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Interview With John Romero

samzenpus posted about 8 years ago | from the get-your-chain-gun dept.

211

spensdawg writes "Here is an interesting interview with John Romero on Games.net. He gets into the original design philosophy for the first Doom games, what he would have done differently, and his plans for the future. Worth watching if you want to know a little more about the mad scientist behind Doom." A warning: this is a video interview

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211 comments

ffd (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626402)

FRIST FOR TEH GNAAA
asdffffffffffff
asdddddddd

asddddddddddd

Requires flash 8 (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626413)

I assume thats why no ones posting comments }:(

Re:Requires flash 8 (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | about 8 years ago | (#15626558)

Like /.ers ever care to RTFA ...

Re:Requires flash 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626624)

What does the version number have to do with it?

Like (1)

flumps (240328) | about 8 years ago | (#15626753)

Who's John Romero?

Oh him. Hasn't he died yet then?

Re:Requires flash 8 (0, Flamebait)

stunt_penguin (906223) | about 8 years ago | (#15626778)

It's a video. If it didn't require Flash 8, it'd require streaming windows media (horrible), realplayer (oh, the humanity!) or quicktime (actually i wouldn't mind that).

Quit complaining, luddite.

hey mr "penguin"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626924)

When you start using Linux for real instead of just implying (or ridiquling?) it in your nick you'll realize there's no native Flash 8 plugin for Linux. Any of the other formats mentioned are not _much_ of a hussle to get going, but I'm not fiering up cxoffice/IE just to view one video.

The submiter (or at least the editor [yeah, right..]) should have mentioned that the contetnt was Flash 8 considering what forum the newsblurb was posted on.

I opened the link in a new tab - flash 8 required - closed tab.

Re:hey mr "penguin"... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 8 years ago | (#15627242)

The submiter (or at least the editor [yeah, right..]) should have mentioned that the contetnt was Flash 8 considering what forum the newsblurb was posted on.

Actually I think /. said that most users are browsing from Windows machines...

Flashplayer 8 required :( (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626415)

This article is not going to be much use for Linux users, as it requires Flash 8.

Two points:

- Why does a text article require flashplayer 8 to view it? It's a waste of bandwidth, waste of CPU and cutting down on this site's potential market.

- Why has Macromedia has only released a (very buggy) flashplayer 7 for linux x86, and no flashplayer at all for amd64? The selling point of Flash is that it's multi-platform but that's not really the case.

I look forward to the day when SVG and other standard technologies becomes more prevalent and Flash is relegated to the technology graveyard.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

djb6 (158779) | about 8 years ago | (#15626428)

Does anyone know if there is the transcript of this interview anywhere?

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

demo (8301) | about 8 years ago | (#15626506)

Seems like more and more news-sources are releasing videos instead of articles (or transcripts). Is it that much cheaper to produce?

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#15626522)

Seems like more and more news-sources are releasing videos instead of articles (or transcripts). Is it that much cheaper to produce?


It brings in more revenue because it's harder to quote (bloggers love to copy and paste entire sections, just as /.ers do but would they type it out? Not most.) and gives incentive for people to go to that site and sit through their ads. Plus, they actually show commercials, not just banners or animated gifs, I had to sit through a minute long Lemmings commercial just to watch the interview.

Consequences required :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626915)

"It brings in more revenue because it's harder to quote (bloggers love to copy and paste entire sections, just as /.ers do but would they type it out? Not most.) and gives incentive for people to go to that site and sit through their ads. Plus, they actually show commercials, not just banners or animated gifs, I had to sit through a minute long Lemmings commercial just to watch the interview."

Wait! Wait! Wait! You're telling me there's such a thing as "cause and effect"? Who knew?

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15627329)

I had to sit through a minute long Lemmings commercial just to watch the interview.

Oh No!

*Boom*

Two words (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 8 years ago | (#15626716)

Mandatory ads

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (5, Funny)

Freaky Spook (811861) | about 8 years ago | (#15626440)

- Why has Macromedia has only released a (very buggy) flashplayer 7 for linux x86, and no flashplayer at all for amd64? The selling point of Flash is that it's multi-platform but that's not really the case.

I guess since adobe is now in charge it isn't as high a priority, they are too busy finding bloat to put in it.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 8 years ago | (#15626588)

The selling point of Flash is that it's multi-platform but that's not really the case.
The selling point of Flash are web ads, and this is exactly the reason to not install it, ever.

Even with FlashBlock around, I simply don't care enough about Homestarr to stomach the wasted screen space on like 1/3 of pages. And with flashovers, FlashBlock doesn't shove Flash deep enough.

Let it rot.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

Eideewt (603267) | about 8 years ago | (#15626643)

Adblock blocks Flash ads too, you know.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 8 years ago | (#15626691)

Except, Adblock assumes an opt-out principle. For flash, I would want opt-in: 99.9% of all Flash is trash.

