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Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

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Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously succ Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously successful game franchises in history—Doom and Quake— until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry—a powerful and compassionate account of what it's like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.

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Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously succ Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously successful game franchises in history—Doom and Quake— until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry—a powerful and compassionate account of what it's like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.

30 review for Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    A hell of a good read, especially if you grew up playing id games and/or have a background in computer programming. The story has all the elements of a great Greek tragedy: the unlikely rise to success of two heroes, and the tragic flaw in each of them that ruins it. I wonder how many stories there are like this throughout the history of the business: Romero and Carmack, Jobs and Wozniak, Zuckerberg and Saverin, etc. It seems like a pattern that repeats itself: two friends that together propel e A hell of a good read, especially if you grew up playing id games and/or have a background in computer programming. The story has all the elements of a great Greek tragedy: the unlikely rise to success of two heroes, and the tragic flaw in each of them that ruins it. I wonder how many stories there are like this throughout the history of the business: Romero and Carmack, Jobs and Wozniak, Zuckerberg and Saverin, etc. It seems like a pattern that repeats itself: two friends that together propel each other to greatness, but whose success inevitably drives them apart. I'm sure the author takes a certain amount of creative license in telling the story, but it feels well-researched and factually grounded. I'd guess the honest truth of what happened during those days is all but lost, because all the key players have rewritten it in their heads several times over. So it's all a matter of perspective at this point. The only complainant I have with the book is that the author doesn't really make much of an effort at a conclusion. One could say that's because the story is still being told, but he could have tried to tie everything together by spending a final chapter looking back at where they started, or making closing observations on the character of each man. It's not an enormous flaw in the book, but it does leave the reader without a real sense of closure. Thankfully we have Wikipedia to use as a constantly updated epilogue.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: This book is what I wish Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation would have been. As a huge fan of id games growing up, and a software developer this book really worked for me, but will probably be too slow for many people. Audio book: I was doubly excited to do this book when I saw that Wil Wheaton was the narrator. He's a perfect fit for this book. He also does more accents and voices than I'm used to. Overall an excellent job. Full Review Doom Executive Summary: This book is what I wish Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation would have been. As a huge fan of id games growing up, and a software developer this book really worked for me, but will probably be too slow for many people. Audio book: I was doubly excited to do this book when I saw that Wil Wheaton was the narrator. He's a perfect fit for this book. He also does more accents and voices than I'm used to. Overall an excellent job. Full Review Doom along with a few other games defined my childhood and shaped my future in a way than the Nintendo games I played before them never quite did. PC games made me fall in love with the computer. It made me look at them as more than just game machines. I wanted to know how they work. I wanted to master them. John Carmack was one of my heroes. I wanted to make PC games for a living. As with most childhood dreams, they rarely work out as planned. I did go on to be a software developer, just not for games. I am one of those Application developers the two Johns both loathed to be relegated to. I decided I'd rather play games than spend long hours making them. I'm grateful that they never gave up on the idea however. I loved that this book not only got into the guys who made some of my favorite and inspiration games, but also quite a bit about the software process itself. No he didn't get super technical and talk about algorithms (much), but he did give insight to time, and skills and some of the big leaps John Carmack made along the way to cement his and Romero's names in history. I will say that the software process stuff that I loved may have a negative effect on the casual gamer or even the more hardcore Doom/id fans that don't always have an interest in "how the sausage is made". I think Mr. Kusher does an excellent job of balancing facts and dialogue in a way that you feel you're along for the ride without feeling like he's just making up conversations to fill pages which was my main issue with Console Wars. Overall I though this book was quite excellent, but it won't be for everyone.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ignacio

