I finally watched Carmack's presentation at QuakeCon. He mostly discussed the fun of hacking on new and differnet platforms, how parallelization is inevitable but is also an extreme engineering chore, and open sourcing older engines.
He brought up an interesting point - he mentioned he was suprised that no one has yet launched a commercial game based on one of his GPL'ed engines. At first I thought how... unique it was for him to want someone to capitalize on something he dedicated his life to then gave away for free. Then I started to wonder why that was. True, everyone took the sourced engines and ported it to every platform under the sun. That's nifty. But it is somewhat surprising that no one has launched a commercial game on an engine that's not only free but definitely tried-and-true in the marketplace.
In the latest GDC Radio podcast about marketing departments versus developers, they mention how modding or using an existing engine to prove a game concept is usually a quick way to demo something and prove a game function. Carmack also talks about that, mentioning how the mod community is very important and can realize all sorts of gameplay without the huge R&D. However, he also mentions that mods are (or at least their total conversion counterparts) are becoming increasingly rare, probably because the emphasis has now shifted to content creation, and without a team of artists it takes exceptionally long to generate good looking content.
It's interesting to sit back and watch the trials of the CrystalSpace community and how it mirrors... or at least proves... the difficulties in independant game development. They recently had their first international developer conference, and it was interesting the topics that were discussed. It seems like only in the past year has the emphasis really been content creation and building working demos. The engine is absolutely fantastic, but now it's the sweat and tears of taking a title the rest of the way. Take a look at the projects page for CrystalSpace and compare that to the number of titles actually completed (or at least still actively maintained). It's tough to get off the ground.
All this talk of the original mod community and Doom made me a bit nostalgic for my roots. For the hell of it I fired up my good ol' Doom installer... and took it for a run.
Seeing that ol' DOS installer brought back a rush of old memories... if I closed my eyes I could hear the hum of my Acer 486/66.