Masters of Doom: The Animated Series was released on March 25th 2006, and submitted to Newgrounds.com later that afternoon. It was immediately placed on the front page upon gaining attention from the Newgrounds admins, and later it was voted 3rd place for the day! I was 21 years old at the time, whilst Lombardo was just our of high school, and together we created quite a big splash amongst Doom fans across the net! At its peak, John Romero personally watched it and gave it a positive review on his site (see below).
By Julius von Brunk - April 15, 2012
In late 2005, my cohort Mike Lombardo and I set out to stake our claim in Doom/Wolfenstein history -- by creating the ultimate fan tribute to the creators of said games, rather than make a general tribute to the games themselves! A few years previously, an author by the name of David Kushner wrote a tell-all book about the development of id Software and their major pioneering of computer games during the '80s and '90s -- and throughout the book, David goes into graphic detail about the lives and endeavors of each of the major players in id Software: John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack, and Tom Hall -- and all in all, describing the quirky legacy behind id's heyday of the early '90s!
Upon dictating the whole book to me verbatim, Lombardo and I decided best to create a Flash animation that creates a humorous effect of an animated series, despite only ever being one episode. The goal was to lead fans into believing this "series" had earlier and future episodes created -- whilst it was actually simply a stand-alone cartoon sitcom! After the success of the first and only episode, Lombardo and I considered making more -- and making a real animated series, but were so stressed out with creating just this single cartoon that we decided against it.
Throughout the book, everything from John Romero's teen years up through the breaking apart of id are described -- including id's major software developments, multi-million dollar earnings, and internal conflicts amongst the programmers/designers living together; think of the book's description of id as MTV's The Real World, only good (and interesting). According to David's story synopsis, each person in the book is portrayed as being eccentric and interesting in their own personal and respective ways, enough to warrant an entertaining TV show with four goofy oddball characters living together, akin to Seinfeld or The Young Ones! With that said, Lombardo and I modeled the four main guys as exaggerated caricatures of their descriptions in the book:
The sort of standard tomfoolery amongst a bunch of motley computer nerds.
John Carmack was described as being cold, logical, quiet, nerdy, monotone and robot-like -- therefore, he's literally portrayed as being an actual android in our toon! We neglected to draw attention to his speech impairment that's mentioned in the book, and instead we used voice filters and vocoders. In the book, Carmack is obsessed with Diet Coke, pizza, and using the terms "efficient" to describe things -- which is comically shown in our cartoon, as he uses his robot-senses to deduce things logically. John Romero was said to be a badass heavy metal rocker type, so we made him wild and sporting a mullet -- as well as the Doom marine's uniform! I personally played his voice, and tried to blend my dad's scratchy, whiny voice with my mother's southern twang, to make Romero sound like a crazy Texan with a Bruce Campbell edge! Adrian Carmack was said to be quiet, reclusive, introverted and passive aggressive, ergo he's the cartoon's "straight man", or normal person (he was also voiced by Mike Lombardo). Last was Tom Hall, one of id's writers and developers (and original creator of Commander Keen & and its Dopefish). He was said to be childish, zany, immature, flamboyant, and imaginative, so we designed him to be the "screwball" guy who runs around in the backyard! He was voiced by our good friend John Feilmeier -- and for direction, Feilmeier was doing an impersonation of our friend Jason Gross, who was too shy to lend his voice initially; Jason has a very soft, childish speaking manner that we tried to harness.
The cartoon took several months to create (late 2005 - spring 2006), as we ran into major problems with Flash's audio synchronization and such (which can be noticed a few times when the lip sync goes off a bit). Throughout the course of the cartoon, we filled it with as many personal inside jokes and background gags as possible. An example is the "28 Days 'Til Sweet Corn" roadsign, which was based off an actual farmers' market sign in our old town. The guy at the pizza shop was voiced by and designed to resemble our friend Andrew Brommer, who was desperate to be part of cartoon -- so we wrote him in at the last minute. Caricatures of Mike Lombardo, Mike James and Mike Yanni of Reel Splatter are shown as background patrons of the pizza shop; their depictions are how they appeared in 2006, each at the age of 19! Other background gags include an appearance by Bill Gates which uses quotes from his infamous 'Windows Doom demo video" of 1995, Adrian watching a Tremors and Beetlejuice mashup on TV, and the recurring gag that I tried to cram as many references to dead U.S. presidents in my old cartoons -- namely Martin Van Buren as the kid's teacher. The soundtrack was half-and-half: original Doom game music, in addition to orchestrated jazz songs by the Raymond Scott Quartet -- a strange contrast! The intro theme was actually a guitar solo excerpt from Instruments of Destruction by N.R.G., famous for being in "Transformers: The Movie" (1986).
A lot of elements that we had written were cut out due to timeline issues, or just the fact that I lacked certain artistic talents at the time. I only learned how to use Flash since early 2005, and this was made one year after; I still had limited abilities as far as my drawing/animation skills were concerned, ergo I lacked the ability to draw some frame-by-frame elements. For example, in the opening scene with the "Career Day", Lombardo and I wrote an idea of John Romero riding to the school in a Doom tour bus that transforms into John Carmack a la Transformers, and then he'd switch to first-person mode and have a shooting rampage against Doom sprites in the hallway before entering the classroom! The idea was way too elaborate for me to animate at the time with my limited skills, so we simply streamlined it to Romero blowing up the door to enter. In fact, we deliberately left his helmet on in that scene to skip out on doing lip-sync (kind of like Optimus Prime or Cobra Commander)! This entire cartoon was drawn with a mouse and not a graphics tablet, and consists almost entirely of motion tweens in Flash MX 2004 -- rather than frame-by-frame fluid illustrations. You'll also notice quite a bit of spelling errors in the subtitles and credits!!
Oh, by the way, another little gag that we had intended but cut out was an optional "mustache button" -- a button on the bottom of the screen (by the menu button) that was supposed to superimpose mustaches on each character, and could be instantly turned off! This predated the whole internet fad of people being obsessed with fake staches (i.e. girls at parties) and hipsters with their ironic mustache look; so in retrospect, it's a good thing we omitted this! We liked mustaches before they were cool.
-Baron von Brunk
"Baron" Julius von Brunk is a professional graphic artist, a LEGO aficionado, and a horny tattooed guy with mutton chops. Feel free to follow him on Twitter and say nice things about his zaniness.
Mr. Romero's personal approval! We also e-mailed Tom Hall, and he showed us plenty of appreciation!
In the beginning of the cartoon during "Career Day", you'll notice a strange cameo by a doomed Bill Gates who gets his head blown off by Romero's shotgun. This was a direct reference to a hilarious video which was mentioned in the original book "Masters of Doom" -- back in 1995, Bill Gates did a terrible promo clip for E3, and after the disastrous initial screening of his video, it was never seen again by the general public! David Kushner never personally watched the video yet at the time of his publication, but one day in late 2005, Mike Lombardo and sleuthed the internet and not only tracked down the original creator of the Bill Gates clip (after we found out his name in the book), but we managed to e-mail him and get video file -- and therefore, Mr. Lombardo and I were the first viewers of the rare Bill Gates Windows 95 promo in over 10 years! We immediately added it to MySpace, as YouTube didn't exist yet, and the current YouTube clip (the one in the link above) even retains our initial preface blurbs about obtaining it personally Alex St. Johns!
Read about MODTAS on the official Doom Wiki