    Dos protagonistas, unas personalidades y habilidades complementarias, un pequeño grupo a su alrededor, los duros inicios, el éxito juego a juego, las tensiones crecientes, los roces, la explosión... Ya porque fuera fácil o porque consigue hacerlo fácil, el relato de Kushner sobre cómo unos don nadies dieron la vuelta a la industria de los videojuegos e impulsaron un fenómeno social cotidiano hoy en día resulta modélico, tanto en la estructura como en el retrato de las personas y el discurso de s Dos protagonistas, unas personalidades y habilidades complementarias, un pequeño grupo a su alrededor, los duros inicios, el éxito juego a juego, las tensiones crecientes, los roces, la explosión... Ya porque fuera fácil o porque consigue hacerlo fácil, el relato de Kushner sobre cómo unos don nadies dieron la vuelta a la industria de los videojuegos e impulsaron un fenómeno social cotidiano hoy en día resulta modélico, tanto en la estructura como en el retrato de las personas y el discurso de su exposición. Nadie que esté mínimamente interesado en los entresijos de la creación de videojuegos debiera perderse este auge y caída de dos enfants terribles en el que apenas echo en falta algo de material gráfico de acompañamiento.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    The true story of John Carmack and John Romero and how they created Id software and became the most prolific computer game designers in the 1990s. The story describes how two misfit geeks were able to follow their passion of games and through hard work were able to make impressive advances in game technology and get rich at it as well. It also shows the ravages of arrogance on business and how letting ego come into play can destroy friendships and companies. The story uses an extended metaphor for The true story of John Carmack and John Romero and how they created Id software and became the most prolific computer game designers in the 1990s. The story describes how two misfit geeks were able to follow their passion of games and through hard work were able to make impressive advances in game technology and get rich at it as well. It also shows the ravages of arrogance on business and how letting ego come into play can destroy friendships and companies. The story uses an extended metaphor for the company with a dungeons and dragons campaign that the main characters were playing. This book is very interesting. The writing style is journalistic and simple. This works, because the book is a quick read. The story is great, and the author does an excellent job of giving a human element to the story by describing the lives of the most important Id programmers and designers. I read this book because I was a big fan of Id software and the games that it produced. Also, I had just started a job in the computer industry and I still had some sort of romantic notions of what it would be like.

  5. 5 out of 5

    April

    First off, Wil Wheaton, one of the nerd gods narrates Masters Of Doom by David Kushner, so I just had to have it and listen to it. I also figured that Masters Of Doom would be a welcome change of pace – as it’s non-fiction about video gaming. I went in hoping for something a bit similar in tone and geekery as Ready Player One, which actually was kind of a false expectation, yet in all honesty that is exactly why I put this audiobook on my Audible app. Also, I totally used to have Doom but was aw First off, Wil Wheaton, one of the nerd gods narrates Masters Of Doom by David Kushner, so I just had to have it and listen to it. I also figured that Masters Of Doom would be a welcome change of pace – as it’s non-fiction about video gaming. I went in hoping for something a bit similar in tone and geekery as Ready Player One, which actually was kind of a false expectation, yet in all honesty that is exactly why I put this audiobook on my Audible app. Also, I totally used to have Doom but was awful at it, so I like reading books about people who excel in gaming. Read the rest of my review here

  6. 4 out of 5

    Malapata

    Los 90 son probablemente la época de mi vida en que más he jugado a videojuegos, básicamente en el PC. Así que este libro ha supuesto un disfrute por partida doble: por un lado la historia de este grupo de programadores, jugones hasta la médula, dedicados a crear un juego como nunca antes se había visto. Y por otro la historia de la consolidación de la industria de videojuegos, exclamando continuamente "¡Sí, yo a este también jugué!" Todo una delicia para los que robamos horas de sueño (y estudio Los 90 son probablemente la época de mi vida en que más he jugado a videojuegos, básicamente en el PC. Así que este libro ha supuesto un disfrute por partida doble: por un lado la historia de este grupo de programadores, jugones hasta la médula, dedicados a crear un juego como nunca antes se había visto. Y por otro la historia de la consolidación de la industria de videojuegos, exclamando continuamente "¡Sí, yo a este también jugué!" Todo una delicia para los que robamos horas de sueño (y estudio) pegados frente a la pantalla en los 90.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark Sanchez

