Romero in 2012
|Born||Alfonso John Romero
October 28, 1967
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
|Occupation||Video game designer, video game programmer|
(m. 1987; div. 1989)
(m. 1990; div. 1998)
(m. 2004; div. 2011)
Brenda Garno (m. 2012)
|Partner(s)||Stevie Case (1998–2003)|
Alfonso John Romero (born October 28, 1967) is an American director, designer, programmer, and developer in the video game industry. He is best known as a co-founder of id Software and designer for many of their games, including Wolfenstein 3D, Dangerous Dave, Hexen, Doom and Quake. His game designs and development tools, along with new programming techniques created and implemented by id Software's lead programmer John Carmack, led to a mass popularization of the first-person shooter video game genre in the 1990s. He is credited with coining the multiplayer term "deathmatch".
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personal life
- 3 Recognition
- 4 Games
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Among his early influences, he credited Namco's maze chase arcade game Pac-Man (1980) as the title that had the biggest influence on his career. He also cited Nasir Gebelli (Sirius Software and Squaresoft) as his favorite programmer and a major inspiration, citing the influence of his fast 3D programming work for Apple II games, such as the shooters Horizon V (1981) and Zenith (1982), on his later work at id Software. Other influences he cited include programmer Bill Budge, Shigeru Miyamoto's Super Mario games, and fighting games such as Street Fighter II, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and Virtua Fighter.
John Romero's first published game, Scout Search, appeared in the June 1984 issue of inCider magazine, a popular magazine for Apple II owners published in the 1980s. Romero's first company, Capitol Ideas Software, was listed as the developer for at least 12 of his earliest published games. Romero captured the December cover of the Apple II magazine Nibble for three years in a row starting in 1987. He entered a programming contest in A+ magazine during its first year of publishing with his game Cavern Crusader. The first game Romero created that was eventually published was Jumpster in UpTime (disk magazine). Jumpster was created in 1983 and published in 1987, making Jumpster his earliest created, then published, game.
Romero's first industry job was at Origin Systems in 1987 after programming games for 8 years. He worked on the Apple II to Commodore 64 port of 2400 A.D., which was eventually scrapped due to slow sales of the Apple II version. Romero then moved onto Space Rogue, a game by Paul Neurath. During this time, Romero was asked if he would be interested in joining Paul's soon-to-start company Blue Sky Productions, eventually renamed Looking Glass Technologies. Instead, Romero left Origin Systems to co-found a game company named Inside Out Software, where he ported Might & Magic II from the Apple II to the Commodore 64. He had almost finished the Commodore 64 to Apple II port of Tower Toppler, but Epyx unexpectedly cancelled all its ports industrywide due to their tremendous investment in the first round of games for the upcoming Atari Lynx.
During this short time, Romero did the artwork for the Apple IIGS version of Dark Castle, a port from the Macintosh. During this time, John and his friend Lane Roathe co-founded a company named Ideas from the Deep and wrote versions of a game named Zappa Roidz for the Apple II, PC and Apple IIGS. Their last collaboration was an Apple II disk operating system (InfoDOS) for Infocom's games Zork Zero, Arthur, Shogun and Journey.
Romero moved to Shreveport, Louisiana in March 1989 and joined Softdisk as a programmer in its Special Projects division. After several months of helping the PC monthly disk magazine Big Blue Disk, he officially moved into the department until he started a PC games division in July 1990 named 'Gamer's Edge' (originally titled PCRcade). Romero hired John D. Carmack into the department from his freelancing in Kansas City, moved Adrian Carmack into the division from Softdisk's art department, and persuaded Tom Hall to come in at night and help with game design. Romero and the others then left Softdisk in February 1991 to form id Software.
Romero worked at id Software from its incorporation in 1991 until 1996. He was involved in the creation of several milestone games, including Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth and Quake. He served as executive producer (and game designer) on Heretic and Hexen. He designed most of the first episode of Doom, most of the levels in Quake, half the levels in the Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny. He wrote many of the tools used at id Software to create their games, including DoomEd (level editor), QuakeEd (level editor), DM (for deathmatch launching), DWANGO client (to connect the game to DWANGO's servers), TED5 (level editor for the Commander Keen series, Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny), IGRAB (for grabbing assets and putting them in WAD files), the installers for all the games up to and including Quake, the SETUP program used to configure the games, and several others.
During the production of Quake Romero clashed with John Carmack over the future direction of id. Romero wanted the game to follow his demanding vision without compromise, but Carmack insisted that the project had to make steady progress toward completion and accused Romero of not working as much as the other developers. Although Romero relented on his vision and joined a months-long death march effort to finish the game, this did not resolve the tensions within the company, and Romero was fired.
