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Monday, January 3, 2005

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Carmack Speaks on Quake 3 Source
7:52 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

John Carmack, famous mind behind id Software's titles like Doom 3 and Quake 3 has recently moved his thoughts to a new blog hosted by Armadillo Aerospace. In his first post, he speaks on some technical graphics tidbits, as well as the delay in his plan to release the source code to the Quake 3 engine.

As a bit of background, Carmack has routinely given back to the programming community by releasing the source to a game after the next iteration of technology has shipped. Both Quake 1 and 2 have followed this tradition, and though Doom 3 has now long been released for the PC, there will be a little transitionary period until Quake 3's code is available.

Here's Carmack's explanation of why:

I intended to release the Q3 source under the GPL by the end of 2004, but we had another large technology licensing deal go through, and it would be poor form to make the source public a few months after a company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for full rights to it. True, being public under the GPL isnít the same as having a royalty free license without the need to disclose the source, but Iím pretty sure there would be some hard feelings.

Previous source code releases were held up until the last commercial license of the technology shipped, but with the evolving nature of game engines today, it is a lot less clear. There are still bits of early Quake code in Half Life 2, and the remaining licensees of Q3 technology intend to continue their internal developments along similar lines, so there probably wonít be nearly as sharp a cutoff as before. I am still committed to making as much source public as I can, and I wonít wait until the titles from the latest deal have actually shipped, but it is still going to be a little while before I feel comfortable doing the release.

Given the extremely generous nature of id Software's gesture, it seems reasonable to let those paying for the engine to have first crack at getting their titles out. What's less clear is how future engines licenses might be affected, as IP rights could become more blurred. Stay tuned to IMG for the latest.

id Software
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