"Man on a knife edge" - John Carmack, milestone achievements and contribution to the game industry

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The figure of John Carmack in the computer games industry (hereinafter CI) is ambiguous. There are many rumors and scandals associated with his name. Many consider it an unpleasant man, and many also consider him a genius. These two properties, by the way, is not mutually exclusive. You can not be the most pleasant person to work with, but do amazing things. In this publication, we do not consider all the merits of John before the CI did not discuss his debate with members of the team, and do not try to dig up the greatest number of scandals. Even the story of Id Software affects not fully, touching only briefly passed John milestones.

Any developer with experience and any who gave his entire life the industry may be the subject of deep research, numerous articles, and even books. But everyone understands, I hope as much need time to gather all this information together, to check and compare the facts connected with persons involved, to develop a clear strategy for the presentation. The more time passes, the more the shroud covers the history of the years of moving away from us, from where it was possible to extract knowledge. It's one thing if you had witnessed it, if the reader (or writer) is the oldest stratum of the players and the formation of people interested. Quite another matter if the material familiar people who generally are not familiar with the games Wolf3D, Doom, Quake, and to whom a set of letters and IDDQD IDKFA say nothing. How to tell it not to tire the reader? How to focus on the main? How not to spend weeks and months of the publication of seemingly useless articles?

The answer is simple. Select the most important thing that you need to convey to the reader. Select the rod. The root cause. What prompted to write these lines. And I know exactly what I want at the moment. Tell about why I believe John - a man on a knife edge. Man of the avant-garde. Risky experimenter and pioneer.

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Optional prolog h4>
 In my youth, the era of the 282nd, the players were very greedy games. Each of them has something special, each of them has been the subject of study. This was the era "before the Internet", a period of black markets, while BBS, dial-up (dial-up) and a five-inch floppy disks. A time when games could not be much, and when their time on a thorough study lacked. And it was not in the range of scarcity, and how this range penetrated into Russia. I could say "the markets of Russia," but it would not be true. Markets - was not. Were black markets, flea markets were to be "brought to each diskette." About to buy the game "fair" is not out of the question.

These difficulties make PC-game something special for those who have a PC at home. They are often compared with Amiga games or Sega, trying to stick out "their platform," forgetting (and often unknowingly) that the "parent" have discussed the games the same. That the developer immediately pledged his game several platforms. Same unforgettable Flashback came the enormous number of platforms: Amiga, Mega Drive / Genesis, MS-DOS (floppy disk & CD-ROM), SNES, Mega-CD, Atari Jaguar (list not complete). But due to lack of knowledge out so that dialog can be heard the phrase "cool game from the PC." I think amizhnikov only laughed like listening. And for good reason. An incredible amount of games going on the PC from the Amiga, which was the main playground.

Usually friends and acquaintances was either PC or console, mostly Spectrum. And I do not remember the people who have had both the one and the other. Perhaps somewhere nearby and there was a division on a PC-Schnick and konsolschikov. Gamepad and keyboard. Then do not use the word "port with anything," and there was the term "crooked porting." Game Prince of Persia, Flashback equally pleasing to the eye, as the Amiga with Atari, and the Sega c PC.

Once a teenager, during another of his many aimless walks, came upon a Book House, close to the metro station Ecole Polytechnique, and saw the girl behind the counter that with an incredibly intelligent person playing incredibly realistic game. Blue wall, brown soldiers and gold cups. I well remember how she did it. One finger. Incredibly long turning to the door, as long gathering his thoughts before you press "space" to open it. Slowness leads to death. And the level begins anew.

I wanted to exclaim "wow three fingers, one who does it!", But I could not overpower yourself. Just stood there, staring at the painting fascinated by wooden walls. All I remember about that moment can be described in two words - a thirst for possession. Game. For me, then it was quite obvious to prefer computer games to girls. Looking back and hand on heart, I see that nothing has changed. The girls are still beautiful and attractive, but also attractive and games. As in 1992, to drag himself to the game, do not need no color, no lengthy courtship. Moreover incredibly convenient online service Steam is ready to put the best of them for a reasonable price.

Voice trembling with desire, I asked if I rewrite to a floppy disk that game, and ran home as walking on the world from the floppy, then I have not become a habit. By coincidence, the ill-fated, brought me a floppy bat turned and I ran home again, and again went to the House of Books, and then, finally, to find something with which to begin our first milestone, and my familiarity with the work of the then John Carmack.

