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The definitive history of Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters.

In Quake, a rocket jump is performed by aiming your rocket launcher at the ground, then jumping and firing a rocket. The resultant blast sends you soaring to great heights, even to places you cannot reach without executing the maneuver, but at the cost of self-inflicted damage. 

David L. Craddock, author, Rocket Jump

Developers, enthusiasts, and critics regard the 1990s as a wellspring of creativity and technological innovation for the first-person shooter genre of video games. Released to widespread acclaim in June 1996, Quake changed the landscape of shooters and gaming technology, but not without taking a toll on its creators and shaking id Software to its foundation.

Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters delves deep into the making of id Software's bestselling, industry-defining Quake franchise. From the advent of "machinima" in-game movies to its critical role in the rise of electronic sports, Quake set a new benchmark for videogame technology and player experience.



While previous books have documented the history of id Software's early years, Rocket Jump goes beyond the making of the original Quake to present exhaustive details on the development of its sequels as well as behind-the-scenes accounts from id Software's designers on the technological innovations and political power plays that defined the studio's culture.

In addition to a deep dive into id's development history, Rocket Jump chronicles the making of other FPS titles such as Half-Life, Team Fortress, Duke Nukem 3D, and Star Wars: Dark Forces. The result is the most comprehensive history of the FPS genre's golden era to date.



The Book

  • Based on research and first-hand interviews with developers from throughout Quake's history including John Carmack, John Romero, American McGee, Jennell Jaquays, Graeme Devine, and more
  • Witness the impact of Quake and id Software on other FPS studios such as Apogee/3D Realms, Valve Software, and independent developers
  • Approximately 500 pages
  • Full colour, illustrated throughout
  • Royal Hardback with head and tail bands
  • Lots of amazing pledge levels.


David L. Craddock lives with his wife in Canton, Ohio. He is the author of The Gairden Chronicles and War of the Elementalists fantasy series for young adults, Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution, the bestselling Stay Awhile and Listen books that recount the history of Blizzard Entertainment, and Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters. Visit him at and on Twitter @davidlcraddock.


Fighting for Justice… Later

In the summer of 1996, Quake became the fourth jewel in Texas-based developer id Software's crown. Yet in a way, Quake had also been the second.

Commander Keen, a trilogy of smooth-scrolling platform games developed on PC, put id on the map in 1990. As Keen caught on, a buzz grew around id's next game, The Fight for Justice, teased by selecting Preview from Keen's main menu.

"The Fight for Justice was a top-down RPG," said John Romero. Along with John Carmack, Kevin Cloud, and Adrian Carmack (no relation to John), Romero was a co-founder of id Software and one of the company's most prolific level designers.

Id's design for The Fight for Justice stemmed from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign ran by John Carmack, dungeon master and technical wizard responsible for writing the engines that powered id's games. Carmack had hosted his D&D campaign for the other id developers since they had founded the company in Shreveport, Louisiana, back when they had been cranking out a new game every two months for Softdisk magazine's Gamer's Edge subscription disk.

Every weekend, the id crew would take a break from developing their latest game and gather around a table where Carmack directed their latest adventure. As his campaign unfolded, Carmack paired up his friends' characters with bands of heroes such as the Silver Shadow Band, who rode on the back of a silver dragon and scouted for monsters and other perpetrators of injustice. "You wouldn't be able to see them because they were above the clouds, and they would dive down and solve a situation, and then get out. They were all insanely high-level characters," Romero continued.


Next Phase

Friday, 18 May 2018

Hello, Rocket Jump supporters!

I apologize for the radio silence as of late. Unbound and I have been quietly preparing the next phase of the campaign, and, yes, despite appearances, there is a next phase that we believe will galvanize interest in the book. We've discussed several options, and I look forward to sharing our preference with you in the very near future.

In the meantime, you can…

Promotion: ARGcast

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Greetings, all,

In case you missed it, I joined ARGcast (Another Retro Gaming Podcast) co-host and fellow writer-in-arms David Giltinan to talk about Rocket Jump, Quake, and other FPS games from the '90s. You can listen here.

Book Excerpts from April 9 – 13, Promotional News

Monday, 16 April 2018

Greetings, all,

I'm back with another round-up of tweets containing excerpts of Rocket Jump. If you missed any excerpts posted over the week of April 9-13, use the links below to do some reading.

In promotional news, I'll be joining the ARGcast (Another Retro Gaming Podcast) later today to talk Rocket Jump and FPS games from the '90s. I'll share a link to the podcast as soon as it's available…

Round-up: Book Excerpts From April 2 – April 7

Monday, 9 April 2018

Hi, all,

In case you missed the announcement in my previous update, I'll be posting a short excerpt from ROCKET JUMP on Twitter every weekday and most weekends. I'll post a round-up with links to those excerpts so you can find them in one place. Each round-up will build on the last, meaning if you missed an excerpt from a week or two ago, check the latest round-up to find both previous and current…

Round-up: Book Excerpts From March 28 – March 30

Monday, 2 April 2018

Greetings, Quakers! (I'm not sure that's what that word means.)

Each weekday—and the occasional Saturday and Sunday—I'll be posting a short excerpt from ROCKET JUMP on Twitter. It follows that each week I'll post a round-up with links to those excerpts so you can find them in one place. Each round-up will build on the last, meaning if you missed an excerpt from a week or two ago, check the latest…

Coverage: Interview on Arcade Attack

Monday, 26 March 2018

Hi, all,

Be sure to catch my interview with Arcade Attack, where I talk about Rocket Jump, Quake, FPS games in general, and some of my earliest video game-related memories. Great questions and a fun interview.