Also, note that a missed graphical ad is just a bit of visual annoyance. A missed piece of Flash is a major slowdown, tries to take over the browser, and generally is a major pain in the ass.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (5, Informative)

pablomarx (860587) | about 8 years ago | (#15626752)

Except, Adblock assumes an opt-out principle. For flash, I would want opt-in: 99.9% of all Flash is trash.
Then try either FlashBlock [mozdev.org] (Firefox Extension) or these userContent.css rules [floppymoose.com] . Both block all Flash, putting a placeholder where the Flash object would've been allowing you to click to load it.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15626899)

He already said that doesn't do enough for flashovers, whatever that may be.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

Eideewt (603267) | about 8 years ago | (#15626865)

I forgot. By Adblock I meant Adblock + Filterset.g Updater. I haven't seen a Flash ad since I installed the two.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

doti (966971) | about 8 years ago | (#15627102)

Except, Adblock assumes an opt-out principle. For flash, I would want opt-in: 99.9% of all Flash is trash.


Just add a filter to *.swf

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15626886)

As an Opera user I simply disable plugins and use the site preferences to whitelist the few pages that deserve it. Same for cookies and animated GIFs. Should it be necessary I have the "enable plugins" checkbox in my toolbar. Doesn't FF have a similar feature?

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

Berre (709145) | about 8 years ago | (#15626499)

- Why does a text article require flashplayer 8 to view it? It's a waste of bandwidth, waste of CPU and cutting down on this site's potential market.
umm, because it's not a text article?

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (5, Informative)

Yaztromo (655250) | about 8 years ago | (#15626544)

Why does a text article require flashplayer 8 to view it? It's a waste of bandwidth, waste of CPU and cutting down on this site's potential market.

Because it's not text, it's video. And if that weren't bad enough, every 5 seconds or so it decides to pause the video to buffer some more. I don't know if it's my Internet connection tonight (which has been slow and flakey at times for no apparant reason), or if the site is being /.'ed, but either way the video player has some serious issues with its buffering time heuristic.

In the end, it just isn't worth it. Trust me, you're not missing a thing.

Yaz.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (2, Interesting)

glesga_kiss (596639) | about 8 years ago | (#15626783)

Flash Video is Evil. Yes, that's with a capital "E". Computer designers had video overlays nailed back in Windows 98. Remember the "Buddy Holly" video? Are you all trying to tell me now that we are throwing all that efficiency away and replacing it with a flash object painting to a browser renderer, which then paints to the screen? I can't believe my 3.0GHz dual-core is dropping frames now.

You can't save it either, nor can you zoom in / resize. I'm running at 1600x1200, your 100x100 flash video is the size of a postage stamp. "Always on top overlay mode"? Forget it.

Adobe are KILLING flash. Embedded video will never be more than a novelty thanks to them, they seem to be eating up all of the video content providers.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (5, Informative)

BruceCage (882117) | about 8 years ago | (#15626571)

Interestingly enough if you directly go to the SWF file [games.net] , you can listen to the interview without actually having Flash Player 8.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#15626611)

I look forward to the day when SVG and other standard technologies becomes more prevalent and Flash is relegated to the technology graveyard.

That is never going to happen, for two reasons.

One, Macromedia has a vested interest in keeping its sticky thumbs in everyones browser via Flash installations. They're not going to allow SVG to usurp the great thing they've got going, not matter how many users it infuriates. Expect a wealth of new Flash upgrades and especially better Flash authoring tools if SVG even look slike it's goign mainstream.

Two, Flash is entrenched. It's not going anywhere fast. It's supported on a huge number of browsers and has no real competator. Even the mighty Google used it as a basis for their video serive. When Google relies on something, you know it's here to stay.

The only way Flash is being replaced, is by a slow, almost imperceptable secular trend in both websites and browsers.

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (0)

hauntingthunder (985246) | about 8 years ago | (#15626740)

testify brother Why can't Google buy adobe and take flash out behind the wood shed and put it out of our misery ;-) only sligtly jokeing

Complaining about Flash required :( (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626870)

"This article is not going to be much use for Linux users, as it requires Flash 8."

Bummer. The minority complaining about not getting special treatment.

"Why does a text article require flashplayer 8 to view it?"

It's a VIDEO!

"It's a waste of bandwidth"

Says the forum who regularly brags about their E-penis (broadband).

"waste of CPU"

Like you're using it for anything else important.

"and cutting down on this site's potential market."

Says the group that regularly disses "evil corporations", and shuns the "I'm a consumer" image. You all are as "potential" as the lottery.

Re:Complaining about Flash required :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626882)


"waste of CPU"

Like you're using it for anything else important.

Actually some of us are but we wouldn't expect a 12 year old to understand. Never mind that flash isn't availiable for linux/PPC. Truely you are a moron!

Re:Flashplayer 8 required :( (4, Funny)

Quarters (18322) | about 8 years ago | (#15627316)

>> A warning: this is a video interview >> - Why does a text article require flashplayer 8 to view it?

Ruminate on those two statements for a while.

It's amazing... (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#15626421)

This guy been around longer than Duke Nukem Forever and Daikatana 2 is still not out.

Re:It's amazing... (5, Funny)

Mikey-San (582838) | about 8 years ago | (#15626473)

Daikatana 2 is still not out.

And this alone is proof that God exists.

Re:It's amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15627229)

And Daikatana 1 proved the Devil exists.

