id Software, Inc.

Moby ID: 61

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id Software, based in Mesquite, Texas, is considered by many the godfather of 3D-based first person shooter games. The company's originators, John Carmack (programmer), John Romero (programmer/designer), Tom Hall (designer), Lane Roathe (programmer) and Adrian Carmack, were originally developers at Softdisk's Gamer Edge, a games division creating Apple II and PC games for monthly subscription issues, but they were also working on projects outside of the company.

The early years

In September 1990, programmer John Carmack was the first to recreate the smooth side-scrolling technique supported by Nintendo's NES hardware as seen in their Mario games. Since 1981, PC graphic adapters were able to do this, but Carmack was the first to uncover and use the hardware and invented a software method he called adaptive tile refresh. They used this concept to create a PC demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES). Romero knew this was a major breakthrough, and he wanted to break away from Softdisk immediately. As not to interfere with their regular work, they secretly borrowed the company's computers in the weekends, and worked on their port on another location, along with the help of Jay Wilbur. They called themselves Ideas From the Deep, a name that Romero and Roathe had previously used for their collaborations. They sent the finished port to Nintendo of America in 1990, but it was turned down because Nintendo had no interest in entering the PC market.

Some time after the demo, Romero was contacted by Scott Miller, who went through great lengths to get to the Gamer's Edge developers. He asked them to develop shareware games for his company Apogee, and they came up with Commander Keen, a trilogy, which they finished in December 1990, after working it in the evenings and at night, next to their day job developing games for Softdisk. Commander Keen was a major success, and as the first big money started to roll in, they decided to break away from Softdisk. The used up company time was revealed, and they had to write a new game every two months for Gamer's Edge to make up for it. Nevertheless, on 1 February 1991, id Software was born. For the name, they dropped the "F" from IFD (Ideas From the Deep).

While Adrian Carmack, John Romero and John Carmack founded their company, Lane Roathe, who had been kept aside from the work on Commander Keen, left the group for Three-Sixty Pacific, Inc. as he wanted to go to California. Jay Wilbur and Tom Hall stayed at Softdisk. Their breakthrough game was Commander Keen in 1990. It would later evolve into two trilogies and an extra episode, comprising seven games in total. The company has always focused on franchises, but in the beginning they developed individual games in between. They also tended to offer large parts of the game as fully playable shareware. While working on 3D techniques, they fulfilled their Softdisk contract with innovative games such as Rescue Rover, Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion, Hovertank, and Keen Dreams. In December 1991, they finished the second set of Commander Keen games for Apogee and published, through FormGen, another Keen episode, Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter!

Wolfenstein and Doom

In 1992, the highly-acclaimed Wolfenstein 3D was released, and it was the starting point for id's focus on first-person shooters. After creating a sequel, Spear of Destiny (1992), they launched Doom in 1993. It revolutionized the genre with varying floor and ceiling heights, texture mapping and network / Internet play. 1994 brought the sequel Doom II, and both games became some of the best-selling games in history.

Quake and franchises

In 1995, the company started a new franchise with the game Quake. Released five months after Duke Nukem 3D's shareware version, Quake introduced a full 3D engine, Internet multiplayer, in-game console, and mouselook.

The company has since developed sequels for its three main franchises: Quake II, Quake III: Arena, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Doom³ and Quake 4 with additional expansions. id Software also sold licenses to its engines, while providing for the community by releasing SDKs and the full engines' source code when it was no longer actively used. The main engine programmer, John Carmack, has become a prominent figure for his work on 3D engines, often advising graphics cards manufacturers. One of his latest accomplishments is the MegaTexturing technology introduced in Rage. Instead of creating separate textures and then tiling them, he made it possible to design large outdoor maps with varied environments with one monumentally large texture editable on a pixel-by-pixel basis, but requiring a smaller amount of memory. Regardless of this, the company has lost its trademark impact of raising the bar for other developers, generally since Quake III: Arena in 1999.

