John D. Carmack

John D. Carmack

Infobox Person
name = John Carmack

caption = Carmack at the 2006 E3
birth_date = birth date and age|1970|8|20|mf=y
birth_place = Roeland Park, Kansas
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Technical Director, id Software Founder, Armadillo Aerospace
spouse = 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 "Commander Keen", "Wolfenstein 3D", "Doom", "Quake", and the sequels to "Doom" and "Quake".

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.



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. 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". ["Masters of Doom" by David Kushner. Quoted in "The Weekly Standard", Vol. 012, Issue 23. [] ] After scoring a 1500 on the SAT (780 Math, 720 Verbal),Fact|date=January 2008 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 . 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.Fact|date=May 2008

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 realized 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". [Citation| first= Mike|last= Snider| title =Q&A with id Software's Kevin Cloud and Steve Nix| newspaper =USA Today| year =2007| date =18 July| url =]


Titles are listed below in chronological order.{|
*"Doom 4" (TBA)
*"Rage" (TBA)
*"Wolfenstein" (TBA)
*"Wolfenstein RPG" (2008)
*"" (2007)
*"Orcs & Elves II" (2007)
*"Orcs & Elves" (2006)
*"DOOM RPG" (2005)
*"Quake 4" (2005)
*"" (2005)
*"DOOM 3" (2004)
*"Return to Castle Wolfenstein" (2001)
*"" (2000)
*"Quake III Arena" (1999)
*"Quake II" (1997)
*"Doom 64" (1997)
*"Final Doom" (1996)
*"Quake" (1996)
*"Hexen" (1995)
*"Heretic" (1994)
*"DOOM II" (1994)
*"DOOM" (1993)
*"Shadowcaster" (1993)
*"Spear of Destiny" (1992)
*"Wolfenstein 3D" (1992)
*"Catacomb 3-D" (1991)
*"" (1991)
*"" (1991)
*"Shadow Knights" (1991)
*"Rescue Rover 2" (1991)
*"Rescue Rover" (1991)
*"Hovertank 3D" (1991)
*"Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion" (1991)
*"" (1990)
*"Slordax" (1990)
*"Catacomb II" (1990)
*"Catacomb" (1990)
*"Dark Designs"
*"Tennis" (1990)
*"" (1990)
*"Shadowforge" (1989)

Armadillo Aerospace


Around the year 2000, Carmack became interested in rocketry, a hobby of his youth. Reviewing how much money he was spending on customizing Ferraris,Fact|date=February 2008 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.Fact|date=February 2008 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.

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". [ [ "Are video game patents next?"] Slashdot article] 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.

Id Tech 4 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." []

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. At the time, female FPS computer gamers were more myth than reality. Kang's tournament, actually run by the Quake Clanring, had over 600+ registered female gamers trying to win a trip for 2 to California to win $2,000+ worth of prizes.Fact|date=February 2007 Among them were Kornelia, KillCreek, and the PMS Clan: some of the most famed female players at the time.Fact|date=February 2007 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. [ [ Penny Arcade] ]

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." [ [ Carmack's 2008 keynote at QuakeCon] ] Employees at Apogee, in their past years the publishers of games by id Software, adopted this business practice as well [ [ Forum reply posted by George Broussard of 3DRealms] ] .


* In 1999, Carmack appeared as number 10 in TIME's list of the 50 most influential people in technology. []
* 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 "", 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. [ [ Walk of Game] ]
* 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. [ [ Emmy Awards] ]
* 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. [ [ 2008 Tech Emmy Winners] from] 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.Fact|date=May 2008 Along with Don Daglow and Mike Morhaime, 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.Fact|date=May 2008


Further reading

* Kushner, David (2003). "", New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50524-5.

External links

* [ John Carmack's Blog]
* [ The John Carmack Archive]
* [ Carmack's Dev Diaries]
* [ Doom and Quake creator's dev diaries are blogged]
* [ id Software's website]
* [ Armadillo Aerospace site]
* [ User Account on Slashdot]
* [ User Account] on the Space Fellowship
* [,682/ "John Carmack"] profile on MobyGames

* [ "TIME Digital 50" snippet on Carmack]
* [,9171,1101040809-674778-1,00.html "The Age Of Doom"] , "TIME" article (2004)
* [ "The Egos at id"] , a "Wired" magazine feature article (1996)
* [ CES 2007 Interview]
* [ John Carmack Answers] from Slashdot
* [ "MegaTexture" technology]
* [ "Carmack nails lid on PPU coffin"]
* [ "Quelling The Rage: Carmack and Willits Speak Out"] from Gamasutra (2008)
* [ Carmack on Doom, Rage, EA and More]
* [ Hollenshead & Carmack]
* [ How Quake Live brings brawling to our browsers]

* [ Carmack's QuakeCon 2008 Keynote Speech]
* [ Carmack on Quake Live, the iPhone, and Gaming Tec] Video interview from Gamespy

NAME=Carmack II, John D.
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American game programmer
DATE OF BIRTH=August 20 1970
PLACE OF BIRTH=Kansas City, Kansas

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