December 10 will be the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking FPS Doom, and to mark the big day two of the driving forces behind the game, John Carmack and John Romero, will be taking part in a livestreamed discussion moderated by videogame historian David Craddock about one of the most influential videogames of all time.
The bare bones of id Software's history are well known: A handful of ambitious guys working at a software company decide to strike out on their own, and through a combination of innovative technology, bold design, and the energy and drive of youth, create a game called Doom that shakes the world of PC gaming to its core. Fame and fortune follow, and over time it all slowly slips apart as the founders move on to other things amidst rumors of recriminations and resentment.
It's all very rock 'n' roll, which is appropriate given that Carmack and Romero are sometimes described as the game industry's Lennon and McCartney. But it's also apparently off base. In his recent autobiography Doom Guy: Life in First Person, Romero said he and Carmack were friends, and have remained so in the years since they went their separate ways.
From the book:
Much has been written about our working relationship and our eventual breakup. It’s written as if we were fifty-year-old Stanford MBAs who knew everything about business and not overworked, constantly crunching kids in our twenties with the whole world staring at us as we tried to do the best we could while creating a tech and a design that the world had never before seen. It’s written in polarizing terms, “animosity” being a favorite, with one of us pitted against the other because that just makes for a better story. The truth is that Carmack and I were friends, and we cared about each other, and we still do.
The incredible discipline we had as a team allowed us to create and publish thirty-two games in six years. Something malevolently magical happened between us, and I believe that my creative drive was the heart of Carmack’s machine. We changed the world for the better.
Both Romero and Carmack have continued to have an impact on their industry in their post-id Software careers, Carmack in the worlds of VR and aerospace, and Romero with continued work in the FPS genre, most recently with Sigil 2, "the unofficial sixth episode" of the original Doom that's set to launch on December 10. But it's their history together that continues to fascinate, and this livestream should be a fun look back—and as a fan from those days, I have to admit that it's very cool to see that yes, they're still buds.
"In spite of the over-dramatized nature of their breakup, Carmack and Romero have remained friends and have deep respect for one another’s work," Romero Games co-founder Brenda Romero told PC Gamer. "They’re both looking forward to this event, and David L. Craddock is an exceptional moderator and historian of FPS history."
This actually isn't the first time that the Johns have indicated that things are cool between them: Carmack wrote a gracious back-of-book blurb for Romero's biography, and tweeted, "To be completely clear—I wish him the best!" Still, I'd say that getting together for a livestreamed recollection of the glory days is a big step beyond that, especially since we get to see it live.
The "To Hell and Back: Romero and Carmack" livestream will take place at 1 pm PT/4 pm ET/8 pm GMT on December 10 at twitch.tv/theromero. Don't expect a surprise announcement of the band getting back together, though: Never say never and all that, but in his best wishes to Romero, Carmack also said very clearly that it's not happening.