Carmack at the 2010 GDC
|Born||August 20, 1970
Roeland Park, Kansas
|Occupation||Technical Director, id Software
Founder, Armadillo Aerospace
|Spouse(s)||Katherine Anna Kang|
John D. Carmack II (born August 20, 1970) is an American game programmer, and the co-founder of id Software. Carmack was the lead programmer of the id computer games Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, their sequels and the Commander Keen series of games.
Carmack, son of local television news reporter Stan Carmack, grew up in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area where he became interested in computers at an early age because of his Asperger syndrome. He attended Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas and Raytown South High School in nearby Raytown, Missouri. As reported in David Kushner's Masters of Doom, "when Carmack was 14, he broke into a school to steal Apple II computers, was arrested, and sent for psychiatric evaluation (the report mentions "no empathy for other human beings"). Carmack was then sentenced to a year in a juvenile home. ... he was asked "if you had not been caught, would you consider doing it again?" he answered "probably" but when the therapist presented this evaluation he neglected to repeat "if you had not been caught" from his statement". He attended the University of Missouri–Kansas City for two semesters before withdrawing to work as a freelance programmer.
Softdisk, a computer company in Shreveport, Louisiana, hired Carmack to work on Softdisk G-S (an Apple IIGS publication), uniting him with John Romero and other future key members of id Software such as Adrian Carmack (not related). Later, this team would be placed by Softdisk in charge of a new, but short-lived, bi-monthly game subscription product called Gamer's Edge for the IBM PC (MS-DOS) platform. In 1990, while still at Softdisk, Carmack, Romero, and others created the first of the Commander Keen games, a series which was published by Apogee Software, under the shareware distribution model, from 1991 onwards. Afterwards, Carmack left Softdisk to co-found id Software, where he remains.
He has pioneered or popularised the use of many techniques in computer graphics, including "adaptive tile refresh" for Commander Keen, raycasting for Hovertank 3-D, Catacomb 3-D, and Wolfenstein 3-D, binary space partitioning which Doom became the first game to use, surface caching which he invented for Quake, Carmack's Reverse (formally known as z-fail stencil shadows) which he devised for Doom 3, and MegaTexture, used in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. While he was not the first to discover Carmack's Reverse, he developed it independently without knowing of the prior research done on the subject.
When Carmack was on vacation with his wife, he ended up playing some games on her cellphone, and he concluded that the games weren't any good. He then decided he was going to make a good mobile game. When he got back from his vacation he revealed that he had started working on Doom RPG.
Titles are listed below in reverse chronological order.
|Date of Release||Title||Developer||Publisher||Credited for|
|TBA||Doom 4||id Software||Bethesda Softworks||Technical Director, Engine programmer, Developer|
|TBA||Rage||id Software||Bethesda Softworks||Technical Director, Engine programmer, Developer|
|August 18, 2009||Wolfenstein||Raven Software||Activision Blizzard||Engine Programmer|
|September 28, 2007||Enemy Territory: Quake Wars||Splash Damage||Activision||programming|
|May 1, 2006||Orcs & Elves||Fountainhead Entertainment||Electronic Arts||producer/programmer/writer|
|October 18, 2005||Quake 4||Raven Software||Activision||technical director|
|September 13, 2005||Doom RPG||Fountainhead Entertainment||id Software||producer/programmer|
|April 3, 2005||Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil||Nerve Software||Activision||technical director|
|August 3, 2004||Doom 3||id Software||Activision||technical director|
|November 19, 2001||Return to Castle Wolfenstein||id Software||Activision||technical director|
|December 15, 2000||Quake III: Team Arena||id Software||Activision||programming|
|December 2, 1999||Quake III Arena||id Software||Activision||programming|
|December 9, 1997||Quake II||id Software||Activision||programming|
|March 31, 1997||Doom 64||Midway Games||Midway Games||programming|
|June 22, 1996||Quake||id Software||id Software||programming|
|May 31, 1996||Strife||Rogue Entertainment||Velocity||engine programmer|
|October 30, 1995||Hexen: Beyond Heretic||Raven Software||id Software||3D engine|
|1996||Final Doom||id Software||GT Interactive||programming|
|December 23, 1994||Heretic||Raven Software||id Software||engine programmer|
|October 10, 1994||Doom II: Hell on Earth||id Software||GT Interactive||programming|
