A book you should read: Masters of Doom by David Kushner

Posted by | September 27, 2010

Masters_of_doom-Book_cover John D. Carmack and John Romero—the two Johns who changed the landscape of videogames forever. Between id Software and Ion Storm we’ve seen much of the best early innovation of the FPS genre from the minds of great workers. And here’s the book to read about the evolution of our beloved gameplay.

We haven’t had much time to digest the pages, so we’ll defer to the Wikipedia entry to entertain and delight,

Much of the book concentrates on this dynamic. While the two men initially very much complement each other, eventually they come into conflict, leading Romero to be fired from the company. Carmack, the skilled creator of the complicated and fast game engines the company’s products use, is repeatedly referred to as the only person in the company who isn’t expendable, and this gives him a great degree of authority and influence – but that influence transforms id Software into a considerably less pleasant and fun place to work and causes the company’s games to become increasingly repetitive, despite their technological sophistication. Romero is on the opposite end of the spectrum; his Ion Storm is intended to be a very fun place to work, where "[game] design is law" and the technology must be created to realize the designer’s vision, instead of the other way around. However, his lack of management and organizational focus leads to poor and financially disastrous results.

So far it’s garnering only 4-5 stars on Amazon. And we’ll vouch that it’s an amazing look into the early rise of video games and how they changed our culture for the better. This especially from a blogger who writes almost exclusively about video games. We have a lot riding on these sorts of products.

You don’t need to know much about the industry, computers, or even video games in general—but it certainly helps a great deal—because the narrative structure of the documentary book follows the two Johns though their careers, and outlines the drama between them, and even limns both their mighty talent as well as their eventual fatal flaws.

We salute our heroes past adventures and great triumphs and we will mourn their failures.

But one thing is still certain, we need flair and passion like this to continue into the broad strange future in front of us.

Link, via Amazon.com.


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