my gaming past, present and future
Saturday April 18th 2015

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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!

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Reader Feedback

22 Responses to “id Software: 20 Years Old Today!”

  1. Jonas says:

    Congratulations id software! Your legacy continues in the gaming industry.

  2. Giuseppe Puglisi says:

    Long live id Software!
    And I really hope oneday you’ll create something together again, like those typical heavy metal bands reunion. happy

  3. Brian says:

    I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since my brothers and I used to fight over whose turn it was to play Wolfenstein 3D. We loved that game and I play it occasionally to this day–it’s still fun! And then there was Doom, which I secretly installed in my school’s computer lab so we could play deathmatch during typing class. E1M7 was and still is the greatest level ever!

    You guys are responsible for a lot of great memories. Thanks!

  4. Happy birthday id Software. Your games are really an inspiration for me: Quake (QuakeC) and Doom are the reasons that brought me to game development.

  5. […] à la toute première version de Prey. Sa destinée a ensuite suivi presque en permanence celle de John Romero, une fois celui-ci également libéré d’id Software : ils ont monté ensemble ION Storm (où […]

  6. Julio says:

    I wish the same John ! I got with ID games waaay back in Wolfeinstein 3D. Saw all ID games seen the light of the day and I gotta tell you… Quake 1 is still the best game. Followed by Doom 3 and Quake III Arena. ID now is departing to different waters such as this Rage thing that they will be releasing sometime next year… Lets see what will come up. Quake 4 definitly didn´t please me.

    • David H. says:

      no way! Doom/Doom 2 are the best. They set the standard for gameplay. Quake is the next best. Finally, Quake 2. Congrats id on 20 years! I just finished reading Masters of doom by David Kushner. Great book!

  7. Daniel Monteiro says:

    Congratulations on changing history!
    Rescue Rover was absolutely great! Not to mention my teen years blasting my friends over serial link in Doom.
    Thanks for giving us all those great games.

  8. Ranger366 says:

    Happy birthday id.
    Thank’s for all those games, and for the future releases.
    Btw thanks John for E1M1 in Quake, its my favourite map.

  9. David Arcila says:

    id Software legacy will forever inspire future game developers.

    Happy Birthday id Software!

  10. Scott Reed says:

    Happy Birthday id and Thank You, John.

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  12. Dancomosh says:

    Hi Jhon!! I’m another crazy fan since the beginning of id Software. You and the guys at id are for me as GODS! From Argentina, an eternal warrior “Qranger” standing, greets you, THANK YOU!!!!

  13. dwuser says:

    Compared to today’s game engines creating evermore realistic environments, one could count Doom to the arcades by now, with simple gameplay. Which is probably why it still receives so much attention. id’s next game should be something without the complexity of contemporary games..

  14. Fiend says:

    Quake is number one game of all time. Nuff said.

  15. Dave Burns says:

    id Software will always be the forefather of FPS, I remember getting my hands on Wolfenstein at a very early age and then moving onto Doom. Quake will always be my favourite though, never has anyone felt so good about telling their friends on QW about their new Pentium 166 rig with a Orchid 3DFX card as I did back then.

    QuakeWorld invented most of what we play today, Team Deathmatch, CTF, TF and even Head Hunter! So many memories and so many good times!

    Without id Software we would probably still be playing Pac-Man and Gauntlet.

    Here is to another 20 great and glorious 20 years.

  16. | Balu | says:

    A bit late to respond now.. But I was telling a friend of mine about Dangerous Dave, it was one of the first games I ever played and like it better than Mario (most people think I’m crazy). But it had jetpacks, guns and ofcourse rotating sticks which could kill you =P

  17. AiO says:

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  18. PsyberDave says:


    Congratulations and thank you SO much for the works you and id have created. I remember the day I put the 3.5 inch floppy of Wolfenstein 3D shareware into my PC. I sat there in amazement at the screen. “This is SHAREWARE?”, I thought to myself. Shareware was usually cheesy and feeble. But this was an amazing game. I couldn’t wait to buy the real version. I had picked the title out of a catalog because I thought it was related to one of my favorite games from my Apple II days, Castle Wolfenstein. And it was WAY better than I had expected.

    Your story of the first time you saw the smooth side scrolling of Dangerous Dave reminds me of the first time I saw Wolfenstein. Just one of those life changing moments that we take a while to savor and soak in.

    id is my Beatles.

  19. R. Smith says:

    Hi John, I’ve been a huge fan of id for years and am just now reading “Masters of Doom” for the first time (about 3/4 through). Can’t put it down. I really admire your passion and courage to follow your dreams. You guys deserve all you have, every bit. Here’s to another 20 years!

    BTW, if you can tell us, which apartments did you all set up shop in Madison? I went to school at UW-Madison and lived in the apartments on Sheboygan Ave. (Chapel Hill specifically).

  20. Chip says:

    Oh hey, and soon it’s Quake’s 15 year anniversary. We are celebrating it by organizing a Quake Expo –

    Quite an impressive job you did there!

    Come visit us!

  21. Nicolas says:

    Congrats id! I play all of games of John Romero since 91/92 and I love thems, and I remembers always, marked an era indelible was a time of inovasion.

    Regards from Argentina !!

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