RIP id V2.0

Below is an unabridged copy of John Carmack's .plan file. Thanks to the Brutal Finger Gateway for the copy.

Carmack's words are in italics, while mine aren't. Simple enough. Oh, and it might be a good idea to read my 'RIP id (V1.0)' rant first and see my original opinion on id Software.

Well, this is going to be an interesting .plan update.

Most of this is not really public business, but if some things aren't stated explicitly, it will reflect unfairly on someone.

This is to Carmack's credit. Read on, I'll touch on that later.

As many people have heard discussed, there was quite a desire to remake DOOM as our next project after Q3. Discussing it brought an almost palpable thrill to most of the employees, but Adrian had a strong enough dislike for the idea that it was shot down over and over again.

That's a damn strong dislike, when one person can kill a project like that. (I quickly found out it was far more than mere dislike, but an act of shareholder muscle-flexing. Read on.)

Design work on an alternate game has been going on in parallel with the mission pack development and my research work.

Several factors, including a general lack of enthusiasm for the proposed plan, the warmth that Wolfenstien was met with at E3, and excitement about what we can do with the latest rendering technology were making it seem more and more like we weren't going down the right path.

I discussed it with some of the other guys, and we decided that it was important enough to drag the company through an unpleasant fight over it.

Some option. It's either 'we make the game and you hate it' or 'we don't and I hate it'. I'd like to state that there could be some sort of compromise, but I can't see an easy one. Still, no game can be good if someone doesn't want to make it. Talk about a nail in the coffin for id.

An ultimatum was issued to Kevin and Adrian(who control >50% of the company): We are working on DOOM for the next project unless you fire us.

Two things here. First, this is why one person could torpedo a project. All he needs to do is get one person on his side and that's 50% of the stock right there. Everyone else is what is called, in certain math circles, 'the dummies'. Not because they're stupid, but because they're irrelevant, like the dummy player in bridge is (IIRC).

Second, issuing an ultimatum is suicidal, especially if you're doing it as a group. Carmack is (mostly) safe because he's the engine man/cash cow, and many gamers have this unrealistic belief that an engine that was finished yesterday is needed to make a good game. And engine licensing is big business for id. However, everyone else is expendable. People can be lured from other companies, and then Looking Glass Studios (makers of the Thief and System Shock series) just went under so there's some very good talent just waiting to be snapped up.

Obviously no fun for anyone involved, but the project direction was changed, new hires have been expedited, and the design work has begun.

I feel sorry for the new hires. Walking in to an internal war is not a good thing for one's sanity.

It wasn't planned to announce this soon, but here it is: We are working on a new DOOM game, focusing on the single player game experience, and using brand new technology in almost every aspect of it. That is all we are prepared to say about the game for quite some time, so don't push for interviews. We will talk about it when things are actually built, to avoid giving misleading comments.

I'm still cynical. I won't be convinced that a new Doom will be any good until it's out and I've played it. After the Quake series, my opinion of id dropped through the floor.

It went smoother than expected, but the other shoe dropped yesterday.

And we sang dirges in the dark....

Kevin and Adrian fired Paul Steed in retaliation, over my opposition.

Like I said. Carmack's safe, but his supporters aren't.

Paul has certainly done things in the past that could be grounds for dismissal, but this was retaliatory for him being among the "conspirators".

This worries me. Not so much because Steed (designer of large-breasted anorexic characters) took the bullet that bounced off of Carmack's kevlar programming skills, but because he's already done stuff that could be grounds for dismissal. Are we talking looking at 1337 pr0N on the job kind of grounds, or something more malicious? I've never liked Paul Steed, but this seems to prove my suspicions.

Update: June 7, 2000 AD - Paul Steed has handily allowed me to completely confirm my suspicions. How? Visit LoonyGames' Thinking Outside the Box series. Talk about not being all there.

I happen to think Paul was damn good at his job, and that he was going to be one of the most valuable contributors to DOOM.

We need to hire two new modeler/animator/cinematic director types. If you have a significant commercial track record in all three areas, and consider yourself at the top of your field, send your resume to Kevin Cloud.

Now this is where I give Carmack a lot of credit. He recounted the entire sad tale, even so far as announcing a greatly desired game that may well be vaporware if more pink slips arrive (it's not his style to announce stuff until he has far more done than that), before asking for applicants. He didn't just announce that Steed was leaving and someone was needed, he had the guts to put the whole ugly issue on the table so applicants know that they're walking onto a battlefield. That's far more than a lot of companies do.

As an aside to the people who are already saving up their pennies for this new Doom game: Don't count on it yet. Most games have an 18-month development cycle, so we're looking at an early 2002 release date, assuming this whole mess is cleared up post-haste. If the engine is rebuilt from ground-up, that's another 18 months there. So that's mid/late 2003. Throw in any delays and that's almost Doom's current lifespan over again.

And remember what the Carmack-Romero conflict did to Quake....

The Archon

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