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QuakeCon 2012 Keynote

QuakeCon 2012 kicked off to a bigger event than ever before. For the first time in the history of QC, the BYOC was at 100% capacity during day one. 3100 players joined together for the biggest and best LAN party of the year. During the pre-registration of QuakeCon, over 1800 seats were pre-paid--a record for the normally free event.

The event did suffer several issues in the first days. Even for those players who paid money for a BYOC seat had to wait around 2 hours to get to their seat. The lines were not arranged well for the different types of badges and it took well into the second day, Friday night, for these issues to get ironed out.

Even the annual keynote for QuakeCon was pushed back 2 hours, from 2 PM until 4 PM, due to the BYOC lines. Both Dishonored and DOOM 3 BFG Edition were both playable on the floor. We will have previews of both coming up soon.

Also, the eagerly anticipated PC release of Skyrim Dawnguard was made available during Day One of QuakeCon, on Steam, for $19.99. The PS3 release is still not available with no word on when it will become available. Looks like the issues with the PS3 version are still not ironed out.

John Carmack is the big draw of the QuakeCon Keynote and this was the first time I ever recall him apologizing to start off his talk. Of course, he was speaking about the poor release of RAGE. Carmack admitted that over 50% of their users were unable to play at the launch of the title due to driver issues. The biggest issue were with the AMD Radeon drivers. In addition to apologizing for the poor launch of the game, he feels they should have spent more time on the ending--another criticized portion of the game. 

Learning from their mistakes, they are still working on DOOM 3 BFG Edition and are currently running into "RAGE-like" issues. So this title will not be given a release date and they won't release it until it is done and good drivers are easily available for all. 

The PC version has much more power and most aspects of the game will see double the performance. id Software is still working to optimize these elements and ensure the game shows off why PC gaming is a popular platform.

Carmack spoke briefly about the origins of the DOOM 3 BFG project. They originally shopped the title around to several Developers. Carmack decided this would be bad because it would probably end up as a lackluster port with the FPS stuck at 30. He admits that DOOM 3 was a pretty sophisticated project and even today it can be difficult to accomplish all they have set out to do. If you go back to the original DOOM 3 and play it on a PC with AA at 720P or 1080P, it looks quite nice. 

After several trial runs, id decided to move DOOM 3 into the id Tech 5 engine. Part of this was the ease on getting it into platforms like the PS3. Carmack says that it is still up in the air how modding tools and "opening up the code" will be handled with the PC release. At this time, it seems unlikely due to the current engine it is running in.

John Carmack spoke very briefly about DOOM 4. The title is still in development and he referred to it as in "Bethesda Mode." This is what happens when Bethesda won't talk, discuss, or show anything of their game until they have a release date set. This decision was not forced upon them by anyone. The reason for the secrecy is that year after year, when showing RAGE, the message was delivered that the game would be an RPG like Fallout and have Borderlands elements in it as well. This was never their intent and looking back Carmack can see where this message was given. So DOOM 4 will be out when it is done.

A sad moment was revealed on stage when John Carmack said that Mobile Development at id Software has ended. The Bethesda family is about swinging for the fences with blockbuster AAA titles. The mobile space, while it makes money, does not accomplish this. So there will be no future mobile titles. This saddens Carmack because he enjoys the mobile space.

As he mentioned last year, Carmack said he would like to get id Software in a position to do more than one id Software game a decade. RAGE, their last title, took over six years of development to release. He also said that it is his goal to do more than one DOOM game a decade. 

On the topic of other platforms, John thinks the Mac will become an important platform for them to develop on directly. Carmack admitted that this has not been a priority, in the past, probably due to the lack of "Apple Fanboys" in the office. Also, with Valve moving Steam to Linux, this may do quite a bit to get users onto the Linux platform. id's last attempt on Linux, Quake Live, just hasn't carried its weight. The community just doesn't want to buy games so it remains to be seen how well Steam on Linux will do unless there is a "Steam Box" that Valve will release in the future.

Carmack cannot talk about next-generation consoles. He is under NDA but it will be interesting to open up conversations once the information becomes public. Knowing a thing or two about NDA's, it is actually against the NDA to say anything about being under an NDA. So he actually broke the NDA by mentioning this. We should see a new Xbox and PlayStation revealed at E3 2013.

John next spoke about conversations he has had with Valve's Gabe Newell. Carmack feels that Steam is in a great position to move to an "Onlive" like streaming service and tells Gabe this everytime they speak. Though twitchy action games aren't still perfect with streaming service, John feels this will change in the very near future.  Carmack is very high on the idea of Developers optimizing their games to be played on Cloud Services. Currently, you still have to wait for a game to load and have all of the drawbacks of the game being on your system. If games were optimized for the Cloud, you would be able to load a level instantly. Sit down, play, and no waiting. This is the future John sees within the next five years with Cloud Streaming services.

We have spoken recently about the Kickstarter project Ooya. John is not a fan of the console. Writing to Android has a lot of issues compared to writing straight to Linux. There are also plenty of consoles and platforms. While it is easier for a smaller Developer to get on an Android console, it just isn't a viable market.

At this point, I stepped away from the talk. John Carmack went on for another 2+ hours on the topic of VR headsets. While he believes strongly in the future of VR (Virtual Reality) I don't think it is going to go anywhere. Another great talk with Carmack and we can't wait to hear his thoughts next year at QuakeCon 2013!

By Kaleb Rutherford - 08/03/12

Screenshots for QuakeCon 2012 Keynote

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