Milestone first h4>
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Many of us are well aware that Wolfenstein-3D was not the first "three-dimensional" game, and was not the first shooter in the history of gaming. Before him were Hovertank-3D and Catacomb 3-D . The interval between them was not large, but they differ dramatically. However, among the most notable and defining the origins of the genre, in my opinion, it is necessary to specify it. Wolfenstein-3D. Those others - were workout. Those others - were not known. This became like a good movie. Good graphics. Style. Quality sound. Clear and expressive game-play.

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Known fact that your engine is John Carmack wrote under the impression the demo version of the game engine - Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss . However, John's version was much easier. She did not have a floor and a ceiling, had a height in the space (stairs, rooms are located on different levels and other elevation changes). Thus Wolfenstein-3D engine was not an innovation in terms of the engine, but it was from the point of view of the working of the engine quickly, and the creation of the first in the history of the shooter, who began to popularize the genre, the mechanics of which was focused on the constant running around, shooting, collecting treasure and finding secrets.

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How well can be seen in Ultima already have everything that appears after some time in the Wolfenstein-3D, and even Doom, namely the height difference, change the direction of gaze, covered the floor texture, shading surfaces as the distance from the observer and etc. It is not that developed Carmack was a revolution, but it was a revolutionary advancement shooter as genre forward. With a game that does not require a super-power. Fold increase in the image can be seen here (1586h880 resolution, size 1.003 KB) i>

In terms of technology Wolfenstein-3D engine was pretty simple. He used sprites as objects and textures covered walls, which were the same sprites, but with a fixed position. Walls are vertically in respect of height and can be either parallel to each other or perpendicular (could only form angles of 90 degrees). Do not have a difference in lighting. But even such a poor set was enough to create stunning images. Rendering visible and invisible space is carried out due reykastinga.

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Reykasting in action. The material is taken from Wikipedia, with pages devoted Wolfenstein-3D engine.
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Already in this game was laid possibility of custom modifications. Lined up in a text file, a set of values ​​of the special characters like «x» or "0", you can get your own level, where the symbol «x», for example, is converted into the wall, and the symbol "0" in the barrel. I can not say that this is where legs grow future approach on the part of Id Software convenience custom modifications. But the fact remains, make a living for Wolfenstein-3D was possible, and for the Prince of Persia or Dune 2 - no. By the way, the year 1992 was very rich in game, which laid the foundation of the computer games industry.

These "three-dimensional" walls, animated characters, objects and hundreds of secret caches throughout. Continuous firing, deep Explora (exploration), which was unbearable to leave the level of not finding the same "last secret". Memorable bosses. This game was all that needed to take place and it is not until the last throw. While the player had enough enemies guarding treasures and hoards themselves to continue to move forward.

During the game, of course, flashed the thought that it would be great to have the same floor as the walls, the same as the ceiling and walls, which had its own pattern. But, alas. This was one of the limitations of the engine. The technology was in its infancy. As objects of saturation used sprites are always oriented to the player (and later a similar principle orientation sprite became what is now called the billboard's). Even these two means, the walls and sprites saturation led to a very impressive picture. And they did not hesitate. It does not cause rejection because of a 3D we did not know. We had nothing to compare.

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As my friend said developer:
- If we had seen what we see now ... we probably would have exploded head.

In the dialog, I beg to differ. And in the next milestone I will tell why. I'll tell you what I imagined the next game, John Carmack, and what she really was. Also tell your thoughts about the flight of fantasy in a person and a flight of fancy in the industry CI. Recently had a serious effect on my relationship to the industry and to the games.

Milestone second h4> To me, it was quite obvious that the first - and will remain the first, becoming the flagship of a new genre, and that I, as a player expect amazing discoveries and unforgettable experience. Nevertheless, for some time id Software fell out of my sight. Games prior to 1993 was more than enough to forget about their existence. Alone in the Dark, Flashback, The Legend of Kyrandia, Another World, Dune, Dune II, Star Control II, Wing Commander II. All this makes these and subsequent years that can rightly be called "the golden era of the Renaissance" in the world of CI. Each game was something new and unforgettable. And most importantly - it was the era of experimentation. Games today and next days do not lie with the abyss mad experimentation on the part of developers. Games present day - cautious and verified schemes in terms of game mechanics, exploiting the long-forgotten truth, but not strongly promoting the industry forward. This I mention separately at the end of the publication.

