John Romero – The Hero That Fell From Grace
Ask a gamer where true gaming began and most will say Doom. Doom, created by id Software, is a franchise that still exists today, having recently had the smash-hit Doom: Eternal. The first Doom was released in 1993, all but revolutionising gaming overnight. Featuring fast action, violent shooting and incredible technology, gamers were blown out of their socks. So who were the masterminds behind the video game revolution?
Programmers and designers John Carmack and John Romero kicked it all off. They are still well known today, but with Carmack being far more prolific than his counterpart. Romero has somewhat fallen out of the spotlight, though is still acknowledged as one of the video game industry’s grandfathers. The story of his fall from grace is, however, a fascinating one.
A Fall From Grace
During the peak of the original Doom’s success Romero earned a reputation for being extravagant. His new found wealth allowed him to hit the road in sports cars, live in the finest luxury apartments, and throw outrageous parties. It wasn’t necessarily his lifestyle, though, that started to drive a wedge between him and co-creator Carmack.
The pair conflicted over who was putting more time and effort into id Software, eventually resulting in Romero moving on to found his own company. Still today the feud between the pair is talked about, but needless to say Romero did contribute massively to early id Software video game success.
But it isn’t as if Romero was thrown penniless out into the cold. His reputation still held enormous weight, allowing him to immediately start work on the now infamous Daikatana. Betting on soccer comes with certain risks, but most assumed betting on Daikatana was a sure thing. This was, after all, John Romero. How could his new game fail?
The Failure Of Daikatana
Daikatana is now widely seen as amongst the biggest video game flops of all time. Upon initial development Romero and his new company Ion Storm started immediately promising the world, hyping the still in-development Daikatana incessantly. An ill-advised approach, especially since it would be the first time Romero attempted to develop a game without the help of Carmack.
Needless to say it wasn’t long before development snags were encountered. Romero soon realised that his originally projected completion time of just a few months was unrealistic. Delay after delay saw a game meant to be developed in 7 months taking multiple years. By the time the game did release in 2000 the project was severely over budget, drastically undercooked, and woefully out of date.
The End Of An Era
After the failure of Daikatana Romero fell into mainstream silence for a decade. But despite his failures he is still widely regarded as being a legendary developer, having acted as a fundamental part of a technological revolution.
It is true that he allowed his ego to get away from him, but without Romero’s help it is all but guaranteed that games would not be the way they are today. It is the original Doom, after all, that created first person shooters.