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.
©2003 David Kushner (P)2012 Audiobooks.com
"Compelling . . . Masters of Doom succeeds on several levels. It's just great storytelling, with perfect pacing, drama and characterization. It's also an excellent business book, a cautionary tale with the kind of insider detail that other writers working in the genre should envy." (Houston Chronicle)
“Kushner’s mesmerizing tale of the Two Johns moves at a rapid clip . . . describing the twists and turns of fate that led them to team up in creating the most powerful video games of their generation. . . . An exciting combination of biography and technology.” (USA Today)
“Meticulously researched . . . as a ticktock of the creative process and as insight into a powerful medium too often dismissed as kids’ stuff, Masters of Doom blasts its way to a high score.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Whilst I like technology books and books about start-ups, I have little interest in first-person shooter games and have not played the games described in this book more than a handful of times.
However, the book is so well written and the characters are described in such relatable terms, that I inhaled this audiobook in a couple of days.
I recommend it. Enjoy!
Shamelessly geeky; mathematically delicious.
With the break-neck pace that the gaming industry moves, it's amazing that anyone has had the clarity of vision to step back and document the history of this new form of entertainment. In Masters of Doom, Kushner does just that by detailing the careers of two of gaming's earliest superstars, John Carmack and John Romero. The fact that this book even exists is a testament to Kushner's foresight, and the quality of its presentation leaves nothing to be desired.
There's something fascinating about a creative duo, something magical about the dynamic it creates. Kushner positions the two John's, Romero and Carmack, as that sort of pairing, reminiscent of Jobs and Wozniak of Apple fame. But where Jobs and Woz were the design and engineering halves of the computer revolution, Romero and Carmack were those halves of the PC gaming revolution.
Kushner takes what could have been a rather boring history of id software and turns it into a real narrative. He shows Romero and Carmack as yin and yang, two parts of a whole. But he also shows them as headstrong individuals who just don't see enough of themselves in their partner. Ultimately, we see the two split ways and compete, seemingly never to achieve the greatness alone that they had together. Along the way there are many recurring themes and characters, all of which Kushner takes great care to point out to the reader.
It's worth noting how tight of a time frame this book exists in. Masters of Doom was published in 2003. Doom came out in 1993, and Daikatana (the development of which is a focus of the latter half of the book) was released in 2000. 3 years separation from the subject matter is nothing, but reading this book in 2013 still shows it to have significant historical perspective.
As for the narration, Wil Wheaton is, as always, a fantastic reader for anything and everything geek related. His delivery here is pitch perfect, and it really brings the story to life.
The only thing I might have wanted was a more recent afterword. I believe the one presented in the book is from the 2004 softcover reprinting. Considering the audiobook was recorded in 2012, and both Carmack and Romero have continued to work in the industry during that time, an extra chapter to bring the book back up to date would have been appreciated. That's a lot to ask from an audio release, however, and I can hardly fault the publishers for merely doing a "great" job with this book, rather than going way above and beyond.
If you care about gaming, and you enjoy a good biography, Masters of Doom is tough to beat.
My two favorite topics are Baseball and Military History. But my favorite books of all time are Starship Troopers and Ready Player One.
Listening to this title felt like I was back in the world of the Oasis and getting more background on James Halliday and Ogden Morrow - IRL John Carmack and John Romero. "The Two Johns" as the author describes them, become legends in pioneering PC game industry. Their inimitable talent to 'hack' computers, programs, (and eventually cars and rockets) help them leap ahead of everyone else in the industry; a lesson we should all take to look at things differently.
The author describes the ebb and flow of success in the market as well as the coming and going of people in the industry and specifically their company. The book could be a historical case study on Organizational Management as well as the Psychology of Personality Disorders in the early days of video game development; successes and failures can be attributed to the John's inability and/or non-desire to effectively communicate.
As far as narration, Wil Wheaton is my favorite narrator ever. Additionally he's found a niche genre that he embodies so well, the same that he played in Star Trek TNG. Wheaton brings character's personalities alive from the written word and each is distinct. My first audio book with him as narrator was the aforementioned, Ready Player One, so this book is perfect for him. I usually listen at 3x speed and had no problem with this audio book at that speed.
