It seems odd that only a year ago we were pledging cash on Kickstarter to support the Oculus Rift, dropping a relatively ludicrous amount of money on a project that existed only in the form of a headset that mashed together ski goggles, a smartphone screen and positioning sensor with whole bunch of gaffa tape and hot glue.
One of the main reasons that we were such huge supporters of Oculus’ push for consumer VR was that John Carmack said it was the future. After all, if there is anything we learned during our years as technology and gaming journalists, it was the fact that Carmack is the one guy that you listen to, seemingly incapable of marketing spin and sporting a brain that put most of the ‘geniuses’ in the technology industry to shame.
So it was with an incredibly geeky level of delight that we woke to find an email from Oculus to Kickstarter backers announcing the best news we have heard in years, that John Carmack has joined Oculus VR as its Chief Technology Officer.
He joins a company that has evolved dramatically in the past year, one that went from tiny startup to a serious player staffed with such luminaries as the founders of Scaleform (if you think you haven’t heard of them, just look at the into splash screens of pretty much any modern AAA game). Adding the father of 3D gaming graphics to the mix makes Oculus into one of the most exciting hardware companies on the landscape nowadays.
The announcement was light on details, beyond the creation of an Oculus office in Dallas that Carmack will work out of. We doubt it will have a huge impact on his work at id Software, which has in recent years involved the development of new generations of 3D engines and technology, which are then given to the actual game designers to build the actual games on.
It also sounds like Carmack will be actively involved in the development of the Rift and associated technologies – a refreshing change in an industry that has the annoying habit of appointing high profile technologists to largely ceremonial, evangelical roles (think Steve Wozniak’s role at Fusion IO or Robert Scoble’s Rackspace involvement).
It truly seems that, in the words of several people in the PC&TA offices this morning, “Shit just got real” for Virtual Reality. Having one of the true geniuses of the industry jumping onboard the most exciting product on the gaming landscape has us more excited about the future of gaming than we have been in a long, long time.