The company organizes a yearly Quakecon LAN party where its products are honoured and showcased. id also expanded the Quake franchise with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, based on the success of the free multiplayer game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Orcs & Elves was the company's first new intellectual property in more then ten years, since the release of Quake.

On 1 August 2008, John Carmack revealed that the company had been working eighteen months on a survival horror title called Darkness. Development had begun straight after Doom³, but production was halted when they realized the game was covering ground id had previously tread.

Under ZeniMax

After many years of a publishing partnership with Activision, the company was acquired by ZeniMax Media on 24 June 2009, taking most of their intellectual properties with them.

The Rage franchise was launched in 2010. Rage uses used id Software's id Tech 5 engine and was developed in-house to be released on multiple platforms (PC, Xbox 360, Mac and PlayStation 3). In that same year, the company also announced a new game in the Quake series: Quake Live (early on known as Quake Zero), a browser version of Quake III.

A secondary studio was opened in Germany in 2015, in the offices of ZeniMax Germany.

The company rebooted the Doom franchise with the successful Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal (2020). Quake: Champions was released in early access in 2017 and fully in 2022. Meanwhile, the Wolfenstein franchise was handled by fellow ZeniMax subsidiary MachineGames instead of id Software.

id Software would partner with NVIDIA to release Quake II RTX in 2019, as well as Nightdive Studios and MachineGames to release enhanced versions of Quake and Quake II in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

Credited on 165 Games from 1990 to 2023

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Starfield (2023 on Windows, Windows Apps, Xbox Series...)
Station 37 (2023 on Windows)
Quake II (2023 on Windows, Windows Apps, PlayStation 4...)
Redfall (2023 on Windows, Xbox Series, Windows Apps)
Doom: The Classics Collection (Special Edition) (2022 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4)
Doom: The Classics Collection (2021 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4)
Rekkr: Sunken Land (2021 on Windows)
Quake (2021 on Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch...)
Vomitoreum (2021 on Linux, Windows)
Rescue Rover Collection (2021 on Windows)
Doom³: VR Edition (2021 on PlayStation 4)
Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods - Part Two (2021 on Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch...)
Retroninjacyberassassin (2020 on Windows)
Lycanthorn II: Rain of Beasts (2020 on Linux, Windows)
Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods - Part One (2020 on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One...)
Shrine II (2020 on Linux, Windows)
Commander Keen: Keen Dreams - Definitive Edition (2020 on Windows, Wii U, Xbox One...)
Doom Eternal (2020 on Windows, Windows Apps, PlayStation 4...)
Shrine (2020 on Windows, Linux)
Wrath: Aeon of Ruin (2019 on Linux, Windows, PlayStation 4...)

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History +

September 21, 2020

Became part of Xbox Game Studios through the acquisition of parent company ZeniMax Media.

June 24, 2009

ZeniMax Media Inc. announces to have acquired id Software.

November 15, 2007

The company announces the mobile division id Mobile, in cooperation with Fountainhead Entertainment.

September 2005

Earlier in 2005, it was announced that co-founder Adrian Carmack had left the company to pursue other interests, but in September he took his former business partners to court, claiming he had been fired after refusing a buyout offer of $20 million of his 41% stake in the company. Under the terms of a contract he is now seeking have declared void, Carmack will now have to sell his shares back to id for $11 million. Carmack claims that because he turned down a takeover bid from Activision, the other board members forced him out of the company and now want to reacquire the shares at a price estimated much lower than the true value.

January 6, 2004

Todd Hollenshead (CEO) and Tim Willits (Lead Designer) have been granted ownership shares in id Software, Inc. and join the ownership team of Adrian Carmack, John Carmack and Kevin Cloud

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Trivia +

id software was originally ID software (yes, capitals), and before that, "Ideas from the Deep".

id software is actually pronounced "eed" software. "id" is a Latin word meaning "it" in English. The id is the part of our unconscious which is led by our most basic and ancient animal impulses.

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