id software

Happy 21st Birthday id Software

It's that time again! The good news is that the company is still intact and working on projects (DOOM 4 for sure).

The bad news is that id laid-off a batch of people earlier in January, probably because they didn't need 100 people to sit on a brand-new team.

Also, it's unfortunate that this birthday hasn't been recognized anywhere, not even on id's own blog. They're probably too busy dealing with the massive success of Skyrim. Grats!

id Software: 20 Years Old Today!

When John Carmack, Adrian Carmack and I officially started our first day at the lakehouse on Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, we had absolutely no idea that our company would last twenty years.

After three months, Tom Hall officially joined us in May 1991. He wanted his transition from Softdisk to go smoothly, so he stayed to train his replacement. Our first year at id was spent mostly developing games for Softdisk's Gamer's Edge subscription disk - the product I started, but then left when the company could hold us no longer.

In our first year, 1991, we created Shadow Knights, Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion, Rescue Rover, Hovertank One, Rescue Rover II, Keen Dreams, Commander Keen: Secret of the Oracle, Commander Keen: The Armageddon Machine, Commander Keen: Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter!, Catacomb 3D and Tiles of the Dragon. Eleven games in one year! Not counting the Keen games, Softdisk paid us $5,000 for each game. It was a good thing our first Commander Keen trilogy was making money and gaining each month, otherwise our trajectory would have been drastically different. (In the halls of id Software, some of these games are on display in hanging frames.)

When we started creating Wolfenstein 3D in January 1992 (in Madison, Wisconsin), we still had one more game to create for Softdisk, but we didn't want to do it. We were too excited to create Wolfenstein 3D! So, George Broussard, co-founder of Apogee Software/3D Realms, offered to create the final game for us. The result of his labors, using our game engine, was the rare and obscure game, ScubaVenture: The Search For Pirate's Treasure! (An interesting trivia point about the game's title: one of my programming heroes, Nasir Gebelli, wrote a game called ScubaVenture back in 1983.)

Our first year was the last time we were so prolific. As the games got more complex, and better, the time to develop them grew. Wolfenstein 3D took 6 months, DOOM took one year, Quake took 18 months. In between, our sequels took less time (Spear of Destiny, 2 months; DOOM II, 8 months), but they were using existing code we'd already written.

Twenty years, wow. That is quite an impressive accomplishment, due in large part to the torch-carrying efforts of John Carmack and Kevin Cloud, both of whom remain at id Software today. May id Software live another strong 20 years!

QTest was Ground Zero

Today is the 14th anniversary of QTest, our release to the public of the Quake executable along with three deathmatch maps, to test our network code over the internet.

Quake was our first internet-playable game, and we knew it would be great to let players try out the net code before the game's release so we had some lead time to fix all the bugs found with it.

At id Software, we never had a QA department. We were our own QA team, us programmers, designers and artists. A pretty small group, but we were pretty thorough. The network code in Quake, however, needed to be tested way more than our small group could handle because of the amount of networking hardware our packets had to travel through.

It paid off - Quake was released with pretty reliable network code. Playing Quake on a LAN was always a much, much better experience, so John Carmack addressed that with the QuakeWorld release in November 1996 by fixing the network code and adding client-side prediction. Now, the issues he fixed are just part of normal network programming.

The day we released QTest, we invited a very small, select group of hardcore DOOM players to our office to test our release right in front of us. They're known as the QTest 7. They are:

Here are the original photos of the QTest event at id Software that Wendigo took that Sunday.

The release of QTest paved the way for high-speed internet FPS gaming. I guess you could say that February 24, 1996 was the beginning of the future. Long live QTest!

Happy Birthday id Software

It's id Software's 19th birthday today. It makes me wonder: how many people working at id right now actually know that?

Next year will be two decades of KeenWolfensteinDoom, and Quake. How many game companies still standing can boast 20 years? Not many. And most companies that live past 20 years are so far removed from their origins that they're not even the same company.

John Carmack and Kevin Cloud, two of id's earliest team members, and John as a co-founder, are still with the company, and working hard on RAGE and Doom 4. John is right down in the pit with the development team, where all the action happens. Kevin manages, as always, exceptionally well on multiple fronts. I salute their efforts to continue the dynasty.

It all started on February 1, 1991. John, Adrian and I left our jobs at Softdisk (R.I.P.) and began work immediately on Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion at the id lake house in Shreveport, Louisiana. Tom Hall needed to stay a few months longer at Softdisk, to help them ease his transition out of the Apple II team. But after work, he'd come over and help out.

Those were prolific years. The years 1990 and 1991 saw us develop almost 20 games with wildly different play styles and themes. The Keens, The Dangerous Daves, the Rescue Rovers, the Catacombs, and more. There were a lot of them and all were fun. Wolfenstein 3D begat the first-person shooter genre in 1992, and id hasn't looked back.

Congratulations on 19 years, id!