I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (5, Informative)

Duds (100634) | about 8 years ago | (#15626430)

He designed some levels, he did a little game design, he was not by any stretch the main creative force behind Doom.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | about 8 years ago | (#15626466)

Some one mod the parent up, for crying out loud. He was part of the production of some fantastic games while he was at id, but strangely enough NONE of the games he's made since have been popular. Kind of rules him out as the "main creative force"...

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (5, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#15626478)

Perhaps, but none of ID's games have been so much fun since he left. Perhaps someone else was responsible or perhaps it was just a good team.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (3, Interesting)

SCPRedMage (838040) | about 8 years ago | (#15626575)

Maybe the problem is that the gameplay behind id's games hasn't changed in any significant way. Doom was great back in the day, but as a modern game, it would be torn apart for being nothing more than a run-and-gun. Games like Half-Life 2 have done so well because of NON-combat elements, like story development and physics-based puzzles, in addition to some great action. id's games have remained focused on action, and many have found that to become stale, after all these years.

But that's all besides the point. The point was that Romero's own acheivements do not make him a "gaming god" worthy of emulation. His own actions caused him to be "asked to leave" id software, and since striking it off on his own he has failed to become a commercially successful name.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (5, Interesting)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | about 8 years ago | (#15626722)

Maybe the problem is that the gameplay behind id's games hasn't changed in any significant way. Doom was great back in the day, but as a modern game, it would be torn apart for being nothing more than a run-and-gun. Games like Half-Life 2 have done so well because of NON-combat elements, like story development and physics-based puzzles, in addition to some great action. id's games have remained focused on action, and many have found that to become stale, after all these years.



Incorrect. I can say with a great deal of certainty that there have been very few games like Quake and the classic Doom series in recent years. Run and gun is not stale at all, just as long as it's done right. Being story driven does not necissarily make a game better, and being run and gun does not necissarily make a game worse. I still play Doom all the time, but whats more, I've introduced Doom to other relatively new gamers, and once they get past the graphics they have a lot of fun with it too.

In my opinion, John Romero and John Carmack made a great team. Romero had the nuts ideas and awesome level designs, and Carmack had the engine and the smarts and the work ethic. Without Carmack, Romero didin't have the tech or the reigns to keep him on target with Daikatana. Without Romero, Carmack and the rest of ID couldn't figure out how to make a fun FPS.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (1)

KinkoBlast (922676) | about 8 years ago | (#15627206)

Right. Even at that point, when it was small teams and low budgets, doing a great game alone was nearly imposible just because the design needs a mix of insanity and control that is hard to do alone!

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (1)

cttforsale (803028) | about 8 years ago | (#15627227)

I agree with your "run n gun" statement. F.E.A.R. is the only pure run n gun I've seen in a recent while, and while I love HL2, I enjoyed F.E.A.R. a whole lot more.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (4, Interesting)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | about 8 years ago | (#15626529)

Level and game design is critical. It requires a good team to work with for it to be worth anything, and it's still critical. And the game designer is very often the main creative force.

Eivind, former game developer.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#15626844)

> Level and game design is critical.

Game design is critical. Many people who play a lot of games can design levels they'd like. But far fewer people can design and code optimally a game for the sort of shitty hardware that was out when Doom came out.

Threni, former game developer.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (2, Insightful)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | about 8 years ago | (#15627043)

Not just that, but most hobby "level designers" lack the artistic talent to put together something like doom2. Sure you could make a fun level, but could you set an atmosphere? Keep it consistent with itself? Keep the difficulty level on par with the surrounding levels? Theres a lot more that goes into it than just dropping some monsters and halls.

I mean no disrespect of course, there are a lot of hobbiests that can pull all of this off, but a lot of good mappers have yet to pull off the kind of artistic talent you see from someone like Romero or McGee.

Generally I think hobbiests are better at multiplayer mapping and "the big guys" better at single player. Multiplayer doesn't have any storyline or sequence, it just is what it is. All thats important is making it fit how people play the game, and in that regard the hobbiests have the advantage of actually playing the game, and getting to make the maps after the games been out and gameplay finalized. I'd bet a map like Quake1's DM1 was made long before large scale multiplayer testing was out, compared to a map like Aerowalk which fits the multiplayer gameplay much better.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (1)

YAMSYAMSYAMS (973117) | about 8 years ago | (#15626622)

He also forgot his buddy, Superfly, which led to his demise. ALWAYS remember your buddy Superfly.

Re:I'm sorry, the genius behind Doom? (4, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | about 8 years ago | (#15626631)

Hehe... "Designed some levels, did a little game design"...

He was the lead designer of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake and co-founder of id Software.

Lead designers are kinda important for these projects and influence the gameplay quite a bit.

But conversely, it's not enough with just one decent lead designer when making a game, as Daikatana showed.

Even that's not that simple (4, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | about 8 years ago | (#15626911)

But conversely, it's not enough with just one decent lead designer when making a game, as Daikatana showed.


Well, not contradicting what you wrote, but more as a reminder to everyone else: Daikatana was a complex phenomenon, at no number of designers could have saved it past a certain point.

