John Romero – as you probably know – is the man who is recognized on the world scene of video games. The creator of milestones, which are a breeding ground for the current shape of the game industry has found time to answer us a few questions. Do you remember the first part of Doom? Have you ever played in Daikatana? You do not have a choice! You must read this interview!
The Settled Gamer: What was your inspiration for your first game – Scout Search, published in the inCider magazine? Most games most likely come from some sort of personal insight. What’s the story behind its premiere?
John Romero: For Scout Search I needed to make a game that was fun, but was also very small to type into the computer. Back in 1984, people typed programs from magazines into their computers. More often than not there were errors while doing this. So, the shorter the program listing, the better.
Scout Search had a maze that was populated with 10 scouts. Your job as the Scout Master was to find your scouts and lead them to safety before the grizzly bear kills them. All you have to do is move your dot over to a white dot (the scouts) and they would disappear and be unable to get killed by the bear. After all the scouts are gone, either by you rescuing them or their getting killed, you would go to the next level and only the saved scouts would be scattered around to do the same thing again. The game is over when all scouts are killed.
The Settled Gamer: After all this time, how do you think about your work at Inside Out Software? Was it easier – from your perspective – to port Apple II games to Commodore? Maybe the opposite? And why? Which system was Might and Magic II better optimized for? Please be honest! You probably can tell after all this time ;)
John Romero: The most difficult part of the Might & Magic II port was converting all the 16-color graphics to work in the 4-color mixed-mode graphics on the C64. Other than that, the port was easy. It’s easier to make fast games on the C64 than the Apple II because the C64 has graphics hardware and the Apple did not. There wasn’t any optimization done on the C64 port because it was all in 6502 assembly language and fast. In addition, the game was turn-based so no need for fast action.
The Settled Gamer: What gave you the idea to appear in Doom II as the final boss? Were you aiming it at someone, trying to prove that it’s possible to have fun with the convention or maybe something completely different?
John Romero: The story of how I appeared secretly as the Icon of Sin in DOOM II has been told many times. It was a joke, an easter egg, the artists thought they would put in the game for me to learn about after launch. Well, I found out soon after they put me in there, so I recorded the scary-sounding backwards audio that says, “To win the game you must kill me, John Romero” and made the Icon of Sin say that when it saw you for the first time. We left both of those easter eggs in there.
The Settled Gamer: Doom, Wolfenstein, Quake, Heretic, Hexen, maybe Space Rogue or the aforementioned Scout Search – which previous game of yours do you have the fondest memories of and why?
John Romero: Definitely DOOM – it was a great time making that game. Wolfenstein, Heretic, and Hexen were also fun. Quake was not fun and difficult to make. I only worked on Space Rogue for about 2 months before I left Origin to co-found Inside Out Software. Scout Search was made in a few hours.
The Settled Gamer: Can you tell us something more about Blackroom, your co-production with Adrian Carmack? Is your decision to rely on crowdfunding set in stone, or are you considering any sort of outside financing?
John Romero: I can’t say much about BLACKROOM that’s not already out there. We are not set on crowdfunding, however.
The Settled Gamer: Your games had some really satisfying weapons, and people still consider the Doom shotguns as the most fun ones in gaming. Do you have any favorites yourself? If yes, why them?
John Romero: I really liked the Quake rocket launcher. Half Life 2’s crossbow is great – instant kill. Bulletstorm’s Peacemaker Carbine is hilarious when you secondary-fire it – instant barbeque.
The Settled Gamer: Finally, “Ustatkowany gracz” roughly translates to “The Settled Gamer”. How would you define such a gamer in your own words?
John Romero: That would be a gamer in their 40’s most likely. With kids.