We love retro gaming. We have a lot of books pertaining to retro gaming. When a new book is published it needs to have a great angle to get our attention. Rocket Jump has our attention. Thanks goes to Jordan over at ZOOM Platform for the initial heads-up!
Brought to you by veteran of (by my count) twelve previous books all about our favourite subject, David Craddock’s Rocket Jump looks to pay homage to what I suppose are the second generation FPS games, those that truly brought 3D to life as opposed to 2.5D. Starting with the legendary Quake and continuing with Arcade Attack faves such as Duke Nukem 3D and GoldenEye, it promises to be quite the treat. Be sure to check out the Unbound Rocket Jump page for some great perks!
I thought it only best to catch up with Mr Craddock to find out more about the project…
David, great to have you here at Arcade Attack! Your new project Rocket Jump looks right up our alley. Can you tell our readers a bit about the project?
Great to be here! Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters is a book that explores the culture of id Software during the late 1990s through today, and recounts the making of the Quake franchise.
In addition, several additional chapters titled “Pause Screens” detail the making of other influential FPS games from the 1990s. Games such as Half-Life, the Team Fortress mod made for Quake 1, Duke Nukem 3D, and GoldenEye 007 are featured, illustrating how Quake influenced their development and how, in turn, they influenced the gaming industry.
Quake was a monumental game, but hardly the first of the FPS brigade. In your opinion, what separates it from Doom, Heretic etc.?
That’s a good question. On the surface, Quake is a spiritual successor to Doom. It’s a no-holds-barred shooter heavy on action and light on story. Look a little closer, however, and the differences become apparent.
Quake ran on an engine capable of rendering 3D graphics in real-time. That immediately set it apart from Doom, a “2.5D” first-person shooter that employed various graphical techniques to give the appearance of three-dimensional spaces. The key difference is that Quake’s tech let players do things they could only dream about in Doom: true aiming and other camera movements, polygonal characters and items, and more complex level geometry.
The advanced engine also allowed players to do things that weren’t possible in Doom, or that, if they were possible, were much trickier to pull off. Machinima, movies made using videogame engines (such as Red Vs. Blue), rose to prominence thanks to breakout, fan-made videos such as Ranger Gone Bad. As a matter of fact, I dedicate an entire chapter of Rocket Jump to the birth of machinima.
In Doom, multiplayer modes such as deathmatch were almost afterthoughts. Id Software promised deathmatch in Doom’s press release way back in January 1993, but it wasn’t until the game’s final months of development that they got the feature up and running. In Quake, deathmatch was a priority right from the beginning. This in turn led to the rise of esports, player-created clans that competed in tournaments
The pledge rewards look great to us but, in your words, what makes this book special and a must-have for retro gamers?
Rocket Jump is a love-letter to a special era of first-person shooters. Games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, which got their start in the 2000s, are extremely lucrative today, but their roots go back to the 1990s to games such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and—of course—Quake.
Fans of FPS games look back fondly on the 1990s because the decade was a wellspring spring of creativity. Not to take anything from Call of Duty and Battlefield, but they’re the two biggest dogs in the yard today, and both center on militaristic themes.
In the ’90s, shooters could be about anything. Doom sends you to hell to fight hordes of demons. Quake alternates between Lovecraftian castles, to bizarre eldritch dimensions, to futuristic bases. Duke Nukem 3D made using toilets and blowing holes in walls as much fun as shooting enemies and exploring levels—and speaking of levels, Duke3D’s boasts some of the most intricate, realistic spaces (such as bookstores and movie theaters) to date. Halo, released in 2001, was a sensation in dorm rooms throughout the world, but GoldenEye popularized the notion of local, split-screen play on consoles. Half-Life pushed in-game storytelling and physics engines forward.
The list goes on and on. If you ever had the slightest interest in the roots of FPS games, Rocket Jump belongs on your bookcase—real or digital.
Legends John Carmack and Romero have been listed as contributors. Can you give us any exclusives as to who else is contributing?
Over the course of researching writing Rocket Jump, I interviewed dozens of developers from id’s history. John Romero and John Carmack are undoubtedly rock stars in the gaming industry, but that only scratches the surface of my list.