    There aren't many specific details from this book that I want to remember. The dynamic between the two John's and the employer at which they met is interesting: the stealing the computers at night, working on company time, releasing a game behind his back, after all that being offered a deal by their old employer to finance their new company (he must have seen they were going places), and him having to take back that offer because of his other employees. The fact that that the games were written There aren't many specific details from this book that I want to remember. The dynamic between the two John's and the employer at which they met is interesting: the stealing the computers at night, working on company time, releasing a game behind his back, after all that being offered a deal by their old employer to finance their new company (he must have seen they were going places), and him having to take back that offer because of his other employees. The fact that that the games were written by so few people is impressive. It was neat that Deus Ex (a game I like a lot) was created by the functional branch of a very dysfunctional company (Romero's Ion Storm, which he founded after leaving Id and which was a typical tech bubble company). Overall though, there aren't many specifics to take away and the overall lessons/themes were already known to me and, I think, pervasive in tech culture before this books creation. Those themes being that 10x the people doesn't entail 10x the work, that you should keep development cycles short and focus on shipping, and that being a good programmer doesn't mean you'll be a good manager. (Well, I don't know how pervasive the last lesson was before this book, but the others proceeded it with XP and maybe Agile). Also, I was hoping for more details about the game development - that is the technical structure of the games, more details about the revelations had when creating them, etc. In general this book feels like a long magazine article - in talks about the personalities and events as caricatures but it never really delves into anything. It's easy to see why Carmack is beloved by the community on Hacker News, etc. He seems awesome and presumably had some great incites (that I wish were talked about more in the book). I get the impression that Romero and others were lucky in that they got to use Carmack's engines which were the real driving force behind the games' success. The book tries to be diplomatic and say Romero's experimentation and finding out what was possible with the engines was also very important, but, I mean, what else is the book going to say? The authors not going to just screw his interview subject so he had to say something. I binge read the book in <24 hours so it clearly isn't that bad. I wish there were more books about the development of pieces of software. With that said, there just isn't much takeaway from this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    DaViD´82

    Though people felt like they were working without direction, at the same time no one wanted really to be told what to do. Steve Jobs a Steve Wozniak. John Romero a John Carmack. Je až neuvěřitelné, jak moc se příběhy těchto dvou dvojic shodují. V obou případech povahově zcela odlišní géniové, kteří se nejprve přes problematické dospívání dají „v garáži“ osudově dohromady, dlouho se nebývale doplňují jako jing a jang, přetvoří tak své odvětví od základů a vydělají při tom milióny/miliardy, aby pos Though people felt like they were working without direction, at the same time no one wanted really to be told what to do. Steve Jobs a Steve Wozniak. John Romero a John Carmack. Je až neuvěřitelné, jak moc se příběhy těchto dvou dvojic shodují. V obou případech povahově zcela odlišní géniové, kteří se nejprve přes problematické dospívání dají „v garáži“ osudově dohromady, dlouho se nebývale doplňují jako jing a jang, přetvoří tak své odvětví od základů a vydělají při tom milióny/miliardy, aby postupně jejich neslučitelné povahy, rozporuplné arogantní chování vůči okolí i sobě samým dalo vzniknout trhlinám, které nelze zacelit. Taková vývojářská antická tragédie, u které však nemusíte o hrách či vývoji vědět ale lautr nic. Autor totiž jde na ságu „dvou Johnů“ chytře přes osobní rovinu jejich povah spíše než technickou stránku přelomovosti Carmackových enginových kódů či vypiplanosti Romerova gamedesignu. Je to příběh problémových kluků na cestě za slávou, sny a nesmrtelností. Autor zůstává nestranný a tak plně pochopíte, proč je jeden považován za rocknrollovou hvězdu herního vývoje, druhý za programátorskou legendu, proč je fanoušci milují i proč jim mnozí kolegové či nejbližší nemohou přijít na jméno. Skvěle se tu kloubí momenty, kdy máte pocit, že jste s těmi kluky v plechovkami zaneřáděném kanclu pozdě v noci sžíraní pochybnostmi nad vlastním produktem, stejně jako vás vždy a znovu šokuje jejich arogantní a sviňácké chování vůči fyzickým i právnickým osobám. Nejlepší je, že se to čte jako drama, ale přitom jde o tvrdou roky rešeršovanou a pečlivou novinařinu. Stejně jako jste v případě Social Network nemuseli chápat kódování, v případě Jobsova životopisu rozumět designu či být fanoušek Apple produktů, tak tady nemusíte o Id Software znát ani to, že existují. A pokud k tomu všemu přeci jen znáte/hráli jste Keena, Wolfa, Quakea, hrávali jste na školní síti v rámci výuky potají Dooma (schovaného v adresáři Rozvrh apod.) či máte nějaký vztah k tvorbě Ion Stormu, tak tím lépe, protože to jde opravdu pod pokličku. A díky časovému odstupu, kdy již dotyční nemají zábrany mluvit otevřeně, se dozvíte více než v těch nejlepších „filmech o filmu“. Snad jediná výtka je spíše povzdych, že díky roku vzniku by to chtělo aktualizovanou verzi pokrývající i období po roce 2005, které je z pohledu kariér těch dvou neméně zajímavé.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Egor Mikhaylov

