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PS4 and Xbox 720 won't be a massive leap forward according to John Carmack. Unlike (surprisingly) the thing he's working on

John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and one of the game industry's most important luminaries, doesn't think the next generation of games consoles will offer a significant leap in gameplay over the existing crop of machines. Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Carmack said:

"Any creative vision that a designer could come up with, we can do a pretty good job representing on current generation and certainly on PC. In many ways I am not all that excited about the next generation. It will let us do everything we want to do now, with the knobs turned up. If you take a current game like Halo which is a 30 hertz game at 720p; if you run that at 1080p, 60 frames with high dynamic frame buffers, all of a sudden you've sucked up all the power you have in the next-generation. It will be what we already have, but a lot better."

For the less technically-minded, what Carmack is saying is that the current generation has difficulty rendering everything in full HD at a high frame-rate. A few games, like WipEout HD, manage to render everything in full HD and at silky-smooth 60 frames every second. But with most other titles, it's a trade-off between one or the other, or in the cases of especially graphically-intense games like Uncharted, both are sacrificed in order to display the gameworld at the level of detail required.

Above: Uncharted 3. Will games look vastly better than this on next-gen machines? Carmack is suggesting they'll just be smoother, slicker and higher reolution, but essentially the same

The implication is that next-gen machines will be able to run games like Uncharted in glorious full HD, with all the lighting and filter effects on full quality and at a super-smooth frame-rate… but that’s it. No fundamental leap like the first time we saw polygonal 3D on our home consoles, or when texture-mapped graphics made us think we were looking at real video footage.

Instead, he says the next genuine leap for gaming will come from something more like Nintendo's motion control, which shook up the entire industry while using old hardware tech to do it – something like Virtual Reality. It all stems from the prototype headset that Carmack has been working on and was showing off so enthusiastically at E3 this year.

Above: Look closely through either of the eye holes here - you can actually see the future

"[Gaming on next generation consoles] will look a lot better, it will move towards the movie rendering experience and that is better and better, but it's not like the first time you've ever played an FPS. It won't be like putting yourself in the virtual world. All the little things you can do on that, such as playing an audio cue over here, and turning your attention to that. That will be more of the discontinuous step like we've had with first going to 3D or first using a mouse," he elaborated.

Virtual Reality has long been the joke of the industry because it forever seems to be 'hotly tipped to take off' without ever demonstrating anything worthwhile. However, people who have sampled Carmack's take on the technology have come away genuinely impressed. The technology of Carmack's headset reduces lag between movement of your head and seeing that movement played out in front of your eyes to the point where the brain can be convinced that it's looking at a solid world. The head moves independently to your gun, the display is 3D and fills your entire field of vision… it's how VR should probably have been done in the first place. Hollander saw it at E3:

 

However, there is one thing that could potentially prove Carmack's statement about next-gen incorrect. Only yesterday, Sony's Andrew House told MCV: "The right time to talk about new advances in hardware is when you can demonstrate a significant leap on the current experience, and something that is going to be attractive. That remains our philosophy. Beyond that we have nothing to say at this point."

You could conclude from those words that PS4 will offer a significant leap, despite all of the above. Unless you put two and two together (and make five) when Carmack says: "As a fully consumer thing, it is hard to imagine [the VR headset] happening in less than a year. Sony is already interested in this thing, and they are interested in seeing how they want to follow this up. I can easily imagine something like that. Sony conceivably could have a product out in the next year. I have no inkling on internal plans, but as a company I think they can do it."

So PS4 will be based on Carmack's Virtual Reality technology, then? We're 90% joking, but the other 10% says we'd actually be very interested in that.

Sources: GamesIndustry, MCV

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37 comments

  • PanicJester - June 20, 2012 5:33 a.m.

    No thanks. I would be tripping over sh*t all over my house >.<
  • StuntzMcKenzy - June 20, 2012 8:43 a.m.

    What makes you think you'd be walking around?
  • PanicJester - June 20, 2012 7:48 p.m.

    Well if you have to turn your head to look around in the game then it would be a little hard to look behind you while sitting down on something.
  • SentientSquidMachine - June 20, 2012 7:12 a.m.

    Someone took their science fair project a bit too seriously. Oh and PC....that is all.
  • ParagonT - June 20, 2012 8:29 a.m.

    What about it? That is all.
  • SentientSquidMachine - June 20, 2012 9:54 a.m.

    what about it? well, I get to play games is the full glory that the developer intended and when the time finally comes after a new technology is implemented that my PC cant handle I upgrade a part or two and viola back to gaming euphoria. You cannot deny the benefits of PC gaming over consoles. Anything consoles can do, PC can do....better. (for the record ive had a genesis, snes, n64, ps1,2,3 so i dont hate consoles, i just prefer PC)
  • ParagonT - June 20, 2012 10:24 a.m.