For starters, it was largely a management failure, rather than a game design failure. The game design wasn't particularly bad, and in some ways it was ahead of its time. E.g., Daikatana tried to have a story in a FPS long before Half-Life, for example. In fact, it tried to have a story at a point in time where everyone else was churning mindless Wolfenstein 3D clones. And by comparison, once John Romero was gone, Id reverted to John Carmack's view that a plot is as needed for a game as for a porno movie.

What killed most of that design for Daikatana was simply being released so late as to not matter any more. Story in a FPS was no longer unheard of, the game engine was outdated, and some of the artwork looked like classic ass by sheer virtue of being old by now.

And that, in turn, could be traced to just bad management of the project and the company as a whole. John Romero wasn't necessarily bad at game design, but he was useless as a manager. All I'm saying is: let's not confuse the two issues, because they're different skills.

Plus, let's not underestimate the effect of Ion Storm's being the "victim" of a massive hype backlash. Partially because of its own PR blunders, that's for sure. (E.g., the "bitch" ad.) But also partially because a few idiots started screaming that Ion Storm killed Looking Glass, when Eidos let Looking Glass die. Suddenly it was _fashionable_ to be against John Romero and mourning Looking Glass, and a lot of SFVs (Stupid Fashion Victims) joined in the chorus without even having a fucking clue what they're pro or against in that campaign.

So me say just one thing: if a _quarter_ of the people posting all "Daikatana sucks!!!" all over the place had actually played the fucking game, it would have been a major commercial success. It would have probably outsold The Sims. No, that's not saying it was that good, it's just saying how many SFVs were posting about it without even having seen it. Just because it was fashionable to be against it. It was instant karma to bitch about how much Daikatana sucks.

A lot of people still bitching about how bad Daikatana's design or gameplay supposedly was, still haven't actually even _seen_ that design or gameplay.

No, I'm not saying that it was great, but it was's as bad as people love to post all over the place either. It was just a mediocre FPS with a story. No more, no less. I _am_ however, saying, that the world would be a better place if people refrained from talking about stuff they have no clue about. I wish that everyone who hasn't actually played Daikatana (or whatever other game) just freakin' gave it a break already and talked about things they've actually experienced, instead of rehashing the same old canned hype they've read on some site.

Re:Even that's not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15627027)

So me say just one thing: if a _quarter_ of the people posting all "Daikatana sucks!!!" all over the place had actually played the fucking game, it would have been a major commercial success.

Playing the game doesn't mean you had to buy it. I play my friends games on their comps if they have something I'm unsure about. If it sucks I don't buy it. If I like it I do. But still if I have played the game buying it or not I can still comment on what I thought of it. On that point you logic is broken. Altho I do agree with you that if you haven't played a game at all (and watching someone else play doesn't count) then you should be quiet about it.

Re:Even that's not that simple (1)

Fullhazard (985772) | about 8 years ago | (#15627250)

Hey, buddy
I don't need to 'play the game'
I read the Something Awful article [somethingawful.com]

Rats, flash 8 (5, Funny)

Eideewt (603267) | about 8 years ago | (#15626436)

Apparently it's not only games that aren't realeased for Linux. Neither are articles about them.

If you don't read this article (5, Funny)

AuMatar (183847) | about 8 years ago | (#15626437)

John Romero will make you his bitch.

Re:If you don't read this article (1)

BoxSocial (945632) | about 8 years ago | (#15626650)

Looks as though I'm a bitch then. John Romero's bitch at that.

John Romero ? (0, Flamebait)

aepervius (535155) | about 8 years ago | (#15626441)

Is it the John romero , lead of the wonderfuly made, and not-too-much hyped Dai Katana game ? Isn't his "authorithy" on gaming completly used up ?

Re:John Romero ? (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 8 years ago | (#15626557)

Daikatana showed the world that there is more to making a good game than knowing how to make good levels for someone else's engine.

It was a lesson to the industry so not a total disaster :)

 

tubgirL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626448)

Of the founders of His cl4s4 with Culture of abuse

Game Industry Leech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626452)

There are fascinating people doing amazing things the world of game development.

John Romero is not one of them. Or ever was.

2 Paragraph Summary of 5 minute interview (5, Informative)

geerbox (855203) | about 8 years ago | (#15626464)

Asked questions about what he would have done about Doom differently (he would've hired a great level designer), what was wrong with Doom (nothing, talked about how the game was designed), how he would do if he would make another Doom (pitch black, something new like stuff from HL 2), when he knew he hit it big (after seeing the numbers), what he thought of sequels (would only do one), what other projects he did and what he learned (he likes creation, and not so much cleanup), what he is doing (his new company, that he's working on something new that so far hasn't been done).

Strange thing to me was that I saw mostly DOOM III video gameplay (no DOOM I or II gameplay video - difficult to find?), and there was HL 2 showed for a quick bit.

Re:2 Paragraph Summary of 5 minute interview (2, Funny)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | about 8 years ago | (#15626604)

his new company, that he's working on something new that so far hasn't been done
So he's going to merge Half life 2 with Guitar Hero and Gran Tourismo?

it's empty (0)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 8 years ago | (#15626494)

Seriously, this video isn't news worthy, it has no new information or insight.