    Книга о героях моего детства, гениальном фантазёре и гениальном социопате, которые творили историю вместе, а разошедшись, так никогда и не приблизились к прежнему успеху, могла бы быть умеренно интересной, но крепкий средненький нонфикшн был загублен переводом. Даже не знаю, что тут хуже всего. Избыточные комментарии? Пожалуйста: ценные комментарии сообщают нам, что игра "блек джек" (sic!) в России известна как "очко", напоминает, что такое must-have, а аббревиатура BFG расшифровывается аж дважд Книга о героях моего детства, гениальном фантазёре и гениальном социопате, которые творили историю вместе, а разошедшись, так никогда и не приблизились к прежнему успеху, могла бы быть умеренно интересной, но крепкий средненький нонфикшн был загублен переводом. Даже не знаю, что тут хуже всего. Избыточные комментарии? Пожалуйста: ценные комментарии сообщают нам, что игра "блек джек" (sic!) в России известна как "очко", напоминает, что такое must-have, а аббревиатура BFG расшифровывается аж дважды. Недостаточные комментарии? Сколько угодно: половина технических терминов кажется переводчику очевидными, что заставит читателя, не погружённого в контекст игровой индустрии, часто чесать в затылке. Плохая вычитка? Она тут везде, запятые и тире играют с корректором в прятки и выигрывают с блеском. На сладкое – обязательные ошибки перевода , вроде удивительных "соревновательных шутеров" (в оригинале,само собой, имелись в виду "конкурирующие"). Ну и, конечно, хотелось бы посмотреть в глаза человеку, который берётся за трёхсотстраничную книгу о важнейших явлениях поп-культуры 80-90-х и при этом переводит "Breakfast Club" как "Клуб завтраков". В общем – если вы просиживали в детстве ночи за DOOM II – читать ради ностальгии можно, хотя фейспалмов и не избежать. Негеймеры – у вас есть тысячи способов потратить деньги и время гораздо лучше или хотя бы интереснее. Можете в DOOM поиграть, например.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Abhay Rana

    An amazing account of the two Johns. I was obviously more bent towards Carmack, him being a programmer, but this book beautifully highlights the ups and lows of the journey. It leaves you waiting for more, and I wish to hear more of this story. Even though it focuses mainly on the two Johns, this book is not a biography. Rather it is an account of the Silicon Valley Gaming & Startup Scene in the 80-90s. I would go so far ahead to label this as a "startup-book", with two entrepreneurs making An amazing account of the two Johns. I was obviously more bent towards Carmack, him being a programmer, but this book beautifully highlights the ups and lows of the journey. It leaves you waiting for more, and I wish to hear more of this story. Even though it focuses mainly on the two Johns, this book is not a biography. Rather it is an account of the Silicon Valley Gaming & Startup Scene in the 80-90s. I would go so far ahead to label this as a "startup-book", with two entrepreneurs making it big time. The book doesn't end on much of a high note, ending with the launch of Quake III Team Arena and Carmack firing his rockets. It would be awesome if the author came up with a DLC for the book with more chapters covering what both of them have done in the past 13 years.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jury Razumau

    “Pizza” is mentioned 39 times. “Render” and “polygon” combined for 19. Would you read a book about Beethoven that only mentions how great were his symphonies and how everyone loved them without ever talking about what exactly made them great (and probably not even discussing Fidelio’s plot)? So what exactly were Carmack’s innovations in game engines? Oh, he was very smart and worked a lot; now let’s talk instead about his Ferrari (have I already mentioned that his office was full of pizza boxes? “Pizza” is mentioned 39 times. “Render” and “polygon” combined for 19. Would you read a book about Beethoven that only mentions how great were his symphonies and how everyone loved them without ever talking about what exactly made them great (and probably not even discussing Fidelio’s plot)? So what exactly were Carmack’s innovations in game engines? Oh, he was very smart and worked a lot; now let’s talk instead about his Ferrari (have I already mentioned that his office was full of pizza boxes?).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brad Feld

    Incredible origin story of id Software I love origin stories. Many are shallow or overly dramatic in an effort to tell a story rather than capture the essence of what happened and why it was so important. This one totally nailed it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sreejith Pp

