Doom creator John Carmack on “the method” of Steve Jobs and teamwork

From the first letters by e-mail until the last unanswered call.

Steve Jobs and John Carmack at Apple’s presentation

Legendary game designer John Carmack shared in his facebook a history of relationships with Apple founder Steve Jobs. They began back in the early nineties, when Carmack’s id Software studio was developing a Doom shooter on computers manufactured by NeXT, a company founded by Jobs after leaving Apple in 1985.

Carmack and Jobs talked mainly about supporting certain technologies on Apple devices. Creator Doom recalled how the head of Apple initially had low opinion about games, did not want blood images in Doom 3 during the presentation of MacWorld in 2001 , and also initially did not allow third-party applications to work on iOS (then iPhone OS), which caused public The resentment of Carmack in the media and the subsequent disruption of the relationship on the part of Jobs.

According to Carmack, Jobs’s specific attitude towards people-not tolerating disputes, confidence in rightness, mental pressure-was part of his method on how to achieve the set goals. Once he even tried to persuade Carmack and his bride to postpone the wedding for the sake of participating in the Apple presentation, but they never agreed.

gives a complete translation of Carmack’s record.

My wife once asked me: “Why do you quit all business when Steve Jobs asks you to do something? You do not do it for someone else. ”

This is worth thinking about.

Being a young fan of Apple computers, I respected the identity of Jobs and Wozniak, and the desire to own [the computer] Apple 2 was the hallmark of several years of my childhood. Later to see the NeXT computer at the exhibition while I was selling my first commercial software, it was like looking to the future. (But 10 pieces of bucks, mde!)

id Software has successfully grown thanks to Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D games, and my first major purchase was not a machine, but a NeXT computer. It became really valuable for our software development, and we moved the whole company to equipment from NeXT.

We loved our “Neksti”, and we wanted to launch Doom [in 1993] with a mandatory splash screen during the download “Developed on NeXT computers”. But when we asked for permission, we were refused.

Some time after the launch, when Doom began to influence the culture, we heard that Steve changed his mind and was glad to allow the use of the NeXT brand in Doom, but the train left. However, I admit that it was cool to exchange a couple of letters with Steve Jobs.

Over the years, several things have convinced me that deep down inside Steve had a low opinion about games and always wanted them not to be as important to his platforms as it turned out afterwards. I did not take it personally.

When NeXT did something like the redemption of Apple, and Steve was again at the helm, I rejoiced at the possibilities of the resurgent Apple along with the success of NeXT as a mainstream platform.

I was called to talk about games in general, but I decided to get Apple to use OpenGL as an API for 3D graphics. We argued a lot with Steve.

Part of his method, at least with me, was to ridicule modern technology and make me explain it differently. They could be pragmatic, but not good: “I have Pixar. We’ll do something [API] really quality. ”

I was often frustrated because he could talk with complete certainty about things that were simply completely wrong-for example, about the memory prices of video cards or the amount of system memory used by AltiVec extensions (instructions for PowerPC processors for arithmetic operations on integers and floating point – ) .

But when I knew what I was talking about, I could defend myself against anyone.

When Steve made the decision, it was final. Prescriptions were distributed, companies were bought, presentations were planned, and the curvature field of reality was included, making all others [believe] what had previously been considered disgusting ideas.

I think that this was one of the biggest indirect influences on the industry that I achieved. OpenGL never threatened D3D (Direct3D, competing API from Microsoft for processing 3D graphics – ‘s comment) on a PC, but it was critical for Apple, so when the mobile devices began to be manufactured with graphics processors, the choice was obvious. Now [OpenGL] is already out of date, but at the dawn of the mobile era, it was much better than if all the chip manufacturers started doing their APIs.

So it happened that I held several presentations together with Steve, and they were always crazy as a fire alarm: there is no time to do everything right, and even just a successful completion usually requires heroic efforts from a huge number of people. I think that was also part of his method.

My first impression of “Steve in presentation mode” I got when I saw him cursing at the poor employee scene because of “Shit from Home Depot” (a chain of stores with goods for the house and building materials – ) , which rolled out the demonstration rack together with a new Mac, but not good enough for Steve. His complaints made sense, and he improved the quality of the presentation by taking care of the details – but I would not like to work for him in that capacity.

