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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 2 August 2003
An excellent book about the people behind many killer games like Commander Keen, Castle of Wolfenstein and Doom. The book starts from the very beginning, from the time before the first shareware hit games. In addition to being excellent history book about id software, it also shows the potential problems and pitfals facing each game developer, especially the problem of too big egos and different visions among to developers.
And what's best.. It's the author's style. He certainly knows how to write a good book.
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on 14 February 2005
I spent sooooo many hours, like soooo many other people, playing these games. The story of the Two Johns has been touched upon in the computer press but the story more than bears telling in a full length book. I picked it up just to read about what the background was to these incredible games that dominated weeks / months of my adult, slacker life, and sure enough the account given of how Wolfenstein and onwards were written was at turns exhilerating and bittersweet. I then started moving back through the book to the earliest days of the two johns and it held my attention throughout. Great story, great characters, and the author has a great eye for his subjects and the allure of the story of how geeks became rockstars. Gaming isnt going to disappear, and Carmack and Romero are like two Neil Armstrongs in terms of their acheivements. THis is a good history book in the making if nothing else, and it is surprising how much you end up feeling for both Carmack and Romero, two lost boys in a gold mine. Carmack in particular is an odd and mysterious character. My rating? Five stars. mmmm.
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on 15 June 2004
This book cleverly paints an attractive picture of the early days of id's development from pre-wolfenstein 3D titles up to the announcement of DOOM3.
It focuses largely on the Carmack/Romero relationshop but also touches on the impact that their games had on popular culture at the time. Including the headache that they gave the government due to the rising tension surrounding violence in games.
If you are in anyway interested in creating games but have been long put off by the stale state of the industry, then you'll find this a rewarding and exciting read in many respects.
Two guys that not only changed the world of gaming forever but stuck to their guns and fought tooth and nail throughout to remain independent.
I couldn't help but feel that Carmack emerged the victor in any battle that was staged, but Romero's child-like "rock stardom" is as endearing as Carmack's geekiness.
The only down side for me was the lack of detail on Doom's early development for which I know there is plenty to tell.
But that's game specific and this book concentrates on the personalities that contributed to their development.
A great read.
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on 2 September 2005
If you are a developer, a programmer, someone who likes using his computer for creating games, or even 'casual' applications, you MUST read this book. It will make you want to code night and day. I have read it 4 times and still I get the same feeling when I go through it. John Carmack is a genius.
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on 27 February 2016
Wasn't sure what to expect from this as I don't read many books (digital generation) but the nerdy gamer in me ended up very satisfied and wanting more. The book is easy to read and gives lots of background information on the development and aftermath of some of the greatest games of all time. It explores the working relationships of the developers (who are now legend) and gives flashbacks to how weird/awesome the 90s were. I remember playing Final Doom on PS1 at about 8 year old, I had no idea Doom was this huge revolutionary game at the time. Reading this puts it all in perspective, it's bizarre! Amazing book, must read for any hardcore gamers.
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on 23 July 2011
I'm a very sporadic reader but when a book grabs me I find myself staying up way past bed time (11 on a work day ;) ) to continue reading...this book is one of those. Anyone who has an interest in the games industry I'm sure will find this book thrilling, even those who were born in the 90s will find it an intriguing history lesson.

Just a side note, several times I stopped reading to go watch footage of the game they were talking about on youtube (I obviously know quake, doom and wolfenstein, but some of their earlier games I have never come across as I was a NES/SNES guy). I imagine this book would benefit massively from an interactive ebook with videos/demos of the games slipped in at appropriate points of the book. Only tablets are capable of that right now but it would be really cool to see books include links or content of extracurricular interest.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 September 2014
I was delighted when someone pointed out the book Masters of Doom. It's not a new title, dating back to 2003, but it covers a period that anyone of a certain age with an interest in computer games will regard with interest.

Describing the rise and fall of the two creators of id software, John Carmack and John Romero, it is a classic silicon valley business/bio - with some particularly extreme characters. I knew nothing of these people at the time, but reading the book brought on waves of nostalgia as they were responsible for three of the key milestones in gaming history. I was still programming PCs when Wolfenstein 3D came out and I remember being amazed by the effects and responsiveness they coaxed out of the early PC's terrible graphics. By the time Doom and Quake came along, I was reviewing games for a living. Though my personal tastes ran more to the X-Wing series and Seventh Guest, I was stunned by the capabilities of the id games. They were the only first person shooters I ever found interesting - and each moved on the field immensely. All the first person shooters that are popular today from Call of Duty and Halo to Destiny owe them so much.

So from a techie viewpoint, this was fascinating, though the author does tend to rather brush over the technical side to keep the story flowing. And from the personal side, there were plenty of fireworks too. While the book slightly overplays the traditional US business biography style of presenting disasters and triumphs to regularly fit chapter boundaries, there is no doubt there was a real roller-coaster of an existence in a way that all those reality TV stars who overuse that term wouldn't possibly understand.

Although there are plenty of other characters, the two Johns are at the book's heart - Carmack the technology wizard behind the engines that powered these worlds, and Romero the designer and flamboyant gamer. The pair inevitably clash on direction and when they split it's interesting that it's the John who doesn't go for the classic US software developer heaven of turning the offices into a playground who succeeds.

All in all, truly wonderful for anyone who was into games in that period (and should be of interest to those who have followed them since). It's a shame it stops in 2003, as things have moved on a lot since its 'how the main characters are now' epilogue - but a quick visit to Wikipedia can bring you up to speed.
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on 20 August 2013
David Kushner not only manages to write this book with incredible accuracy (having had a long interview with John Romero himself for instance)but also manages to write this book as if it where an unfolding story rather than a simple account of video game history. Managing accuracy with an interesting and appealing writing style that is entertaining, witty and unique is incredibly accomplished. I have read no other book on gaming history that has both of these strengths. Many video game history books lean toward the academic, which can be a chore to read, or to the editorial.
Kushner somehow manages to avoid being too academic and too editorial in this book, and as such it is a book I can recommend to anyone interested in Commander Keen, Wolfesntein 3d, Doom, Quake and the respective careers at those who worked at id software etc.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 28 January 2016
Great book which will make anyone who grew up with Doom and Quake (or were in their 20s like me) want to get the games back out. It's slightly long winded at times (and perhaps too focussed on minor details) but it's an engrossing story of the two Johns and their love of making games. There is a sense of inevitability about the story (ever played Daikatana? No, me neither) and I felt very sad reading the later Romero elements.

Would love to have an update section as it all stops around 2003.

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on 25 July 2013
This satisfies a desire to revel in the technical joy that was Doom, as well as discovering the internal friction and decisions that occurred throughout the development. The difference between Carmack and Romero could not be more pronounced - and it makes the story of Doom all the more interesting for it. If you like Doom, and you have an interest in gaming history, I think this a great book for you.
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