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Carmack: mobile games offer 'pure play'
Carmack: mobile games offer 'pure play'
June 24, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

Speaking with Ars Technica, Quake III designer John Carmack lauds the advent of the mobile game development scene for what it has done for the market.

"I was really happy that when mobile came along with the more 'pure' games, they didn't have to be a $50 game that had man-centuries in them," Carmack tells Ars Technica. "You can have these small things that cost people a couple bucks."

"I don't have a lot of free time and I don't have 50 hours for Skyrim. That's not to take anything away from the massive titles, but it's great to have this broad spectrum of gaming," Carmack added.

A father of two, Carmack also looks to what his children are playing to inform his current preferences in games.

"I do wish the games that I made were more things that I could share with my sons," he said. In addition to Quake III, Carmack is best known for his involvement developing Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. "It would be nice to make something that's family friendly."

Nevertheless, Carmack believes his time in the programming spotlight has passed, and it's now up to the future generation of developers to explore the new design landscape.

"So many people can have such a large fraction of their life on the net: you have your challenges, entertainment, work, and they're happening in an essentially virtual space. Is it such a dystopian thing after all?"

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Cassio Raposa
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Carmack is one of the few true programmers that has "revolution" injected in his veins. Others may come but it's not going to be easy to find someone as great and devoted to make the gaming industry take a next step.

Ryan Christensen
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Carmack is a genius and he is right here. Mobile is like the throwback to the early arcade days (even cheaper to start playing, tokens/coins to continue). It is all about fun and trying new game types and gameplay systems. While big publishers and devs have to play it safe, mobile is that innovative/crunchy/wacky gameplay that spans all types of players and game types. The mobile and web game markets I spend more time in now are more fun.

Though some of that early Quake II (one of the last great coop multiplayer games -- L4D did a pretty good job recently on PC), Doom and Half-life/CS days will be hard to match in fun, recently big games are just not as fun as they were. It was more arcade-like back then. I am going to go ahead and blame the last couple console generations on part of that problem, the cost, the lack of fun, the too rigid structure nixing innovation.

I have yet to have the fun I had on recent consoles that I did on early NES, PC and now mobile game markets even today. It is about openness and self-publishing. Console markets of the last few shut out many developers and limited risk you can take, it also nerfed PC games and availability there. Let's hope the next wave of consoles pays attention or goes away and stops bringing the game industry fun factor down with it.

Freek Hoekstra
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I do agree, most games gorget they are actually games,
which by defenition is something that is a simplification of the real world to be more enjoyable.
older games had this, mobile games get this (sometimes browser/indie games too)

basically Iw ant games in which I can actually play again, instead of have this epic awesome "oh so new more traumatic lets see if we can make you cry this time" story poured over me...
I just want to have FUN. hopefully the next gen will get this, because this generation was all about realism, and supurfluous details.

Peter Eisenmann
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I highly doubt it. After all, you never needed all this horsepower to experience something as mundane as fun. You only need it to be even more cinematic, and deliver the most realistic headshots ever. 'Cause headshots are the shit.

Freek Hoekstra
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I'd say more power is always great, but the game should always be about fun, (in my opinion, I see there is a perfrectly valid market that wants epic and cinematic) but for me, when EPIC and Cinematic gets in the way of me actually having fun I have an issue with it.

I like simple quirky games, they can still use a lot of power to run well, not only graphically but say you make a game based on a fluid sim, the mechanics may be simple and fun, and new, but the tech required to make it work is new and advanced.

Kale Menges
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Feels good to hear someone like Carmack put mobile games in such a light. I grew up playing on consoles and started my development career on them, but over the last couple of years, my iPad has quickly and thoroughly become my personal gaming platformof choice. There's just something almost magical about the vast spectrum of mobile games and the freedom to experiment, explore, and invent that the mobile market has given game developers.

Dane MacMahon
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I know a lot of people who view as a "pure shooter" and modern shooters are trying to be movies. I know a lot of people who think Nintendo and Genesis were similarly "pure" compared to modern action games.

In the end I'm sure it all depends on your priorities. I love immersion in a game world, personally.

David Navarro
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Same. If small, mobile games were the only choice, all my free time would go to reading instead.

Having said that, Carmack is a living legend, and if he walks out of the games industry and into trying to put people in orbit, that's a loss to us but a win for all mankind.

Peter Eisenmann
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To me, id was one of few studios who actually understood the essence of gameplay.

Still, it's hard for me to accept that Carmack calls mobile games "pure", when so many these days are basically endless games without any real goal, with the same cartoony graphics, utilizing every trick in the book to make you buy IAPs.
I highly doubt that free-to-play, in the current form, is doing the medium any good. None of these games has much staying power.

Michael Joseph
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pure = low dev costs
fun = makes a lot of money

Now we are a bit closer to the truth.

I think we'll convince ourselves of the righteousness of just about anything if it makes a lot of money.

When the wind blows south and the thing starts losing money we'll change our minds.

We've seen this sort of dynamic time and time again from folks who've never spent much time focusing on the value of games outside of their ability to generate money.

Patrick Miller
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"...folks who've never spent much time focusing on the value of games outside of their ability to generate money."

Jonathan Jennings
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I wasn't sure I agreed with this but then I remembered just yesterday how much I love developers like KairoSoft who offer simple , pure , play experiences that have immersed me even more than many lackluster console games. removing everything they are more or less simple number simulations but the charm , focus, and simplicity of them make each " blah blah story" game come to life in its own way .

so if carmack is referring to a studio like Kairosoft i couldn't help but agree , they represent everything good about mobile gaming and mobile games and even to some extent modern gaming as a whole thus far!