Petersen joined id Software about 10 weeks before the December 1993 release of Doom and in that time created 19 levels for it (of which 8 were based to some extent on early drafts by Tom Hall). He later created 17 of the levels for Doom II, and 7 levels for Quake. His Lovecraftian influences also affected some of the monster design for the id games he worked on.
Carl Sanford Joslyn Petersen was born September 16, 1955 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended University of California, Berkeley, majoring in zoology.
He is a well-known fan of H.P. Lovecraft, whose work he first encountered in a World War II Armed Services edition of The Dunwich Horror and other Weird Tales found in his father's library. In 1974 Dungeons & Dragons brought his interest to role-playing games. His interest for role-playing games and H.P. Lovecraft were fused when he co-authored the game Call of Cthulhu, published 1981.
He worked some time for Microprose, where he is credited for work between 1989 and 1992 on the games Darklands, Hyperspeed, Lightspeed, Sid Meier's Pirates! and Sword of the Samurai. He also made minor contributions for Civilization.
Petersen joined id Software in 1993 after being impressed by Wolfenstein 3D, and there worked on Doom, Doom II and Quake.
He left id Software for Ensemble Studios in June 1997. He has there worked as a game designer on several of their Age of Empires titles, including Rise of Rome, Age of Kings, and The Conquerors.
He is a Mormon, a fact which has apparently never conflicted with his use of Satanic themes in Doom and other games.
According to Masters of Doom,
- "His levels were not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as Romero's; in fact, some of the id guys thought they were downright ugly, but they were undeniably fun and fiendish." (page 146)
- E2M1: Deimos Anomaly (with Tom Hall)
- E2M2: Containment Area (with Tom Hall)
- E2M3: Refinery (with Tom Hall)
- E2M4: Deimos Lab (with Tom Hall)
- E2M5: Command Center
- E2M6: Halls of the Damned
- E2M7: Spawning Vats (with Tom Hall)
- E2M8: Tower of Babel
- E2M9: Fortress of Mystery
- E3M1: Hell Keep
- E3M2: Slough of Despair
- E3M3: Pandemonium (with Tom Hall)
- E3M4: House of Pain
- E3M5: Unholy Cathedral
- E3M6: Mt. Erebus
- E3M7: Limbo (with Tom Hall)
- E3M8: Dis
- E3M9: Warrens
- MAP01: Entryway
- MAP07: Dead Simple (with American McGee)
- MAP08: Tricks and Traps
- MAP09: The Pit
- MAP10: Refueling Base (with Tom Hall)
- MAP12: The Factory
- MAP13: Downtown
- MAP16: Suburbs
- MAP18: The Courtyard
- MAP19: The Citadel
- MAP21: Nirvana
- MAP23: Barrels o' Fun
- MAP24: The Chasm
- MAP27: Monster Condo
- MAP28: The Spirit World
- MAP30: Icon of Sin
- MAP31: Wolfenstein §
- MAP32: Grosse §
§ MAP31 and MAP32 are almost exact replicas of Wolfenstein levels.