Masters Of Doom
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Masters Of Doom

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  2,533 ratings  ·  261 reviews
'Masters of Doom' is the true inside story of John Carmack and John Romero, co-creators of the most innovative and notoriously successful video games in history - Doom and Quake. They created an empire, ruled a multi-billion-dollar industry, and provoked a national controversy.
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Published May 27th 2004 by Piatkus (first published 2003)
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Dan
Jul 23, 2007 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fans of Doom, computer programmers, consumate gamers, dreamers of all sorts
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Michael Scott
Just how was it possible that Doom, a computer game about mutated humans, gore, and a Big Fucking Gun, would define the pop culture of the 1990s? Enter stage David Kushner's Masters of Doom, a book that fictionalizes the true story of the Two Johns (the tight, algorithm-oriented Carmack and the loose, game design-oriented Romero) on the road to richness, fame, and ultimate collapse. What's so interesting about this? Five ninth the (typical?) American story, with the outcasts getting the one-up a...more
Adam Wiggins
Brash young upstart geniuses take advantage of emerging technology to invent a genre of entertainment that would go on to be bigger than Hollywood.

Big-budget games in the last ten years have predominantly been first-person shooters, the style of game invented by id with Wolfenstein, Doom, and perfected with Quake. It would be hard to even catalog all the traits modern games take from id's works: first-person perspective, network play, the weapon assortment (pistol, shotgun, machine gun, rocket l...more
Andrew Frueh
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...more
Joe
This book tells the story of John Carmack, John Romero, and id Software. It does a great job describing the early times, both in terms of relaying the facts, as well as giving a great feel of the excitement of discovery and invention, of pushing computers and gaming through incredible leaps to do things that most people thought just were not possible.

The two Johns sound like one of those cliched partnerships between two brilliant, and somehow vastly different yet ultimately compatible geniuses t...more
Philipp
A fun book, and very well researched (several hundreds of interviews went into this one), but I can't vouch for its authenticity since I have no clue.

I grew up with Carmack's and Romero's games, getting my first PC (a 386 with 16 MHz and a fancy turbo-button for a blindingly fast 33 MHz) in 1994 was right at the height of their career - I had most Commander Keen parts, and until this book I didn't even know they were basically the start of the career of "the two Johns", both having created Comma...more
David
For me this book was one part nostalgia and one part heroic programming tale. I can still remember playing Wolfenstein 3-D, one of id's early hits, on my parents' 25 Mhz Mac, reading about the gods of the gaming world like Thresh, and vainly attempting to understand gaming engines (they're complicated). I loved the stories of Carmack disappearing to a hotel in another town fueled by Diet Coke and Pizza and coming back a week later with huge leaps forward in gaming technology.

By the end of the bo...more
Troy Blackford
A fascinating look at how the 'Two Johns,' Carmack and Romero, came together to be pioneers of PC gaming, leading to breakthroughs in PC-based sidescrollers (Commander Keen) and 3D PC gaming (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake). As much a tale of startup business gone amuck as it is of software creation and domination, there's a lot here for people of all types to enjoy. If you're like me, remembering your first computer (386 SX with 20 Mhz, a 80 MB hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive with a plastic caddy),...more
Jim
For anyone, like me, caught up in Doom, Quake and the beginnings of the internet age, such as it was, this was a great read. Two main characters, different, but both driven in their own ways and visions, formed the nucleus of the account. I found the dynamics of the business interesting largely because it doesn't matter if you're making games or cheese, the issues are still broadly the same. Make, market, sell. Your routes to market may be different, but get it to the market you increasingly hav...more
Jm Wedge
This book was an excellent read. It focuses on the politics and relationships between many of the players behind id Software while putting it in historical context. The book seems to be slightly biased towards John Carmack only because he is the one who seems to have left the 90s unscathed. The book is slightly dated given that it was written in 2003 before Doom 3 came out and it also seems to overlook the profound impact that id tech 3 (Quake 3 engine) had on computer gaming. It was the engine...more
Sheila DeChantal


Note: You do not have to be a gamer to enjoy this read,Masters Of Doom is a story of friendship and living the dream of success and feeling the deep cutting pain of success as well. Do not judge this book by its topic. You will do yourself a disservice.~Sheila

Masters Of DOOM was an incredible listen. I am not a big gamer, I did play some games as a kid but I was never hard core and never played DOOM or Quest (nothing bloody for me thanks), two of the games designed through this team. I do howev...more
Joshua Schirmer
A fascinating, if sloppy, history into the warring Lennon-and-McCartney personalities that shaped a medium, MASTERS OF DOOM remains one of the few comprehensive narratives of the gaming industry and its sociological impact in print. Although the material is now ten years out-of-date -- at the close of the text, John Carmack and his id Software compatriots are still slaving away on Doom 3, while John Romero is still reeling from the folding of Ion Storm and the failure of Daikatana -- the portrai...more
Mihai Parparita
I started to follow id in 1999, when John Carmack started to write .plan updates that mentioned the Mac. By that point John Romero was a joke punchline. Since then I have done some backfill, but not really having been a PC gamer in the 90s, most of the material in the book was new (and interesting) to me.

The parts of the book that I found most memorable were those that showed how interpersonal issues resulted in particular game design decisions being made, such as intra-team animosity at id lead...more
Arvin
An interesting read on the crazy things that happened behind the scenes id Software and Apogee Games... which produced many games I personally played a lot of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake. After reading this, I realize I definitely lived in quite a bit of a bubble and it was interesting to see the real story behind things that at the time I thought were a little weird but didn't give much thought.

