Thursday, January 11, 2007

Masters of Doom - Book Review

When it comes to video games, the frantic exercise of playing a First Person Shooter is bound to set my pulse racing. I'm sure many other gamers feel the same way too, but have you ever wonder about the history of this particular genre?

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (339pg.), a book written by David Kushner does a lot to answer questions about the history of First Person Shooters. Focusing on the pioneers of the genre, id Software and its two creators John Carmack and John Romero (hence the two guys in the title), the book is a documentary of sorts.

Starting with their youth, David Kushner gives insight to what made the two guys tick, the point where both personalities met, their resulting success (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II, Quake), and the resulting split and its aftermath. John Carmack and id Software went on to create hits such as Quake II and Quake III. The book ends with the company working on Doom III.

Splitting with id Software after the development of Quake, John Romero rode his immense popularity and well known prowess as a game designer to create a new company called Ion Storm. This company, which will be later used as reference on what not to do in a games company, was responsible for the flops known as Daikatana and Dominion.

The only good thing that ever came out from it was Deus Ex and even then the game was created by Warren Spector, not John Romero.

This book is an amazing read with a no-holds-barred (and well-researched) look at the pioneers of a genre which I dare say jump-started the entire computer-gaming industry. Hardcore gamers, old-school (retro) gamers and game developers will also notice that the book is chokeful with observations on the game development process for games such as Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II, Quake, Quake II, Heretic, Hexen and Daikatana.

This book definately belongs on the reading list of any fan of the genre and should be available for purchase on Amazon.