Huge, unexpected news straight from Oculus VR Inc this morning: John Carmack is joining the company as chief technical officer, the company announced on its blog. Carmack was a key player in the Oculus Rift genesis story and is a widely known and respected video game development industry veteran. This announcement is a huge win for Oculus.
John Carmack is a man of diverse talent. In addition to being a co-founder and Technical Director of the famous id Software, he also founded Armadillo Aerospace, a private aerospace company. Not to mention his many contributions to the video game development world which are too numerous to do justice to in one paragraph, let alone one article.
Now Carmack is joining Oculus VR Inc as CTO:
“I have fond memories of the development work that led to a lot of great things in modern gaming – the intensity of the first person experience, LAN and internet play, game mods, and so on. Duct taping a strap and hot gluing sensors onto Palmer’s early prototype Rift and writing the code to drive it ranks right up there. Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today; probably by people reading this message. It’s certainly not there yet. There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don’t even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them. It’s going to be awesome!” said John in the announcement post on the Oculus blog.
Oculus has already rounded up an impressive team of industry vets, the likes of which include Brendan Iribe (formerly of Gaikai and Scaleform) as CEO and Laird Malamed (formerly of Activision) as COO. With the addition of John Carmack, the Oculus team is shaping up to all-star status.
Carmack will be working from the new Oculus Dallas office that the company is opening soon, in addition to their existing offices in Irvine, CA and South Korea.
The news comes a few days after Ars Technica reported that Carmack’s Armadillo Aerospace company was winding down.
Carmack will also remain at id Software, Pete Hines, vice president of PR and marketing at Bethesda Softworks, confirmed to Polygon.
John Carmack’s Role in the Oculus Rift Genesis Story
Carmack was a key player in getting the Oculus Rift to where it is today.
Cramack had been experimenting with head mounted displays when he came across Palmer Luckey on the MTBS3D forums. Luckey, at the time, was working on a head mounted display prototype (which would eventually become the Oculus Rift) that he expected to sell in small quantity as a DIY kit to other VR enthusiasts. Carmack got in touch with Luckey and asked if he could buy one of the prototypes. Luckey says he was happy to hand over the prototype to Carmack, free of charge.
Carmack made his own modifications to the prototype (involving much duct tape) and began work integrating the device into Doom 3 as a proof of concept. He took the unit to E3 2012 and showed it running with Doom 3 to a swath of press who came away very impressed. With the attention of the press, the Oculus Rift grew into something much more significant, leading up to the famously successful Kickstarter.
At one point, Doom 3: BFG Edition with Rift support was promised to come as part of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter, but was later delayed indefinitely for reasons never officially explained. The fate of Doom 4 with Oculus Rift support is anyone’s guess at this point.
Palmer Luckey joined John Carmack and Michael Abrash on stage at QuakeCon 2012 for a panel on virtual reality, but I don’t think even Palmer ever thought Carmack might one day end up working for his company!