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.
Awesome register of the history of great games and the history of the game history itself. Great narration as well.
if you grew up on 90s video games, this book will be a fun read. The performance by Will "Wesley Crusher" Wheaton is energetic, he does a good job embellishing without going over the top.
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.
This is an awesome book that had me reliving my Doom days. On top of that, I think Wheaton could read the phone book and make it interesting. Like playing Doom, this book is hard to put down.
I've read the print several times and Will's narration is pretty spot on for the audio version.
The early days, their drive and commitment.
John Romero and Tom were pretty great.
"Programmer, Gamer or Geek? you need this!"
I listened to this in the car everyday on the way to work and back and Wil Wheaton's energetic delivery of this book just made me think about it during the day which made me yearn for home time so I can continue it again. The book delivers the story from each of the different characters very well!
John Romero of course!
It was very edgy not knowing what was round the corner and what direction the it was going to take which no doubt made it exciting. I was Sad when the book ended thinking how I was going to find a similar audio book to compare with.
The start of the audio book is a little slow as it goes though the characters childhoods which is understandable. You need to push your self through the first 30 minutes to the point when the experience of Soft Disk employment starts and from that point you're reap the rewards!
"A fascinating insight into a very strange culture"
As somebody who was there at the start of personal computing, Doom itself and the games that led up to it are very much stuck in my memory and I was delighted to see this book. All in all I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the era because there is a fair bit of background information and it certainly brings back memories of good times when these games seemed the cutting edge of technology.
The book is well written although I would have liked a lot more technical detail, and it moves along quickly, with plenty happening and lots to keep you listening. However I found the people involved almost universally dislikeable, and while this is obviously just what they are like, it made it a difficult read at times.
The narrator surprised me a little. I know his voice from other things he has done and he read this in a rather stereotyped way which while suited to the story, did grate a bit. I got the impression he had decided to read the book with a very specific accent because of the subject matter and at times (especially when he said "we are not worthy" repeatedly) it was quite annoying. I would have preferred it if he had just read in his normal voice and let us imagine the way that the people of the time might have spoken.
However, despite this niggles I enjoyed the story and it gave me a lot of background to something that was a significant part of my youth - I would really like to read a more technical story covering the actual creation of the software.
"A must for PC children of 80's / 90's"
I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful book on the history of ID software and the people behind the PC games Doom and Quake
Both John's were very interesting characters well depicted
Really good performance adding an extra dimension to the book and bring it to life
The book is pretty long so not one for a single sitting. I listened to it over a few weeks during my commute to and from work
"A gripping and inspiring story."
A great story that covers a fascinating period in game history from the point of view of true pioneers.
The book is well written and covers both the humour and passion of the subject matter. It is also really well read.
The only comment I would make is there is a lot of swearing. It didn't bother me but worth mentioning.
Well worth it.
"Absolutely awesome! SUCK IT DOWN!"
I absolutely would. The story is so captivating, and Will Wheaton does an excellent job narrating.
There are so many, but I think it has to be John Romero. He is just larger than life and never stops dreaming.
His voice is well suited to audio books, and he does a good job of putting on voices too.
Definitely. I have tried my best too as well, alas life gets in the way!
"If you grew up with Doom you'll like this."
This is an interesting listen, if you grew up playing Wolfenstein and Doom covering everything from the first Commander Keen game to Quake. If you are not into computer games then this is probably not for you.
The narration is a little cutesy sometimes, and I didn't really like the impressions of the iD guys. However it was interesting enough to keep me listening.
"A Great Human and Technological Saga"
"Masters of Doom" is yet another tale of 2 buddies starting an IT company that shook the world (Bill Gates/Steve Allen, Steve Jobs/Steve Wozniak, Larry Page/Sergey Brin, ...).
Having read biographies of all the pairs mentioned above, why did I bother to read yet another biography ? Because, each of these is a different story, and when well written (and read) these are engrossing human sagas that also place our modern technological world in context.
"Masters of Doom" has it all.
The pair of characters that it follows are anything but boring, and the text does a great job of bringing their character and idisyncracies to life (and Wil Wheaton's reading is excellent). If you have any interest in technology (not necessarily computer games, which I do not play) then this is a sure winner.
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