From the writing to the voice work to the research, this was a wonderful experience. Time to fire up some Doom. Suck it down!
I recommend this book to anyone that lives the FPS genre. I still remember my parents buying shareware doom for 9.99 @ Circuit City. I took the shareware home and installed it on my brand new AST Advantage. After the game installed I was blown away. I payed Doom every chance I could. Kushner brought back a lot of good memories and gave me a lot insight into the development of Doom. Will Weaton nails the narration! If you haven't picked up Ready Player One... Do it now... Will Weaton is just one hell of a narrator.
I knew some parts of this story before starting this book, but it was fantastic listening to it all unfold. It's hard to believe this drama and adventure happened in my own back yard in Texas. Wil Wheaton is great at the narration, and gives character to the different people involved and reads with gusto the entire time.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of video games and how the industry grew to be what it is today.
Audio book lover with sci-fi leanings
This is a story of the two creators of Doom and their cohorts that begins in the early 80's and takes us all the way through the millennium. I found the story fascinating as the author sculpted a well written story that walks us through the creators early projects and draws draws the reader in as the leaps in graphics and programming are described that allow our main characters to create some of the most popular games developed in the 90's.
This was a hard one to put down and highly recommended!
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This is the story of a gaming landmark from the golden age of video games up to the current day. It is fascinating to see what goes into game design, and the tensions and ups and downs of game development, including that of having a do-no-wrong image in the industry.
Finishes off just before the launch of Doom 3, this book covers the rise and fall of Id software and ionstorm. Really engaging and focuses on the people behind the projects. Prepare to google Carmacks reverse.
"Fascinating and brilliantly read!"
A wonderful reading of a brilliant story. Fascinating history of the iD rise to fame.
"Origin story of a genre"
Fascinating account of the Origin of FPS games and the team responsible for one of the biggest games in history.
Read fantastically by Wil Wheaton. I couldn't seem to take a break from this book and highly enjoyed it.
My only issue is that it ends too soon. I would love to hear a continuation taking us up to the current day of the id founders and what they're doing now.
"Very interesting.... "
Great history and people story. Hard to put down and slightly disappointed when it ended!
"Fascinating tale of two geniuses"
Great book and a must for all video game fans interested in the mediums history.
"Great lessons for start-ups"
Neatly encapsulates the story of birth of gaming. Told with aplomb and style, well worth the time. A great real life story.
"Fascinating journey, energetically narrated"
I was sceptical but was very quickly hooked. I did not think the story of Doom would fill a book, but in reality there is masses of interesting and thought provoking content. It says much about the games industry of the era too, not just Doom itself. Wil Wheaton brings massive amounts of enthusiasm to the story and some of his accents are hilarious (not sure if intentional or not!) and sure he brings the characters alive.
Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended, especially for those who played video games in the 80's through 90's.
"Behind the scenes"
After Elite, Doom was my favourite game. To find out the backstory to its creation was like this was brilliant. The atmosphere, passiin and optimism of working in startup organisations always attracts me. It is all recreated here, along with the darker elements.
Really enjoyed this epic nostalgia trip.
The balance is just right between the details on the games and the more important focus on the human relationships - you don't need to be into programming to enjoy it, the few technical bits are explained very well.
The author really did his homework on this, the book weaves in the cultural background of the 90's brilliantly and charts the longer term history and patterns of the nature of gaming across history - it's all tied into a coherent bit of writing.
Narration is perfect - Highly recommended.
"Top notch book, Superb narration by W.W"
As always. Wil W. does an exelent job of narrating. But with this book, it was an easy job for him. See, Will Weaton is a geek (just like me) and a child of the generation who lived through this time in history. Theese guys was part of making computer games becomming mainstream. This story is a great insight into the lives of the 2 Johns and the story of ID software. If you are just remotely interested in gaming history, this is a must have. And Even if you'r not, The story is well worth your time anyway. Highly recommend !
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