Re:it's empty (4, Funny)

buddard (804796) | about 8 years ago | (#15626553)

Well, at least now we know that Romero's still alive...

Re:it's empty (1)

NeilTheStupidHead (963719) | about 8 years ago | (#15626635)

But do we really care?

No he isn't (1)

NevarMore (248971) | about 8 years ago | (#15626687)

I saw his head on a pike somewhere in the mid 90's.

Re:it's empty (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | about 8 years ago | (#15626728)

Although that hasn't been confirmed through Netcraft...

I signed the NDA... read on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626520)

Romero's company is working on an MMO game which serves as a digital bridge between the worlds of Daikatana and Duke Nukem 2.

On level design & Romero (5, Interesting)

Zhe Mappel (607548) | about 8 years ago | (#15626534)

I don't think John understands why Doom worked. Asked what he'd change about it, his reply is he'd hire better level designers (and even takes an unnecessary dig at Sandy Petersen). They didn't know any better back then, he says. Huh?! Do you hear anyone complaining about the original Doom?

In fact, fans are still recreating Doom levels for other games as homages, which isn't to say those levels were stunningly brilliant. No, they were all they had to be--because the gameplay was so great. And the great fun rubbed off on the levels.

By contrast, Daikatana's levels were built and rebuilt, polished and repolished. Fat lot of good it did. Design is law, of course, as the Ion Storm mantra went; but Daikatana is $0.99 in the bargain bin, too.

Romero's on better ground when knocking Doom 3 for being dark, repetitive and predictable. Although he doesn't realize it, this argument bears on his earlier misguided comment. D3 is a masterpiece of level design, or at least of a certain highly-detailed future-industrial style. And that's all anyone takes away from it: how it looked. Having stood in line to get a copy the day it came out, I'm still trying to forget how mind-numbingly poorly it played.

Bottom line: level design is vastly overrated. Sure, it can be an art form (see, for instance, old custom Quake levels built by geniuses such as Headshot or Mr. Fribbles). But most games look alike today; no matter how technically sound their appearance, few do more than go for realism or ape genre cliches. This even as hyper-realistic design means longer development times and higher costs. And nobody thinks games are more fun than their blockier predecessors--no, quite the opposite.

So where Romero talks about level design as a virtue and even dreams about going back in time to revisualize Doom, the truth is something different. Level design is becoming little more than a clonable commodity.

The solution is to outsource it. Set up companies that do nothing but build cities, dungeons, jungles, etc. to some standard, scriptable world-building spec. Devs can then buy chunks of these "places" and build their games in them--for much less than the cost of paying salaries for asset creation. This would liberate game companies to pour their energies into gameplay before it becomes a lost art.

Re:On level design & Romero (5, Insightful)

jacobw (975909) | about 8 years ago | (#15626704)

D3 is a masterpiece of level design, or at least of a certain highly-detailed future-industrial style. And that's all anyone takes away from it: how it looked. Having stood in line to get a copy the day it came out, I'm still trying to forget how mind-numbingly poorly it played.

Bottom line: level design is vastly overrated.


You're using level design in a different way than I understand it. (I am a pretty casual gamer, so there's a good chance my definition is wrong, BTW. Also I couldn't get the video to play, so I wouldn't know if you were using it the same way as Romero.)

To me, "level design" doesn't mean "designing the visual look of a level." That's an aspect of it, but not the most important part. More importantly is designing the layout of the level--where various paths lead, and where various obstacles occur, and where enemies lurk. This obviously has a major impact on how well a game plays, and having a good level designer makes a huge difference.

In this respect, I think the original Doom levels were incredibly well designed, especially given that they didn't really have the technology for true 3D play. It really created the feeling of not knowing what was around the next corner, and resulted in the famous Doom Lean, where you find yourself tilting your real-world head, as if that was going to let you peer around a corner in the game...

(I think we agree in substance, actually, but your use of the phrase "level design" was different enough that it made me wonder if I'm the only one who defines it as I do.)

Re:On level design & Romero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626719)

"Bottom line: level design is vastly overrated. Sure, it can be an art form (see, for instance, old custom Quake levels built by geniuses such as Headshot or Mr. Fribbles). But most games look alike today; no matter how technically sound their appearance, few do more than go for realism or ape genre cliches. This even as hyper-realistic design means longer development times and higher costs. And nobody thinks games are more fun than their blockier predecessors--no, quite the opposite."

You're kinda off base on this - what you are refering to are the art assets that make the world - and a level designer doesn't necessarily do this. They DO in a game where the game world is created with an editor that requires the levels to be made from simple geometry (i.e. quake, half-life etc), but in a world say in GTA - the "level" is built by the artists and modellers, and the "level designers" build the gameplay, i.e. the scripted events story etc.

But for the record, yes, you can outsource the modelling/art aspects of creating a level or world (i.e. placement of buildings, terrain etc).. but that in itself is fraught with problems as I recently discovered on a project that i'm currently working on.

You would generally never outsource the level design jobs because it's so intrinsically linked to the gameplay.

