Thursday, 7 July 2011

John Carmack names OnLive like services the future of gaming

Id Software's John Carmack has taken a greater and greater interest in mobile gaming over the last couple years, and the rate at which the hardware iterates in the smartphone and tablet space has allowed the technology to nearly catch up with consoles. In a recent interview with Carmack, IndustryGamers asked whether mobile could become so popular that it'll one day overtake traditional console gaming.

"That’s one of the things that we do discuss internally a lot and it’s amazing to think that when we started Rage, iOS didn’t exist. There was no iPhone. All of that has happened just in the space of one project development timeline. And that’s a little scary when you think about it, because major landscape change could be happening underneath our feet as we work on these large scale projects," noted Carmack. "And we’re going to be doing everything we can to constrain our projects more to not take so long."

He continued, "One thing that we hear a lot, especially from our older developers, is, 'I don’t spend a lot of time sitting down in front of my 360 or PS3, but I pull out my iPad and play some little game all the time.' It’s a different experience though... it’s a diversion rather than a destination. And while they’re certainly powerful enough now to make destination titles, that’s still not really what’s doing particularly well there. But it certainly is a worry. Could the bottom drop out on the triple A market because everyone’s playing Angry Birds? It doesn’t seem to be happening. The numbers don’t show that. We’re selling more big titles than ever before, despite having all of these other platforms out there. So it looks like it’s parallel growth rather than one stealing from the other. But platform wise, you could certainly imagine a future where, instead of having your console, you have your mobile device and it talks to your TV and when you want the experience on your big screen with the surround sound coming out of there, it’s still on the same device."

Ultimately, Carmack does see mobile hardware becoming very powerful very quickly. It's incredible to think that we'll have tiny smartphones more powerful than the PS3 in our pockets at all times, but that day is approaching fast and it could drastically change the industry - that and cloud gaming, says Carmack.

"It’s unquestionable that within a very short time, we’re going to have portable cell phones that are more powerful than the current-gen consoles," he told us. "People have exaggerated the relative powers - the iPad2 is not more powerful than the 360. It’s still a factor of a couple weaker. But the fact that it’s gotten that close that fast - that means that almost certainly, 2 years from now, there will be mobile devices more powerful than what we’re doing all these fabulous games on right now."

He also observed that as technology has advanced, he's been thinking about how best to take advantage in his game design. "I think a lot about the value that we extract from the technical horsepower that we’re given. You make different trades each time. ... I started off developing technology to be like, 'OK, I can out graphics all of this stuff on the same level here.' But I quickly reached the decision, the realization, that rather than trying to make 'pretty damn good plus one' pictures on there, I’d rather try and make pretty damn good pictures at 60 frames per second, and that’s a good example of not pushing graphics as the only thing."

He added, "And convenience is a huge thing. I think that mobile is getting a lot of wins on convenience and I do think that streaming services like OnLive have a future. It’s not at all clear that the existing ones will survive long enough for that future to get there, but I think that it’s almost unquestionable that if you look 5, 10 years in the future, that that type of delivery - even though it’s not going to necessarily be the same graphical quality of latency quality, but a whole lot of convenience can make up for [what's lacking]. So I do wonder if the mobile platforms might get more and more of that going for them, where it provides a good enough experience for [most people] - there’s a whole spectrum of people and there’s a whole spectrum of game concepts and directions. You have the completely casual people that have no interest in buying a PS3. And then you’ve got the hard core people who want to sit down all weekend and stay in a position where they can get 20 hours of gameplay in."

The industry is clearly undergoing massive changes. Between smartphones, tablets and cloud technologies, are consoles going extinct? What do you think?

SOURCE: IndustryGamers.

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