Besides “the two Johns,” I spoke with Quake level designers such as Sandy Petersen, American McGee, and Tim Willits, who’s currently id Software’s studio director; Quake 2 and 3 designers such as Jennell Jaquays and Graeme Devine; Scott Miller, founder of Apogee Software and co-founder of 3D Realms; Tom Hall, id Software co-founder and lead game designer on Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen; Adrian Carmack, the fourth of id’s co-founders and the company’s most influential artist from its humble beginnings in the 1990s through Doom 3 in 2004; Team Fortress co-creators Robin Walker, John Cook, and Ian Ian Caughley—just to name a few.
I wrote Rocket Jump in a narrative style, meaning the book reads like a novel interspersed with quotes from my interviews so you’ll get to hear about how games are made directly from the people who make them.
Besides lots of talk about game design, I dig into the studio culture of id Software. You’ll walk alongside John Carmack, John Romero, and others as they interact with their colleagues, and not all of their interactions are… pleasant, we’ll say. This isn’t a book about gossip. One thing I learned over the course of researching and writing Rocket Jump is that id’s dysfunctional internal culture had a major impact on Quake and its other games—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
What first got you into gaming? What was your first computer/console?
My parents divorced when I was five. We lived in California until my mom took my sister and me back to Ohio, where we lived with our grandparents until she got back on her feet. Down the street lived a girl named Kim. Kim and I were the same age. Every day I’d walk down to her house or she’d walk down to mine, and we’d do what kids do: play in treehouses, open lemonade stands (and vegetables picked from my grandpa’s garden, with his permission), watch TV shows.
One day I went down to Kim’s house and knocked. Her mom answered and said, “Kimmy can’t come out and play. She’s downstairs playing Nin-ten-do.” She said the word very slowly, like she was sounding out an unfamiliar concept. As I walked down Kim’s basement steps, I heard the opening beeps and bloops of Super Mario Bros.’s World 1-1. Kim passed me the controller and I was hooked.
I went home and begged my mom for a Nintendo. She proceeded to teach me a very important lesson about money: If I wanted something bad enough, I would be willing to save up and buy it on my own. Starting right then I did every household chore you can think of. I washed dishes. I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher. I emptied trashcans. I took out the trash and hauled garbage cans up from the curb to the shed in the backyard where my grandpa stored them. If something needed dusted, I was right there ready and willing to get to work.
There are pictures of me counting pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters on my bed. I saved for nine months. Finally, I announced to my mom that I had saved one hundred American dollars. Our deal was that if I saved up for the base cost, she would cover sales tax and buy me my first game. The joke was on her, I thought sneakily: every NES included the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt cartridge. Mom wouldn’t be buying me my first game—she’d be buying me my third!
Of course, the game I picked out was the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Konami, so the joke was on me.
I’m still a Nintendo fan. Part of that is because I think they make some of the greatest games ever. But another part of that traces back to those nine months I worked to save up for my first console, and the memories Kim and I shared playing Super Mario together.
What’s your favourite ever video game and why?
Oh… Tough question. Until last year, it was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Now it’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Adrian will be pleased to hear you say that! – Ed). The game is an incredible expression of freedom and experimentation.
Some of my other favorites are, in no particular order: Doom, Quake, Diablo 1 and 2, StarCraft, WarCraft 2, Resident Evil “REmake,” Resident Evil 4, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country 2, BioShock 1 and 2, Half-Life, Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls trilogy (especially Dark Souls 2), Amnesia: The Dark Descent…
It’s a long list, and I could go on, but that should give you a general idea of what I like to play.
That’s a great list to start! We know you’re a busy man so just one final question. If you could go for a drink with any video game character, who would you choose and why?
Definitely “Ranger” from Quake 1. Sometimes all I need after a long day of writing is a drinking buddy who knows when to stay quiet.
I hear ya! Again David, superb to have you here. We hope all goes well with the book. Readers, get yourselves on down to the Rocket Jump Unbound funding page and pick yourselves up a nice treat!