Meeting the Ancients: John Romero


John Romero, game designer, director, programmer and developer, is responsible for many gems of computer game history - for example Doom and Quake - and the Commodore 64 version of Might & Magic 2! He was so kind to answer our questions and take a little stroll down memory lane with us ...



Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?

I've been designing and programming games since 1979. I've owned 10 game companies, and created some pretty great games which include the Commander Keen series, Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, DOOM, DOOM II, Heretic, Hexen, and Quake. After that, I spent time developing mobile games, a huge MMORPG, and social games.



John Romero holding a chainsaw!

John Romero with a chainsaw. Beware!



How were you involved with Might & Magic?


In 1988 I co-founded a company named Inside Out Software. Our first project was to port Might & Magic II from the Apple II (double-res) to the PC and Commodore C64. I did the C64 port straight from Jon Van Caneghem's 6502 assembler source.




When you think about your work on Might & Magic, what’s the first association that comes to your mind?


The difficulty of converting 16-color Apple double-res graphics to the limited C64 mixed-mode with the limitation of 3 colors per 4x8 block. Also, having to write 2 scan line interrupts to switch the screen between 2-color hi-res and 16-color mixed mode per frame so the character names looked crisp at the bottom of the screen.




What does Might & Magic mean to you today?


It means a ton of adventuring in a D&D-based world. Hack and slash!




When developing a game in general, what do you aim for?


First question is: why should this game exist? What will it do that is different and move the bar in gaming forward. Not necessarily in tech but in design.



John Romero and Brenda Brathwaite

Two video game legends: John Romero and his wife, Brenda Brathwaite, one of the creators of the Wizardry series and game designer for Wizardry 8 (among many other things).




What are you currently playing, and how do you like it?


FTL. Absolutely love it.




Would you rather be a human, elf, dwarf or orc, and why?


A dwarf because they're hardcore.




Apart from games, what fascinates you?


The dynamics of running a company as well as possible. Choosing the right people, and ensuring everyone is working on exciting and meaningful things.




What’s your motto?


I have 2: "Have fun!" and "Design is Law".




Your message to the fans of Might & Magic?


What a game series, eh? Still surviving since the early misty days when Wizardry and Ultima ruled the world, there was still some space for another peer to rise to prominence and cement its place in history. Jon Van Caneghem and Mark Caldwell deserve high honors for their efforts.



Thank you very much, Mr. Romero!