    As someone who used to play a ton of video games and who got into programming making or hacking them, this was an enjoyable, nostalgic experience. Written in dramatic fashion, yet technically not too demanding, this book takes you through the evolution of pc gaming, the rise of an entire sub-culture, and the molding of art, bleeding-edge tech, and storytelling in the birth of doom. It's the story of 2 immensely talented people, their successes, and the differences that ripped them apart amidst t As someone who used to play a ton of video games and who got into programming making or hacking them, this was an enjoyable, nostalgic experience. Written in dramatic fashion, yet technically not too demanding, this book takes you through the evolution of pc gaming, the rise of an entire sub-culture, and the molding of art, bleeding-edge tech, and storytelling in the birth of doom. It's the story of 2 immensely talented people, their successes, and the differences that ripped them apart amidst the rise of a multi-billion dollar industry. I'd recommend this for anyone who's spent way too many hours gaming or playing Dungeons and Dragons.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Willian Molinari

    I love this book. The two Johns created an empire by using the engineering capabilities of Carmack with the enthusiasm and ideas of Romero. There are some other thoughts to put on this book. The two Johns are doing great and creating amazing games following the startup way of life, relying on junk food and diet coke. Everything was balanced, they had a committed engineer that are addicted to create new things and pursue really hard challenges. But they also had a good game designer that are eager I love this book. The two Johns created an empire by using the engineering capabilities of Carmack with the enthusiasm and ideas of Romero. There are some other thoughts to put on this book. The two Johns are doing great and creating amazing games following the startup way of life, relying on junk food and diet coke. Everything was balanced, they had a committed engineer that are addicted to create new things and pursue really hard challenges. But they also had a good game designer that are eager to test the new advances in technology and create the most awesome game in the world. When the two Johns decided to split, the two sides suffered. And the same situation happens a lot in companies these days. Sometimes we have an awesome engineer that can't spread the awesome tools he is creating. The same situation occurs when we have an average programmer that bring people together and encourage everyone to create and use the tools that are being created, but are not so awesome. By creating a team with these complimentary profiles it is possible to generate awesome things as DOOM was at the time it was created.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Scarella

    I liked this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. I grew up playing computer games in the 90's and enjoyed hearing the "behind-the-scenes" stories of how some of my favorite games were made. My only complaint was an abrupt ending, I wanted to read more about Carmack and Romero and what they are up to now. Are they friends? Do they work together at all? If you played any video game in the 1990's, you will thoroughly enjoy this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mindaugas Mozūras

    I'll someday definitely reread Masters of Doom again. The story of the two Johns is just an interesting as the story of the two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak). For me, as a software developer, Carmack is the more fascinating and inspiring of the two. Not only have I played games made by him, but I've watched multiple talks he did. He's a geek's geek.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Victor

    Very interesting and inspiring book on the ups and downs of the geniuses and the different personalities behind the game. The team dynamics and issues with the development cycle, the conflicts between business and development, they are all real. I would definitely recommend this read to any developers, not just game developers. It's a fun and addictive read :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maurício Linhares

