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John Carmack

Carmack at the 2010 GDC
Born August 20, 1970 (1970-08-20) (age 39)
Roeland Park, Kansas
Occupation Technical Director, id Software
Founder, Armadillo Aerospace
Spouse(s) Katherine Anna Kang
Children 1

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.

Though Carmack is best known for his innovations in 3D graphics, he is also a rocketry enthusiast and the founder and lead engineer of Armadillo Aerospace.

Contents

Biography

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Youth

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".[1] He attended the University of Missouri–Kansas City for two semesters before withdrawing to work as a freelance programmer.

Game programming

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.[citation needed]

Carmack's engines have also been licensed for use in other influential first-person shooters such as Half-Life, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor.

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.[2]

Games

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[citation needed]
TBA Rage id Software Bethesda Softworks Technical Director, Engine programmer, Developer[citation needed]
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 Catacomb II Softdisk Softdisk developer
1990 Catacomb Softdisk Softdisk programmer
1990 Dark Designs II: Closing the Gate Softdisk Softdisk programmer/designer
1990 Dark Designs: Grelminar's Staff John Carmack Softdisk developer
1990 Tennis John Carmack Softdisk developer
1990 Wraith: The Devil's Demise John Carmack Nite Owl Productions developer
1989 Shadowforge John Carmack Nite Owl Productions developer

Armadillo Aerospace

Carmack during the 2005 X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces and Alamogordo, New Mexico

Around the year 2000, Carmack became interested in rocketry, a hobby of his youth. Reviewing how much money he was spending on customizing Ferraris,[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[3][4][5]

Free software

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".[6] 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.

The id Tech 4 (Doom 3 Engine) will also be open source. At QuakeCon 2007, Carmack said to LinuxGames: "I mean I won't commit to a date, but the Doom 3 stuff will be open source."

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.[citation needed]

Personal life

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.[7]

Professional philosophy

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."[8] Employees at Apogee, in their past years the publishers of games by id Software, adopted this business practice as well.[9] Other game developers, such as Blizzard Entertainment, have made similar statements.[10]

Recognition

  • In 1999, Carmack appeared as number 10 in Time's list of the 50 most influential people in technology.[11]
  • On March 22, 2001, Carmack became the fourth person to be inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon those who have made revolutionary and innovative achievements in the video and computer game industry.
  • In 2003, Carmack was one of the subjects of the book Masters of Doom, a chronicle of id Software and its founders.
  • In 2005, the film Doom featured a character named Dr. Carmack, in recognition of Carmack who co-created the original game.
  • In March 2006, Carmack was added to the Walk of Game, an event that recognizes the developers and games with the most impact on the industry.[12]
  • In January 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada, John Carmack and id Software were awarded with two Emmy Awards. The Science, Engineering & Technology for Broadcast Television, which includes broadcast, cable and satellite distribution, and secondly, Science, Engineering and Technology for Broadband and Personal Television, encompassing interactive television, gaming technology, and for the first time, the Internet, cell phones, private networks, and personal media players. id Software is the very first independent game developer to be awarded an Emmy since the Academy began honoring technology innovation in 1948.[13]
  • In September 2007, Carmack appeared on Discovery Channel Canada Daily Planet, featuring his rocket designs along with the Armadillo Aerospace team.
  • In 2008 Carmack was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for Quake's pioneering role of user modifiability.[14] He is the only game designer ever honored twice by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, having been given an Emmy Award in 2007 for his creation of the 3D technology that underlies modern shooter video games.[citation needed] Along with Don Daglow of Stormfront Studios and Mike Morhaime of Blizzard Entertainment, Carmack is one of only three game developers to accept awards at both the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards and at the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Interactive Achievement Awards.[citation needed]
  • In October 2008, John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace won the $350,000 Level One X-Prize Lunar Lander Challenge.[15]
  • In March 2010, Carmack was given the Game Developers Conference Lifetime Achievement award for his work[16]

References

Further reading

External links


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