Carmack the Magnificent

(BTW, the title of this blog entry is a spin on one of my favorite TV personalities from many years ago, Johnny Carson)

I just finished reading an interview Tom’s Games did with John Carmack, the mastermind behind id Software. I love hearing from him. He’s very respected in the gaming industry, is a really smart guy, is totally a geek, but has a good eye on the industry. You learn a lot about where gaming is going technology-wise and business-wise by listening to him.

A couple of things he mentioned interested me. He did bring up multi-core computing and how gaming programmers are still trying to figure out how to take advantage of all those extra concurrent threads. As with everything, it’s going to really change the way programmers think. In what I’m sure was a Freudian slip by the writer, he used the word “paralyze” instead of “parallelize”. I think that’s exactly what’s happening. Programmers are paralyzed as they try to figure out what to do. It goes against everything they’ve been trained.

On the good news front, though, I’ve been playing a little with the dataflow programming paradigm and I’m liking the way it makes me think. Essentially you have huge number of processes that have data streams between them. You’re program becomes a network of co-operating virtual machines. Makes sense to me but it needs to be tried out on a real application. And I think gaming is that perfect application.

As a side note, John also talks about the iPhone and how it can be a great gaming platform. His wife says it’s a terrible phone, which I’m sure it is, but using these things as phones is becoming secondary to the other applications that can run on them. I’m pretty sure that’s where the future of mobile devices is headed. Forget the phone, they’re just great little network appliances.