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.
CHAPTER 1: WE ARE THE WIND
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.
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.
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…
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…
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: http://bit.ly/2F4ca8m
On Friday, I spoke with Matt Barton, gaming historian and host of the excellent weekly YouTube show Matt Chat…
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…
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…
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…
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?
These people are helping to fund Rocket Jump.