    Did you know Doom was one of the main instruments for the resurrection of the PC gaming industry? Now you do! How Carmack and Romero (the two Johns) came together and founded one of the most influential gaming companies and built not only genres and movements, but a whole market, is an amazing tale of the beginnings of what we have in games today. From their start with the side scroller Commander Keen (building the very first side scroller on computers) after copying Mario and trying to convince Did you know Doom was one of the main instruments for the resurrection of the PC gaming industry? Now you do! How Carmack and Romero (the two Johns) came together and founded one of the most influential gaming companies and built not only genres and movements, but a whole market, is an amazing tale of the beginnings of what we have in games today. From their start with the side scroller Commander Keen (building the very first side scroller on computers) after copying Mario and trying to convince Nintendo to let them port it to PCs, to the first Castle Wolfenstein (that they didn't actually invent, it was a game made by someone else and they decided to reuse the idea as the copyright had lapsed!) and then Doom with deathmatch, that slowed down networks all over the world with people killing each other and became the first networked multiplayer huge success. The whole thing is a crazy ride into how these games came to be and the effects they had in the industry and the world as we see it now, it's really interesting to see how they made their business decisions, how Carmack invented a lot of the tech we take for granted today and how it all became the online gaming environment we have now. Definitely an amazing read and the audiobook is read by Will Wheaton!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I decided to read this book based on seeing its title on the library shelves. Like many (most?) gamers of a certain age, I grew up with games from id software and its various offshoots, but until reading Masters of Doom, I hadn't realized how completely they had dominated my gaming background. Commander Keen; Duke Nukem (the side-scrolling platformer, not the FPS); the various Epic Megagames games like Solar Winds, Jill of the Jungle, ZZT, Dare to Dream, Ken's Labyrinth, and One Must Fall 2097; I decided to read this book based on seeing its title on the library shelves. Like many (most?) gamers of a certain age, I grew up with games from id software and its various offshoots, but until reading Masters of Doom, I hadn't realized how completely they had dominated my gaming background. Commander Keen; Duke Nukem (the side-scrolling platformer, not the FPS); the various Epic Megagames games like Solar Winds, Jill of the Jungle, ZZT, Dare to Dream, Ken's Labyrinth, and One Must Fall 2097; Rise of the Triad; Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold; and of course, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, filled hundreds--honestly, probably thousands--of hours as a child. Most of them I got as shareware, through those shareware distribution discs that were everywhere in the mid-90s, and apparently that's another innovation that I can trace back to that cluster of companies. I owe a lot of my childhood gaming memories to the two men depicted here. I also had forgotten just how much innovation PC gaming required back in the late 80s and early 90s. Now, in the midst of a decade-long period where PCs are the superior technical gaming platform due to stagnating console specs, where people can actually make a serious argument that Watch_Dogs was downgraded on PC in order to avoid showing up consoles, it's hard to remember that once it was simply impossible for computers to replicate feats that consoles did routinely. It's kind of astonishing nowadays that Carmack had to come up with a technical workaround just to allow the kind of side-scrolling on PC that Nintendo games routinely performed, and the various innovations were really interesting to read about. That's the good part. Now, the parts that annoyed me. The primary problem I have with Masters of Doom is that John Romero and John Carmack come across as thoroughly unlikeable people. Under the Kirk-Spock Theory of Dual Interpersonal Relationships, Romero is the Kirk and Carmack is the Spock. Romero apparently had a hard time committing to any one game for any length of time, preferring to chat to the press and wallow in the benefits of riches. He also comes across as a 90s version of the brogrammer, screaming obscenities at fellow employees while playing deathmatch with them, smashing monitors, keyboards, and mice when losing games, and letting the office devolve into a squalor of diet Coke cans and pizza boxes. Not to mention abandoning multiple marriages before turning 30. I've heard it said that nowadays you can make all the money you want by building your company around letting young white men avoid any of the responsibilities of adulthood, and Romero comes across as precisely the kind of customer that gives companies like this one their revenue stream. Carmack, in contrast, is apparently an uber-programming savant who is incapable of understanding how human interaction works. He's perfectly willing to spend days or weeks sequestered in his office working on his next [hacked together/elegantly implemented] (choose as appropriate) graphics innovation, but he ends conversation in midsentence, has no sense of tact, and has a coldly utilitarian philosophy toward other people, where as soon as they are no longer of use to him he backstabs them or simply leaves them out in the cold. His response to office discord was just to vanish into his office or start coming in during nights to completely ignore it, which just let it fester until it exploded, and that's when he wasn't deciding that an employee had lived out their usefulness and firing them with no warning. I keep saying "apparently" there because I'm not sure how accurate the book is. There are a lot of sources and interviews listed in the back, but the story slots far too well into the archetypical American tragic success story for me to be sure how much is pure truth and how much was massaged to fit the narrative. Two people come from troubled backgrounds, but through sheer grit, hard work, dedication, and a lot of luckeven more hard work manage to rise above their pasts and, spending long days and nights with their noses to the grindstone, fulfill their dreams and make it big. Soon, however, success starts to go to their head, and their once-strong partnership begins to fray at the seams. Increasing tension drives them apart, and it's soon clear that neither one alone is even half as good as the two of them were together. Then... ...well, they aren't dead yet, so the classic ending of reconciliation and catharsis can't come next. Instead, the book ends with a schmaltzy scene of Carmack having car trouble after a deathmatch tournament and Romero stepping in with jumper cables. D'awww. Or something like that, anyway. The whole thing seems way too pat for me to do more than glance at it suspiciously, and coupled with the distaste I felt for both Carmack and Romero's behavior during the book, I spent most of it just shaking my head and hoping for the next scene of a technical challenge that needed to be overcome. For the narrative and content I'd give it two stars, plus one for the warm, happy glow of nostalgia I felt while reading about 90s gaming. I do seem to be in the minority opinion on this one, though, so maybe other people read the portrayal of the Two Johns differently than I do or have less of a problem with unlikeable protagonists.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Blacktaxi

