Id Software's revolutionary Doom was ported to many platforms during its initial run and even now ends up on all kinds of out of the way platforms, but the story of the 3DO version of the iconic shooter is truly a special one. Typically people in the video game business have some idea of what they are doing, but the leadership at the now-defunct Art Data Interactive was in over its head from the start when it licensed the rights to bring Doom to the platform in 1996. Rebecca Heineman was brought in to pick up the pieces. This is her story (the Doom part begins about halfway down the page).
There was a company called Art Data Interactive. The CEO was a guy who was just a member of a church somewhere in Southern California. Somehow he was able to convince his friends at the church and other friends that 3DO is the wave of the future and that he needs their money to go ahead and form a game company. "Get in on this."
He raises $100,000. He then starts making this game. A Battle Chess ripoff.
And he feels the way he wants to do it is he wants to film all the people dressed up as chess pieces and that's what he's going to put on the game board.
The guy has no clue at all of game development. Nothing.
I'm especially amused that a church paid to produce a version of the violent Doom considering that churches were hotbeds of anti-video game sentiment in the 1990s. Heineman goes on to share my favorite part of this misadventure in which the CEO believed that adding new weapons to a video game was as simple as importing a drawing of the weapons into some magic development tool that cranks out finished video games.
And he was saying, "Why isn't this game running at 60 frames a second? Where is my new weapons? Where is my new stuff?"
And I'm like, "Do you have any idea how game development is done?"
Because he truly believed all you had to do to put a weapon in a game is to draw it.
He did believe that if you drew a weapon -- you just gave me the art file -- I would put it in the game and it would magically fire bullets. It would do all the effects animations and switch and -- he thought that was just me putting the art in there, hit "compile," and I'm done.
Every time new technologies emerge, we see a gold rush in development financed and led by people who have no business being involved with the industry. They see quick and easy money to be made and assume that producing the product in question must be simple. We saw it with video games, we saw it with websites, we saw it with smartphone apps, and I'm sure we'll see it again with virtual reality. Whenever something new hits it big, people with more money than sense open businesses which results in poor products and, eventually, amusing stories like these shared long after the fact.