I'd also argue that most games look alike today.. they don't - it's true that if two games are made with the same engine they can share some similarities due to shared technology, for instance the way lighting behaves etc. But it's a stretch to say they all look the same, the visual look is forged by many different artists with their own visual styles.

Re:On level design & Romero (1)

Fred_A (10934) | about 8 years ago | (#15626739)

I have the exact same feeling. I played the DoomIII demo and while it did look lovely (at least the lit bits), I still felt like it was really the same Doom except that it had been ported from VGA to ZXWYGA (or whatever is the alphabet soup for high resolution these days) with a modern engine.

Basically I had already played that game to death 15 years ago. Redoing it with nicer levels didn't appeal to me.

So I went back to Battlefield 2 which instead provides a different game. Even though it doesn't look gorgeous. As if that mattered...

Re:On level design & Romero (1)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#15626795)

> I don't think John understands why Doom worked. Asked what he'd change about it, his reply is he'd
> hire better level designers (and even takes an unnecessary dig at Sandy Petersen). They didn't know
> any better back then, he says. Huh?! Do you hear anyone complaining about the original Doom?

Yeah, I saw an interview with the Beatles and someone (Ringo, probably) was saying the White Album would have been better if they'd made this or that change. Paul turned around to him and said something like "But it was the White Album...".

Re:On level design & Romero (2, Insightful)

laura_glow (800651) | about 8 years ago | (#15627070)

In DOOM and DOOM II you didn't need to aim to shoot at somone/something. You could make a level where only shotguns were available as weapons, and when playing deathmatch, long ineresting figths would develop.

I never really played a lot of more recent games like conter-strike, etc. But the few times I played, I was quickly bored by: "I'm walking in a big empty place. Oh, there's somone there... Oh, I must aim with a lot of precision to hit him. Oh, I died/killed him. Now I'm walking in a big empty place..." repeat to infinity.

give me a fast-paced, no-aim-necessary, long-and-lasting-figths doom II any day, no matter what the graphics look like.

Old news... (2, Interesting)

KeithLDick (984953) | about 8 years ago | (#15626540)

I think I read this on his site quite a while ago... Then again I may have been playing Duke Nukem 3D at the time or just downloading the Prey Demo... ahh well nevermind...

inappropriate videos? (5, Interesting)

arm000 (985773) | about 8 years ago | (#15626564)

Did anyone find it strange that the interview was mixed with videos of doom3 and half-life2? Two games that he had nothing to do with?

Transcript (5, Informative)

Kugrian (886993) | about 8 years ago | (#15626630)

I started to make a transcript of the video. I don't know the games, and I'm not a sectery either (plus hugely hungover), so I got bored quickly. Mananged to do half of it before I reached for the wrist-slitting knife - hopefully someone who can't view the flash will find it helpful:

games.net Presents Behind The Screens John Romero.

What would you change about Doom?

So the thing I would have changed about the original Doom, erm, is to have a better design for all the levels in eposide 2 and eposide 3, and to probably hire someone who was a really great level designer, erm, because, er, Sandy Peterson, hes a, hes a, hes definitely a great game designer [clip of some Doom game I guess], but having that, having somebody who's whole job is placing textures, making sure that levels are, are not just 'hey, I'm just gonna make a level today, see what it turns out to be'. That's kind of what we were doing anyway, so it turned out kind of haphazard, which is kinda Doom 2 [too?] also turned out, that way with the levels, was like 'hey, let's make a buncha cool levels, we'll have [them?] put in the game.'

What was missing from Doom?

Well, I don't think there was anything missing from the original Doom. I mean it was, was, we pulled stuff out of the original Doom because it kind of violated the purpose that we had started to change the game [another clip of presumably Doom], which was kinda what we did with Wolfenstein. With Wolfenstein , we'd added a bunch of cool stuff in there, and it slowed the gameplay down, the pace down, and we didn't want that. So we pulled that out, and what you got was just some crazy running at somebody brings [might have been 'for instance'] a second game [didn't hear this well enough]. And so, with Doom we wanted, erm, a game that was the same kind of Wolfenstein feeling, but looked cooler and [had?] cooler monsters, but still had that super speed.

What if you were to make another Doom?

If I was going to do another Doom today, I would [possibly wouldn't] do a game that's like Pitch Black for sure. Erm, I wouldn't have predictable situations happening constantly every few seconds, and er, you know, I'd, I'd have something that, er, was kind of pushing the limits, [clip of some game starts here] that would be, I'd definitely take some cues from Half life 2 but, erm, also add in some cool ideas that, that, no one else is doing.

When did you know you hit it big?

It was, it was insane with Doom. When we put out Doom and it just, it went all over the place. The internet really helped. Erm, people have tp net [might been 'had the internet'?] and the software creations Bolternborg [didn't get this word] was awsome. When we saw the numbers that were coming in off, off of, Doom it, it was crazy. Erm, that's when I just, just, brought the test release [might have got this bit wrong]. I was just, that's it [laugh]. I'm buying it now.

What do you think about sequels?

In Return of Wolfenstein and Comandeer Keen, and, you know [laugh] [some clip starts here of unknown game]. Erm, if I was there those games wouldn't have come out, because I don't do like.. I do a sequel, then it's time to move on.

