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Carmack: iPhone more powerful than Nintendo DS, PSP combined

Speaking at QuakeCon 2008 in Dallas this week, id Software co-founder Carmack praised Apple's iPhone as an emerging force in mobile gaming industry and revealed his firm to be working on two titles for the handset.

Unlike most mobile platforms where gaming is largely brand-driven due to smaller screens, storage constraints and limited marketing flexibility, the iPhone offers a rare opportunity for game publishers to deliver graphics rich titles supported by detailed textual descriptions on the App Store, he said during a press conference.

The gaming icon admitted that he's disappointed id has yet to ship a game for the iPhone, but said two tentative titles are now well in the works. One was described as a 'conventional mobile game,' while the second was said to be more ambitious in that it will test the limits of the iPhone's graphics capabilities.

While Carmack sees graphics memory as a potential limiting factor on the iPhone, he's stoked about the intuitiveness of the iPhone SDK. He also described the handset's hardware as equivalent to that of the Sega Dreamcast living room console, and almost on par with Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's original Xbox.

When it comes to portable gaming systems, the iPhone is 'more powerful than a Nintendo DS and PSP combined,' he added. Apple's revenue sharing deal that offers developers 70 percent of the sale price was also cited as a plus.

That said, Carmack doesn't believe the iPhone is the definitive answer to mobile gaming. While sales of the device will be significant and may lead to more people playing games on their phones than ever before, he doesn't foresee billions of the devices being sold in a bid for world domination.

The verdict is also out on whether Apple has a concrete grasp of gaming, the id co-founder said. The company's reception to criticism has also been counterintuitive, which has led to its relationship with id being something akin to a roller-coaster ride.

Apple essentially kisses his ass when they need him to show up for one of Steve Jobs' keynotes, but then throws him the cold shoulder the second he passes judgement, Carmack said.

That said, he acknowledge that there are indeed some folks over in Cupertino who "are trying" to right the course for Mac and iPhone gaming.