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Masters of Doom by David Kushner (2003)

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Carmack was refining his engine, getting the smooth scrolling down to the point where Keen could move as fluidly left or right as he could up or down. Romero, meanwhile, was working the editor, the program that allows the developers to put together the graphics of the game—characters, rooms, monsters. It was essentially a game designer’s construction kit. Carmack and Romero were in sync. Not everyone else gelled quite as well. Lane was now officially kicked out of the Keen development. Despite Romero’s fondness for him as a friend, he felt that Lane’s energy was lacking. Adrian was having problems of his own. Though he was recruited later to help them work on Keen, Adrian hated the project. It was too… cutesy. Tom had a target audience in mind: “kids,” he said, “or those who have kidlike mentalities like we do.” Adrian hated kiddie stuff. Even more, he hated cutesy. Worst of all was cutesy kiddie. And now here he was having to sit all night drawing pizza slices, soda pop, and candy. Tom came up with a little character called a Yorp with a big fat green body and one periscopelike eye over his head. Even the monsters were cute. In most games, when a character died, it would simply disappear, vanish. But Tom had other notions. He was eager to incorporate some “larger philosophical ideas,” as he said. He loosely based characters on ideas he’d read in Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents; a guard was made to represent an id.
He wanted to teach kids that when people or even aliens die, they
Carmack had been building a large D&D campaign for the guys, and on Saturday nights they’d gather around a table and play into the early morning hours. With Carmack as Dungeon Master, the game took on depth and complexity. It was quickly becoming the longest and deepest D&D game he’d ever created. And there were no signs of it letting up. Other times, they’d cruise the lake on the boat. Jay quickly became the designated driver; his impeccable focus gave him the ability to drive not only fast but steady. A couple times they let Romero drive, but he was having too much fun, steering the boat precipitously off course. Jay also fell comfortably into the role of manager or, in a sense, frat house president. While the guys worked, he would grill up ribs on the barbecue or restock the sodas. They were under the gun and needed all the help they could get. They didn’t need any help getting motivated, however. Carmack, in particular, seemed almost inhumanly immune to distraction. One time, Jay tested Carmack’s resolve by popping a porno video into the VCR and cranking it to full volume. Romero and the others immediately heard the “oohs” and “aahs,” and turned around cracking up. Carmack, though, stayed glued to his monitor. Only after a minute or so did he acknowledge the increasingly active groans. His sole response was “Mmm.” Then he returned to the work at hand.

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