John Romero: “Shooters have so many places to go, but people just copy the same thing”

Quake 1: the last great Romero shooter.

Who is your favourite Doom designer? I’m personally fond of the twisted spatial sense of a Tom Hall level, but John Romero has always enjoyed a considerably larger fan club. Even after Daikatana, and a decade spent alternating between handheld, social and bad games.

If you’re a badge-wearing fan of his, you’ll probably remember that John Romero is making a shooter. Given that he hasn’t made one of those in a while, perhaps you’d like to hear his opinion on their direction?

“There are unbelievable amounts of new stuff to do in that genre,” said Romero. “We’ve barely scratched the surface.”

“The idea of a shooter is running around with weapons, in first-person, blowing things away,” Romero told Develop. “But what are you really doing? What is the world like? Who are you, and what do you care about? What are you doing in the world that’s different?”

Romero asked his interviewer to imagine World of Warcraft as a shooter – a giant world full of quests and PvP-enabled players.

“If World of Warcraft was a shooter, that would be brand new,” he enthused. “Nobody would have seen something that big and that cool.”

Nobody’s to tell him about Destiny or Firefall, okay? He’ll get upset. But Romero does have some genuinely new ideas.

“It wouldn’t be anything like WoW because of the nature of being a shooter,” he went on. “It would probably concentrate on a lot of areas that were similar to Team Fortress 2. Perhaps villages would become like TF2 levels, where you would try to score as much as you could before deciding to move on.

“Or that area would have specific goals, like taking out five snipers and two demo guys to retrieve some key items. Perhaps once you’ve exhausted that village, you could go to another one down the road. And maybe the planet’s full of them – nobody’s played a game like that.”

The game Romero is describing probably isn’t the one he’s making currently, with one concept artist and a cool idea for a protagonist. But the fact that he’s motivated to overtake shooters with design that “isn’t breaking people’s brains” is intriguing enough, yeah?

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