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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Apple-NeXT Merger Birthday!

John Romero (formerly of id Software) looks back at his experiences developing DOOM and Quake on machines made by NeXT, Steve Jobs' hugely unsuccessful but technically excellent company:
We at id Software developed the groundbreaking titles DOOM and Quake on the NeXTSTEP 3.3 OS running on a variety of hardware for about 4 years. I still remember the wonderful time I had coding DoomEd and QuakeEd in Objective-C; there was nothing like it before and there still is no environment quite like it even today.

id's first NeXT hardware was all black - both Cubes and Stations. We upgraded through the years to the Turbo model then to other hardware like the HP Gecko and then Intel hardware at the end. We were building fat binaries of the tools for all 3 processors in the office - one .app file that had code for all 3 processors in it and executed the right code depending on which machine you ran it on. All our data was stored on a Novell 3.11 server and we constantly used the NeXTSTEP Novell gateway object to transparently copy our files to and from the server as if it was a local NTFS drive. This was back in 1993!

We wrote all of DOOM and Quake's code on NeXTSTEP. We debugged the code in NeXTSTEP with DOOM and Quake's 320x200 VGA screen drawing in a little Interceptor window while the rest of the screen was used for debugging code. When all the code ran without bugs we cross-compiled it for the Intel processor on NeXTSTEP then turned over to our Intel DOS computers, copied the EXE and just ran the game. The DOS4GW DOS-Extender loaded up and the game ran. It was that easy.

I'll bet you didn't know that DOOM, DOOM II and Quake weren't the only games developed on NeXTSTEP. When I got Raven Software to agree to develop Heretic for us I had them buy several Epson NeXT computers (Intel based) and I flew up to Madison, WI to get them all set up and teach them how to develop the game with our tools and engine. It was a great time I'll never forget - seeing their team get excited about the power of the new environment and that they got the game developed and released in under a year.
It's amazing how easy it is for me to slip into near-tearful nostalgia for old technology. Like many, I lusted over the NeXT machines, which were priced in the stratosphere, like Porsche sports cars. Today, I love this kind of story, especially when it's told by someone who was there. A great read. I almost forgive him for Daikatana.

You know, almost.

Related: NeXT Computers
[ Posted at 12:14 PM | Permalink ]


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