Carmack: “There are a lot of things that bother me about virtual reality”

Carmack: "There are a lot of things that bother me about virtual reality"
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"That's not really what I meant here," Carmack made last year's promise to attend this year's Meta Connect conference in the metaverse.
To enlarge / “Here, it wasn’t really what I had in mind,” Carmack said of last year’s promise to attend this year’s Meta Connect conference in the metaverse.


Last year, former Oculus CTO (and current company advisor) John Carmack threw down the gauntlet For Meta’s near-term metaverse plans. At the Meta Connect conference in 2022, Carmack said last October that he hopes to have the headset “walking around” [virtual] to walk in halls or on stage as my avatar, to be informed by thousands of people on many platforms”.

Carmack’s vision didn’t come to fruition on Tuesday night, as a stiff and awkward Carmack avatar gave one of his signature, hour-long unscripted talks in an empty VR space. Plain old 2D video on Facebook.

“I said last year that I would be disappointed if I didn’t have Connect at Horizon this year,” Carmack said by way of introduction. “Here, that’s not really what I meant. It’s the same as me being an avatar on the screen in a video for you. [just] being videotaped.”

That set the tone for a presentation in which Carmack said “there’s a bunch I’m pissed off about” about the current state of Meta’s current VR hardware and software. While that angst has calmed somewhat with talk of recent advancements and hope for the future of virtual reality, Carmack generally seemed disappointed with the direction Meta’s VR efforts are taking.

Putting quantity over quality

Take Horizon Worlds, for example, Meta’s first product for socializing in an enterprise version. metaverse. On the one hand, Carmack said, watching Mark Zuckerberg’s Connect presentation Tuesday with a few dozen people in the Horizon room offered “some real benefits” over watching the same presentation on a laptop screen amid his cluttered desk.

On the other hand, it’s a far cry from his vision of “thousands of avatars… at least hundreds of large rooms… in a completely unified shared world… arena-wide support.” Carmack said that “anyone who wants to stay later and talk as much as they want wants to participate in a virtual space with a live audience.”

“Last year I said I’d be disappointed if Horizon didn’t have Connect this year… Here, that’s not really what I meant.”

John Carmack, former CTO of Oculus

If you could achieve such a virtual conference space, “You could give people free headsets and still come out ahead,” Carmack said. Such a widely shared world is a difficult technical challenge, Carmack said, and while Horizon “definitely can’t handle it right now … it’s not insurmountable.” [challenge].”

Carmack also addressed some public mockery of avatar quality earlier this year. A low-detail Mark Zuckerberg avatar that went viral in August After Meta shared it online. This reaction caused “a lot of people inside [to be] paranoid about displaying anything but high-quality avatars.”

The public mockery of this Mark Zuckerberg avatar means that "Many people are now paranoid about displaying anything but the highest quality avatars internally
To enlarge / This public mockery of Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar means that “a lot of people are now internally paranoid about showing anything but the highest quality avatars,” Carmack said.

But Carmack expressed some serious doubts about the avatar’s loyalty in this push. He expressed that the Meta prefers spaces filled with such avatars. almost photorealistic “codec avatars” which eats up a lot of processor power to allow for crowded virtual rooms. “We have limited resources here in our headsets, and cloud rendering won’t save us in many cases,” Carmack said. “I tend to optimize for quantity rather than necessarily quality.”

While Carmack expressed satisfaction with the current state of Meta’s avatars, he noted that his Connect presentation took place on a “Horizon custom build” designed to ensure that the level of detail in his avatar never drops. It also turned off the much-hyped face-tracking features on the Quest Pro headset, because in the current state of the software there is “at least a decent chance of doing something that looks very embarrassing” in very public settings.

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