In other news, Rocket Jump is 20% funded! As always, please help me spread news of RJ far and wide by sharing the book's project page with your friends and family.



Free Chapter: "Threading the Needle"

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Greetings, all,

In celebration of Rocket Jump's campaign reaching its one-month milestone yesterday, March 16, I've published one of the book's later chapters. "Threading the Needle" is an oral history of the making of the original Team Fortress mod for Quake. You can read it on Shacknews, where Rocket Jump was originally published, and where you can read two additional chapters.

If "Threading…

More Coverage: SyFy Wire, Medium

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Rocket Jump coverage train rolls on, making two more stops en route to publication. First up is an interview on SyFy Wire, where Alex Kane talked to me about the influence of Quake and N64 classic GoldenEye007 on contemporary first-person shooters.

Just last night I published a Medium blog detailing my approach to playing with the structure and format of nonfiction for Rocket Jump. If you're…

Book Coverage: Cane and Rinse Podcast

Friday, 9 March 2018

Last week I participated in a great interview with Leon Cox, one of the hosts of the Cane and Rinse podcast. Leon and I talked Rocket Jump, FPS games of the '90s, the Unbound publishing platform, and more. Give it a listen here. (As a huge Resident Evil fan, I must also recommend their discussion of the development of RE2 and "RE 1.5," the initial version of RE2 that was scrapped in favor of the one…

Book Coverage: Matt Chat, Retro Hour

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Hi, all,

Several gaming podcasts have hosted me to talk about Rocket Jump, Quake, and first-person shooters from the 1990s. This past week I spoke with the crew from Retro Hour, a podcast based in the UK that covers all things old-school gaming and popular culture:

On Friday, I spoke with Matt Barton, gaming historian and host of the excellent weekly YouTube show Matt Chat…

New Tier: SUPER COLLECTOR featuring John Romero!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Hey, Rocket Jump supporters,

Exciting news! John Romero, co-founder of id Software and co-creator of Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, and too many other excellent games to count, is stoked for Rocket Jump. So stoked that he'll sign your book if you pledge to the Unbound campaign's brand-new SUPER COLLECTOR tier.

The SUPER COLLECTOR tier offers a hardcover featuring a John Romero…

Week 1 Update: Promotional Tweets, Press Coverage

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Greetings, readers,

Rocket Jump's crowdfunding campaign has been active for a week and it's already appealed to over 70 backers. More than 20 pledges poured in during the past 24 hours. Thank you so much for your interest and support thus far.

With the campaign's first week in the bag, I'd like to provide an update on coverage so far and promotion planned for the future. Part of crowdfunding…

Day 1 Wrap-up

Friday, 16 February 2018

Less than 12 hours in and ROCKET JUMP has 27 backers and is 3% funded toward its goal. Backers, thank you so much for your support.

Crowdfunding is a marathon, not a sprint. Fortunately I've still got lots of info and sneak peeks to share.

If you missed it, I did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) earlier to let folks pick my brain about Quake, id Software, the book, my writing process, and any…

Frequently Asked Questions

Friday, 16 February 2018

Last Updated: February 16, 2018 – 824am ET

Do you have a question I haven't answered? Visit the Q&A section of Rocket Jump's Unbound page and ask away! Frequently asked questions will be added here over the course of the book's crowdfunding campaign and production schedule.



Q: What is Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters?


Jan Modrák
Jan Modrák asked:

When in the history do you plan to conclude the book? Any chance to read about Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Half-Life 2 or even Bioshock and Crysis?

David Craddock
David Craddock replied:

Rocket Jump's history focuses on FPS games from the 1990s. There are two exceptions: Quake Live, and Quake Champions. Since the book's central conceit is the history of the Quake series and id Software's studio culture, I went outside my bounds for those two titles. I'm laying groundwork for a follow-up that will chronicle the making of games released during the 2000s, the decade during which most of the games you mentioned were made.

Jan Modrák
Jan Modrák asked:

What other games/developers from the golden era will you cover in the book. Particulary I would be interested in the story about Raven Software (Heretic, Hexen) and also the story of Epic MegaGames (Unreal). If this is part of the plan, could you confirm you had (or plan to) spoke to these devs and got some interesting inside info?

David Craddock
David Craddock replied:

Hi, Jan,

Great question. I touch on Heretic, Hexen, and Unreal, but those are meaty enough stories that I'd prefer to cover them in detail in another book or article. What you will get, however, are deep dives into Rise of the Triad, Duke Nukem 3D, Team Fortress (complete oral history!), Star Wars: Dark Forces, GoldenEye 007, and an oral history from several id developers on select design and cultural aspects of Hovertank 3D, Catacomb 3D, Wolfenstein 3D, and Doom.

I spoke to developers for all of those games, as well as Quake 1-3, Live, and Champions.

Jan Modrák
Jan Modrák asked:

Will you somehow cover less known games like Sin, Outlaws or Kingpin? In general, will the book focus only on concrete stories about most succesfull games and developers or do you have ambition to cover the genre more broadly?

David Craddock
David Craddock replied:

I cover the genre broadly, primarily through the lens of Quake's design and tech since both went so far in shaping FPS development and design. My approach was to write those games whose developers I was able to talk to. I sent out lots of requests, and although quite a few responded, I had to set the book's scope to an achievable word and page count.

Sin and Kingpin in particular are two of my favorites. I hope to get the chance to write about them in-depth in a future project.

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