    PC CAN do anything a console does but better except, ya know, local multi-player, a guarantee of compatibility with it's drives, many games don't come to PC or just ported, hardware treadmill, less portable, and more. Of course PC has many redeeming qualities that I think makes it more favorable in my opinion, but it doesn't mean shit if games are not being directly developed for PC first instead of just a port platform. PC is not superior to consoles, both have qualities that makes them better suited for certain situations and wants. People just like saying one or the other is better because it makes them feel that their purchase was worth it at night. Consoles do hold gaming back graphically and partially game-play wise, but consoles make gaming more inexpensive. You don't have to have the best of the best hardware to enjoy a game. I understand that the PC platform is ahead of the game hardware wise, but it's eons behind in realizing what gaming is about; having fun.
  • gazzc - June 20, 2012 2:56 p.m.

    PC gaming is very expensive and can be complicated and confusing for anybody without the right knowledge, but I have owned consoles right from the sega master system up to the xbox 360 and my own opinion is that despite all the problems I have had in the past PC gaming really is worth the hassle and you do get the best gaming experience by far. Of course there are benefits and disadvantages of each but in the end for me at least the PC wins out due to image quality, precision controls and choice of games.
  • avantguardian - June 20, 2012 3:33 p.m.

    Well said. it's not the black and white argument people make it out to be. as far as "must-have" games that suit my personal taste (sports games, ssx, skate, rdr, mgs 3/4, persona/ff series, etc. compared to...company of heroes and total war...that's it), the consoles fare much better. for a lot of us, hardware comes secondary to software.
  • PanicJester - June 20, 2012 8 p.m.

    Not to mention online multi-player games for the PC are far more easy to make hacks and botting programs, which is what ruins it for me.
  • ncurry2 - June 20, 2012 7:21 a.m.

    Well he's right about next gen consoles... which is why they won't be coming out anytime soon I think. Would it be worth the cash to have your games running a bit smoother? There needs to be a noticeable difference or else people won't be interested and with times being as tough as they are, it will be difficult for companies to take that risk.
  • ParagonT - June 20, 2012 8:28 a.m.

    Evidence and hints says otherwise my friend.
  • Tariq-wahab - June 20, 2012 7:29 a.m.

    bring it on bitchesssssssssssss
  • Tjwoods18 - June 20, 2012 7:30 a.m.

    I do not trust his opinions anymore, RAGE was really a rip off.
  • gazzc - June 20, 2012 2:47 p.m.

    Really? I thought rage was extremely underrated. The driving sections aside, it was a solid, enjoyable shooter.
  • Tjwoods18 - June 20, 2012 6:19 p.m.

    The length of the game itself and the ending is what pissed me off the most. I mean, it just showed the rest of the arks rising up and....poof blank screen.
  • bboyd - June 20, 2012 7:56 a.m.

    Unless, you know, game developers continue to understand that not all games require 60 FPS. A 360 or PS3's games are just the same as PS2 but in HD with a silky smooth frame rate, right? Um... no. His argument, while it may be true in some cases, is just silly.
  • ParagonT - June 20, 2012 8:31 a.m.

    Yeah, good point. Games change due to what developers can do with the system, not just because they increase the "lighting and fps".
  • ParagonT - June 20, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    "if you run that at 1080p, 60 frames with high dynamic frame buffers, all of a sudden you've sucked up all the power you have in the next-generation." That seems like a pretty ambiguous and vague statement. That seems like a guesstimation he's making. I guess with that mindset, we never should have advanced in our systems ever, because I bet every cycle a developer said the same thing. I infer that he's not including the fact that consoles do not alone make better games, but developers do as well. Consoles give developers better parameters to achieve better graphics and things of the such, but its up to the developers to make better models and push the systems. So no, it's not just about the "fps and pixels" consoles can provide, it's about wanting for developers to push the envelope in textures, models, physics, objects available at once, and much more. So him saying that it would be the same game but higher resolution makes it seem like he's inferring that himself and other developers do not want to add anything more to games but those few things. Which to me sounds like a leveling off of game advancement and development. Not to say that it's developers fault or anything, but people need to understand that it's not that newer consoles cannot offer more advanced games, but it's because developers are hitting their threshold, limit of their ability/skills, and/or trade of between profit and money spent on games. If gamers and developers become too complacent with their hardware, gaming will never evolve. Developers will be much happier getting paid the same, and doing "less work" on games rather than keep pushing the boundaries. What I mean about "less work" is that the longer you have to get used to a system and include advancements in programs for development in time, is what makes it "less work". Most things become easier in time, although making games is no easy task to begin with I mind you. [Ease of development/more profit vs. spending] and [better hardware parameters/what consumers can afford] are what keeps gaming going, when one of these cannot be met, that's when gaming levels off for awhile. It's a juggling act between developers, consumers, and the hardware, when one cannot keep up with the other, that's when gaming is held back in an alternative way of explanation.
  • gazzc - June 20, 2012 2:44 p.m.

    I think what he says does make sense. Due to the fact that it is making plenty of money, sony and microsoft are trying to drag out the current generation of consoles out as long as they possibly can (just look at their complete silence on this issue at E3). The problem is that game graphics are still constantly advancing and whilst this is fine on the PC where hardware upgrades are always available, over on consoles things have to start scaling back (graphical details, resolution, textures, frame rates) jut to keep old hardware running newer games. This is resulting in a situation where that by the time the new consoles do get here the hardware will already be lagging behind what is possible graphically which will again leave a choice of smooth high res gameplay at current levels of image quality or more detailed graphics at low resolution and low fps.

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