Well, isn't this a mighty bitchfest. While it's easy to insult John Romero
, there are some things that should be taken into account when writing a node about the guy.
John Romero has been working in the games industry for 20 years. That's 20 years before you saw some article ripping into him about Delaykatana. Consequently, he is (was?) actually a rather good game designer. He was responsible for the bulk of the game design in the original Doom, and designed the entire first episode. This cohesive, immersive and infinitely replayable virtual hellscape would smack the complacent industry between the eyes and be burned into the collective subconscious of a generation of gamers. Yes, Carmack had the reigns of the technology, but Romero designed the feel, the elements of the game. He is also reputed to have invented the term Deathmatch, as in a multiplayer free-for-all networked game.
Then we get to Quake, where the symbiosis of technology and design began to crumble under the pressure of developing a whole new engine, much of which had never been attempted before. The fact that Quake came out of this protracted and fraught development as such a classic game is a testament to Romero's, and everyone at Id's, talent. There are levels in Quake that go so far beyond the frame of reference gamers had with Doom that you can't help but be inspired.
So, Ion Storm. Basically, Romero didn't have much of a clue as to how to start a company. He hired dozens of people at a time, and had no hope of making a strong team, regardless of the talents of its individual members. The misguided decisions in staffing the upper echelons of Ion exacerbated the problem (*cough*Todd Porter*cough*). Daikatana had an initial schedule of just seven months. It seems ludicrous now that nobody slammed on the brakes and forced the company to rethink what it was doing.
Whether John Romero can reclaim his self-proclaimed crown as The Daddy of FPS design is still a moot point. With Deus Ex proving that Ion Storm are getting their shit together, and the benefits of hindsight, it isn't entirely improbable. In any case, it would be the height of foolishness to dismiss Romero as a spent force in the industry. Peter Molyneux on the other hand...