This month, Retro Gamer in the UK published issue 75 (over 6 years) and did something they’ve never done before: they had a guest editor. And, you guessed it, that was me. It also has my name on the cover, so that kinda gives it away.
The cover of the magazine is Wolfenstein 3D (much like another issue several months before that was all about the making of Wolf 3D). I got to read/edit all the magazine content before they published it, and I made comments about several of the articles. The biggest part of the magazine I’m involved with is a 12-page interview with me. There are also industry notables who wrote some paragraphs about me, and readers wrote in about their favorite games of mine.
All in all, I was very happy with the result. Darran Jones did a tremendous job planning and executing this feature. Retro Gamer is sold in most major bookstores.
Retro Gamer put out a press release about this issue:
For Immediate Release
30 March 2010
Retro Gamer gains industry legend as guest Editor
John Romero and Imagine Publishing team up for special issue of the world’s greatest retro games magazine, Retro Gamer, is proud to announce an exciting new collaboration with John Romero, co-founder of one of today’s most important and popular genres – the first-person shooter.
On Wednesday 31 March, issue 75 of Retro Gamer goes on sale across the UK and the world with a special celebration issue featuring industry legend John Romero as guest Editor. As well as a host of special content picked by Romero, the issue is packed with comments, tributes and insights from those who have worked with him over the years, such as John Carmack and Dave Perry. The special issue also includes an exhaustive 12-page interview with the man himself, outlining his career, his thoughts on the industry today, and his intriguing current project.
Making his name at companies such as Origin Systems and Softdisk, Romero cut his programming teeth on the Apple II before moving into the PC market. Teaming up with fellow Softdisk workers John Carmack, Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall, he co-formed id Software. After finding success in the shareware scene with the Commander Keen games, id created Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, and with them ushered in a new era of gaming that’s still immensely popular today.
“I absolutely love Retro Gamer magazine because it covers all the game history that I love and remember fondly,” said Romero. “Being allowed the chance to do a little writing for the magazine was an amazing opportunity and I hope you all enjoy it the way I did.”
“John Romero is a genuine legend in the videogame industry,” said Darran Jones, Editor of Retro Gamer, “and he has been behind some of the most influential games this industry has ever seen. It’s been a real pleasure collaborating with him on this exciting project.”
Three years ago I wrote a post about getting Dark Forces (DOS, 1995, LucasArts) running under Windows Vista. Well, I got it working under Mac OS X (I use Snow Leopard) easily.
Here are my updated directions for Mac OS X:
(1) Copy entire contents of the Dark Forces CD to a directory (ex. ~/Games/Dark). Keep the directory name to 8 letters or less.
(2) Download the latest Mac OS X version of DOSBox and install it.
(3) mount c ~/Games/Dark (or wherever you put the game on your hard drive)
(5) subst p: c:
(7) cd dark
(8) type either imuse or dark to run the sound config utility or the game
To go in/out of full-screen mode, press Option-Return. That’s it – it works great!
UPDATE: I forgot to mention, for Mac users there is an awesome program named Boxer that will wrap your DOS games up in a simple app file and you just double-click to launch. It’s really amazing. Check it out here.
Quake was our first internet-playable game, and we knew it would be great to let players try out the net code before the game’s release so we had some lead time to fix all the bugs found with it.
At id Software, we never had a QA department. We were our own QA team, us programmers, designers and artists. A pretty small group, but we were pretty thorough. The network code in Quake, however, needed to be tested way more than our small group could handle because of the amount of networking hardware our packets had to travel through.
It paid off – Quake was released with pretty reliable network code. Playing Quake on a LAN was always a much, much better experience, so John Carmack addressed that with the QuakeWorld release in November 1996 by fixing the network code and adding client-side prediction. Now, the issues he fixed are just part of normal network programming.
The day we released QTest, we invited a very small, select group of hardcore DOOM players to our office to test our release right in front of us. They’re known as the QTest 7. They are:
- NaTaS (Mark Fletcher)
- PoLiSh (Jaroslaw Krzysztof Marcin Wolski, aka Jerry Wolski. R.I.P.)
- Wendigo (Brian Hess)
- Avatar (Mackey McCandlish)
The release of QTest paved the way for high-speed internet FPS gaming. I guess you could say that February 24, 1996 was the beginning of the future. Long live QTest!
I was going through some old pictures, and figured I might as well just start uploading my old stuff. Why wait? So, in the Quake section I’ve put up some sketches of maps, artifacts, etc. that I drew for the game.
I have several pages of notes that describe a game different from the Quake that you know. I’ll put these up when I start the Quake game page so I can explain what I was thinking for that design.
I’ve also put up lots of other pictures in many other sections. The smugmug site is really great – you should try it out for your own collections. You can totally customize it however you like.
How great is it to be ranked #5 on a list of the top 30 “gaming geeks”? Pretty great, if you ask me! Ahead of me are Steve Jackson, Shigeru Miyamoto, Reiner Knizia and Will Wright. That’s a pretty awesome group of people.
There’s a down arrow on me, and an up arrow on Will Wright, suggesting that I used to be ranked higher than #5. Wow. Thanks, Geek-O-System guys!
It’s great to see 10% of the list from id Software. Plus, Warren Spector from Ion Storm, at one point. Tom Hall should be here, though. He’s brilliant and under-appreciated.
Next year will be two decades of Keen, Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake. How many game companies still standing can boast 20 years? Not many. And most companies that live past 20 years are so far removed from their origins that they’re not even the same company.
John Carmack and Kevin Cloud, two of id’s earliest team members, and John as a co-founder, are still with the company, and working hard on RAGE and Doom 4. John is right down in the pit with the development team, where all the action happens. Kevin manages, as always, exceptionally well on multiple fronts. I salute their efforts to continue the dynasty.
It all started on February 1, 1991. John, Adrian and I left our jobs at Softdisk (R.I.P.) and began work immediately on Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion at the id lake house in Shreveport, Louisiana. Tom Hall needed to stay a few months longer at Softdisk, to help them ease his transition out of the Apple II team. But after work, he’d come over and help out.
Those were prolific years. The years 1990 and 1991 saw us develop almost 20 games with wildly different play styles and themes. The Keens, The Dangerous Daves, the Rescue Rovers, the Catacombs, and more. There were a lot of them and all were fun. Wolfenstein 3D begat the first-person shooter genre in 1992, and id hasn’t looked back.
Congratulations on 19 years, id!