Dude talks like a stoned hippy anyway.. I got time to waste on other things that don't include translating a zillion 'erms' to a text file.

Re:Transcript (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15627110)

Thanks for trying, you're a truly brave hunman being. Erm.

Original concept and engine, not game design (4, Insightful)

Morty (32057) | about 8 years ago | (#15626633)

Doom was not just a game, it was a whole new genre. While it wasn't quite the first first-person-shooter, it was the first one to do 3D reasonably well. When it came out, no one had seen anything like it. The game design was OK, the plot was basically non-existent, but it had no FPS competition because no one else had written one that even approached Doom. Considering that 3D accelerator cards didn't exist, and this all had to be done in software, there weren't too many people at the time who could write a competing FPS engine even if they had thought of it. So the lack of fancy levels and other aspects of the game design didn't matter much; the only thing the level design needed to do was showcase all the cool engine features.

If there is any doubt as to whether it was the FPS concept and engine or the details of the game, consider what happened next. Other FPSs were released -- licensing the Doom and then the Quake engines, not the Doom and the Quake levels.

Re:Original concept and engine, not game design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626670)

//khm//System Shock//khm//.
No FPS competition? Do reasonably well? I would say it was one of the biggest hypes in the history of mankind along with Battlecruiser 3000 and Daikatana. The original System Shock was SO much better than Doom. It just didn't have the hype.

Re:Original concept and engine, not game design (1)

lordperditor (648289) | about 8 years ago | (#15627311)

System Shock missed the boat, by the time it was released 3 months after Doom everyone was to busy playing Doom to notice it. But you are right it was very good in its own right but that said it was not going for the same feel as Doom. Doom did have a certain quality/feel? that System Shock just missed by a fraction. It deserves all the credit it has received.

Revisionist history? (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 8 years ago | (#15626805)

There were games with much better levels and gameplay long before Doom, or even Wolfenstein 3D, they just weren't textured. E.g., Bethesda had a Terminator game that featured walking or _driving_ (yes, driving) around a town, with cars, pedestrians (yep, you could run them over), etc, years before Doom. It took the textured FPS genre almost a decade to get back to that point.

Or Ultima Underworld? It was a complex RPG and had a much more complex 3D engine too. It came out around the same time as Wolfenstein 3D and it still allowed far more complex and, well, "more 3D" maps than Doom would much later. E.g., the UU engine allowed bridges and tunnels under other tunnels, while Doom was still a 2D map with terrain elevation.

What Doom had was simply a more vocal gang of willy-wavers. The kind of personalities that just had to willy-wave about their deathmatch score were suddenly all over the place, making 10 times more noise than the peaceful SP RPG players, and acting as if they're speaking for some absolute majority. Doom was being proclaimed all over the place as the genre of the future, and indeed the only genre that anyone plays any more, at a time where SP console RPGs routinely out-sold it 10 to 1. Heck, even adventures were outselling Doom.

Re:Revisionist history? (2, Insightful)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about 8 years ago | (#15627354)

Only partially true. Yes UU was two years earlier and had the same textured walls, sprite based items, and more advanced geometry then Doom. But it ran dog slow in a quarter-screen window with a tiny maximum viewing distance. The full screen, open, light and above all FAST Doom engine was altogether a new game.

Then you add the one and only thing that made Doom worth playing - network play.

I loved both UU games, but I went 13.5 hours without a toilet or food break in a Doom deathmatch.

(UU does pre-date Wolfenstine 3D and Carmack has acknowledged it as an inspiration)

LOL (0)

P0lyh34) (602065) | about 8 years ago | (#15626634)

John Romereo! .... Hahahahahahahahaha

Doom 3 (0, Offtopic)

Cr0t (963724) | about 8 years ago | (#15626656)

Doom 3 felt like a tech demo.

Too Much Hype (1, Flamebait)

dshaw858 (828072) | about 8 years ago | (#15626669)

Maybe I'm just an unbeliever, but I don't think that John Romero is all that great. I mean, he's had a few good games-- great games, even, sure-- but is he the savior of all games? No. There are other great game developers that deserve just as much credit as Romero, but unfortunately simply don't receive it.

Oh well, I guess we don't live in a perfect world. John Romero is still an extremely intelligent guy, and although the design intricacies of the Doom series are a little bit on the cobweb side of things, it's interesting nonetheless.

- dshaw

Wrong site... (1)

pierced2x (527997) | about 8 years ago | (#15626684)

I sooo read the headline (and really wanted this to be) "Interview with Ric Romero" I know, wrong site. A guy can dream.

Re:This is why I love /. comments... (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | about 8 years ago | (#15626762)

I learn something every day. [wikipedia.org]

He *does* look like "Tom Tucker", doesn't he?

And then? (1, Insightful)

Konster (252488) | about 8 years ago | (#15626710)

Really, the article should be about who was best, first.

Carmack might be a bloody brilliant programmer, and that's what makes his early work so good, and that he had a brilliant design team to make his concepts into reality. Every product they made up to and including Quake 3 was off the charts good.

Everything since is just rubbish and not fun to play; it's just bad, rendering aside.

And Romero has nothing on his slate post ID that means anything; most of his work is the poster child of what not to do.

