Here's the good news: John Carmack is already planning the next installment of Orcs & Elves, his first mobile-exclusive game franchise that we talked about in Part One of our E3 interview.
Carmack worked on the game with developer Fountainhead Entertainment, whose CEO Katherine Anna Kang is John's wife.
"If you check out the whole layout of Orcs & Elves, you'll find little secrets and storylines that diverge in all sorts of ways," she reveals.
And that's not just for show, adds Carmack. "We're laying the background for a larger world, because we expect to do sequels and stuff for this, so there's a lot of depth going on," he says.
The obvious if cheeky question is to ask what plans they have for connectivity, as you'd assume a game like Orcs & Elves could make good use of a phone's always-on connection. When I ask, Carmack sits up and says, "We have a gameplan going forward on this–" before presumably getting kicked under the table simultaneously by Kang and EA Mobile CEO Mitch Lasky, as he concludes "–but it's secret!"
"There are certainly things we want to be looking at in terms of using the fact that the cellphone is fundamentally a connected device," Carmack continues. "But there are some fundamental technical issues with the way the networks are structured that means that in the next five years, you're not going to be playing twitch-action-response games multiplayer."
"The bandwidth is there, but the latency is really not, and that's unlikely to be changing," he says.
Some would disagree. For example, Swedish developer Synergenix's Lock'n'Load: Combat Evolved launched on 3 earlier this year, and is a real-time multiplayer first-person shooter – albeit one that Carmack would recognise more from his early days on the original Wolfenstein 3D than the more recent Dooms and Quakes. And in the US Gameloft has released a real-time multiplayer version of its Asphalt Urban GT racing game.
Admittedly these are still fairly isolated examples. But Carmack isn't going to wait five years to start doing cool connected stuff anyway.
"If you look at it as a fundamental constraint and don't just try and move over what you've got somewhere else, you can design around that if you're clever," he says. "There's some Jamdat titles where they've done some really clever things, building a different game design around that limitation. So there are ways to address it instead of just bitching and moaning."
Neither does Carmack take the opportunity to moan about the development of the first Orcs & Elves game, which by all accounts tested Carmack and Kang's 'elephant-into-mini' coding skills to the max.
"With Doom RPG, we started with the low-end phones and then spruced it up for the higher-end ones, which went really efficiently," says Carmack.
"On Orcs & Elves, we went backwards, starting on the high-end phones. So the game is wonderful, but we had a horrible time developing it and going down to the lower-end handsets!"
Of course, Carmack isn't a man with a history of backing down in the face of a challenge, and indeed it's great to see such a proven innovator working in the field of mobile games. We'll be watching his future moves with interest (and keeping our shotguns handy, just in case!)
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