Technology

Games pioneer John Carmack joins virtual reality headset firm

Oculus Rift headset
John Carmack will work with Oculus VR in Dallas

A firm developing a hotly-tipped virtual reality gaming headset has hired a gaming pioneer to be its chief technology officer.

John Carmack is famed for developing the first-person shooter genre, creating games such as Doom and Quake.

He will join Oculus VR to work on Oculus Rift, a goggle-like device which uses two small screens to "immerse" players into a game.

The company has not yet announced a release date for the headset.

However, developer kits have been sent out to companies keen to make use of the device within their titles.

The Oculus Rift, which has been made thanks in part to $2.4m (£1.5m) raised through crowd-funding site Kickstarter, requires the user to wear a black headset, the front of which contains two small screens, each displaying a slightly different perspective on the same scene.

The effect is one of being "in" the game - if the player moves his or her head around, the scene changes accordingly.

'Transformative technology'

Movement is still achieved by using a traditional controller, although other designers have experimented with creating treadmill-like add-ons for the device.

Early demo models of the headset used a single screen divided to produce two 640 by 800 pixel images - one for each eye - but it is likely that the version that gets released publicly will be in high-definition.

The developers say their kit has a much wider field of view than rival systems on the market

Mr Carmack said: "Now is a special time. I believe that VR will have a huge impact in the coming years, but everyone working today is a pioneer.

"The paradigms that everyone will take for granted in the future are being figured out today. I'm extremely excited to make a mark in what I truly believe will be a transformative technology."

Mr Carmack is best known for founding iD Software, the firm responsible for the likes of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake and others - all of which pushed boundaries in what remains one of the most popular gaming formats.

Mr Carmack said he will continue to work with iD, but that his main focus was now on Oculus VR.

He also runs a small aerospace company, however this has been put in "hibernation mode" following various setbacks including a crashed rocket.

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