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Doom god John Carmack teleports from id Software to VR upstart Oculus Rift

First thing on gaming headset biz's to-do list: Solve motion sickness problems

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Doom coder and notoriously clever graphics programmer John Carmack has left id Software to focus on a virtual reality gaming startup Oculus Rift.

The departure was announced on Friday and will see Carmack focus full time on his role as chief technology officer at Oculus Rift.

Carmack joined the company in August, but at the time said he would continue to advise id Software, where he had worked on some incredibly influential computer games, such as Doom and Quake, and their 3D graphics engines.

"I wanted to remain a technical adviser for Id, but it just didn't work out. Probably for the best, as the divided focus was challenging," he wrote on Twitter.

Though much of id's recent output, such as first-person shooter Rage, has been met with muted enthusiasm, Carmack's fingerprints have been all over numerous graphical enhancements made by the company, such as the use of whopping 128,000 by 128,000 pixel textures.

"John Carmack, who has become interested in focusing on things other than game development at id, has resigned from the studio," id Software's studio director Tim Willits, told us in a statement.

"John's work on id Tech 5 and the technology for the current development work at id is complete, and his departure will not affect any current projects. We are fortunate to have a brilliant group of programmers at id who worked with John and will carry on id’s tradition of making great games with cutting-edge technology. As colleagues of John for many years, we wish him well."

Carmack's enthusiasm for the nuts and bolts of advanced graphics programming is both what makes him an excellent fit for ambitious virtual reality gaming upstart Oculus Rift, and his departure a bitter pill for the fans who pack out his expansive yearly keynotes at QuakeCon.

"If they don't want me to talk on stage at Quakecon next year, we'll just have to fill up the lobby like the old days," he wrote in a later tweet.

Though chief technology officers traditionally don't write much code, we doubt that'll stop Carmack, who has a legendary love of fiddling with the guts of graphical engines. His skills are needed at Oculus, as well, as the motion-sensing headset has a few issues around motion sickness, and visual smearing when people move their heads too rapidly.

"We really want to get this right. If we don't get it right, many of you will be sick," Oculus VR chief Brendan Iribe told us earlier this year.

Carmack recently put his rocket company Armadillo Aerospace into "hibernation", so that combined with the id departure will let him focus on the VR goggles full-time, and hopefully create a product that puts the frighteners on a whole new generation of gamers. ®

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