In the world of gaming, certain names resonate with legendary status. Two such names are John Romero and John Carmack, the dynamic duo behind id Software, the game development company that laid the foundations of the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. As the 30th anniversary of their groundbreaking release, Doom approaches, it’s time to revisit the iconic game and the creative minds who shaped it.
The Reunion: Romero and Carmack
In a surprising turn of events, the longstanding tension between Romero and Carmack seems to have dissipated. Romero’s autobiography, ‘Doom Guy: Life In First Person,’ carries a glowing back cover quote from Carmack, praising Romero’s “remarkable memory” and celebrating their impact on the gaming medium. The reunion doesn’t focus on the fallout but rather on the period when they were united in pushing the boundaries of game development.
The Genesis of Doom
Three decades ago, on December 10, 1993, id Software unleashed Doom upon the gaming world. This moment marked a pivotal juncture, where Romero and Carmack were not just creating a game but defining a new era – the era of 3D game hackers.
With the success of Wolfenstein 3D behind them, the anticipation for Doom was global. Having held the number one spot on the Usenet top 100 for about a year with Wolfenstein, the duo wasn’t nervous about launching Doom. They were, as Romero puts it, simply “tired.”
Doom’s Enduring Simplicity
Doom’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its simplicity, a quality Romero emphasizes. In an era where framerates were often an issue, Doom promised a consistently smooth experience, comparable to the fluidity of Mario’s movement. The game’s engine, min-maxed for optimal performance, offered players a timeless and enjoyable experience.
Furthermore, Doom’s unprecedented modding community has played a crucial role in keeping the game alive. The decision by id Software to release the game’s source code in 1997 was a rare move at the time. This openness enabled modding to thrive, ensuring Doom’s relevance across generations.
Doom’s Indigenous Design
In a recent revelation, Romero, of Yaqui and Cherokee ancestry, highlighted the influence of his Native American heritage on Doom’s design. While not a conscious decision at the time, he now recognizes the subliminal impact on his level designs. Doom, he asserts, is an indigenous design, shaped by a deep understanding of space influenced by his cultural background.
Exploring Level Design
Romero’s approach to level design in Doom was unconventional for its time. Unlike the linear corridors of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom’s data structure allowed for vertical construction. The subconscious Native influence drove Romero to create levels that sent players outward from a central point, fostering a better understanding when they returned.
Celebrating Doom’s 30th Anniversary
To mark the 30th anniversary of Doom, Romero has not only reunited with Carmack for a livestream but has also released a new Doom episode named Sigil II. Created using a fanmade level editor, Sigil II is a testament to the ongoing legacy of Doom’s modding community.
In Romero’s words, “Doom level design has still not been exhausted. I’m still doing new things.” With Sigil II and ongoing projects, he continues to contribute to the game that forever labels him as the ‘Doom guy.’
The Playful Antagonist
Romero’s level design philosophy is characterized by a playful antagonism. Each Doom stage is a personal creation, embodying a dungeon master’s vision. In an era dominated by large development teams, Doom’s individualistic approach and connection with the designer remain rare and cherished.
Embracing the Role of Historian
As time marches on, Romero has assumed the role of a historian, preserving memories and correcting inaccuracies about Doom and early id Software. His commitment to accuracy stems from the desire to ensure that future generations are armed with correct information, as the events of 30 years ago become part of gaming history.
As the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of Doom, it’s more than a nod to a classic game. It’s a celebration of the creativity, innovation, and enduring legacy of two pioneers – John Romero and John Carmack. Doom’s impact reverberates through the decades, a testament to the power of simplicity, open modding, and the individualistic touch of its creators. Here’s to Doom, the game that defied expectations and defined an era.