John Romero Interview
    John Romero is, without a doubt, one of the most influential game designers in the industry. As designer of Wolfenstein 3D and its classic follow-up DOOM, John practically single-handedly sparked the first-person shooter genre of computer gaming that has practically dominated the industry for the past several years. Since the release of Quake, Mr. Romero has left id Software and helped form a new computer gaming company, Ion Storm. Verbosity recently got a chance to conduct an interview with Mr. Romero, and here's how it went...

[Verbosity]    How did you become involved in the software industry? What sort of educational or experience based background did you come from? How did id Software develop?

[John Romero]    I started creating games on the Apple // in 1979 and got my first real programming job at Origin Systems in 1987. I am completely self-taught, no school. id Software was started in the fall of 1990 by me, John Carmack, Tom Hall and Adrian Carmack. We created our first Commander Keen (EGA side-scroller) at that time, then went on to develop and release many more titles.
[V]    Your name truly became synonymous with the first-person 3D-shooter genre with the release of DOOM. What projects had you worked on prior to this release?
[JR]    Besides the fifty or so games I programmed before moving over to the PC, the most notable were Commander Keen 1-6, Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny.
[V]    Does the massive amount of DOOM-alikes out there, often totally bereft of creativity, disturb you at all? Do you think this genre is becoming abused in the gaming industry?
[JR]    Yes, but that happens to any hot genre. It is very important to lead the field and innovate in game design. Sometimes, I'm very happy to see a decent "clone" like Dark Forces, Duke Nukem 3D or Blood. I love playing games, so it's pretty important to me that people create some good first-person 3D titles that I can enjoy. There aren't many good ones.
[V]    Relatively soon after the release of Quake, you chose to part ways with id Software. How did this decision come about?
[JR]    I had been thinking about it for about eight months prior to leaving. It was time to move on and do something new and exciting.
Romero and Hall [V]    Since then, you've become involved with Ion Storm Software. What can we expect from you in the way of upcoming projects?
[JR]    My new 3D action/RPG game named Daikatana is currently being developed. Tom Hall and his team are working on a 3D RPG game named Anachronox and Todd Porter and his team are working on a real-time strategy adventure title.
[V]    What's your all-time favorite computer game?
[JR]    That would have to be Chrono Trigger, an RPG from Squaresoft on the SNES. My second favorite would be Ultima 5.
[V]    When you look at computer gaming industry as it stands today, what description comes to mind? What do you feel needs to change about it?
[JR]    Can you say 'crowded'? There are too many games being developed by people that have no business creating games. If you walk into CompUSA or Babbage's and see the vast array of game titles on the shelf, chances are that 95% of those titles are not worth playing. I have a feeling that the situation will work itself out as large-scale market forces work their magic over time.
[V]    A few months back, the rumor spread across Usenet that you had died in a car accident. I quote, "I heard that he was taking a spin in his yellow Ferrari when he came around a curve too fast and crashed into an oncoming car! Apparently, they are still trying to identify the remains as Romero." What do you think of these outlandish tales?
 [JR]    They're pretty funny. I guess they demonstrate just how popular gaming has become. We are at the point where game designers have become celebrities due to the size of the market they serve, and the game-playing market today is pretty sizable.
[V]    What's a typical day like for John Romero? Pure programming excitement, laid back design chores, or just the average kind of thing?
[JR]    Get to work, do e-mail, do biz, design more Daikatana, and Deathmatch after 6PM.
[V]    If you could let the world know one thing about yourself, what would it be?
[JR]    I completely love playing and designing games and always will. I am so into games that I listen to game music all day. That may sound strange, but you can guarantee I'm a hardcore gamer and would never let you down by designing a crappy title.
[V]    If, perhaps, one of our editorial staff's head was swelling with delusions of Quake grandeur, would you be willing to personally teach him a lesson with a thorough deathmatch whumping?
[JR]    I would be glad to crack his skull for him!

[back to verbosity]