Eurogamer: But for the time being you're happy with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360?
John Carmack: I really am. We've got other games in development now that are working with this. There's still a lot more we can use. We'll suck up any resources that are given to us. If people come out and say, OK, now you've got four gigs of RAM and all this, we'll happily use it. It'll make our lives better. The games will get better. The graphics will get better. Things will improve in a lot of ways.
But I'm not feeling terribly constrained by this current generation yet.
Eurogamer: One of the more exciting announcements at E3 this year was the Wii U. As one of the pioneers of video game graphics, does it interest you?
John Carmack: It's a perfectly valid target for our id Tech 5 development platform. When we started off we looked at this and said, well, we can clearly do 360, PS3 and PC. This is obvious and it works really well. But the Wii was far enough down that none of the technologies we did, like the virtualised pages, were appropriate for it. It didn't have the memory or the processing power for transcoding. You couldn't use that technology base.
We actually talked about using something akin to the technology I did for the iOS Rage game for the Wii. That would have worked perfect. It would have played to the optical disc. It would have gone really well. But we had decided as a publishing house that getting into the Wii market with an action, hardcore shooter game was probably not the right thing. It didn't look like people were making money there. Generally, the customers who want that game, they may have a Wii, but they've also got something better they can play it on. So we probably made the right call there.
It's going to be very interesting to see what the marketing uptake of the Wii U is. If they're able to convert a lot of their existing Wii customers that are not hardcore gamers, that don't have the other consoles, then yeah, I'd certainly be interested in moving our technology over there.
Eurogamer: What do you think of the local touch-screen?
John Carmack: That's a pretty good direction. In many ways that has much more general applicability than the motion controls Microsoft and Sony are pushing. The motion control stuff is technically really cool, and I'd love to do an Xbox Live title or something like that to play with it.
New iOS devices are really more important than a lot of the next-generation graphics stuff. That's going to make more of a difference. It's cool people are still trying these risky high dollar bets. But we talk about it with Rage. It's not at all obvious how you take a game you're expected to be doing these fine movements in a dual thumbstick mode, and somehow do some wavy motion control thing with it. The gun type approach with Move makes some clear sense on there.
The bottom line is, motion control can't be tacked on to a lot of different types of games. You need a game designed for motion control. While local touch-screen is something practically any game could derive some value out of.
Eurogamer: How would you do that with a game like Rage?
John Carmack: Well if you have a split-screen multiplayer game and local set-ups, just having in many cases more status information. Games have trended towards less and less on-screen for good visual aesthetic reasons. But there's a lot of additional information.
In Rage, being able to glance down and check your load-outs without having to pop up and look at the scrolls there is actually a faster thing. Being able to look at inventory stuff, or even build engineering items. Just being able to have six extra buttons down there, you could say, I want to build a sentry drone right now, or a turret.
When the DS came out a lot of people wondered, what kind of a weird thing is this? Is this just some bizarre gimmick on here? But DS games get a lot of use out of the bottom screen. You'll still see some games that are more or less single screen games. But lots of games have made lots of good use from that.
Motion control is a big step for a lot of people. An extra screen with touch control will get adopted really quickly.