Customer Reviews


48 Reviews
5 star:
 (34)
4 star:
 (12)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning
I cannot give this book any higher praise than I will now attempt to bestow.
This is a fascinating account of perhaps the most intriguing story in the world of computer gaming: the story of id Software's rise to prominence through the development of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, as well as the highly publicized split between the two men most responsible for these...
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Brian Taylor

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Often over dramatized and even historically wrong, but...
The book is a good effort to chronicle the careers and lives of John Romero and John Carmack and their rise and fall in the game industry. At times it reads fairly well, we get a few good stories and history on what went into those first first-person shooters that "transformed pop culture". The book starts when Romero and Carmack are in high school and ends in modern time...
Published on May 19 2003 by J. DEATS


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning, Dec 28 2003
By 
Brian Taylor (St. Louis, MO USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
I cannot give this book any higher praise than I will now attempt to bestow.
This is a fascinating account of perhaps the most intriguing story in the world of computer gaming: the story of id Software's rise to prominence through the development of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, as well as the highly publicized split between the two men most responsible for these blockbusters, the two Johns: John Carmack and John Romero.
The book is not only an entertaining blow-by-blow account of the events that transpired in this story, but is also a cunningly crafted and penetrating look inside the psyche and personality of two fascinating human beings, and the wild initial success of colloboration followed by the bitter conflict bred by the polar forces that drove them. As such, its appeal transcends that of the video gaming community; it is a marvelous case study in sociology as well as a chronicle of the creation of computer games.
Masters of Doom is ultimately a "rise and fall" tale, in a sense. id Software, John Carmack, and John Romero will likely never reach the heights they achieved in the glory days following the release of Doom, but it is arguable that no single company or individual developer will ever do so again either.
The book is uncompromising in its account of the conflicts, and assesses blame only through the eyes of the people involved, without sounding preachy. Kushner assumes a neutral role and presents a remarkably balanced portrayal of the events, siding with neither Romero nor Carmack on the critical issues, leaving the reader with the accurate perception that both were right in their own way.
As a budding game programmer, I found the accounts of Carmack's technological breakthroughs (complete with rudimentary technical explanations as to how they were achieved) fascinating and inspiring. As a game enthusiast who largely cut his teeth on games like Wolfenstein and Doom, I found the story behind the creation of these masterpieces enthralling. And as a human being, I found Kushner's penetrating account of two personalities and the fruits and poisons of their collaboration positively enlightening.
David Kushner, you have done the gaming world an enormous service writing this book, and I strongly urge you to write others of its ilk.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Suck it Down! Wonderful book for even non-fans, Dec 27 2003
By 
Chris Peters (Austin, Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
What a gripping glimpse behind the curtain! Even if you don't like video games, you can't ignore the human drama in this story: two towering personalities who transcend their work; office politics for huge stakes; the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry; a blast of creative spirit so strong it still gets my heart going.
The story is perfectly readable for a "non-fan", and I'd bet a game-hating girlfriend or wife would enjoy this book and maybe even feel a connection. The game developers at "id" were like snotty kids who created a huge fad, only to discover they had talent and the fad wasn't going away. John Carmack was the brains and John Romero the heart, an incredible partnership of opposites that created (or at least cemented) an new form of entertainment, only to break up at the height of their success. Like the Beatles, fans have argued who had the greatest impact, but in truth the magic was lost and never really regained.
By now their story has been ground into the dirt by the gaming press. At the time, the events seemed very one-dimensional with clear losers (first Carmack, then Romero), but author Kushner points out enough obvious contributions that I was reminded of the greatness of the partnership, not their egos. Hardcore fans will find all kinds of "So THAT's what happened" moments, lots of cameos and observations from famous id employees, and the all important history of the "Two Johns" after their break-up. The story of Ion Storm is included but too brief to feel authentic (ion deserves it's own book) and Kushner follows the conflicts within id after Romero left.
