“DOOM icon. Life from the first person” by John Romero

“DOOM icon. Life from the first person” by John Romero

John Romero is the co-creator of the cult first-person shooter DOOM, DOOM II, and games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Quake. He is called the rock star of the world of computer games (probably it’s all because of his hair, but we’ll talk about him in more detail later), and the game DOOM itself is a pop culture phenomenon. A talented Mexican who learned programming from books, he became a pioneer in the genre, creating a legendary shooter with his team. And the game itself set the bar in some new dimension: “Three-dimensionality set a new standard that everyone had to meet. After DOOM came out, most games went 3D.”

At the same time, a grandiosely successful youth was preceded by a non-standard childhood. Our weekend reading section has never seen such an insightful autobiography. At least in none of the books that we present here, the details of the author’s childhood and youth for three chapters have not yet been found.

“Before I continue the story, I’ll warn you about something: I’m going to describe domestic violence, so you’re in for a tough read,” he writes. This is true, because there was a place and an episode in the story when he and his younger brother were abandoned by their father in the desert, and when their stepfather first stamped his face into an arcade machine, and then punched him for violating the ban on approaching them at home – right in front of his own grandmother, which hurt him no less. By the way, that time a friend, whom he calls by a changed name in the book, became a support group for John: “Tommy’s parents beat him much more seriously: his father once picked him up from the floor by his hair, and his stepmother once woke him up with a blow from a frying pan on his face. As an adult, he was repeatedly admitted to psychiatric clinics.” The author writes that at that moment they rejoiced, having found understanding in each other’s person.

Romero’s biography is full of dark details: about his mother’s father beating him, his uncle’s cooperation with the drug cartel, cousins ​​killed because of drugs, and even a family brothel. It is amazing that without having a healthy supportive environment non-stop, he still managed to grow into a wonderful person. “What happened taught me to feel gratitude for all the good that surrounded me. And there was a lot of good,” he says.

His dark skin, dark eye color, and resin-colored hair were inherited from his father. “In addition to being Mexican-American, I am Yaqui on my father’s side and Cherokee on my mother’s side,” John Romero explains in the book. He writes with warmth about his grandmother, Mexican food, gatherings with relatives where everyone spoke Spanish. Such a bright identity that he is never going to forget. “Enthusiasm for heavy metal has nothing to do with the fact that I let go of my long hair. First of all, it was time-saving: it was not particularly possible to allocate it at the hairdresser. After thirty, I continued to grow them, so as not to forget the importance of my origin,” he explains.

The author also talks interestingly about the creation of games. One day the code became a part of his life, and no amount of punches, kicks, and humiliation was going to beat the crap out of him. And thank God.

“We have to play the best game we can imagine. We have to think of all the amazing things we couldn’t do before and make them a reality,” declared Romero at the launch of DOOM.

His role in creating games is truly innovative. We don’t know which part is the best to quote, because this storyline is full of cool details – it’s hard to choose what to choose. In general, the book has a lot of bright basic thoughts of typical coding evangelists who want to change the world for the better, without looking back at copyright and all these problems. And Romero talks about completely incomprehensible non-coders and funny moments like how Carmack threatened to leave the team if they even patented something.

And here is an interesting story about how a born gamer with long legs somehow started coding on a PC after the Apple II: “I was going to learn every byte of the PC in a few months as well as I knew the Apple II. I had been programming for ten years and believed in myself, but the PC architecture was radically different from the Apple II. The most difficult thing for me was understanding the input and output of the sixteen-bit processor 8086. The PC hardware was more powerful than Apple’s and could work with 640 kilobytes of RAM: this made it possible to create larger games. I could write in assembly, but PC assembly was different: there were some similarities, but the instruction sets and specific commands were different. As a result, it was like learning a new language, which turned out to be not so difficult because I already knew a few. I was happy to test myself by learning a brand new computer with all its details and instructions. Then I understood a pattern that is still true today: technology invents itself. As important as it is to evolve, the best thing to do is to be the first to get to a new technology and succeed in it.” Almost every chapter has similar insights. This is the basis of John Romero’s knowledge.

Let’s finish the article with one more of them: “The question “what if?” leads to innovation. and searching for logical answers”. Ask yourself these questions and do not neglect safety rules: choose only logical solutions and remember to protect your developments.

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