John Carmack issues some words of warning for Meta and his metaverse plans

John Carmack, seen here with a prototype Oculus Rift goggle.

John Carmack, seen here with a prototype Oculus Rift goggle.

Oculus Consulting CTO John Carmack has been optimistic about the “metaverse” idea for a long time, as it will be. among the first to point out. But the id Software co-founder spent a good chunk of its extensive presentation of Connect Thursday sounds pretty skeptical of the recently renamed Meta (formerly Facebook) plans to build that metaverse.

“I really care about [the metaverse]”And I believe in the vision,” Carmack said, before quickly adding, “I’ve been quite actively arguing against every single metaverse effort that we’ve tried to develop internally at the company, even since pre-acquisition times.” . that apparent contradiction is somewhat ironic, as Carmack puts it: “I have very good reason to believe that undertaking metaverse construction is not actually the best way to end the metaverse.”

Today Carmack said, “The most obvious path to the metaverse is that you have a single universal application, something like RobloxThat being said, Carmack added, “I doubt a single app will ever get to that level of taking over.” That’s because a single bad decision by the creators of that walled garden metaverse can cut off too many possibilities for users and creators. “I just don’t think a player, a company, ends up making all the right decisions for this,” he said.

Roblox it could become a metaverse, says Carmack, but control of a single entity makes such a thing unlikely. “><em>Roblox</em> it could become a metaverse, says Carmack, but control by a single entity makes such a thing unlikely.  “src =”×360.jpg “width =” 640 “height =” 360 “srcset =” https: //cdn.arstechnica .net / wp-content / uploads / 2021/10 / roblox2-1280×720.jpg 2x”/></a><figcaption class=
Enlarge / Roblox it could become a metaverse, says Carmack, but control by a single entity makes such a thing unlikely.

The metaverse idea, Carmack says, may be “a honey trap for ‘architectural astronauts.’ Those are the programmers and designers who “just want to look at things from the highest levels,” he said, while skipping the “nuts and bolts” of how these things actually work.

These so-called architectural astronauts, Carmack said, “want to talk in very abstract terms about how we will have generic objects that can contain other objects that can have references to these and rights to that, and we can pass control from one to the other. . ” That kind of high-level hand waving makes Carmack “just want to break [his] hair … because that’s not what really matters when you’re building something. “

“But here we are,” Carmack continued. “Mark Zuckerberg has decided that now is the time to build the metaverse, so
Huge wheels are turning and resources are flowing and the effort will definitely be made. “

Build products, not architecture

Carmack used his own experience creating Condemn as an example of the value of concrete product-based thinking. Rather than just writing abstract game engines, he wrote games in which “some of the technology … turned out to be reusable enough to apply to other things,” he said. “But it was always driven by the technology itself, and the technology was what enabled the product and then almost accidentally enabled some other things after it.”

On the other hand, building a pure infrastructure and focusing on “preparing for the future and planning broad generalizations of things” runs the risk of “making it more difficult to do the things you are trying to do today on behalf of the things you are trying to do today. hopes to do “. do tomorrow, and [then] it’s not really there or it doesn’t work well when you want to do that, “he said.

To that end, Carmack spoke with some approval of specific Meta products such as Worlds horizons and Horizon work rooms, which can be clearly judged based on the value they bring to users. Interacting with other avatars in Workrooms, in particular, can be much more enjoyable than staring at a wall of Zoom faces, Carmack said. “You have to use things to get value out of it,” he said. Making Workrooms really work also required detailed technical troubleshooting to help with unexpected audio processing and latency issues – solutions that can now be applied to many other metaverse products, he added.

Replicating a show like next year's Facebook Connect in the metaverse would be a great proof of concept, Carmack said.
Enlarge / Replicating a show like next year’s Facebook Connect in the metaverse would be a great proof of concept, Carmack said.

But while Carmack identified some “good things” about the possible co-presence of virtual reality in Horizon Worlds, he noted that it is “a long way from the metaverse you know of our visions.” While chatting with 16 people in a Worlds room is enjoyable, he said, it is a far cry from a real-world conference that could have “thousands of people hanging around” and wandering through sessions and conversations on a whim. Fully creating that kind of in-person conferencing experience, without the need to travel long distances, is “what we’ve always been promoting is the value of virtual reality,” he said.

With that vision in mind, Carmack said he’s “putting on a glove” that “we should be doing [Facebook Connect] in the metaverse “for next year’s show.” I will be really disappointed if I am sitting here next year in front of video equipment and a camera in physical reality doing this talk, “he said. Down the corridors or walking the stage as my avatar in front of thousands of people, transmitting the information. across multiple platforms. “

Focusing on the mission of moving Connect into the metaverse, Carmack said, is a concrete goal that “will ensure that we are doing something that is valuable at least to us, and then most likely it will be valuable to many other places.” . “

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