Carmack and Romero were neat topics like...10 years ago. Now that there are 100 companies doing it better and faster than they do, what of these guys? I hate to proclaim them relics because we are about the same age, but the truth is, neither Carmack nor Romero have brought anything new and good to the table beyond engine leasing and hair conditioner ad spots for the last 10 years.

Re:And then? (2, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 8 years ago | (#15626861)

Carmack and Romero were neat topics like...10 years ago. Now that there are 100 companies doing it better and faster than they do, what of these guys? I hate to proclaim them relics because we are about the same age, but the truth is, neither Carmack nor Romero have brought anything new and good to the table beyond engine leasing and hair conditioner ad spots for the last 10 years.

Funny, what engine do all these new great games use? Often as not, something Carmack makes. He's an engine designer, and he's damned good at it.

Romero is a useless turd though.

Re:And then? (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | about 8 years ago | (#15627228)

I used to be the biggest quake/id software fan boy (for about 8-10 years), but now I no longer consider them my favourite game company. Id stopped making their own games and focused on licensing their engine, thats when things went down hill IMO. Doom3 and Quake4 was like the nail in the coffin for me.

Posts from Jealous Nobodys!!! lol (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626749)

Wow!

Look at all the nerds slagging John Romero off. lol

I don't know the guy but irregardless of what you all personally think of him he managed to get his name stamped into gaming history.

Sorry what was your name again????

Oh I thought so, Jealous Nobody! lol

You guys are hilarious! Leave the guy alone he achieved more than you clowns have, good on him I say!

Re:Posts from Jealous Nobodys!!! lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626897)

Shut up John!

Re:Posts from Jealous Nobodys!!! lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15626985)

Damn you erm rumbled me, but its erm true. You all recognise my name, who are you erm again? Mwuahahahahahaaaa

This site gives CFMX a bad name (0, Offtopic)

Mr.Dippy (613292) | about 8 years ago | (#15626775)

Sites like this make me sick. For the love of God, Turn Cold Fusion debugging off!!! Seriously, it's not that hard.

http://games.net/video/player.cfm?vId=100800 [games.net] ;

Why do we listen to this guy at all? (1)

notBowen (811056) | about 8 years ago | (#15626801)

Is it the hair?

If I could ask John Romero One Question.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 8 years ago | (#15626832)

It would be how he managed to completely fuck a pen and paper RPG so much that the game master (Carmack) couldn't even put it back together again. Way to go man. That kind of destructive power is very impressive. If it wasn't for the fact that Carmack was supposedly your friend I'd recommend you for some sort of prize.

Alternatively, I'd ask him exactly how accurate the description of this event was written in Masters Of Doom. Shame they never made the doco film of that book.

Ahh, found it. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 8 years ago | (#15626974)

For those who havn't read the book:


In recent rounds Romero had been toying with the Demonicron, the darkly powerful book he had encouraged them to seize from the demons. It was a dangerous move, one that would either help them rule or destroy the world. Carmack grew increasingly distressed at Romero's recklessness. He didn't want to see the game he had spent so long creating get ruined. In a desperate move, he called Jay Wilbur back in Shreveport, asking him if he could fly up to Madison to reprise his D&D character and help stop Romero. But Jay couldn't make the trip. Ultimately, Carmack decided to test Romero's resolve, to see just how far his partner was willing to go.

Late one night Carmack the Dungeon Master brought the devil in to play. He told Romero that a demonic creature in the game had a bargain to make:Give him the Demonicron and he will grant you your greatest wishes. Romero said, "If I'm going to give you this book, then I want some really kick-ass shit." Carmack assured him the demon would oblige with the Daikatana. Romero's eyes widened. The Daikatana was a mighty sword, one of the most powerful weapons in the game. Despite the pleas of the others, he told Carmack he wanted to give the demon the book. It didn't take long to find out the consequences. As the rules of the game dictated, Carmack rolled the die to randomly determine the strength of the demon's response. The demon was using the book to conjure more demons, he told the group. A battle of epic proportions ensued until Carmack declared the outcome. "The material plane is overrun with demons," he said, flatly. "Everyone is dead. That's it. We're done. Mmm." No one spoke. They guys couldn't believe it. After all those games, all the late nights around the table in Shreveport, the adventures here that cured all the cold nights of Madison, it was over. A sadness filled the room. Romero finally said to Carmack, "Shit, that's fun playing that game. Now it's ruined? Is there any way to get that back?" But he knew the answer. Carmack was always true to himself and to his game. "No," he said, "it's over." There was a lesson to be learned: Romero had gone too far.

Bashing? count me in. (1)

ayeco (301053) | about 8 years ago | (#15627039)

I'm suprised to see all the negative comments. Unfortunately I was going to do the same thing. After seeing the crap these guys have made over the years it's easy to see that they just lucked out with Doom 1. ...and Doom 3 prooves it.

If he did a new Doom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15627155)

...he says it would be kind of like Half-Life, with unpredictable situations and "cool stuff" no one else has done.

Wow, John, it's like you read the collective mind of gamers everywhere and created the perfect game! It's just hit after hit with you!
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