20 Years of id: Doom, Quake, and More


Posted August 10, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly

20 Years of id Software. Has it really been that long? When you remember the glory days of Doom and Quake, it does seem like it's been a long time, but it's hard to believe that it's really been two decades since this iconic company burst onto the scene. At this year's QuakeCon, our own Morgan Webb moderated the "20 Years of id" panel, welcoming John Carmack, Todd Hollenshead, Kevin Cloud, and Tim Willits to the stage to reminisce about working at the company that gave us FPS games spawned from the pits of Hell itself. You can watch the full video below, and check out the highlights beyond the break. 

20 Years of Id QuakeCon 2011 Panel »

20 Years of id: Doom, Quake, and More From John Carmack, Todd Hollenshead, Kevin Cloud, and Tim Willits
  • Todd: Wolfenstein 3D was my introduction to the company. I was a fan of the company before I came onboard, and before that I was doing the tax returns for all these guys before I was working at the company.
  • Todd: We've made some interesting decisions over the years. Quake shareware at 7-11 was probably something we shouldn't have done.
  • John: Todd was always telling us how screwed up our development practices were.
  • Tim: When I played my first id game, I knew that I wanted to work in video games. I used to daydream about working at id Software. Even these days when I'm walking through the halls at id and I think, "I'm working at id!"
  • Kevin: The guys were all located in Wisconsin and the offices were in John's apartment, so that's when I came up there.
  • John: We had just finished our first winter in Wisconsin and we knew we didn't want to stay there, and we were trying to decide where to move. We decided on Dallas, partly because Texas did not have a personal income tax, and meanwhile Kevin had found an apartment in Wisconsin, so we left a message on his machine that said "DON'T SIGN THE LEASE, CALL US IMMEDIATELY."

20 Years of id: Doom, Quake, and More From John Carmack, Todd Hollenshead, Kevin Cloud, and Tim Willits

  • Kevin: I thought I'd been fired just after moving here and relocating my entire family!
  • John: The reason we ended up in Wisconsin was that when we had worked on Commander Keen, we working in a lake house in Shreveport. Tom and Jason had gone to college up in Wisconsin, and they looked at things through rose-colored glasses. "It was so great up there!" So we moved up there.
  • John: "Multiplayer is going to be done right in all future games with dedicated servers. and all that."
  • Todd: Interestingly enough, people ask about the "Satanic influence" on our games. There isn't one, but our old office was Suite 666, where Satan loomed over Donna Jackson, the receptionist at the time (whom they all call the "id mom"). One time, someone came up to us and asked, "Is it true that you guys sacrifice goats?"
  • Tim on the "Console scum that are ruining hardcore games": Tim - "It's better than the PC scum that are stealing the games." This got some huge boos.
  • John: You would not be able to have the games you have today without the broad reach of the consoles. Developing costs money, and having those console platforms brings in that money.
  • Kevin: I think the true experience of competitive multiplayer is on the PC.
20 Years of id: Doom, Quake, and More From John Carmack, Todd Hollenshead, Kevin Cloud, and Tim Willits
  • When we started id we had a Nintendo and we played Super Mario 3 throughout the development. But then we swore off Nintendo for a decade, because when we submitted Wolfenstein 3D for the NES, they made us take out all the swastikas and change the blood to something else, and the attack dogs turned into giant rats.
  • John: The funny thing is, you would spend $500 dollars on a video card to play a $50 game. 
  • John: "Consoles are PCs with the expandability cut off of them."
  • John on the future of PC gaming: "We'll be here. We're not going anywhere."
  • John on his son: Someone asked me son recently what he wanted to do, and he said "I want to build robots and become a billionaire." You know, that kid might just be able to pull that off.

20 Years of id: Doom, Quake, and More


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