PvP Player Versus Player Cartoonist Scott Kurtz Visits id Software

My Visit To Id Software: April 4th, 2000

There are so many benefits to drawing PvP. First and foremost is the realization that I’m very close to accomplishing a dream that started when I was in the fourth grade: To be a professional cartoonist. I get a lot of emails from my readers and almost everyone of them offers a little praise, appreciation and encouragement. And, as if that wasn’t enough, every once in a while someone in the industry sends me one of those emails. And so it was last week when Paul Jaquays, designer at id Software decided to drop me a note.

Paul, apparently, is a big fan of the strip and he just realized that I live in the DFW area. Id Software is just 15 minutes from my day job and he would be happy to give me a tour of the software giants digs. Lead designer Graeme Divine broadly hinted that he would love a PvP tee shirt. I took what I had, left work early and headed towards Mesquite Texas.

I decided on the drive over that trying to act cool was going to fail. I’m too much of a fanboy to have any hope that I could keep from making a complete ass of myself. Luckily, the guys that make the worlds most popular action games are so cool, it was easy to fit in.

Walking into the id lobby is like walking into a horror film. There are posters of aliens and monsters and big drippy teeth covering the walls. Models of nasty beasts, Freddy Krueger and other oddities sat gruesomely on bookshelves. The id receptionist was playing a game of Q3 Arena when I arrived. She had to stop playing to call Paul and let him know I had arrived. I apologized.

Paul walked me around, introducing me to people as we went. He explained how they were moving soon to new offices. One of the motivating factors for the move was a lack of balance with the heating/cooling systems. I was excited because new offices would give me an excuse to come visit again. I made note of that and continued.

Paul Steed is one of the coolest guys on the planet and I’d like to say that we hit it off. I don’t want to date him or anything, but I think that it would really be great to hang out with him one night, drink some beers and talk about games and comics. Paul’s office was covered with the female form. Everything from fantasy illustration to comic book posters. Paul creates the 3D models that later become all the incredible characters that fill the id universe. It’s obvious that understanding the human figure is of the utmost importance. Paul’s office reminded me a lot of a visit I made to Image Comics a couple of years back. Art books and reference books all over the place. Paul used to work at Origin and he told me that he really liked my strip about Richard Garriott. He showed me a claymore that he used to cut Richard’s birthday cake once. Paul explained LoD and I explained how to make money as a cartoonist and we amazed each other. So freaking cool.

Before too long it was time for everyone to test play something new the guys at id are working on. I was sworn to secrecy so don’t bother asking me what it was. Needless to say I was ecstatic when Paul asked what system was available for me to play on. And so, it was with great pleasure that I got to have a big lan party with the staff over at id Software. During the hooting and hollering and trashtalking were people shouting back and forth about tweaking this and adjusting that. I was playing but they were working and whole thing was so cool that I smile when I think about it now. These guys love the games they make and I think it shows. After a couple games, everyone gathered in Graeme’s office and pow-wowed. I decided to cut out and let these monsters get back to do what they do best, making kick-ass games.

Thanks to everyone over at id Software for letting me hang out and for making me feel like one of the guys, if not just for an afternoon.


Egos at Id: June 1st, 2000

Well, this is going to be an interesting .plan update.
All hail Lord Carmack!

Most of this is not really public business, but if some things aren’t stated explicitly, it will reflect unfairly on someone.
It’s entirely unprofessional and inappropriate for me to do so, but I’m going to air the company’s dirty laundry because I want the last word.

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.
As many of you know, I ran out of ideas after Quake and now I’m really into remaking my old games. Just like George Lucas remade Star Wars, get it? Discussing it got everyone who’s too scared to disagree with me really excited about the project. Unfortunately Adrian isn’t afraid of me and told me straight out what a horrible idea it was.

Design work on an alternate game has been going on in parallel with the mission pack development and my research work.
Currently everyone’s working on Wolfenstien 3D and the mission pack while I play golf.

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.
Between Adrian not being a pussy, the fact that no one at E3 liked my “let’s remake Wolfenstien” idea and the realization that while I was golfing, some other companies made really good use of new technology I’m starting to look like a real idiot. However, I’m too stubborn to admit I’m wrong so it’s only steeled me to keep pushing for this whole “let’s remake Doom” idea.

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.
Knowing that Adrian and Kevin wouldn’t budge, I decided to drag a bunch of employees into an unpleasant fight.

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.
So then I told Kevin and Adrian that if they didn’t let me make my game I was going to quit and take all these guys with me like lemmings off the edge of a cliff, which would really suck for them.

Obviously no fun for anyone involved, but the project direction was changed, new hires have been expedited, and the design work has begun.
Knowing full well that unless they let me have my way, I was going to continue to throw my tantrum and end up getting half of their company to quit, they finally gave in and now I’m happy again.

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.
So now I get to work on the whole “Let’s remake Doom” idea. It’s not going to suck like the whole “Let’s remake Wolfenstien” idea, I promise.

It went smoother than expected, but the other shoe dropped yesterday. Kevin and Adrian fired Paul Steed in retaliation, over my opposition.
Of course going up against Adrian and Kevin like that totally undermines their authority and makes them look like total pushovers to the rest of the employees… so I let them fire Paul Steed.

Paul has certainly done things in the past that could be grounds for dismissal, but this was retaliatory for him being among the “conspirators”.
Paul was a fuck up so we already had a nice paper trail on him. Firing him was perfectly legal according to Texas employment laws.

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.
You can’t make and omelet without breaking a few eggs.

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.
I‘m so torn up about it that I want to replace him before he even has a chance to get all of his personal belongings out of his office.



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