|December 10, 1993||Doom||id Software||id Software||programming|
|1993||Shadowcaster||Raven Software||Origin Systems||3D engine|
|September 18, 1992||Spear of Destiny||id Software||FormGen||software engineer|
|May 5, 1992||Wolfenstein 3D||id Software||Apogee Software||programming|
|1991||Catacomb 3-D||id Software||Softdisk||programming|
|1991||Commander Keen: Aliens Ate My Babysitter!||id Software||FormGen||programming|
|December 15, 1991||Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy!||id Software||Apogee Software||programming|
|1991||Commander Keen: Keen Dreams||id Software||Softdisk||programming|
|1991||Shadow Knights||id Software||Softdisk||design/programming|
|1991||Rescue Rover 2||id Software||Softdisk||programmer|
|1991||Rescue Rover||id Software||Softdisk||programmer|
|1991||Hovertank 3D||id Software||Softdisk||programming|
|1991||Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion||id Software||Softdisk||programming|
|December 14, 1990||Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons||id Software||Apogee Software||programming|
|1990||Slordax: The Unknown Enemy||Softdisk||Softdisk||programming|
|1990||Dark Designs II: Closing the Gate||Softdisk||Softdisk||programmer/designer|
|1990||Dark Designs: Grelminar's Staff||John Carmack||Softdisk||developer|
|1990||Wraith: The Devil's Demise||John Carmack||Nite Owl Productions||developer|
|1989||Shadowforge||John Carmack||Nite Owl Productions||developer|
Around the year 2000, Carmack became interested in rocketry, a hobby of his youth. Reviewing how much money he was spending on customizing Ferraris, he realized he could do significant work in rocketry and aerospace. He began by giving financial support to a few local amateur groups before starting Armadillo Aerospace. He taught himself aerospace engineering and is the lead engineer of the company. Since then he has made steady progress toward his goals of suborbital space flight and eventual orbital vehicles. In October 2008, Armadillo Aerospace competed in a NASA contest known as the Lunar Lander Challenge, winning first place in the Level 1 competition along with $350,000. In September 2009 they completed Level 2 and were awarded $500,000.
Carmack is a well-known advocate of open source software, and has repeatedly voiced his opposition to software patents, which he equates to "mugging someone". He has also contributed to open source projects, such as starting the initial port of the X Window System to Mac OS X Server and working to improve the OpenGL drivers for Linux through the Utah GLX project.
Carmack released the source code for Wolfenstein 3D in 1995 and the Doom source code in 1997. When the source code to Quake was leaked and circulated among the Quake community underground in 1996, a programmer unaffiliated with id Software used it to port Quake to Linux, and subsequently sent the patches to Carmack. Instead of pursuing legal action, id Software, at Carmack's behest, used the patches as the foundation for a company-sanctioned Linux port. id Software has since publicly released the source code to Quake, Quake 2 and most recently Quake 3, all under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The Doom source code was also re-released under the GPL in 1999.
Carmack is also noted for his generous contributions to charities and gaming communities. Some of the recipients of Carmack's charitable contributions include his former high school, promoters of open source software, opponents of software patents, and game enthusiasts. In 1997 he gave away one of his Ferraris (a 328 model) as a prize to Dennis Fong, the winner of the Quake "Red Annihilation" tournament.
Carmack met his wife Katherine Anna Kang at QuakeCon 1997 when she visited id's offices. As a bet, Kang challenged Carmack to sponsor the first All Female Quake Tournament if she was able to produce a significant number of participants. Carmack and Kang married in January 2000 and had a son in 2004. Carmack has a blog (previously a .plan), and also occasionally posts comments to Slashdot. In 2008, Carmack autographed a Nintendo DS for Child's Play. Due to a misunderstanding from the heads of the charity, it was instead offered as a prize in a contest. This mistake has since been rectified: the signed product was recovered and will be put on eBay to raise money for the charity. The prize has been replaced with a regular DS.
As a game developer, Carmack stands apart from many of his contemporaries by avoiding commitment to a final release date for any game he is developing. Instead, when asked for a release date on a new title, Carmack will usually reply that the game will be released "when it's done." Employees at Apogee, in their past years the publishers of games by id Software, adopted this business practice as well. Other game developers, such as Blizzard Entertainment, have made similar statements.