Legendary Doom creator John Carmack had high hopes he could combine his passion for video game development and next-gen virtual reality hardware by straddling both worlds.
At id Software, Carmack helped stoke development of video games with pioneering mega-hits such as Doom and Quake. He began tinkering with virtual reality headsets about two years ago, after id released its latest game, Rage.
In August, Carmack signed on as chief technological officer at Oculus VR, splitting his time between id and Oculus — the southern California startup turning heads with a prototype virtual reality headset called Oculus Rift. By November, he’d left id to devote his full time to Oculus.
His plans to combine his two interests did not play out the way he had hoped, Carmack told USA TODAY. Until now, he has not spoken in depth about his departure from id.
Carmack had hoped that Oculus VR and ZeniMax Media, the parent company of id Software, would agree to allow games he worked on to appear on the Oculus Rift headset. Had the deal been consummated, Wolfenstein: The New Order — an upcoming sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, an early id release — could have been part of the Oculus’ tech demonstration that earned raves and awards at the recent Consumer Electronic Show.
While Oculus is still kind of scary fast in terms of all the people coming on there is still the sense that a handful of us are going to crunch really hard and get something done by next Thursday.
Doom 4 eventually would have been part of the deal, too, and playable on the VR headset. “It would have been a huge win,” says Carmack, who was still full time at id when he proposed the deal. “It seemed like a sensible plan for me.”
Another outcome of an Oculus-ZeniMax deal? Carmack would not have left id in November and would have continued working at both companies. “I would have been content probably staying there working with the people and technology that I know and the work we were doing,” he says.
“But they couldn’t come together on that which made me really sad. It was just unfortunate,” Carmack says. “When it became clear that I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id software, I decided to not renew my contract.”