The Carmack doctrine explained: Why Total Rendition is only done when it’s done

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Now, to be honest, I don’t agree with John Carmack in respect to his statement that stories in games are like stories in porn. For some video games, stories can be as important as stories are in movies and even stage plays.

However, one thing Carmack said I strongly agree with: A game is only “done when it’s done.” This truism, which I refer to as the Carmack doctrine, is arguably highly pertinent to game development in general. Total Rendition is not done yet, as it has yet to be completed. Committing to a hard release date is bound to lead to catastrophe. Just look at Cyberpunk 2077.

There is another reason why the done-when-its-done strategy is best in this case. It can take a while before a team of an appropriate size and skill set can be mobilised. This is because doing so requires massive outside funding which has yet to be acquired. Game development is more than the skills which go directly into the construction of games. Professionals focus on logistics after all.

The idea that completing Total Rendition may take yet a further amount of years is not that far-fetched. The logistics process, which includes convincing tech bro VCs that narrative-driven games are worth investing in, in a publishing landscape characterised by the success of free-to-play multiplayer titles such as Fortnite, may take considerably longer than development itself. So brace yourself for a long journey and thank you for reading!

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