I don't have enough good things to say. This book isn't perfect, but the subject is so fascinating I couldn't put it down. Buy it, now.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "Behind the Video Gamer Makers" story, July 6 2003
By 
Richard Guion (San Ramon, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
Kushner's book is a "Behind the Music" type of story detailing what drove these young men to devote their lives to making some of the world's greatest video games. You'll especially love it, if like me, you played Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, and Quake in the 80s and 90s, and wondered how id software could revolutionize gaming every few years. The author gives a great inside scoop on how Carmack created graphics engines that turned the PC into a gaming machine, which at that point in time seemed almost unthinkable. Romero, in the early days, was the perfect complement to Carmack's skills, creating the first level editing tools to develop levels for Commander Keen and Wolfenstein. And the rest of the people at id software--Adrian Carmack, Tom Hall, etc., their stories are detailed, as well as people like DWANGO Bob, who made money off networked DOOM servers before the Internet came along. My only wish was that the book had pictures so we could visualize what everyone looked like at the time!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turning account of id, and the egos that drove it, July 4 2003
By 
M. S. Hillis (Lynnwood, WA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
Bottom line: This is one of the best researched and written business stories I have ever read. I polished off this 302-pager in one day. Okay, I missed a flight and was stuck in a hotel airport, but I still stayed up past 2:00 a.m. to finish it.
"Masters of Doom" benefits from its colorful cast of characters. We meet not only the cold, distant programming genius of John Carmack and the maniacal enthusiasm of John Romero, but secondary players like Stevie Case, a gaming grrl and Quake champion who became a developer and Playboy model, and one fellow who took up game programming after he abandoned a shot at the ministry and become an exotic male dancer who went by the stage name "Preacher Boy". You can't make this stuff up.
Kushner obviously did his homework. He conducted hundreds of interviews and had access to material such as Romero's hoard of childhood memorabalia such as old drawings and comics. The book has in-depth footnotes, and while I wondered about the origin of certain quotes, Kushner says he did his best to reconstruct conversations and events based on multiple sourcing. The story is driven by the polar-opposite personalities of the Two Johns, and Kushner does a great job of being impartial, almost always presenting multiple accounts of the same event. I disagree with the reviewers who seem to think he went light on Romero or failed to give Carmack enough credit for driving id. Kushner dishes out both credit and criticism where it is due, and does so in details that really humanize his subjects. We see Carmack stun his friends by announcing he had taken his cat, a longtime pet, to the pound because it was interfering with his work. Yet later, we see examples of his philanthropy, such as when he studies the statistics-based method of card counting to win $20,000 at a blackjack table and then gives the money away. Similarly, we see Romero neck-deep in office politicking and grasping for rock star status, but when he finally chops his butt-length locks, he donates the hair to a charity that makes wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment. These kind of details bring the story home.
The only minus is the lack of photos. The book really would have benefited from a solid picture section, though I'm not willing to deduct any stars from my rating over it!
Fortunately, Kushner's writing is also excellent. He skillfully sets the stage for each technological or business breakthrough, yet the narrative doesn't seem contrived. He frequently accomplishes nice turns of phrase, such as one scene in which Romero and crew are on the floor rolling in laughter and giddiness at the Wolfenstein 3-D design breakthrough that let them show what would become their trademark gore. The passage ends: "On the screen, the little Nazi bled."
Finally, this is just an excellent account of the development of a partnership, a business, and an industry. The book's appeal should widen well beyond just gamers, to anyone who wants insight into what makes the entrepreneurial personality tick, what the start-up life is like, and how unlikely business models (in this case, shareware) emerge. In fact, I plan on passing this along to my (decidely non-gaming) mother and father.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars The History of the Gamer Generation, June 13 2003
By 
Tim Laird (Grand Rapids, MI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
Masters of Doom has, admittedly, a limited audience. Kids playing their XBox or PS2 will gloss over it. For those whom the Atari 2600 was the height of interactive entertainment, it will come off as an example of the pretentiousness of kids in the 90's.
For people like me, though, this book describes the world in which I lived--in which I grew up, went to college, and started my life. MoD isn't just about the two Johns--it's about the decade that pushed the PC from somewhat useable business tool to household appliance. It's about the evolution of an industry. And it's about the humanity that brought it all about.
