John Romero Interview

   John Romero - the man, the legendAs co-founder of id Software, John Romero revolutionized the game industry with both his designs and development tools for games like Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth and Quake. After leaving id, Romero’s next project “Daikatana” was steeped in controversy with its ambitious ads suggesting “John Romero’s about to make you his bitch”. Today John continues to create new and innovative games on various platforms. We are honored to have this legend of gaming here to answer a few questions for us at BLANMANinc.com!

BLANKMANinc: How did you first get started in the gaming industry?

John Romero: “I started making games 8 years before I got into the game industry. By the time I got my first game industry job at Origin Systems in 1987, I had sold and published 20 games. My first game credit from Origin was Space Rogue in 1988. By that time, I had left Origin and started my second game company, Inside Out Software.”

Doom pc game cover artBMi:What were the early days like at id?

JR: “The company was called id Software, Inc. and we were very small: only 4 of us. It was a blast making games all day for years. We worked really hard, long hours, and created some of the greatest games ever made.”

BMi: Did you guys realize you were changing the face of gaming forever?

JR: “We knew we were creating some great, new games that we hadn’t seen before. We didn’t know the FPS genre was going to really explode until after we released DOOM in 1993.”

BMi: What was your main inspiration when creating “DOOM”?

JR: “My main inspiration in making DOOM was to have the player in the future, in a sci-fi setting, but confronting demons from Hell instead of space aliens. We took inspiration from the Evil Dead and Aliens movies, and worked hard to create something that was the most Doom pc game screen shotfun we could imagine.”

BMi: Did you see the film adaptation of “DOOM”? If so, what’d you think it?

JR: “Yes, I saw the DOOM movie. I didn’t like it very much – it was pretty cheesy. But I hear they are rebooting the movie so maybe we’ll see something way cooler this time.”

BMi: I read that you coined the term “DeathMatch”, do you get paid every time a game uses the term? Because you totally should.

JR: “Lol, I know!”

BMi: There’s an urban legend that I’m sure you’ve heard, that id provided the source code for Wolfenstein 3D to Wisdom Tree games so they could create the unlicensed Super Nintendo game Super Noah’s ark 3d. Any truth to this or is this just another rumor?

JR: “That’s true – we licensed them the SNES Wolfenstein 3D engine to make a Super Noahs Ark 3d video game legendgame. We didn’t know what they were going to make, we just sold a game engine license.”

BMi: People have said that you ushered in the “rock star programmer” era; did you feel like a rock star at the time?

JR: “I felt pretty popular, but I didn’t personally feel like a “rock star coder”. I thought Bill Budge was a real rock star coder, though, as well as Nasir Gebelli. Those guys are my heroes.”

BMi: What directly lead to your departure from id software?

JR: “Oh, it was nothing direct. It was a whole lot of things over years that culminated in my deciding to leave at the same time John Carmack wanted me out. You can read the book Masters of DOOM for more details, because it’s too long to type up.”

John Romero's about to make you his bitch!BMi: The advertisements for “Daikatana” caused huge controversy in the late 90’s but by today’s standards they seem tame. If you could go back and redo it, would you have change the ad campaign or stick with it? I mean, it did work after all. 

JR: “Oh, I definitely would have changed the ad campaign and not released that ad. It would be interesting to know what would be different today if my marketing guy hadn’t done that.”

BMi: Obviously “Daikatana” didn’t end up working out for you, but what would you consider to be the single greatest factor that led to Daikatsu’s less than stellar reception?

JR: “The single greatest factor that ruined the game was the ad. The second problem was that the world was expecting the greatest game ever, and I had just started a new company and was working with an entire team of people who had never made a game before in their lives. Those are extremely tough odds. Let me repeat: no one on the Daikatana team, except for me, had made a game before. The fact that the game came out, only 3 years after starting it, is a miracle.”

John Romero's Daikatana box artBMi: Out of all the many, many games you’ve created what game makes you the proudest?

JR: “Both DOOM and Quake make me proud for different reasons. I’m also very proud of Dangerous Dave because it’s so niche, difficult, and so many people have been able to play it with low system requirements.”

BMi: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to break into the gaming industry?

JR: “Learn how to code. Make lots of very small games. Finish all your small games. After many, many games you will probably make a good one finally. You’ll never arrive on the scene with your first game and do great. By the time I founded id Software (my 4th game company), I had created about 60 games, and published 34 of those.”

BMi: Where do you see the future of gaming?

JR: “It changes all the time, sometimes drastically. Right now, the future of social gaming hangs in the balance. Free-to-play games are all the rage with businessmen, but players and developers hate them. Consoles are declining with the advent of the iPad and iPhone platforms – people can now play 1080p HD games in their living rooms right from their iPhones and iPads. No need for consoles anymore. Nintendo is in decline, with Sony and Microsoft not far behind. We’re in the midst of a revolution.”

BMi: What are you working on at the Tom Clancy's Ghost Reconmoment?

JR: “I’m working on several projects. My main one is Ghost Recon Commander for Facebook. My other ones are a secret!”

BMi: We ask this dumb question at the end of all our interviews, Can you say something about our site with just five words?

JR: “Nice layout, interviews, and coverage.”

Thanks again to Mr.Romero for taking the time to speak with us, you can keep up with  all of his current projects at PlanetRomero.com.