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Subject must say pretty shaky and the risk to bring down the whole story. So let us go back in 1993, to John Carmack and that game that will go down in history as the Doom. And if Wolfenstein-3D can be considered the grandfather of all shooters, Doom is a specific folder. And chronologically, and with jargon viewpoint. Even the term "folder" for the first time was I heard it in the clubs where the competition was held Doom.
"The ideas embodied in Wolfenstein-3D, it received further development and reached obscene proportions and breeds mirror effect. When a stone is thrown into the water making waves and circles from it in different directions, affecting the most different corners of the CI.

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Differences from the grandparents were quite significant. Floor and ceiling could now be different heights on "zones" of the ceiling could be applied to the sky, which had the effect of parallax, it does not move together with the level, creating additional effect of depth (a precursor of future skyboxes with the same effect), the walls are no longer perpendicular and parallel. Now they could be targeted to the player at any angle, and the room - no longer a handicap. Want to stream underfoot - please. Want an oval room - no problem. Level elements become mobile. Ie ceilings and floors could be omitted, it became possible to remotely open doors. It was added during the rocking motion of the player and the player no longer "ride in a tank," as it was in the games before.

It was a real leap forward, especially within the year. True there were limitations in the pseudo-three-dimensional effect. The impossibility of having two volumes (rooms or passages) of each other. The levels of the structure still remain two-dimensional. Ideologically, they remained a system of rooms, not a building consisting of them. The walls had to be vertical, with no possibility of their inclination relative to the horizontal. The player characters and ideologically, as in Wolfenstein-3D moving in the same plane that made it impossible to jump over another character, or slip under it (in the case of flying enemies). The scale of the sprites and textures throughout the game had to be identical. Ie it was impossible to enhance the detail on any given quadrant, or use a long texture, or use a higher resolution texture.

With this, by the way, excellent job engine Ken Silverman, entitled The Build or simply Build . A separate branch of the engine, uses a similar ideology, but has a significant differences from it. Which, by the way gave us such hits as Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Shadow Warrior, Redneck Rampage. This theme is a separate and very long conversation (meaning another publication, because this man deserves far more than the article).

Build, in my opinion has reached such heights that at the stage of formation of three-dimensional graphics in games (all three games), hitting three-dimensional game with a baseball bat, making them the confidence to compete. However, as we well know, the industry adheres to the fashion product development. So if in the next year will be fashionable to play clown hats and whip each other with leather whips, and for this suddenly start paying good - you will all be run in games like clowns with whips. And strategies, and roleplayers and fans to shoot - all without exception.

Note: My acquaintance with Doom took much later. The previous milestone I mentioned 282nd machine that I possessed. K-93, the situation has not changed much. And Doom I played with friends. And before that was a long story of one of them about how great game. I omit the description of all the epithets, wide-open eyes and flutter their hands epilepticus that accompany this story. In order not to bore you with the long-gone, I note a couple of phrases:
- "You fall to the ground face, lying and walking around the monsters you killed»,
- "You climb the ladder, climb up and see the edge of the floor, and there stands a monster ... and you see his feet."
Live fantasy, well nourished by what I've seen in other games, I drew the following picture. Ladder's face covered with yellow peeling paint, beautiful sprite hands that sort up the crossbar, and many other details. Ponarisovav himself in the head God knows what, and then seeing how it was implemented in Doom, I was disappointed. Those "hands on the bar," I waited and waited only after many years. Exactly how and other things that I then namechtalis.
So I became acquainted with the term "unfulfilled expectations". Subsequently, this phenomenon will not be accompanied by one game, and not just for me. Oversized projects which will stretch over several years, will always be accompanied by a public relations and promotions, which, coupled with a proud marketing slogan will often turn into the coffin for the games with nice and big nails in these covers. One of the last projects of John (and I'm talking about Rage), will be for most people thus unfulfilled expectations and fiasco Id Software. I have a different opinion, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I>

On the Doom Engine, which later became known as the id Tech 1, was released not too many games. To the surprise. Without the second parts can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Doom, Hexen, Heretic and Strife. Initially, the engines were called as Doom Engine and Quake engine, but later were "Rename."

I must say that the list of games made on the engine, The Build was much more. And due to modifications including. 3D Realms in respect of the players and other developers have always been more open, and to create their own data files (in the case of Doom engine WAD-file) without looking frown. Subsequently, id Software has revised its policy regarding public resources and open source, which added even more to her popularity among players, and among the developers.

John never rests on its laurels. Thirst new always pushing him forward. Experiments with new technologies and new technical solutions, that's accompanied him all his life, and that goes hand in hand with him to this day.










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