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!