Mad Doc Software


Mad Doc Software, a name synonymous with innovation and quality in the gaming industry, has been a significant player in the world of game development. The company has been in operation since 1999, marking two decades of relentless commitment and passion. Mad Doc Software, known for its expert design and development of video games, has profoundly influenced the landscape of gaming. This article will delve into the company’s journey, its operations, and some of its iconic projects.

Examples of Mad Doc Video Games

Over the years, Mad Doc Software has been responsible for a remarkable array of video games, many of which have become cult classics. The company’s project portfolio is a testament to its versatility in the gaming industry. From strategy games, action RPGs to first-person shooters, Mad Doc Software has left an indelible mark on various game genres.

One of their most notable projects was “Empire Earth II.” The game, released in 2005, quickly became a fan favorite, earning accolades for its immersive gameplay and technical prowess. The sequel to the critically acclaimed “Empire Earth” was a significant feather in Mad Doc Software’s cap, validating their commitment to quality and innovation.

Another noteworthy game in their lineup was “Star Trek: Legacy,” a single-player strategy game that caters to Star Trek enthusiasts. Mad Doc Software successfully captured the essence of the iconic franchise, delivering a gaming experience that was both authentic and enjoyable.

The Early Days of Mad Doc Software

Humble beginnings

Mad Doc Software was founded by Dr. Ian Davis in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in November 1999. At its inception, the company consisted of a small team of industry veterans with a vision to create engaging and immersive gaming experiences. The goal was simple: to create games that were not only fun to play but also technically superior and uniquely innovative. Under Dr. Davis’s leadership, the company swiftly earned a reputation for delivering on its mission.

Before founding Mad Doc Software, Davis earned a doctorate in artificial intelligence and robotics and worked a few years for the video game company Activision in Santa Monica, California. In 1999, he left Activision, moved back to his native Andover in Massachusetts and founded Mad Doc Softare with himself as the only employee.

Mad Doc Software started out by accepting contract work and consulting job, and could therefore hire more staff. David refused to seek venture capital, despite being encouraged to do so.

The first Mad Doc projects were for video games released by Davis former employer Activision; Mad Doc did development support for Star Trek: Armada and additional programming and art for Call to Power II.

Move to Lawrence

In 2000, Mad Doc Software moved from Andover to nearby Lawrence, becoming the very first video game company ever to be headquartered there. After a stint in cramped quarters, they moved into 610 square metres of office space in a then newly refurbished former cotton textile mill complex named The Everett Mills.

After their work on Activision´s Star Trek: Armada, Mad Doc Software was contracted for the development of the sequel Stark Trek: Armada II. When this game was announced during the spring of 2001, a majority of the employees at Mad Doc had a background with the defunct Cambridge-based developer Looking Glass Studios, and Mad Doc inherited the development of Jane´s Attack Squadron from that company.

From Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest to Empire Earth III

In May 2002, Mad Doc Software was announced as developer of Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest, an expansion pack for the 2001 Sierra Entertainment game Empire Earth. Released in September, the expansion pack met with mixed reviews, but Sierra decided to keep Mad Doc onboard for the Empire Earth franchise and make them the principal developer.

Mad Doc was not exclusively focused on Empire Earth during the 2010s, they did quite a lot of other work as well. Among other things, they developed a single-player component for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, but the project was scrapped by Activision. Collaborating with Gas Powered Games, Mad Dov developed an expansion pack for Dungeon Siege named Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna. By early 2004, Mad Doc Software had 48 employees and 3.5 million USD in annual revenue.

Empire Earth II was released in April 2005 aned received mostly positive reviews. The expansion Empire Earth II: The Art of Supremacy, released in early 2006, was also received favorably, and Mad Doc landed publishing contracts with both Rockstar Games and Bethesda Softworks. Before 2006 was over, Mad Doc had created Star Trek: Legacy for Bethesda.

Still assigned to Sierra´s Empire Earth franchise, Mad Doc developed Empire Earth III, a costly project that suffered from an array of issues and did not land well among neither critics nor the game buyers when it premiered in November 2007. At the time of writing (2024), this is still the last installation in the Empire Earth franchise.

Bully for Rockstar

Mad Doc´s work for Rockstar Games resulted in the released of an enhanced version of Rockstar´s commercial success Bully, released as Bully: Scholarship Edition. Mad Doc remastered the original game and added new material, including additional characters, clothing, missions, school classes, and unlockable items.

bully screen shot

Despite the failure of Empire Earth III, Mad Doc was doing fine. In late 2007, the company moved back its native Andover – but now with 1,900 square metres of office space in Ballardvale, a village within Andover. Before 2007 was over, Dr. Davis had also been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Mad Doc Software’s Becomes Rockstar New England

In a significant move that marked a new chapter, Mad Doc Software was acquired by its collaborator Rockstar Games in 2008 and rebranded as Rockstar New England. After the release of Bully: Scholarship Edition in March 2008, Take-Two Interactive (the parent compay of Rockstar Games) aquired Mad Doc, and the acquisition was announced in early April. Take-Two Interactive paid $3.740 million in cash, 53,033 shares of its unregistered common stock (valued at $1.353 million at the time), and $975,000 in development advances.

Dr. Davis remained studio director at Rockstar New England. Employees were originally positive to the acquisition, but eventually the special Mad Doc culture began to vanish and crunch became more common. In June 2009, roughly 10% of the Rockstar New England employees were let go, including the entire quality assurance department.

In addition to their continued work with the Bully franchise, Rockstar New England moved on with several other projects, including some work with well-known games such as Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, and Red Dead Redemption.

In 2010, Rockstar New England began moving employees from the Bully franchise to other projects under the larger Rockstar umbrella, especially to the Max Payne 3 game, which was equipped with a glass fragmentation mechanic originally developed by Rockstar New England for Bully 2.

In 2013, Rockstar New England moved to the suburban business park Dundee Park, just across the road from the old Andover railway station.

The Red Dead Redemption 2, released in October 2018, was created jointly by all the Rockstar Games studios, including Rockstar New England. Just as with Max Payne 3, some of the mechanics originally created by Rockstar New England for Bully 2 was put into Red Dead Redemption 2, specifically the mechanic of consequences for NPC interactions.

Doctor Davis – A Driving Force Behind Mad Doc Software

A native of Andover, Massachusetts, Ian Lane Davis first came into contact with video games while still a pupil in the late 1970s. He liked to visit local arcades, and in the early 1980s – when he was enrolled at Doherty Junior High – he got his first computer, an Apple II Plus. The young Davis was especially fond of the games Wizandry, Ultima, and One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.

Davis went to Phillips Academy, a college-preparatory school in Andover, and then proceeded to Darthmouth College, a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire. In 1991, Davis graduated from Darthmouth with majors in mathematics, English, and computer science. In 1996, he obtained his doctorate in artificial intelligence and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 1996-1999. Dr. Davis was a technical director at the video game company Activision in Santa Monica, California. During this time, he worked on the games Dark Reign: The Future of War, Battlezone, Dark Reign: Rise of the Shadowhand, and Civilization: Call to Power.

Legacy of Mad Doc Software

Despite the change in name, the legacy of Mad Doc Software lives on. The company’s impact on the gaming industry is undeniable. Its game titles continue to be revered by gamers worldwide, and the team’s commitment to innovate and push boundaries remains unwavering.

In conclusion, the journey of Mad Doc Software is a testament to the power of innovation and dedication. Despite the challenges and a competitive industry, the company has consistently delivered high-quality gaming experiences. Its rich history and significant contributions to the gaming industry will not be forgotten and continue to inspire future generations of game developers.

This article was last updated on: June 6, 2024