One day my wife, then the bride, was with me at a meeting with Steve at Apple. He wanted me to hold a presentation planned on the same day as our wedding. Widely smiling and all such charming, he suggested that we postpone the marriage. We refused, but he continued to insist. Eventually, my wife replied with a suggestion: since he so desires “her” John, he should give his John Lasseter (co-founder of Pixar studio – ‘s comment) to her media company for one day as a consultant. Steve fucked away quickly from the regime “full of charm” to “cold as ice.” I never took part in that presentation.

When I was preparing to show an early Doom 3 demo at a presentation in Japan, I had a hard time communicating with the managers who took part in it, who insisted on changing the presentation, because “Steve does not like the blood.” I knew that Doom 3 was not to his liking, but the point of presentation was not that.

I turned this over to Steve and put in a copy of everyone who had anything to do with it. He answered everyone in this way: “I trust you, John, do what you think is right.” It was strong, and after that no one said anything.

When my wife and I later started releasing games for phychers (DoomRPG! Orcs & Elves!), I constantly told Steve that it would be very cool if Apple released its phone. Every time I heard a rumor about Apple’s work on the phone, I repeated my pitch to him. One Sunday he called me (where did he even get my number?) To ask a question, and for a very long time I told him about the possibilities with great inspiration.

I was never invited to work on this, but I was very happy when the iPhone finally saw the light. Giant (for its time) color screen with a graphics processor! With this thing you can do so many cool things!

Steve first mentioned the development of applications for the iPhone on the same presentation, where I represented the ID Tech 5 engine for rendering on a Mac, so I was sitting in the front row. When he started talking about “web applications” (applications running in a browser on the WebKit engine, not on the native iOS engine with more serious hardware support – ) , I started (quite quietly) to make a noise.

When the audience dispersed, and the others gathered in front of the stage, I immediately started talking about how bad the web application is, that they will not be able to show the real potential of the device. We could do so much more if we had native access!

Steve answered me with the words he already used earlier: “Bad applications can break down cellular towers.” I hated those words. He could just say, “We’re not ready,” and everything would be fine.

I had some guesswork, but in my opinion the iPhone and iOS hardware provided adequate protection against native applications. I turned to the nearby developer: “Do not you have a memory management and isolation module on the iPhone?” He looked at me with wide eyes, this look “Do not drag me into it,” but I still got a positive response from him.

I said that OS X is obviously used for things that require a much higher level of security than the iPhone, and already if Apple can not provide it, they have more important problems. [Steve] turned and scoffed: “John, you’re a smart guy, why do not you write a new OS?”. At that moment, I thought: “Yes you went *****, Steve.”

People walked away from us. If Steve was furious, Apple employees did not want their species to be associated with this state. When it was over, one of the tops assured me that “Steve loves energetic conversations.”

But I was still upset and gave a few comments, which the press drew attention to. Steve did not like it.

The roller coaster named after Steve Jobs called “From hero to shit” – a real thing, and after a long ride I was at the bottom of this attraction. Someone told me that Steve gave them a direct order not to give me access to the iPhone SDK when he was already ready.

I still wrote several successful iPhone applications (none of them work now because of the refusal to support 32-bit applications), and I had many strong allies in Apple, but with Steve we were at odds.

The last product I worked on for iOS was Rage (a game from Bethesda, whose version for iOS came out in 2010 during the emergence of iPhone 4. The game gave out on the smartphone 60 frames per second. Most likely, the whole story about Steve Jobs was timed to the official announcement of Rage 2 , developed by id Software Carmack – ), which set a new bar for mobile games and supported new features like TV-out. I heard that she was well received inside Apple.

I spent debriefing the team after launch, and at that moment they called me. I was busy, so I dropped it. A few minutes later someone came in and told me that I was going to call Steve Jobs. Oops.

Everyone laughed at the way I “dropped Steve Jobs,” but it turned out that this was our last contact.

When the story of his health problems was publicly publicized, I started writing letters several times trying to say something meaningful and positive, but I did not finish any of them, and I regret it.

I confirm many of the negative features of his character, with which he was notorious, but parts of the path that led me to where I am now, I started from the tracks that he left in the universe.

I stood behind him.

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