The authors seems to have some incredibly details accounts of what happened, which was pretty inte...more
Kip
David Kushner, a longtime magazine-style contributor to various publications with a focus on the gaming world, gets a chance to let his fan baby come to term in "Masters of Doom," the rollercoaster ride that was the relationship between John Romero and John Carmack that produced perhaps the '90s greatest pop cultural revolution this side of grunge rock. Kushner's passion for the subject matter, as a self-proclaimed arcade gamer and DnD enthusiast, is brimming from the pages, giving fellow gamers...more
Bombadillo
In the days of yore, I came home from school everyday only to rush to my neighbour's house and bother him enough to spare some time with his computer. I treasured that moment after a punching in a few keystrokes on the command line when the splash screen for Dangerous Dave crawled down, in pixelated fashion gently on the computer screen. I was hooked since, to both computers and games. Although I must admit, I did not encounter Doom . I did however spent several hours playing Quake. Even sneake...more
Mark Fenrir
[Audiobook] This is an extensive and well-written account on the rise of id Software and the creation of its acclaimed games. The author often pours great amounts of detail when describing situations, showing the substantial amount of research that was put into this project, and consequently allowing readers to vividly picture in their minds how events must have played out.

Another favorable point is that the book never really takes sides in the battle of the Johns, leaving space for the reader t...more
M.A. Brotherton
It's pretty amazing what you can learn about your own pursuits when you learn about someone else. There are a lot of similarities between the rise of Doom and the current indie publishing in books.

While I was sitting here, listening to the story of the Two Johns, I can't help but think about how much of our culture is built on what they did. They turned shareware, a business model that most people no longer realize is still being used, into a mainstream marketing strategy. They basically create...more
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.
Kaan Akşit
A time machine to take you back in time where you remember yourself in 90s playing the legendary games from wizards of video games; Carmack and Romero! A must read if you remember the evolutions of video gamex starting from late 80s...
Victor Drax
Un satisfactorio recuento de la historia de id Software, la empresa que creó al legendario videojuego Doom. Negocios, dinero, poder y geeks. Buena historia y, si viviste la época aquí retratada, mejor aún.
Matt
I feel like every story of tech geniuses ends up following a similar trajectory: socially awkward but brilliant teen dives into computers to escape their surroundings, innovates rapidly, becomes a sudden millionaire, and then disintegrates in adulthood as they drive away all their friends and become unable to balance the expectations of future success with the struggle to balance increased demands in life. That could be The Social Network just as much as it’s Masters of DOOM.

Masters of DOOM cove...more
KungFu Drafter
You know that feeling when you realize that you are almost at the end of a book and it makes you sort of sad? Yeah, that is the kind of book this is. Maybe it is because I am a gamer (admittedly). Or maybe it is because I grew up in the same time as id Software. Whatever it is, I have to admit that I loved this book.

I've never really been one for historical or biographical literature. So I was completely surprised when I found myself completely wrapped up in the story. I read the words and it wa...more
Asher Riley
Not only a very informative and enjoyable read, but also an extremely vivid and unforgettable one as well. Readers will find themselves deeply immersed in, and inspired by, the times and trials of the lives of this biography's two main stars, John D. Carmack and John Romero. Overall, "Masters of Doom" is an emotional and gripping read. I highly recommended it to anyone looking for a great novel, especially to anyone who wants to get into the gaming industry and needs a little uplifting pick-me-u...more
Quinton Baran
This book was a big nostalgic trip for me, as I grew up in the same generation as both subjects, and was familiar with most of the games and topics that are discussed.

The book is profane (uses quite a bit of profanity).

I enjoyed perceiving the great strengths and weaknesses of both John Carmack, and John Romero. I enjoy learning for the synergies and human fallacies that occur from the organizational behavior of groups that grow from hard work and desire, and then typically fall apart despite (...more
EOB
I found this book greatly enjoyable as a member of the same generation of technology user that it chronicles - I remember those shareware releases. I was a CoSysOp on boards that distributed these fellows' software. I was broker than hell and poured way too much time (in lieu of money) scamming and reconfiguring my dogshit home setup for the sole purpose of consuming these guys' work.

Author has an unusually good eye for characters here - not quite a Stephen Levy level showing, but strong potenti...more
Bastian Greshake
In general I have to agree on the review Philipp gave, probably because our biographies seem to match up pretty well. I similarly was brought up by a 386 and on the Keen games et al. So. I also felt lots of good nostalgia during the read (editing DOS config files, first network gaming experiences on Duke3D - complete with the search for the damn terminator plugs - and hell, even my first Linux experiences came because I wanted to run a Quake or Half-Life dedicated server on an old machine).

But...more
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David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a contributing editor of Wired, Rolling Stone, and Spectrum and is an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
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“All they needed was a title. Carmack had the idea. It was taken from The Color of Money, the 1986 Martin Scorsese film in which Tom Cruise played a brash young pool hustler. In one scene Cruise saunters into a billiards hall carrying his favorite pool cue in a stealth black case. “What you got in there?” another player asks.
Cruise smiles devilishly, because he knows what fate he is about to spring upon this player, just as, Carmack thought, id had once sprung upon Softdisk and as, with this next game, they might spring upon the world.
“In here?” Cruise replies, flipping open the case. “Doom.”
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“If we can get this done, [Doom] is going to be the fucking coolest game that the planet Earth has ever fucking seen in its entire history!” 1 likes
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