    Great insight into game development I liked the book for its content, which is a detailed history of id software. It was fascinating to have a glimpse into what was it like for people who created games of my childhood. Also you get to learn a bit how things work in game dev world. I'm not a fan of style - it gets old after awhile. 5 stars for content, 2 for delivery.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Salzer

    A great biography which provides a wonderful tour of the early years of computer/video games. In a world where people worry about patents and intellectual property, it is liberating to hear about two guys who only cared about creating cool things. All they wanted was to create great games that they wish existed (plus eating pizza and someday driving Ferrari's). Spoiler alert: They did plenty of all three.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter Brichs

    Historien om, hvordan I software blev til - historien om de 2 x John; Romero og Carmack. Om deres venskab, og om hvordan de blev uvenner...og alt derimellem. En rigtig velfortalt biografi af mændene bag DOOM, Commander Keen, Quake, Daikatana og teknologierne bag. Klart et læs værd, for alle, der er glade for computerspil.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mackey

    I picked this up because I was producing an episode of my podcast (Retronauts) about Doom, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. I've read a few too many video game books for a mass-market audience that talk down to the reader, but Masters of Doom mostly avoids that. (Though it does contain an obligatory 20-page history of video games to give things some context.) And while Masters of Doom does dip into technical details from time to time, it's mostly a personality-driven book, one that does a g I picked this up because I was producing an episode of my podcast (Retronauts) about Doom, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. I've read a few too many video game books for a mass-market audience that talk down to the reader, but Masters of Doom mostly avoids that. (Though it does contain an obligatory 20-page history of video games to give things some context.) And while Masters of Doom does dip into technical details from time to time, it's mostly a personality-driven book, one that does a great job of showing what a lightning in a bottle studio id Software was in the early-to-mid '90s. Kushner weaves the ups and downs of id into a very enthralling narrative, and I walked away from Masters of Doom with a greater respect for a few of the guys who sadly became walking jokes for the Internet in the late '90s/early '00s. Definitely give it a read if you want to know the story behind one of the most influential games of all time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    29alabs

    Masters Of Doom cuenta la adicción de dos jóvenes, uno de Kansas y otro de Colorado, por los videojuegos, una adicción que los llevaría comprar Ferraris, mansiones en Tudor y sin duda a transformar para siempre la cara de la industria electrónica. Masters of Doom es, la historia de id Software. Masters Of Doom es un viaje frenético de pizza, coca de dieta y arboles BSP aunque por supuesto los groupies nerd no pueden faltar. El enfoque principal del libro es la creación y transformación de la comp Masters Of Doom cuenta la adicción de dos jóvenes, uno de Kansas y otro de Colorado, por los videojuegos, una adicción que los llevaría comprar Ferraris, mansiones en Tudor y sin duda a transformar para siempre la cara de la industria electrónica. Masters of Doom es, la historia de id Software. Masters Of Doom es un viaje frenético de pizza, coca de dieta y arboles BSP aunque por supuesto los groupies nerd no pueden faltar. El enfoque principal del libro es la creación y transformación de la compañía, los diversos empleados que pasaron por allí, muchos de ellos ahora famosos (American McGee, Mark Rein, Tom Sweeney), los constantes choques de egos entre los dos Johns y sus subordinados. El segundo enfoque son los diversos juegos que en un principio los inspiraron y que luego ellos crearon; se cuenta tanto de la perspectiva creativa de Romero como la disciplina técnica casi Zen de Carmack para crear motores capaces de representar mundos fantásticos, no contiene muchas cosas técnicas pero sí las suficientes, si estás interesado en la programación de video-juegos no va a actuar como un manual pero menciona lo necesario para que te diviertas en wikipedia un rato. En general Masters of Doom es The Social Network para gamers. Hablando del libro en si es muy sencillo, a veces hasta se leé como un artículo de revista largo, sin embargo tiene concentrados todos esos pedacitos que rellenan esos huecos que seguro si eres fan de id Software te hará sentir de nuevo en esa época de poner cd doom, doom.exe. La única crítica que pudiera tener, es que a veces la vida de estas personas se siente muy novelizada pero entiendo que el autor no sólo quiso aventar una lista con puntos acerca de lo que sacó en sus entrevistas. Siento que es un must para cualquier persona que tenga un poco de interés en la industria, los videojuegos se han convertido en un fenómeno que supera al cine y por poco a la industria de la música, hace unos años era el hobby de unos cuantos y hoy es algo que todo mundo realiza, y lo que cuenta Masters of Doom es esa época donde los videojuegos estaban creados por fans en lugar de por corporaciones sin cara, John Carmack dice algo al final de lo único que necesitas para realizar tus sueños [algo innovador] es pizza, coca de dieta, una computadora muy barata y la dedicación. La calificación para este libro es relativa, es probable que si en realidad no te atraé o nunca hayas oído hablar de id no le veas lo "amazing" pero si tu estabas allí cuando oír los bleep blops de tu modem significaba fraggear en Quake II, lo vas a amar.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Perry Gough

