Life after “Master of Doom”

The author of the great book “Master of Doom”, David Kushner, about the life and career of John Romero and John Carmack from the late seventies to the beginning of the 2000s, has posted a new article about these two legendary developers, and their life after the era of the book, until now.

From the ashes of Ion Storm to the recent campaign of Romero on kickstarter for BLACKROOM, and the departure of Carmack from id Sofware to become the CTO of Oculus and create new VR headsets, you can discover how they managed to continue their career after creating some of the most important games in the industry.

John Romero and Adrian Carmack launch a kickstarter campaign… and cancel it!

John Romero and Adrian Carmack have revealed last monday the name of the project they were working on: BLACKROOM.

They’ve started last Monday a kickstarter campaign based on the concept of a fast multiplayer first-person shooter game taking place in a holographic world, using the Unreal Engine 4. But without any live gameplay demo to show that concept in action, their campaign was quite ill-fated, as they were asking for 700.000 dollars – which is quite realistic for the development of a game during several months in a small team, but a very high amount when you have only some ideas and concepts. But as they received only more than 100k after some days, and the trend was not very good, they decided to stop the campaign and work on a demo of the game before restarting it. Good luck to them!

John Romero and Adrian Carmack tease a new FPS, John Carmack honoured

John Romero and Adrian Carmack are back together in order to create a new first-person shooter game! They had already worked together at id Sofware on games like Doom, Quake and obviously Wolfenstein 3-D, and have always kept in touch since. But Adrian left id in 2005, and sued the company in court afterwards for some forced stakes sales. He retired from the video game industry, and became the manager of an hotel in Ireland.

And in 2015, John Romero moved to Ireland in order to found his new company – Night Work Games – with his wife Brenda Romero and apparently Adrian, and create a new FPS – his first one since Quake in 1996, before he left id Software, and Daïkatana in 2000. John and Adrian have just posted a video teasing this new game – which will be officially announced next Monday!

 

John Carmack won’t be part of the project. He’s still working as the CTO of Oculus on their virtual-reality headsets, and received recently a BAFTA Fellowship award for his “outstanding and exceptional contribution to video games”. Here’s his brilliant acceptance speech (transcript here):

25 years of id Software!

John Romero has celebrated Monday on his facebook page the 25th anniversary of the founding of id Software.

HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY id Software! It’s incredible to think that the little 4-person company we founded has grown into a 100+ person studio, and even more amazing that the studio is still working on our 22-year old franchise – still bringing the high-tech and fast action we started with. Thank you, everyone at id, for carrying the torch.

To celebrate, let’s all listen to one of the most prolific and talented metal guitarists in history, Buckethead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFrMdQMIqBs

Some of his colleague from that era also added some comments to his post, like Tom Hall:

What a long, strange, awesome trip it’s been. 🙂

And Scott Miller, from their publisher Apogee, who argued about the exact founding date of the studio:

My paperwork in my files shows that I made an agreement with Id in 1990, which would be 26 years ago!

… with John Romero answering:

We’re going by the official DAY 1, full-time, all-day, id Software. Not the sneaking-around, clandestine, Keen-making, IFD-turned-id that we remember. See, this first letter even says so… (picture from the letter)

… and Scott:

True, but Commander Keen was released in Dec 1990, as an “Id Software” game. So that would seem to make it official. But, there are numerous ways to pick the official date, like the actual date the company was legally filed.

If you want to learn more about this epic era, you can read the page explaining the story of the studio on this site, or read the book “Master of Doom”.

Here is a gallery of pictures of that period:

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Note that this happens two weeks after John released his first map for the original Doom game after 21 years – as an warmup for his new FPS to come!

John Carmack becomes rebellious!

John Carmack has posted a funny twitter post today with a picture of him wearing a Wolfenstein: The New Order t-shirt, and saying “Many years ago, I was told by lawyers that I could be arrested in Germany due to Wolf 3D. Better now, right? 🙂 #IFA

Note that he’s currently promoting the latest work of Oculus VR – of which he’s the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) – on the upcoming Samsung Gear VR in the IFA show in Berlin, in Germany!

Raycasting explained – The technique behind the Wolf3D engine

If you’ve always wanted to know how the 3D engine of Wolfenstein 3-D was working, this new tutorial from Lode Vandevenne will be the answer. It explains in details how to create an engine based on the old technique of Raycasting (not to get mixed up with “Raytracing”, which is an advanced modern technique for 3D rendering), which is the base of the 3D engines from the beginning of the 90s, Wolfenstein 3D included.

Based on the position of the player in the horizontal plane, and a map built from a grid either filled with a square wall, or nothing, you’ll be able to rebuild such an engine, and feel like John Carmack for a moment!

 

John Carmack joins facebook!

