John Carmack Calls Xbox Kinect "Zero button mouse with a lot of latency on it" In QuakeCon Keynote

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News Posted: Fri, Aug 2 2013 1:30 AM
John Carmack's annual Quakecon keynote is one of the most interesting events of the entire year. The man is incredibly intelligent and understands programming and development to a degree that very few people can match. id may have struggled to replicate the gameplay successes of its early years, but Carmack's understanding and perspective on the technical issues surrounding gaming is second to none.

This year, he kicked off by discussing the upcoming consoles, their hardware capabilities (very similar) and the long-term impact on AMD. Carmack believes that having everyone standardized on the same architecture with very few differences will make it much easier for developers to build better products and probably yield small dividends for AMD relative to Intel. Long term, however, these boosts aren't going to close the gap between Sunnyvale and Santa Clara -- better CPU architectures are a much if AMD wants to do that. It's worth noting that Carmack didn't clarify if he was referring strictly to a Kabini - Bay Trail match-up, or if he saw the benefits helping Piledriver / Kaveri against equivalent Intel architectures. Presumably the former, as the Bulldozer and Bobcat architectures are extremely different from each other.

Carmack didn't speak much about the PS4 directly, save to note that Sony had its act together from Day 1, and came out the gate with much stronger tools and capabilities than it had offered in the previous generation. Microsoft, he thought, had been about the same on this front (which isn't a bad thing), but much of the Xbone conversation has focused on DRM, used games, and digital distribution -- topics he thought were secondary to the actual console and its capabilities.



Then he dropped this bomb. Remarking on how he used to criticize Apple for its one button mouse, Carmack said: "Kinect is like a zero-button mouse with a lot of latency on it."

It's not that Carmack thinks Kinect is intrinsically bad, but that the second generation of the technology has all the limitations of the first. Buttons in gaming are useful -- Kinect has none. Camera pickup needs to be near-instantaneous to allow for smooth tracking, and Kinect's isn't. Long term, the technology may evolve, but for now, the second generation apparently isn't going to blow anyone away. And honestly? That's not surprising.

For the first year of its life, Kinect focused on motion control. Thereafter, it became a platform for things like voice control and browser integration. Most of what Microsoft has talked about since then has focused on these additive capabilities rather than pushing motion controls for anything but motion-specific games.

In a move that's sure to make fanboys of a particular console unhappy, the id developer claimed that the Xbox One and PS4 are nearly identical in hardware performance, with relatively small variations. That might explain why MS has spent so much time and energy on Kinect, Skype, and Windows integration as focal points for the Xbox One's differentiation -- if Carmack is right, games alone simply won't be the linchpin for why one console is a better buy than the other.
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zybch replied on Fri, Aug 2 2013 2:32 AM

Why does anyone care what this guy says anymore? After that miserable failure of Rage and its megatexture popping issues its pretty obvious that he shouldn't be given the kind of adoration and credit that he still attracts.

He once did some nice texture mapping stuff, but since those days he has just coasted along making engine after engine that have badly performed and been badly received.

Yes, the XboxOne and PS4 are remarkably similar, just like ALL of his game engines.

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Well.

For Microsoft's sake.. Let's hope Mr.Carmack's claim is similar to that of his claim for Daikatana.. The one where he will make you his bitch...

(Yes..Daikatana was horrid. and no.. I'm still nobody's bitch. :/ )

Still don't know why everyone cried about Rage's texture engine...

The game played flawlessly for me on a Phenom II 955BE/Radeon 6870 1gb/8GB Ram system.. Just didn't care for the story behind the game..

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basroil replied on Fri, Aug 2 2013 8:19 AM

Having used the kinectSDK with a gen1 kinect, I have to say that most of his points are simply due to shitty ass programming on his part. Skeleton tracking and even scene reconstruction can be done on an intel hd4000 without issue, and as soon as you throw some faster processors at it's practically port speed limited (so 30fps). I can understand limited CPU power on the 360 holding it back then, but the xbox one should be able to do upper body skeleton tracking in cpu without lag. Sure he was on the team that made the speed boosting fast inverse square root trick famous, but he was also on the team that did so when Intel already solved the problem by adding a function to SSE that was more accurate and far faster!

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Joel H replied on Fri, Aug 2 2013 11:18 AM

The megatexture popping issues were a Radeon driver issue and an early Rage flaw, both patched quickly.

Also, Basroil, claiming that Carmack is a shitty-ass programmer is really, really funny.

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First of all that was John Romero not john carmack. Two completely different people -_-. Carmack is a genius and Romero is a pompous idiot.

Carmack was right with a lot of things he said in the past. He is very intelligent and should not be ignored. Because one engine and one game failed everyone should ignore him now? He is the reason the genre exist and we have such beautiful graphics.

But of course kids today it's one "failure" and it sucks and burn ahhhh.

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