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Alfonso John Romero (born October 28, 1967, in Colorado Springsmarker, Coloradomarker) is a game designer, programmer, and developer in the video game industry. He is best known as a co-founder of id Software and was a designer for many of their personal computer games (all subsequently ported to consoles) including Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. His game designs and development tools, along with new programming techniques created and implemented by id Software's lead programmer John Carmack, led to a mass-popularization of the first person shooter, or FPS, in the 1990s. He is also credited with coining the FPS multiplayer term "deathmatch".


Apple II

John Romero's first game, Scout Search, was published in 1984 by inCider magazine, a popular Apple II magazine during the 1980s. Romero's first company, Capitol Ideas Software, was listed as the developer for at least 12 of his earliest published games. Romero captured the December cover of the Apple II magazine Nibble for three years in a row starting in 1987. He also won a programming contest in A+ magazine during its first year of publishing with his game Cavern Crusader.

Romero's first industry job was at Origin Systems in 1987 after programming games for 8 years. He worked on the Apple II to Commodore 64 port of 2400 A.D., which was eventually scrapped due to slow sales of the Apple II version. John then moved onto Space Rogue, a game by Paul Neurath. During this time, Romero was asked if he would be interested in joining Paul's soon-to-start company Blue Sky Productions, eventually renamed Looking Glass Technologies. Instead, Romero left Origin Systems to co-found a game company named Inside Out Software, where he ported Might & Magic II from the Apple II to the Commodore 64. He had almost finished the Commodore 64 to Apple II port of Tower Toppler, but Epyx unexpectedly cancelled all its ports industrywide due to their tremendous investment in the first round of games for the upcoming Atari Lynx.

During this short time, Romero did the artwork for the Apple IIGS version of Dark Castle, a port from the Macintosh. Also during this time, John and his friend Lane Roathe co-founded a company named Ideas From The Deep and wrote versions of a game named Zappa Roids for the Apple II, PC and Apple IIGS. Their last collaboration together was an Apple II disk operating system for Infocom's games Zork Zero, Arthur, Shogun and Journey. Ideas From The Deep still exists to this day at IFD.

id Software

Romero moved to Shreveport, Louisianamarker in March 1989 and joined Softdisk as a programmer in its Special Projects division. After several months of helping the PC monthly disk magazine Big Blue Disk, he officially moved into the department until he started a PC gaming division in July 1990 named Gamer's Edge (originally titled PCRcade). Romero hired John Carmack into the department from his freelancing in Kansas City, moved Adrian Carmack into the division from Softdisk's art department, and persuaded Tom Hall to come in at night and help with game design. Romero and the others then left Softdisk in February 1991 to form id Software.

Romero worked at id Software from its incorporation in 1991 until 1996. He was involved in the creation of several milestone games, including Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II and Quake. He also served as Executive Producer (and Game Designer) on Heretic and HeXen. He also designed most of the first episode of Doom, most of the levels in Quake, half the levels in the Commander Keen series, Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny. He also wrote many of the tools used at id Software to create their games, including DoomEd (level editor), QuakeEd (level editor), DM (for deathmatch launching), DWANGO client (to connect the game to DWANGO's servers), TED5 (level editor for the Commander Keen series, Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny), IGRAB (for grabbing assets and putting them in WAD files), the installers for all the games up to and including Quake, the SETUP program used to configure the games, and several others.

On the cover of the original Doom box, the pose of the space marine was taken from a photo of John Romero by the artist Don Ivan Punchatz.

Ion Storm

Tom Hall, John Romero and Warren Spector at Ion Storm, Dallas, Texas
later co-founded Ion Storm Inc. in Dallas, Texasmarker with id co-worker Tom Hall, where he designed and produced Daikatana. This ambitious shooter was announced in 1997 with a release date for the Christmas shopping season of that year. However, this release date slipped repeatedly in the coming months, and the game began to accrue negative press.

In particular, a 1997 advertisement boasting "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch....Suck it down" caused controversy amongst gamers and the gaming press gamers. The massive pre-hype for the game and the subsequent delays (it was not released until April 2000) led reviewers to "lash out" at the game. Upon release, Daikatana was critically panned and appeared on numerous "top 10 worst games" listings.

During this time, Romero was also rumored to have been killed (aptly enough, with a headshot) and a photograph of his corpse with a bullet wound was also spread through the Internet; Romero himself later stated that the picture was taken for Texas Monthly, and that "maybe he shouldn't have taken it".

