A Conversation With John Carmack
Widely considered the most brilliant man in gaming, John Carmack's innovative programming made Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake technologically superior games for their time. Without his contributions, it is difficult to imagine how first person shooters and the landscape of games as a whole would have progressed. John was kind enough to take take a few moments out of his busy schedule to grant us an interview.
Video Game Article: Much has been made of your statements regarding the potential power of the Playstation 3 compared to the Xbox 360. Would you care to sum up your opinion on the matter for our readers?
John Carmack:Every force has a coupling constant, which is a measure of its strength, and determines the chances of one particle to emit or receive another particle. For electromagnetism, the coupling constant is proportional to the square of the electric charge. When physicists study the quantum behavior of electromagnetism, they can't solve the whole theory exactly, because every particle may emit and receive many other particles, which may also do the same, endlessly. So events of emission and reception are considered as perturbations and are dealt with by a series of approximations, first assuming there is only one such event, then correcting the result for allowing two such events, etc. This is a reasonable approximation only if the coupling constant is small, which is the case for electromagnetism. But if the coupling constant gets large, that method of calculation breaks down, and the little pieces become worthless as an approximation to the real physics.
Video Game Article: Ah, I see. So which system would you rather develop for?
John Carmack: Of course, fermionic or bosonic behavior of composite particle (or system) is only seen at large (compared to size of the system) distance. At close proximity at which spatial structure begins to be important, composite particle (or system) behaves according to its constituent makeup. For example, two atoms of He can not share the same space if it is comparable by size to the size of inner structure of He atom itself (~10^-10 m) - despite bosonic properties of He atoms. Thus, liquid He has finite density comparable to the density of ordinary liquid matter.
Video Game Article: That's sure to incite a few heated debates at Slashdot! As most people know, you are also very enthusiastic about rocketry. How's that been going?
John Carmack: Glial cells form a support system for neurons. They create the insulating myelin, provide structure to the neuronal network, manage waste, and clean up neurotransmitters. Most types of glia in the brain are present in the entire nervous system. Exceptions include the oligodendrocytes which myelinate neural axons (a role performed by Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system). The myelin in the oligodendrocytes insulates the axons of some neurons. White matter in the brain is myelinated neurons, while grey matter contains mostly cell soma, dendrites, and unmyelinated portions of axons and glia. The space between neurons is filled with dendrites as well as unmyelinated segments of axons; this area is referred to as the neuropil.
Video Game Article: Glad to hear it. I'm sure you get this all the time, but I've simply got to ask if you can tell me what game you're working on next.
Video Game Article: Woah, I didn't think you'd actually reveal that. And what platform will it be available on?
Video Game Article: Thanks for choosing to announce that here first! Before I let you get back to work, is there anything you'd like to say to your fans out there?
John Carmack: Buy Doom movie on DVD and UMD, am best action number one.
The End Of An Era
Video Game Article has just received a surprising press release from Atari:
After thirteen years and countless fond memories, we have decided to officially halt production on the Jaguar video game console.
Who can forget the games? White Men Can't Jump, Evolution: Dino Dudes, Bubsy In Fractured Fairy Tails, Troy Aikman NFL Football, and the legendary Brett Hull Hockey. The Atari Jaguar ushered in a new era of games that redefined a new generation of eras.
By doing the math, intelligent gamers realized that the two 32-bit chips in our system made the Jaguar the first 64-bit console on the market, making our games better than games on other systems by a margin of lots of bits. Personal computers have only recently caught up to the power of the Jaguar with their newly released 64-bit microprocessors, proving how far ahead of the curve we were.
Beginning in 1996, we began a focused marketing campaign, capturing the key market of people who use the restroom at the Shell station down the street from my house. By employing creative slogans to scribble on bathroom stalls ("Jaguar is awesome", "Jaguar is number 1", "Kathy sucks black cock"), we tapped into the exciting world of urban graffiti artists in a way that no company has been able to.
We thank Jaguar owners everywhere and promise to return with an even more exciting project in the future. Can you say... 65-bit?
I can honestly say that I did not see this coming. Farewell, old friend.
Mayor Reconsiders Healthpack Distribution Program
At first, it seemed like a good idea. Leave healthpacks throughout the city so that all citizens would have access to medical aid at all times. Fall off a ladder? Crawl to the healthpack on the neighbor's lawn. Get hit by a bus? Try to land on the healpack in the middle of the intersection. Stub your toe on a healthpack while out shopping? Have a fellow shopper put you into a cart and push you to the healthpack at the bottom of the town's public pool.
In time, however, the healthpacks meant to be used by an entire community were wasted by one man. Reports of a shotgun-wielding maniac murdering scores of zombies and telepathic Nazis began to surface last week, coinciding with the sudden disappearance of nearly every healthpack the city had alotted for its citizens. This one man's reckless behavior has costed taxpayers an estimated $600,000 and deprived countless people of the health care they desperately need.
In hindsight, the mayor has stated that "It was probably a bad idea to burn down the hospital and chase every last doctor out of town with pitchforks."
Next week, we'll find out how a local gun store's "Ammo For Everyone Just Laying Around All Over The Place" program has worked out.
SiN Episodes: Emergence
SiN is the thinking man's Half-Life, especially if you like thinking "Hey this is some pretty fun shooting action!" and "I hope there are more than three guns in the next episode." 8/10
I would have enjoyed this top-down shooter more if it had taken a page from Serious Sam instead of Doom 3, featuring more enemies than "scares" tamer than anything you'd find in a Haunted House for people with heart conditions. 6/10
Rise Of Nations: Rise Of Legends
An enjoyable RTS that doesn't quite live up to the original Rise of Nations, but does include units kookier than almost anything found in Warhammer 50k: Everyone's Wearing High Heels. 8/10
X-Men: The Official Game
It's official: this tie-in is as chock full of incompetence as Chuck Austen's run on Uncanny X-Men. 5/10
It's like playing Uno in real life, with a slightly decreased chance of being punched by a ten year old girl. 8/10
The Da Vinci Code
Only you can defeat scores of enemies in hand to hand combat (?) and uncover the mystery as to why so many people thought the book was anything but derivative fluff. 1/10
Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast
A solid little racer which will save its publisher a ton of money by only having to print "2" instead of "To" on the game's packaging. 7/10
New Super Mario Brothers
This ridiculously fun game proves that side scrolling platformers should never have been abandoned while launching its main character from obscurity into superstar status. 10/10
Guilty Gear Dust Strikers
Everyone involved would have been a lot happier if this was actually a dirt-kicking simulator as the title implies. 5/10
Over The Hedge
It's sort of like Metal Gear with a furry main character, which is to say it's exactly like Metal Gear. 7/10
Blades Of Thunder 2
This game makes flying a helicopter so boring that I would be bored playing it in a helicopter filled with supermodels as the helicopter blows up Earth and zooms into space on a course for a planet made of ice cream and balloons and pure fun. 3/10
Given our society's obsession with stalking and ridiculing celebrities, it's tempting to seek a life of anonymity. But beware: not being famous has its own hidden costs.
Mass Effect: Andromeda turns its nose up at the original trilogy's rigid morality. It boasts a more nuanced and intellectually compelling shades-of-grey approach in which a heart icon pops up when it's time to tell an alien to take their clothes off.
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