Wolfenstein 3D 20th Anniversary Interview With John Romero!

Gamester81.com sit’s down with the legendary creator of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, John Romero in mark of the 20th Anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D!

After a long break, I am back! Yes, your typing godfather of creativity has returned with a bang!  Since I created my username “NightOfTheLiving8Bit”, one thing has always been clear with me…I grew up not only with my Nintendo (NES), but with my PC, playing games like Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. Both of which featured different variants of undead fiends.  So when I was given the chance to have a brief conversation with the man, the myth, and the legend John Romero….you bet I did not ask twice.

In celebration of the proverbial “Grandfather” of first person shooters, Wolfenstein 3D, we here at Gamester81.com thought we would take a moment to talk to one of the founding creators and developers of Wolfenstein 3D;  John Romero.
For those of you who may be asking, “I’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, who exactly is John Romero?” I simply have the response of saying, “The guy who only made a little game called DOOM”. So without further ado, I present our interview with John Romero!

So for most of us in the gaming industry and gaming culture know, this May was the 20th anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D, looking back on the past 20 years of your career in the industry, what impact do you think the Wolfenstein 3D games has made on the industry as a whole and your personal life?

[JR] I think if you look at games today, the resemblances that still hold true to Wolfenstein 3D are the framerate (60fps is the norm on consoles now, we had 70fps on Wolf3D), the relentless carnage, there are still maps being loaded and finished, the goal is always to kill everything in sight, and many other details. I think if I created a bullet-point list of everything that is still similar, down to the smallest detail, there would be a lot of similarities that still hold true.

 Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and change one thing about Wolfenstein 3D, what would it be?

[JR] I would have liked more game play than just adding the pushwall functionality – that gave us secrets in the game. More functionality like that would have been great. We did have more stuff in there, but it slowed the game down and we removed it. Putting more high-speed gameplay elements would have been great but, hey, we made the entire game and shipped it in 6 months.

As most people know, back when Wolf 3D was in development, you were working at id software, what do you think was the biggest hurdle the small team had to achieve while developing Wolfenstein?

[JR] Actually, the biggest hurdle that Tom and I had to get over was the boredom of making the levels! They were soooooo boring to make. Commander Keen’s levels were really fun to create because those games had tons of fun gameplay in them, and the graphic variety was really nice, and making the levels was really involving creatively. With Wolfenstein 3D, we were making levels out of colored blocks.

How do you feel about the various ports over the past 20 years that Wolfenstein has seen? Such as the infamous Super Nintendo ports, etc?

[JR] Well, I worked on the SNES port. We were hoping a contractor was going to do it, but he totally did not come through, so we had to stop making DOOM and focus all our effort on getting the SNES version of Wolf3D done in a few weeks of crazy effort in 1993. The ports have been mostly good ones with the iPhone being one of my favorites. I think the GBA version was the worst because the porting company didn’t make the span blitter in assembly language – they left it in C, which was slow!

As some people may know, Wolfenstein was originally set to have ideas such as dragging bodies, silent attacks, swaping uniforms, etc…who was the driving force behind these ideas within the team and why were they cut from the final product?

[JR] Since the idea of making Wolfenstein 3D came directly from the Apple II game Castle Wolfenstein, all those ideas were already in the 1981 Apple II game. Tom and I wanted to put that gameplay in the game to be like the original, but when we did it slowed down the gameplay, so we took it out. The game was most fun when it was a breakneck run through maps with tons of blasting down Nazis. Anything that slowed down that gameplay had to go.

How do you feel about the more recent releases of Return To Castle Wolfenstein and the ironically dubbed “Wolfenstein” that were released post Wolfenstein 3D success?
And did you play any role in the development of these titles at all?

[JR] I had nothing to do with any version of Wolfenstein after the 1992 Spear of Destiny sequel we made. I thought RTCW was a great game. I haven’t played the latest version by Raven, though.

Looking back on 20 years, Wolfenstein 3D set up the pillars for PC gaming’s largest title yet, DOOM and while both are considered to be the true fathers of first person shooters, what did the development process of Wolfenstein 3D teach you that you still find yourself applying to this day? 

[JR] After all these years, I’d have to say that Wolfenstein 3D’s development process taught me that getting to the core mechanic, the core gameplay, and making it fun first has held true with every game I’ve made. And everyone else would do well to do the same.

Lastly, as part of an age old tradition here at Gamester81, we always like to keep it back to basics with the most laid back question ever so Mr. Romero, what games are you currently playing right now?

[JR] I’m back to playing World of Warcraft and getting my five 80s up to 85 before Pandaria is released!

Be sure to check out John Romero’s new company he has been working in called, Loot Drop! http://lootdrop.com/

And as always, if you’re interested in discussing this episode or have ideas for future interviews, be sure to swing by the forums below and leave feedback! Forum link here: Click here:

About Nightoftheliving8bit

Hailing from the mighty mighty east coast, Eric has spent the majority of his life being a passionate and devoted gamer. From the 80's all the way up to today, Eric has played countless games over the years for various systems, all the while never truly becoming the dreaded "fan boy" of a particular console. Eric currently works for a video game magazine and a local news station and spends the majority of his free hours gaming and reading/researching into various things on gaming culture, news, events and so much more. Eric is also known under his two names, NightOfTheLiving8Bit and ER1C OF WAR and you can find him creeping the dark and dank places of local flea markets in search for lost treasure or kicking back at home enjoying his favorite new or old school games, while always looking into new ways to help innovate the gaming community as a whole. If Gamester 81 was Yoda, Eric would be his Luke Skywalker when it comes to gaming knowledge and he looks forward to bringing you the best of the current world of gaming and generations past! Favorite Games: (No particular order) Final Fantasy III (US) & VII, Resident Evil, Kings Field, Assassins Creed Series, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Elder Scrolls Series, Fallout Series, Gears Of War Series, Metal Slug 2, Clock Tower (PSX), Halo Series, Super Mario Bros 3, Mega Man 2, Castlevania Series, Donkey Kong, Gran Turismo 2, DOOM, Startropics, Metal Gear Solid, Duke Nukem 3D, Diablo I & II, Quake, Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, Crystalis, Ghost N Goblins, The Legend Of Zelda and various others titles! Favorite Systems: The Nintendo NES, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, Xbox & Xbox 360, Super Nintendo, Virtual Boy, Neo Geo AES, PC gaming and the Atari 2600!