During his keynote talk at Oculus Connect 2 today, John Carmack detailed the lengths he’d gone to make Minecraft an officially supported Gear VR and Oculus Rift game (start at about 3:40:00). The Doom co-creator, who now works at Oculus, explained that he was so convinced that Minecraft could be a vital VR experience, that he did everything he could to make it happen.
Carmack's "quest" for Minecraft VR started when Oculus invited Notch to visit in the early days of the company. Initially, he just wanted a deal that would enable Oculus to develop a prototype, and if it worked out, things could progress further. But when Facebook acquired Oculus, Notch was unhappy, and by the time he'd softened up Mojang was about to be sold to Microsoft. Those setbacks didn't stop Carmack: After the Microsoft acquisition, he asked Notch who to talk to at Mojang, and then started bugging them.
"I would just drive home this case about, ‘Look, we don’t want to ask anything from you, just let us try, let me try to build this and if you think it’s cool we’ll figure out what we want to do from there," says Carmack. He was so confident in the project that he signed a contract that Oculus' lawyers were not at all happy with.
“This is terrible, they own everything you do, we have no recourse, there’s no recourse any of this will happen," said Carmack, speaking from the lawyers' perspective. "John, you’re basically working for Microsoft when you’re working on this."
Carmack has since been working on VR support for Minecraft—which, by the way, applies to the Pocket and Windows 10 editions—but the deal was only confirmed this morning. Carmack said he got the email at 12:35 am, confirming they could announce the agreement during today's talks.
Carmack added that since beginning work on it, he's been "willing to do just about anything" to make the deal happen. "On the phone I said, 'If this doesn't happen I'm going to cry. This will just be so terrible, because this is amazing, this is going to be the best thing we can do for the platform.'"
"In the end, there are some problems compilers can't solve," he concluded, conceding that the job of negotiating was best left to the CEOs. But the deal did happen, and Carmack calls it his "grail."
"I think [Minecraft is] the single most important application that we can do for virtual reality, to make sure that we have an army of fanatic, passionate supporters that will advocate why VR is great," he said. "This is why you want to do some of it every single day. It's part of this infinite playability that we're currently lacking in our current set of titles. So this is a huge, huge win for me. Everybody that work on that at Oculus and Facebook, you all have my deepest thanks for making this happen."