    I had been waiting to read this since I heard this book existed. Masters of Doom tells the story of John Romero and John Carmack the main two guys responible for creating Doom the grandaddy of all First Person Shooters. How they put together a small team of highly talent Game Designers and the controvesy that the game caused. Some of the facts I already knew but there is alot here that I had no clue about and found very interesting. This book is essientially 'The Social Network' of video game book I had been waiting to read this since I heard this book existed. Masters of Doom tells the story of John Romero and John Carmack the main two guys responible for creating Doom the grandaddy of all First Person Shooters. How they put together a small team of highly talent Game Designers and the controvesy that the game caused. Some of the facts I already knew but there is alot here that I had no clue about and found very interesting. This book is essientially 'The Social Network' of video game books with characters that are larger then life and alot of events that could easily be fiction but are real. Now this obviously isnt going to be for everyone, but I studied Games Design and was a huge gamer (now more casual thanks to working and books) so I highly recommend this book for any fan of Doom, anyone who is a big gamer and anyone who is studying Games Design or Programmer. Really happy that I brought this book and is a great read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles Collard

    I both love and hate this book. Not the author's fault, it's extremely well written with great details. I guess any really well documented history is this way. both the wonderful and the grungy ugliness are on full display. Masters of Doom made me nostalgic about discovering computers and games in the early 80s as well as the wonderful wild-west environment and camaraderie of working at start-up companies in the 90s. The combination of the two: after-work LAN parties playing doom, quake, MOHAA wit I both love and hate this book. Not the author's fault, it's extremely well written with great details. I guess any really well documented history is this way. both the wonderful and the grungy ugliness are on full display. Masters of Doom made me nostalgic about discovering computers and games in the early 80s as well as the wonderful wild-west environment and camaraderie of working at start-up companies in the 90s. The combination of the two: after-work LAN parties playing doom, quake, MOHAA with the guys from our little freelance software development company are some of my favorite memories. The later chapters though reminded me of the ugliness of those companies: the brutal work schedule, the petty personal feuds that ended in shouting matches, firings, quittings and breakups of entire companies. so i guess i would give the first half of the book 6 stars and the last half one star, not because it's bad, but because it made me depressed :(

  27. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Kushner reconstructs the fateful meeting of John Romero and John Carmack, which, in the early 90s world of shareware, personal computing and nascent home dial up, resulted in Doom, in which powerful graphics engines and the ability to play against other networked players revolutionized the gaming industry. Like so many other stories of revolutionaries, this is also the trajectory of visionaries having no idea how to run a business or manage other people.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    The book captures splendidly the wild frontier of entertainment software in mid-eighties. Also rightly cements Carmack's position as the game developer genius, and Romero's as the... well, the guy who made Daikatana and gave rise to the 'rock star programmer' stereotype. Yeah, he's a tool. More on that in the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vasil Kolev

    As a kid, I've played commander keen. I've lived with Doom, had dreams of it, I've seen the guys' code and their tremendous influence. There's a lot to be learned from them. (in 'Coders at work' Seibel should've interviewed Carmack instead of all the javascript people)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    Rereading. Upped to 5 stars cos it just sucks you in. Carmack esp. is a fascinating weirdo addendum Feb 7 2017: i actually re-read this a while ago, but back then there was no 'reread' status. is there now? how does this work

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