Kushner's writing makes the tale of id Software, the Johns, the programmers they recruited, and, of course, Doom itself, unfold like a drama right before your eyes. It's history, yet you find yourself rooting for the underdog, dreading the eventual falling out, or just LOL-ing at the ridiculous situations that the egos of the day created. If you're just the right age to look back fondly on the first LAN parties, playing Doom in your dorm room until your computer started smoking (true story), then this book is a must read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A Hero's Journey, June 3 2003
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
Masters of Doom chronicles the story of "the two Johns", John Carmack and John Romero. In many ways the story reads like a classical hero's tale described by Joseph Campbell. Carmack and Romero are unlikely heroes, growing up in relatively dysfunctional families with virtually no support from loved ones for their dreams. Through incredible hard work, and the fortune of being at the right place at the right time, they rise to the level of rock stars and begin an industry. However, the fame and fortune is not without its costs, and Carmack and Romero have a falling out, and then their respective companies (id and Ion Storm) struggle with internal strife. Finally, both begin to transition out of the worlds they created, and both are transformed themselves.
David Kushner, the author, writes with an easy and enjoyable style; the 300 pages fly by. But I think Kushner's greatest skill is his ability to show Carmack and Romero both as heroes and humans. They both worked incredibly hard, achieved great things, but they were not without their flaws. Kushner achieved an excellent balance as he told the story.
In many ways the book reminds me of an adventure in business. Similar books/stories include Startup by Jerry Kaplan and Netscape Time by Jim Clark. The story is centered on the people, but the plot and the setting are based on the business and the industry they are creating.
I did not give Masters of Doom 5 stars because the book had no pictures. I would love to see their house in Shreveport or Ion Storm's "Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of Gaming", pictures of many of the old games they talked about (ah, to see asteroids again), the two Johns when they were younger, Al Vekovius, Stevie Case, Tom Hall, and of course their cars.
However, despite this one shortcoming, I would recommend this book to almost anyone. If you are into computer games, this is part of history. If you are into business, this tells about the creation of a billion-dollar industry. If you are into real-life drama, this story has it. Thumbs up for Masters of Doom.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Pizza, Diet Coke, Games, and All Night Programming!, May 21 2003
By 
sporkdude "sporkdude" (San Jose, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
In this book, David Kushner documents the lives of two influential game programmers, John Romero and John Carmack - the guys who created Doom and id Software. It chronicles the lives, the company, the gaming industry, and the impact of these two young computer geniuses. It's a quick, fluid read that is not only entertaining, but is awe inspiring as well.
This is a fascinating book on many fronts. It describes how two kids got into games from the early childhoods, describes their fascination with computers in general, and their dreams. It goes from a tale of two kids with ideas, to their technological innovations, to business start, to their monumental growth, and finally to their fallout. It sheds light not only independent game programming, but of the type of people who develop and play these first person shooters like Doom.
Not only is this a biography, or a game book, it's also sort of the "startup.com" of the gaming world. With a good mixture of business, gaming, with unique and individual characters, it indirectly describes the world of gaming companies and what it takes to make a good, and bad, company.
