QUAKECON, CARMACK AND CONSOLES

Whilst everybody was out drinking, making friends and having fun last night, I was watching the QuakeCon livestream with full concentration, eager to hear from the divine wisdom that is John Carmack – legendary developer and head honcho at id Software. With news on such projects as Doom 3 BFG Edition, the highly anticipated Doom 4 and Carmack’s own thoughts on future console OUYA, this keynote certainly had my utmost attention and in no way repentant for being the antisocial bastard that I am.

Firstly, id has announced that it will be putting a halt to its mobile development. Carmack was regretful to state that, due to other projects demanding attention and Bethesda’s own ambitions, it was becoming too difficult to manage further updates on iOS titles, however was interested in returning to the platform sometime in the future. In the same vein, Quake Live, the popular, free-to-play Quake 3 clone, has also had to shed its development team in the light of recent changes in id’s current priorities. Saddening as it is, hopefully this will guarantee much more detail and time invested into upcoming desktop and console releases.

Doom 3 BFG Edition, scheduled for release October 16 on Xbox 360, PC and PS3, has been crowned with a new trailer, showing off its new HD visuals and ‘Lost Mission’ expansion. Included in the pack will be the Doom back catalogue, which will hopefully give the series a full resurrection into modern gaming – having had no new titles since 2008.

Known mainly for its dark atmosphere and jump scares, it seems that Carmack has instead decided to steer BFG in a different direction from its original release – perhaps to cater to a modern market that is not quite so supported by the ‘hardcore’ gamers of old. Doom 3 will now include a lot more health, ammo and (most significantly) a toggled flashlight – a courtesy that was not rewarded so liberally in the past. Personally, I’m not too happy with these changes, as they are essentially transforming a game that was, at one point, considered genuinely frightening into an action fps. Do what you have to, id, but God help you if you’ve removed Nightmare difficulty.

In his keynote speech, Carmack went on to address the new, Android-based console, OUYA, as a ‘longshot’ for developers – unsure of its potential in value: “It’s neat that they want to cater to indie developers, but I don’t think that’s something a business can run on” (ShackNews). Focusing mainly on offering a fresher, cheaper service, it is obvious as to why id would have little interest in this future release, as it gives off more of a sense of being a hardware version of Steam Greenlight, rather than a fully fledged competitor in the modern console market. Nonetheless, I am still very excited about the OUYA project, which you can read about in more detail here.

Image obtained from PixlGeek.com

QuakeCon has left Doom 4 as secretive as ever this year, with little to no information regarding the project being leaked, or any hint at a release date as of yet. The other development teams being pulled into the project is a good sign, however, and may secure a lot more progress for a possible 2013 preview – Carmack’s eternal insistence of ‘we can’t talk about it’ will always cast a shadow of obscurity for the time being.

Overall, QuakeCon appears to be extremely promising this year, with a definite interest in developing for the Oculus Rift – the ‘first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games’. This isn’t something I really care about, as such, but it will certainly be worth keeping an eye out to see the results of these new technologies and if they can really ‘revolutionise’ the current formats of gaming. Honestly, as long as there are controllers and keyboards, this will never be, as PixlBit stated, more than ‘a hobbyist’s product’.

Just keep bringing the zombies and shotguns, Carmack, and you will never go wrong.