Carmack on Cell Phone Games

April 23, 2005

John Carmack (if you really don’t know who he is, think the genius behind Wolfenstien 3D, Doom and Quake Series’) has been playing a bit with writing games on cell phones. He has some interesting views on Java on the cell and the BREW platform.

I have never understood why Java on more recent cell phones runs so slowly given the hundreds of megahertz they all run at. I can understand the need for a more unified development model for mobile phone platforms, given it would be impossible to write commercial software in any language that gets compiled down to native code unless someone comes out with a cross compiler, however then it has to be updated for each new phone and this is really is a physical impossibility.

I have not previously looked into BREW at all given I am not really seriously interested in developing on mobile [phone] platforms, however if, as Carmack says, code in C/C++, I would be incredibly interested to see what kind of performance can be extracted from BREW platform.

For the last 18 months or so now I have been living in a strong typed managed code world, and given C# 2.0 is taking this even further with generics, It might be kind of refreshing to get back into programming in nice weakly typed C again. I couldn’t face developing in C on a Windows or Linux platform again for any kind of user-interactive software, but maybe mobile phone development under BREW might hit the sweet spot and allow me to scratch the itch.