In a much-anticipated reunion, John Romero and John Carmack, the iconic duo behind id Software and the legendary first-person shooter (FPS) game Doom, have come together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the game that revolutionized the gaming industry. This reunion signifies a rekindled friendship between the two gaming legends and provides fans with a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes moments of Doom’s development.
A glowing endorsement: Carmack’s praise for Romero
Despite a rocky period during the development of Quake, which led to the professional split between Romero and Carmack, their recent interactions and the release of Romero’s autobiography, ‘Doom Guy: Life In First Person,’ demonstrate a significant change in their relationship.
Carmack, in a heartfelt back cover quote for the book, commended Romero’s “remarkable memory” and acknowledged their joint influence on the gaming medium. Their renewed camaraderie has surprised many, as the public perception of their relationship had been one of rivalry and conflict.
Reflecting on Doom’s genesis
Doom’s release in 1993 marked a pivotal moment in the gaming world, following id Software’s earlier success with Wolfenstein 3D. The game quickly gained notoriety, holding the number one spot on the Usenet top 100, a precursor to online rankings.
Romero revealed that they weren’t anxious about launching Doom; they were simply exhausted from their previous success. Doom’s adrenaline-pumping action, unpredictable levels, and innovative gameplay mechanics left an indelible mark on the gaming industry.
Recently, Romero shared a surprising revelation about Doom: its connection to his Native American heritage. Although he was not consciously aware of it during the game’s development, Romero, who has Yaqui and Cherokee ancestry, acknowledged that his culture influenced his level design.
He described Doom as having “indigenous design” due to his innate understanding of space and its significance in Native thinking. Romero’s level design focused on creating landmarks that players could revisit, drawing inspiration from Native concepts of timelessness and history.
The timeless appeal of Doom
One of Doom’s enduring qualities is its timeless gameplay experience. Unlike many games from 1993, Doom continues to be enjoyed by successive generations without requiring remakes or updates.
Romero attributes this longevity to the game’s simplicity, solid movement mechanics, and a well-optimized engine that ensured smooth gameplay even on older hardware. Additionally, Doom’s open-source nature has enabled a thriving modding community, keeping the game alive and evolving.
As part of the 30th-anniversary celebration, Romero has launched a new Doom episode called Sigil II, featuring nine levels created using a fan-made level editor. He emphasizes that Doom’s level design potential remains untapped, and with today’s tools, he continues to innovate in this space.
Sigil II introduces a playful challenge to players, tasking them with finding and shooting a notorious “fireblu” texture hidden in each level to access secret areas—a nod to the Doom community’s longstanding inside joke.
Over the years, John Romero has embraced the role of a historian for Doom and id Software’s early days. He actively corrects historical inaccuracies and misconceptions to ensure the accurate preservation of the game’s legacy.
Romero believes that it is crucial to address past inaccuracies in gaming history to prevent the propagation of erroneous information in future publications and academic works.