updated 05:00 pm EDT, Thu August 12, 2010
id Software says iPhone better than Xbox and PS2
(Update: new video) id Software co-founder John Carmack upturned the game industry at the QuakeCon expo today with word his company had ported the Rage engine to the iPhone. The graphics keep many of the features of the full engine for modern consoles, including non-repeating Megatextures and advanced lighting, but still runs at 60 frames per second on an iPhone 4. It still runs properly on an older iPhone and, due to the mix of hardware and software, could "kill anything done on the Xbox or PlayStation 2," he said to Kotaku and others at the Texas gathering.
The well-known programmer explained that, in some ways, an iPhone was at least on par with the earlier full-sized consoles. An iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM, a 1GHz processor and relatively quick accelerated graphics. The touchscreen added its own element. While it lost the tactile feedback of buttons, it added a visceral quality of interacting directly with what's in view. The iPad is "incredibly cool" for this through the larger screen, Carmack said.
He added that it "wasn't far off" even from the current generation of consoles.
id plans to release two games for the iPhone based on Rage. One is due before the end of the year for $10 and would be more of a showcase game. A second, fuller game should arrive in 2011 as a complement to the Mac, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.
The statements highlight both Apple's evolution as a game platform creator and the problems for Nintendo and Sony. The DSi, PSP and upcoming 3DS all either lack the processing performance or the visual effects support to handle visuals on the level of Rage and have created a rare market disadvantage for both. While the lack of strong Internet features and higher game prices may have also been factors, poor performance may also be leading some to switch to the iPhone or iPod touch for gaming as it's now home to more advanced titles.
DS and PSP sales have fallen rapidly in the past year, in part because their base designs have been unchanged for the past six years and have seen relatively few blockbuster titles. Apple has yet to have a system seller but may get support from Rage and other high-profile titles that would previously have gone directly to Nintendo or Sony systems. [video via 1UP]