To be more precise: his employer Occulus VR has been bought by facebook for around 2 billion dollars. It means that the giant social network is very interested in the virtual reality technologies, which have a very bright future. It will also bring a lot of cash to the company, which will be able to expand without any problem. Nevertheless, nobody knows what will be the future of this company…

Interview of John Carmack about id Software and Occulus VR

John Carmack was recently interviewed by USA Today website about his new job at Occulus VR (where he’s the Chief Technical Officer on the virtual reality headset, the Occulus Rift), but also on the reasons why he left id Software:

When Carmack joined Occulus VR, he thought he could continue to work for id and integrate the virtual reality technologies into the two next projects of the studio: Wolfenstein: The New Order and Doom 4. However, the publisher and owner of id, ZeniMax, declined the proposal. “It would have been a huge win,” says Carmack. “It seemed like a sensible plan for me.”

If they agreed, Carmack would have continued to work for id. “I would have been content probably staying there working with the people and technology that I know and the work we were doing,” he says. “But they couldn’t come together on that which made me really sad. It was just unfortunate,” Carmack says. “When it became clear that I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id software, I decided to not renew my contract.”

Carmack works for Occulus VR from his home in Dallas, and not in Irvine, California, where the company has its offices. They collaboration started in a web forum, where he discussed with the Occulus VR founder, Palmer Luckey, who sent him a prototype of the Occulus Rift. Once he received it, Carmack did some improvements on the movement tracking system and the image quality, and showed the headset working with Doom 3 at the E3 expo in 2012.

Since this sad episode, Carmack is working full time on the Occulus Rift, and has a lot of fun on it: “While Oculus is still kind of scary fast in terms of all the people coming on there is still the sense that a handful of us are going to crunch really hard and get something done by next Thursday.”

Here is an interview he did last October for Engadget about Occulus VR:

Interview of John Romero

The English website Games TM recently interviewed John Romero in order to remember his career, and his work at id Software. They talk about many things including Wolfenstein 3-D:

We were all brainstorming one day for the next game to make, and I said ‘Why don’t we just redo Castle Wolfenstein in 3D?’ Me, Carmack and Tom Hall were all major Castle Wolfenstein freaks, so that was it. We were going ‘Can you imagine killing Nazis in 3D? There’s no game like that!’ One thing people don’t really know is that the game ran at 70fps because the video controllers of the time ran at 70fps, unlike today, where they’re mostly working at 60. So all of the technology behind it was built in four months, from January to April 1992, it was released on 5 May 1992 and the response was just massive. Like, Commander Keen’s sales were a joke compared to Wolfenstein. That first month we sold 4,000 copies and were doing phone interviews, and the local news came over and videoed the team. We really knew we were onto something – this 3D, violent thing is huge! [laughs]

They also discuss about his departure from id, and his difficult relationship with John Carmack soon before…

In 1995, when I wasn’t working directly on Quake, and John was working really hard on it, I was busy with all the other stuff in the company. Heretic had just come out, and I was dealing with that, as well as the development of Hexen with Raven. There was also the re-release of Doom to retail, the amount of things going on was huge, and I was the only one doing these things, and I think John didn’t feel like I put enough into Quake. I was building the level editor with John so that all of the level designers could build levels, and I kind of waited until the engine was ready to make the game. It took about a year to get to that point, and so I think that he was mad because I wasn’t on the game like he was on the game. I think that upset him, and it could have gotten fixed if we had reorganised the company into an engine development team and a game development team. If we could have carried on making games in the Doom engine and then when the Quake engine was ready switched over to that, that would have been an optimal strategy for the company, but we did not really analyse the problem back then. All we really knew was how to work on the game together. Looking back, I believe that was a mistake.

A sad view of what could have become id with a better internal organization…

John Carmack leaves id Software

After being hired by Oculus VR to work on their virtual reality headset – the Oculus Rift -, John Carmack has decided to definitely leave id Software, after 20 years spent to create some of the most advanced 3D engines for the company he created in 1990. From the original creators of Wolf3D, only Kevin Cloud still works for id.

John Carmack, who has become interested in focusing on things other than game development at id, has resigned from the studio,” id’s studio director Tim Willits told IGN. “John’s work on id Tech 5 and the technology for the current development work at id is complete, and his departure will not affect any current projects. We are fortunate to have a brilliant group of programmers at id who worked with John and will carry on id’s tradition of making great games with cutting-edge technology. As colleagues of John for many years, we wish him well.

Carmack also reacted on his twitter account: “I wanted to remain a technical adviser for Id, but it just didn’t work out. Probably for the best, as the divided focus was challenging.” He also added: “If they don’t want me to talk on stage at Quakecon next year, we’ll just have to fill up the lobby like the old days. 🙂

More info about John Carmack in the encyclopedia