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.
Great biographic story. Unbiased raw story that lets one experience the atmosphere of the early gaming developement scene.
I grow up at time of home computers and game culture revolution, although I don't consider myself a gamer I loved this book, amazing story of the boom of the game industry, today one of the most popular and profit.
Amazing job from Wil Wheaton making you dive into the book.
Strongly recommend, you will have a great time... Guaranteed!
Fantastic story that really brings to light the evolution of gaming culture. I really enjoyed listening to this book, and Will Wheaton made an excellent narrator (with a decent Jay Leno impression to boot). I highly recommend this to anyone interested in gaming or technology.
Masters of Doom took ma back all to my good old days playing Doom at work with my coworkers! It was so much fun and laughter. I enjoyed this game and Quake for a number of years. Book was very intriguing and very fascinating to hear the stories of two masterminds behind Doom. I recommend it to everybody!
"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 !
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.
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