Computer game pioneer John Carmack joins virtual reality startup

Doom and Quake creator turns his sights to enabling the Oculus Rift headmounted display for game use

Computer game pioneers John Carmack will explore the realm of virtual reality gaming with a new start up, Oculus Rift.

Computer game pioneers John Carmack will explore the realm of virtual reality gaming with a new start up, Oculus Rift.

Renown computer game developer John Carmack has joined Oculus VR, a startup developing a virtual reality gaming headset called the Oculus Rift.

Carmack, famous for masterminding games such as Doom and Quake, will serve as the chief technical officer for the company.

"I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer. The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today," said Carmack, in a statement. "There is a lot more work to do, and there are problems we don't even know about that will need to be solved, but I am eager to work on them."

Carmack co-founded gaming company id Software in 1991, where he served as technical director. Id's personal computer games -- most notably Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake series -- pushed the technical boundaries for what could be done with three dimensional graphics. The company opened sourced its games and its gaming engine became widely used across the industry.

Oculus VR is hopeful that the Oculus Rift head-mounted VR display will finally crack open the wearable VR market, which has been thus far proved elusive for gaming console makers.

In 2012 Oculus VR raised US$2.4 million on KickStarter to fund development of the unit, which it had demonstrated at the E3 gaming show that year to much acclaim. The company has not yet announced a ship date yet, though it has shipped SDKs (software development kits).

Oculus plans to keep the cost of the headset as low as possible, within the range of about $300. The Oculus Rift will initially connect to PC, with support for gaming consoles to follow. It will use DVI or HDMI connectors. Although the Oculus is intended for immersive computing gaming, the company has hinted that further work may make it suitable for displaying other three-dimensional immersive environments as well, such as 3D Web browsing

In addition to serving as CTO for Oculus, Carmack will continue to work at id Software, as well as at Armadillo Aerospace, a startup, now in hibernation, with the aim of producing Earth-orbiting spacecraft for tourism.

Based in Irvine, California, Oculus will open an office in Dallas and plans to hire additional developers for that location.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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