Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
id Software is a computer game developer based in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The company was founded by four members of the computer company Softdisk: John Carmack, a programmer, John Romero and Tom Hall, game designers, and Adrian Carmack, an artist and is now considered the most influential game development company of the many game development companies in the Dallas area, known as the Dallas Gaming Mafia .
Note the lower-case id, which refers to the id as a psychological concept. Originally, both letters were capitals (ID Software), and stood for "In Demand". The "I" was made lowercase in the release of the second Commander Keen series, and eventually the "D" was also dropped down to lowercase which changed the meaning of the company name.
The founders of id Software met in the offices of SoftDisk developing multiple games for SoftDisk for monthly publishing. These included Dangerous Dave and other titles. Once Apogee Software learned of the group and their exceptional talent, they recruited them, and developed the necessary titles for them to get out of their SoftDisk contracts. Meanwhile, they worked on titles that would be developed under the ID Software moniker. The most successful of those outings would be Commander Keen.
The Commander Keen series, a platform game introducing one of the first smooth side-scrolling game engines for the PC, brought id Software into the gaming mainstream. The game was very successful and spawned a whole series of titles. It was also the group of id Software that designer Tom Hall was most affiliated with.
The shareware distribution method was initially employed by id Software through Apogee Software to sell their products, such as the Commander Keen, Doom and Wolfenstein games. They would release the first part of their trilogy as shareware, then sell the other two installments by mail order. Only later (about the time of the release of Doom II) did id release their games via more traditional shrink-wrapped boxes in stores (through other game publishers). It is likely that id Software has been the most successful shareware publisher to date.
The company's breakout product was Wolfenstein 3D, a first person shooter with smooth 3D graphics that were unprecedented in computer games, and with violent game play that many gamers found engaging. After essentially founding an entire genre with this game, id created Doom, Doom II, Quake, Quake II, Quake III, and Doom 3. Each of these first person shooters featured progressively higher levels of graphical technology (and progressively higher minimum system requirements).
The lead programmer for id Software is John Carmack, whose skill at 3D programming is widely recognised in the software industry. He is the last of the original lead designers remaining in the company.
Tom Hall left id Software during the early days of Doom development (but not before he had some impact: he was responsible, for example, for the inclusion of teleporters in the game). However, Hall felt that his place was not at id software, and saw his future was elsewhere, so he left before the shareware release of Doom for Apogee to work on Rise of the Triad, with the Developers of Incredible Power. Tom Hall has frequently commented that if id software ever sell him the rights to Commander Keen he will immediately develop another Keen title.
John Romero, who also felt that id Software was not supportive of his ideas, left after the release of the shareware Quake to form the ill-fated Ion Storm. Having already finished his work on Rise of the Triad, and not finding himself compatible with the Prey development team at Apogee, Tom Hall left to join his ex-id compadre in this new company.
Both Hall and Romero are seen as excellent designers and idea men who have helped shape some of the key PC gaming titles of the 90's.
The release of Quake marked the second milestone in id history. Quake combined a cutting edge fully 3D engine with an excellent art style to create what was at the time regarded as a feast for the eyes. Furthermore, Quake's main innovation—the capability to play a deathmatch (competitive gameplay between living opponents instead of against computer-run characters) over the Internet (especially through the add-on QuakeWorld) seared the title into the minds of gamers as another smash hit.
Opinion and engines
However, the success of Quake II, Quake III and Doom 3, though financially very successful, have met some critical opposition. id's games have continued to rate well in magazines, but community opinion on the later id games is often divided, with some accusing the company of being too orthodox in their design principles, especially with their latest title, Doom 3. id's games have always included new revolutionary technologies, varying from graphics to netcode.
Currently, id's "game engines" are licensed to many other developers. This, along with Carmack's heavily orthodox FPS design ideas are two facts that have helped shape public opinion, to the point at which some in the community regard id firstly as a technology developer, and only secondly as a game developer. The price of licensing id's engines normally runs about $250,000 per title. id releases its older game engines, such as that of Quake and Quake II, under the GNU GPL for others to use free of charge (bound by the GPL license restrictions).
In 2003, the book Masters of Doom chronicled the development of id, concentrating on the personalities and interaction of John Carmack and John Romero.
Games by id Software
- Commander Keen
- Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion (1991)
- Rescue Rover (1991)
- Rescue Rover 2 (1991)
- Hovertank 3D (1991)
- Catacomb 3D: A New Dimension (1992) re-released as Catacomb 3-D: The Descent
- Catacomb Abyss (1992)
- Catacomb Armageddon (1992) re-released as Curse of the Catacombs
- Catacomb Apocalypse (1992) re-released as Terror of the Catacombs
- Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
- Spear of Destiny (1992)
- Doom (1993)
- The Ultimate Doom (1995)
- Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994)
- Quake (1996)
- Quake II (1997)
- Quake III Arena (1999)
- Expansion: Team Arena (2000)
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) (developed by Gray Matter Interactive, multiplayer part by Nerve Software )
- Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003) (developed by Splash Damage )
- Doom 3 (2004)
- Quake IV (2005) (developed by Raven Software)
- Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: how two guys created an empire and transformed pop culture, New York: Random House. ISBN 0375505245.
- Official id site
- QuakeCon.org, id Software fan site
- The Wizardry of Id article By David Kushner from IEEE Spectrum Online
- A Chat With id Software - a Gamespy interview with people at id Software
- A Look Back at Commander Keen includes some details on the history of id
- id Museum, a page dedicated to id Software
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