While a good book for all, it's a must for anyone who loves games or is into software development.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Often over dramatized and even historically wrong, but..., May 19 2003
By 
J. DEATS (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
The book is a good effort to chronicle the careers and lives of John Romero and John Carmack and their rise and fall in the game industry. At times it reads fairly well, we get a few good stories and history on what went into those first first-person shooters that "transformed pop culture". The book starts when Romero and Carmack are in high school and ends in modern time (with Doom III nearing completion and Monkeystone games formed) But there are quite a few problems I had with this book. First, it's often hisotrically wrong! Two key examples of this are when Kushner writes "...Carmacked uploaded GLQuake, he had ported the code over a weekend". Another part of the book address the controversial "Suck it down" add that Romereo's Ion Storm ran to promote their flagship title Diakatana. Kushner (for whatever reason) tries to remove all blame from Romero for the add, when I know from a few sources Romereo was to blame almost entirely for the ad. These are just two key things I can point, there are likely many more inconsistancies that I don't know, but it's enough that the author's integrity must be questioned. My other problem is with Kushner's writing, he's not that good with character development, and while this is nonfiction, the only three people in the book I could visuallize were Romero, Carmack and Stevie Case. No physical attributes of the others were detailed. Kushner also goes off into the background of just about every other major and minor character intoduced in a dull predictable backstory that spans from half a page to two pages. Dull irrelevant facts about insignifigant characters that does little to support the rest of the book. Near the end, the book just kind of goes to mush as Kushner fails to bring any kind of close to the story he's trying to present. It's a if there isn't a real focus, yet every page seems to scream "someone turn this into a script", we can only hope that doesn't happen. Lastly, I was upset by the way Kushner tries to paint a balanced picture between the pitfalls of Romero and Carmack, he tries to bring them both down to even ground as having made some mistakes, but both being equals. The reality is that Carmack was the good guy though most all of the problems, Romero brought on most of his own pain and really destroyed what Id had. Kushner points out that Carmack did not want to fire Romero, but he had no choice, but he fails to point out that Romero's absense caused a lot of Ids problems there after and had a direct negative impact on Carmack. The demise of Id (that really never happend, thanks to Carmack and others) was much to the blame of Romero and his childish ways. He should have been painted as a bad guy, but Kushner just couldn't go there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, Entertaining, Empty, May 9 2003
By 
Chris Lee Mullins (Highlands Ranch, CO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
I grew up on games, much like the subjects of Dave Kushner's quasi-dual-biography, "Masters of Doom". Like many people in my generation (born from 1970-1977), I grew up just as computer games were hitting the mainstream. I remember the release of the first Ultima game. I remember my first years in college as playing "Wolfenstein 3D" became a worthwhile replacement for studying. I remember begging my parents to allow me to use their credit card just so I could order the retail version of "Doom". Playing in my first "Doom" LAN. Playing my first "Quake" deathmatch online.
If any of this sounds familiar to you and stirs up fond memories, this is a book you should definately purchase.
Anyone who has followed game development over the past decade will recognize the names of the principles - John Carmack, John Romero, Tom Hall, Adrian Carmark, Kevin Cloud, ID Software, Apogee, etc... David Kushner has created a literary time machine with his work, exhaustively researched (though factually inaccurate in several places), briskly paced, and extremely informative.
Sadly, the aforementioned "brisk pace" almost undermines the book. Kushner spends very little time on the childhoods of Romero and Carmark - about 20 pages each, just enough to indicate how difficult their childhoods were, how misunderstood and deprived they felt. Kushner rips through their early years, their maligned stint at Softdisk crunching out shareware, recruiting programmers and forming ID Software in Texas, Romero's hyped departure and the creation of ION Storm. Its all here, but often feels glossed over. I felt the need to know more about the principles. Any regret for the sacrifices they made for their success? To get inside their skulls, what are they really thinking?
Fact is, the book is probably a work of genius, considering its potentional audience. Its written by a guy with a short attention span for people with short attention spans. I enjoyed the heck out of it, but it left me with more questions than answers. Nuff said
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read for gamers and non-gamers alike..., Jan. 5 2004
By 
Christian Hunter "Christian Hunter" (Austin, TX, Santa Barbara, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (Hardcover)
I've been a virtual slave to gaming since I was big enough to pick up a Joystick (remember those things), however, when the PC became a platform to play on (back 'round 86), gaming had a new venue to "get serious". Graphics, immersion, networking with other players; most all of these important aspects of the game playing experience were pushed furthest out by the PC, and those coders that were at the front line of that innovation is what this book is all about.
The PC/Console gaming industry has already eclipsed that of the movie business, but in my opinion it's only just begun. Masters of Doom paints a colorful and detailed picture of the "garage and dorm-room" origins of game coding, on through to the big business, big money industry it is today.
I would reccomend this book highly to all interested in gaming, business, or good ol fashion American success stories.
Enjoy...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
Used & New from: CDN$ 15.31
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews