Critical Section

Masters of Doom

Sunday,  06/08/03  11:02 AM

I'm reading Masters of Doom, about John Carmack and John Romero, the programming geniuses behind id software (Doom, Quake, etc.).  Really fun reading.  If you're a coder and especially if you're a gamer, you'll really enjoy it.

Commander Keen 1
(click for fullsize screen)

I am not a gamer - at all - I have truly never played Doom or Quake, despite being in teams where we setup a separate network for high-performance multiplayer Doom.  But I had to try Commander Keen, id's first game.  Keen was released as DOS shareware in 1990, and was designed to emulate Nintendo-like graphics on the PC.  Sure enough I found Commander Keen, all seven episodes, and then Dosbox which lets you run old DOS games under Windows XP.  It works!  And it was surprisingly fun, kind of like Super Mario on my kids' N64.  Yeah, the graphics aren't as good, but given the limitations of the platform they are absolutely acceptable.  And the gameplay is amazingly just about the same (to me, at least, remember I am not a gamer).  Very cool.

Myst III: Exile
(click for fullsize screen)

If I then run Myst Exile (okay, I'm not a gamer, but I did enjoy Myst / Riven / Myst Exile) it is also amazing how far graphics have come.  If the gameplay is similar, the graphics are not; in thirteen years the state of the art has advanced incredibly far.  Which makes one wonder - where will the state of the art be in thirteen more years?

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