In level 30 of Doom II, "Icon of Sin", the boss is supposed to be a giant demon head with a fragment missing from its forehead. When first viewing the demon, a distorted and demonic message is played, which is actually John Romero saying "To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero!", reversed and distorted to sound like a demonic chant. One can use the "noclip" cheat to enter the boss and see Romero's severed head which is skewered on a post. The player defeats the boss (without the noclip cheat) by shooting rockets into its exposed brain after activating a lift and riding it. Romero's head functions as its hit detection point; when he "dies", the boss is killed and the game is finished. In the 2013 IGN Doom playthrough to celebrate Doom's 20th anniversary, Romero shared the backstory behind the inclusion of his head as the final boss and the reversed sound effect - they were both a result of in-joke pranking between development team members.
Romero later co-founded Ion Storm in Arlington, Texas with id co-worker Tom Hall, where he designed and produced Daikatana. This ambitious shooter was announced in 1997 with a release date for the Christmas shopping season of that year. However, this release date slipped repeatedly in the coming months, and the game began to accrue negative press.
In particular, a 1997 advertisement boasting "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch....Suck it down" caused controversy amongst gamers and the gaming press. The massive pre-hype for the game and the subsequent delays (it was not released until April 2000) were compounded by the poor reviews the game received when it was finally complete. Upon release, Daikatana was critically panned and appeared on numerous "top 10 worst games" listings.
During this time, Romero was rumored to have been killed (with a headshot) and a photograph of his corpse with a bullet wound was also spread through the Internet; Romero himself later stated that the picture was taken for the magazine Texas Monthly, and that "maybe he shouldn't have taken it".
Romero departed with Tom Hall immediately after the release of Hall's Anachronox game and the subsequent closing of the Dallas Ion office.
In July 2001, Romero and Hall founded Monkeystone Games in order to develop and publish games for mobile devices, and Monkeystone released 15 games (approximately) during its short lifespan of three and a half years. Some highlights of their developments included Hyperspace Delivery Boy! (Pocket PC, PC, Mac, Linux, GBA), Congo Cube (Pocket PC, PC, BREW, Java ME), and a version of Red Faction for the Nokia N-Gage. He and his girlfriend, Stevie Case, broke up in 2003, and she left the company in May while Red Faction development continued until October. John then left Monkeystone Games' day-to-day operations to Lucas Davis while Romero and Hall left for Midway in San Diego.
In mid-October 2003, Romero joined Midway Games as project lead on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. While he continued to maintain his working relationship with Monkeystone, Lucas Davis took over running the office. The Monkeystone team moved to Austin, Texas to work on Midway's Area 51 title until its release. Monkeystone Games closed down in January 2005. Romero moved from project lead to creative director of internal studio during this time.
At the end of June 2005, Romero left Midway Games mere months before the completion of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows.
Slipgate Ironworks/Gazillion Entertainment
On August 31, 2005, Romero confirmed that he was working on a yet-to-be-announced MMOG at his newly opened development studio, Slipgate Ironworks. It was reported that the name was temporary. "For the record," Romero wrote, "I'm co-founder of a new game company in the Bay Area and am much better off in many ways than I was at Midway". He said that he would not reveal anything about the company or the game until 2007. On March 17, 2009 it was announced that Slipgate Ironworks was part of Gazillion Entertainment. Along with venture capitalist Rob Hutter and investor Bhavin Shah, Romero was a co-founder of Gazillion.
Romero departed Gazillion Entertainment in November 2010 to form a social game company called Loot Drop alongside Brenda Brathwaite. His longtime co-worker, Tom Hall joined the company on January 1, 2011.
Cyberathlete Professional League
John Romero was the CPL's Chairman of the Board for ten years.
On December 20, 2006, John Romero announced a new FPS project for the Cyberathlete Professional League titled Severity for both consoles and PC. It was announced that Tom Mustaine (ex-Studio Director at Ritual Entertainment) would act as Director of Game Development at CPL's new studio. It was stated that Severity would be a multiplayer first person shooter, and that the game would be built on technology licensed from id Software.
On October 2009, Angel Munoz, founder of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) stated that Severity was no longer being produced because they were not able "to convince game publishers of its value".
Retro Gamer collaboration
In March 2010, John Romero collaborated with the gaming magazine Retro Gamer and taking on the role of a guest editor, taking charge of the magazine's editorial and contributing to a number of articles and subjects throughout the magazine. There is an extensive interview with Romero in the issue with industry luminaries offering their thoughts on Romero.
In August 2014, in a Super Joystiq Podcast at Gamescom 2014 Romero announced that he was about to make a new shooter, stating that he was working with a concept artist and he had some cool imagery for the main character.
