhone]," Carmack says. "When they finally allowed games to be put on the iPod... in many ways it's one of the worst environments to develop games for. You have to work on an emulator... just all these horrible decisions."

He also holds little hope that Apple will improve its resources for developers in the future. Carmack provides more details of a heated debate he and Jobs held while at August's developer conference, noting that Jobs at the time defended his company's limitation of third-party apps to the web under the pretext of security. There have since been follow-up sessions where Apple has been briefed on what Carmack considers "mistakes" in iPod development that should be avoided with the iPhone.

Nonetheless, there aren't "any spectacular signs" that these concerns will influence Apple in the next year, he says.

Apple's seeming indifference to id Software and gaming mirrors the experience of Valve Software. The Half-Life 2 producer's co-founder, Gabe Newell, has recently recounted a cycle of neglect from Apple as the latter firm routinely agrees to listen to requests by Valve only to take no action and reportedly act as though it had never spoken before about the matter.

In spite of this pattern in Apple's approach to games as a whole, Carmack confesses that Apple has no reason to pay attention to his particular company's needs, as the current iPhone feature set is already appealing to many of Apple's customers.

"[Apple's] strategy seems to be working just fine from a business standpoint, so I'm not going to second guess them and tell them they're being fools or idiots for not focusing on this," the developer admits.