Adrian Carmack is one of the founding members of id Software along with John Romero, Tom Hall, and John Carmack (no relation). He was the lead artist and a major stock holder of id Software until he left the company in 2005.
Adrian Carmack was born to a father who sold sausages for a local food company, a mother who was a loan officer, and two younger sisters. At age thirteen, his father died of heart attack and already quiet and sensitive, he fell deeper into withdrawal. Adrian spent most of his time illustrating subject matters that were dark and gritty. Growing up in Shreveport, he spent most of his time in the arcades with his friends playing Pac-Man and Asteroids. He was also intrigued with the artwork on the cabinets that he began copying the illustrations, along with Molly Hatchet album covers, in his notebooks during class. He began to sink deeply into art, leaving video games in the past.
To earn more money for school Adrian worked as an aide in the medical communications department of a local hospital. His job was to photocopy pictures taken of patients in the emergency room, the most graphic images of fatality and disease. Adrian took an almost fetishistic liking to those pictures and traded them with friends. His artwork not only became darker but more skillful. He was praised by his art mentor for his talents and effortless detail. Adrian wanted to work in fine art but meanwhile was looking for experience. His teacher suggested to start at Softdisk but Adrian was less than intrigued because he was partial to pencil and paper, not keyboard and printer. But Softdisk internship paid better than the hospital, so he agreed. At age of twenty one, Adrian met with Romero, Carmack and Hall and they decided to start a new company called id Software.
Having to never play games for a very long time, Adrian found it difficulty to blend in with his colleagues as he had a lot of catching up to do. He became close with Kevin Cloud, another artist at id Software. One of his first projects was Commander Keen and being this dark themed artist, he was not fond of drawing cute character sprites but his talents came to show when he designed the violence, monsters, blood and gore for Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake.
Termination and Violation
After the Doom 3 games, Carmack left id in 2005 and told the press he wanted to further pursue his passion in art. However, in September 2005, it was revealed that he was fired from id and was taking legal actions of suing the company. According to Gamasutra and GamePro, publisher Activision wanted to make a bid at id to acquire the Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein franchise for $15 million, but the four co-owners of the company rejected the offer saying it was too low. The law suit itself arose when Adrian claimed that he was fired as an employee and director after he refused to sell his shares back to the company complaining that the sums being offered were a fraction of that which would have resulted from the Activision deal. As the owner of 41 percent of the company, he was offered only $11 million for his shares, compared to a potential (but still presumably low) $40 million from the Activision deal.
He claimed he was later terminated from the company after he turned down a second offer of $20 million, and that the primary reason id Software turned down the offer from Activision was so that the other founders could acquire his shares at a lower price. Carmack further claimed that towards the end of his time at the company his hours at work were tracked, he was refused access to board documents, and was denied normal payouts of profits in dividends.
The lawsuit was eventually dropped, probably because id never sold to Activision and thus rendered the suit moot (id Software was eventually acquired by Zenimax Media in 2009).
Adrian Carmack now lives in Rockwall, Texas, and was not heard from for a very long time. In 2011, it was reported that Adrian teamed up with game designer Rob Atkins to work on casual games like Fallen Shadows.