Night Work Games
In April 2016, Romero announced a partnership with Adrian Carmack to create a new FPS entitled Blackroom, describing their vision as a visceral, varied and violent shooter that harkens back to classic FPS play with a mixture of exploration, speed, and intense, weaponized combat. They were seeking $700,000 via Kickstarter to see the project to completion but had to pull the plug after four days due to Kickstarter's policies stating that they must have a working gameplay demo.
In January 2004, Romero married Raluca Alexandra Pleșca, originally from Bucharest, Romania. They divorced in 2011.
Romero and game developer Brenda Brathwaite became engaged on March 24, 2012. They married on October 27, 2012. Together, they worked on Ravenwood Fair, with Romero as Lead Designer and Brathwaite as Creative Director and Game Designer. They also founded social game development company Loot Drop in November 2010, and worked on Cloudforest Expedition and Ghost Recon Commander together.
Romero has three children from two previous marriages: Michael, born in 1988, Steven born in 1989, and Lillia Antoinette, born in 1998.
|2012||Tech Hall of Fame||Included in list of technology creators.|
|2012||Apple II Forever Award||Awarded at KansasFest to members of the Apple II community who had made significant contributions to the Apple II.|
|2011||Most Influential Person in Facebook and Social Games||#1 in Games.com's 2011 list.|
|1999||MIT Technology Review TR100||Innovators Under 35.|
|1998||Time Magazine's Cyber Elite 50||#36, The top 50 tech elite of the year.|
|1998||Top 20 Texan of the Year||Texas Monthly's yearly list of the Top 20 Texans|
|1997||Time Magazine's Cyber Elite 50||#40, The top 50 tech elite of the year.|
|1996||The most influential people in computer gaming of all time||#7, GameSpot's "The most influential people in computer gaming of all time" list.|
- John Romero at the Internet Movie Database
- Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. 89. ISBN 0-375-50524-5.
- Bailey, Kat (March 9, 2012). "These games inspired Cliff Bleszinski, John Romero, Will Wright, and Sid Meier". Joystiq. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
- Barton, Matt (19 April 2016). "Honoring the Code: Conversations with Great Game Designers". CRC Press – via Google Books.
- Consalvo, Mia (2016). Atari to Zelda: Japan's Videogames in Global Contexts. MIT Press. pp. 201–3. ISBN 0262034395.
- "Does John Romero Still Enjoy Shooting People?". Next Generation. No. 30. June 1997. pp. 9–12.
- Romero, John (1 March 1987). "Jumpster". Uptime – via Mobygames.
- "John Romero discusses his early years in the gaming industry". blankmaninc.com
- The Escapist - John Romero: The Escapist Interview. The Escapist.
- rebelCoder (Юрий.Л.) (12 December 2013). "Doom Playthrough With John Romero - 20 Yars of Doom! (by IGN)" – via YouTube.
- "The Top 7... PR Disasters" Game Radar
- "Romero Threatens to Make You His Bitch". Top 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming History. June 2003. GameSpy.
- Dunkin, Alan. "Romero Speaks... From the Grave?" GameSpot. August 28, 1998.
- Retro Gamer magazine, issue 75: In the Chain with ... John Romero (pages 78-89)
- Games Industry International (13 July 2005). "Romero Leaves Midway". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- News - John Romero's new studio. September 21, 2005. Eurogamer.
- Gazillion in agreement with Marvel Entertainment to bring iconic super heroes to massively multiplayer games audience, unveils new company and studios[dead link] March 17, 2009.
- John Romero's Twitterstream March 17, 2009.
- "Ep. 53 – Just Hanging Out - The Widget – Games, Tech, Whatever".
- http://lootdrop.com/about/ Loot Drop's About page
- Takahashi, Dean. "Loot Drop banks on talented game designers as it takes on social gaming's giants (exclusive)".
- Romero Announces New CPL Specific FPS Archived February 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Super Joystiq Podcast Special: Gamescom 2014 Day 1".
- "After 14 years John Romero is working on another shooter".
- "'Doom' creators pull 'Blackroom' Kickstarter after four days". Engadget. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
- The post-apocalyptic dimensional space of Native video game design>
- "John Romero - Facebook".
- "Brenda Romero on Twitter".
- "John Romero on Twitter".
- "Pinterest Tech Hall of Fame".
- "Romero awarded #1 spot in list of Most Influential Person in Facebook and Social Games".
- "Romero awarded a position in MIT's technology list.".
- "Romero is at position #35".
- "Romero listed as one of the Top 20 Texans of the year".
- "News source at the time reporting Romero's inclusion.".
- Kushner, David (May 6, 2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. ASIN B000FBFNL0. ISBN 978-0375505249.
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