Romero departed with Tom Hall immediately after the release of Hall's Anachronox game and the subsequent closing of the Dallas Ion office.

Monkeystone Games

In July 2001, Romero and Hall founded Monkeystone Games in order to develop and publish games for mobile devices, and Monkeystone released 15 games (approximately) during its short lifespan of three and a half years. Some highlights of their developments included Hyperspace Delivery Boy (Pocket PC, PC, Mac, Linux, GBA), Congo Cube (Pocket PC, PC, BREW, J2ME), and Red Faction for the Nokia N-Gage.

Midway Games

In mid-October 2003, Romero joined Midway Games as Project Lead on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. While he continued to maintain his working relationship with Monkeystone, Lucas Davis took over running the office. The Monkeystone team moved to Austin, Texasmarker to work on Midway's Area 51 title until its release. Monkeystone Games closed down in January 2005. John moved from Project Lead to Creative Director of Internal Studio during this time.

At the end of June 2005, Romero left Midway Games mere months before the completion of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows.

Slipgate Ironworks

On August 31, 2005, Romero confirmed that he has been working on a yet-to-be-announced MMOG at his newly opened development studio, Slipgate Ironworks.[32120] It has been reported that the name is temporary. "For the record," Romero wrote, "I'm co-founder of a new game company in the Bay Areamarker and am much better off in many ways than I was at Midway." He also said that he would not reveal anything about the company or the game until 2007. On March 17, 2009 it was announced that Slipgate Ironworks is part of Gazillion Entertainment. According to John Romero, he is a co-founder of Gazillion.

On July 22, 2006, John Romero and former co-worker Tom Hall guest hosted episode 53 of the podcast The Widget.

Cyberathlete Professional League

On December 20, 2006, John Romero announced a new FPS project for the Cyberathlete Professional League titled Severity for both consoles and PC.Tom Mustaine (ex-Studio Director at Ritual Entertainment) will act as Director of Game Development at CPL's new studio.

It is stated that Severity will be a multiplayer first person shooter. The game will be built on technology licensed from id Software.

In September 2008 John Romero told That Gaming Site that Severity was canceled, but Tom Mustaine contacted the site to inform them the project was not canceled but in "stealth mode" citing John Romero was "let out of the loop".

Personal life

Between 1999 and 2003, Romero was involved with Stevie Case, a prominent female gaming industry figure who achieved early notoriety for beating him in a Quake deathmatch. Until their breakup in early 2003, Case was the COO of Monkeystone Games. In January 2004, Romero married Raluca Alexandra Pleşca, originally from Bucharestmarker, Romaniamarker. He has two children with his ex-wife, Kelly—Michael and Steven Patrick Romero—and one daughter with his ex-wife, Elizabeth—Lillia Antoinette. He met Kelly while he worked at the register of a Burger King restaurant in Rocklin, CA and he met his second wife while she co-worked with him at Softdisk.

Doom II and Final Doom

In the Doom II final level "Icon of Sin", the boss is a giant goat's skull with a fragment missing from its forehead. It says, "To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero!", distorted and in reverse to sound like a demonic chant. One can use the "idclip" cheat to enter the boss and see Romero's severed head which is skewered on a post. The player defeats the boss (without the idclip cheat) by shooting rockets into its exposed brain after activating a lift and riding it; Romero's head functions as its hit detection point; when he "dies", the boss is killed and the game is finished.

The name "Romero" is also written in blood on one of the walls in level 19 "Shipping/Respawning" in Final Doom.



  1. The Escapist - John Romero: The Escapist Interview. The Escapist.
  2. "The Top 7... PR Disasters" Game Radar
  3. "Romero Threatens to Make You His Bitch". Top 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming History. June 2003. GameSpy.
  4. Dunkin, Alan. "Romero Speaks... From the Grave?" GameSpot. August 28, 1998.
  5. News - John Romero's new studio. September 21, 2005. Eurogamer.
  6. Gazillion in agreement with Marvel Entertainment to bring iconic super heroes to massively multiplayer games audience, unveils new company and studios March 17, 2009.
  7. John Romero's Twitterstream March 17, 2009.
  8. The Widget - Games, Tech, Whatever >> Ep. 53 - Just Hanging Out
  9. Romero Announces New CPL Specific FPS
  10. "Interview with the Goddess: Stevie Case and John Romero. March 2002. GameWEEK.

External links

Articles on the rise and fall of Daikatana

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