Id co-founder John Carmack joins VR headset maker Oculus VR as CTO

Oculus Rift

VR headset maker Oculus VR on Wednesday announced that John Carmack, the co-founder of Id Software and a pioneer in 3D game development, has joined the company as Chief Technology Officer.

In a statement, Carmack compared working on Oculus VR's technology to his own groundbreaking work to develop the genre of first-person shooters.

I have fond memories of the development work that led to a lot of great things in modern gaming – the intensity of the first person experience, LAN and internet play, game mods, and so on. Duct taping a strap and hot gluing sensors onto Palmer’s early prototype Rift and writing the code to drive it ranks right up there.

Id Software told that Carmack will stay on at Id, where his leadership is "unaffected" by his new responsibilities at Oculus.

The Oculus Rift has made waves in the game industry since it was publicly unveiled in 2012. The device is a headset that displays 3D graphics. The creators raised more than $2 million in development money through a Kickstarter campaign, offering "Dev Kit" versions of the headset to people who kicked in $300 or more. Now Oculus VR plans to sell a consumer version of the headset beginning in 2014.

Carmack was an early adopter and advocate of the Oculus Rift technology; in May 2012 he unveiled a special version of his Doom 3 game running on a prototype version of the Oculus Rift headset.

We've been hearing about the promise of VR since Jaron Lanier rose to prominence in the 1980s, but to date, it's been mostly promises. Oculus Rift has caught the attention of the game development community like few devices before it, but it's still largely unproven. Do gamers want something as bulky as the Oculus Rift strapped to their head to begin with? A software development kit (SDK) is in development, and Carmack will be crucially important to flesh it out; but his presence immediately lends credibility to Oculus VR, which already has the attention of developers. The company also has to manage scaling production effectively enough to meet demand at a price consumers are willing to make.

So, Oculus Rift remains a question mark. But Carmack joining the Oculus VR is a big push in the right direction.

Are you looking forward to Oculus Rift? Do you already have one? What's the future of VR?

Peter Cohen