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Ion Storm Reorganizes 112

Posted by michael
from the fragged dept.
An Anonymous Coward writes: "GameSpyDaily is reporting that both John Romero and Tom Hall are leaving Ion Storm. Most of the Dallas office has been laid off as well. Warren Spector is now in charge. The remains of Ion Storm in Austin are still working on Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3."
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Ion Storm Reorganizes

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    A typo, sue, no problem.

    Too typos? Okay, we cam still deal with that.

    Thre? Okay, no wwe are getting a oittle out of hand.

    In the same word?? Oh my goffnesa!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:25AM (#72419)
    Okay, let me get this straight. Not only did you flip the 'e' and the 'i', but you also used an 'r' instead of an 'f'. The word is five letters long. You screwed up more than half of them. That is pret-ty sad.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:27AM (#72420)
    This wouldn't have happened if they had added more frogs.
  • I'm sure Tom Hall is actually leaving so he can begin work on Rise of the Triad 2.
  • I'd argue that Doom did well because it was just plain fun. Isn't that the reason most people play games?

    Sigh. Too many people worry about how high a framerate a game can achieve, or how detailed an explosion is, or how many gallons of virtual blood spill out of a freshly-dead enemy soldier. Why can't most game designers make games that are just fun?

  • As far as what happened to the rest of Ion Storm Dallas, check out what's left of Stormtroopers [stormtroopers.com]. This was a complete surprise to absolutely no-one, of course. Eidos just wanted to ship Anachronox and get things over with.

    So what's next? Dunno, but there is the matter of those domain name registrations [shacknews.com]. I'm just guessing here, but I'm thinking Monkey Stone would be Tom's choice. I hear primates are the in thing for developer names these days anyhow...

    Good luck, guys.

  • Yeah, after Daikatana was wrapped up (about a year ago), there was basically nothing to do in Dallas but help out on Anachronox (to whatever extent was possible that late in the project). Maybe things were just up in the air all that time over what to do. Go figure.
  • You know, considering that Big Ape (a LucasArts spinoff) seems to have been the first in this particular trend, that sounds about right.
  • Eventually a deal was struck with Ion Storm to create an Ion Storm Austin office, as none of us wanted to move to Dallas (can you blame us?)

    Dear God, no. Despite that they moved into perhaps the nicest office in Dallas (and you can see for miles and miles up there since everything's so flat), it's still Dallas. More power to everyone who likes living in Dallas, and it may just be because I'm from California, but I never cared for the place. It probably didn't help that I got there in August during a 98%-humidity heat wave. Bad first impression. But the city also didn't seem that friendly, interesting or active to me.

    Not having been in Texas before, I thought it might be nice to hop over to Austin for a day on the weekend. Then I checked the scale on the map -- doh! Let's just say it's more than a hop away...

  • by LafinJack (9054)
    It was my impression that ION Storm Dallas (Romero's part) and ION Storm Austin (Warren's part) were pretty much seperate companies, much like Blizzard (War/StarCraft) and Blizzard North (Diablo) are. Bound only by name, as it were. So really, it's just one half of a set of sister companies going under, not a corporation falling apart.

    Go Warren! Can't wait for DX2 and T3!
  • John Romero & Tom Hall started ION Storm in Dallas for the single reason of making those two games. They each had a vision of one game they wanted to make, and now that Anachronox is finally finished, it's done.

    If they were looking to make ION Dallas last longer, then perhaps they shouldn't have sold out to Eidos.

    They way I see it, it's all perfectly logical. Too bad they have to ditch the really nice office though...apparently the Dallas offices were pretty high-class, perhaps a bit too much so. Oh well.

    -Julius X
  • I was a bit confused when I followed the GameSpy link and the first thing I saw was a blurb about Iron Storm [gamespydaily.com]...
    until I scrolled down a bit and found the actual Ion Storm item [gamespydaily.com]...

    Bet the Iron Storm guys are getting a few more hits than they expected today...
  • by BilldaCat (19181) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:30AM (#72430) Homepage
    With that kind of track record, I think we have a candidate for Slashdot Editor.
  • violate the core tenets of liberty
    Ok, now that's overdoing it a bit, don't you think? To tell the truth, the whole post sounds like a page from the troll handbook. Then again, I am often wrong. But I am a bit curious as to what
    Open-Source/Free Software roots that gave birth to the gaming community

    maybe you were serious, but I doubt it. Had me going for a sec, with the whole low UID and all
  • Well then. We have math is similar to open source, and game programmers use math, so game community is based in open source. hmmm, I guess that might be true, but it does not sound all that likely, you'll admit. You might have a point but you have as yet to prove it.

    And as far as who used what at the university in the last decade, well, I remember using vC++ most recently turbo c before that, and then before that, whatever was on the vax. most people over the last 2 decades that used a unix c compiler at university used cc, not just gcc. And they used it on solaris, etc. And no that is not the exception. I can say that after personally attending 2 different school hundred of miles apart(and working at 2 more), that used different systems, and who would have until recently all given you a blank stare if you had asked about gcc. Remember though that your personal experience is no guide to what has happened to others. On the other hand I can't think of one person thatI have ever talked to about the scool that they went too, who used gnu tools. I usually have to explain to the professors here why I am using it (lack of winXX at home, for the curious).

    Oh and the game community does not come from this decade anyway. John Carmack started on a Apple][, as I recall, and he is certainly not the first programmer to write a game. He is, on the other hand, my personal god.
  • compared to 400,000 or whatever they are up to, it is. But your right, I think I misread it as 17,000.
  • Nope. Not just a first impression. The whole of Texas is a blasted wasteland, with the conspicuous exception of Austin, which is a great town.

    Lived in Dallas for almost 20 years...can't wait to graduate college and move to, well, Alaska or somewhere. Somewhere with a WINTER.

    -another transplanted Californian
  • Moderators - that wasn't funny, that was depressing.

    [Not that I moderated the comment you're replying to, but:]
    To quote Homer Simpson, "It's funny because it's true."

    BTW, what is it with no-one being able to spell Thief properly?
  • You kidding? I still occasionally play "Starflight 2", and I consider "Dark Castle" to be one of the best games of all time. The writing in Infocom adventures has yet to be matched in modern games. These aren't all "two people in a garage" games, but they are games that relied more on good design than on graphics and cookie-cutter game creation. If I ever get bitter over the games of yore, it's primarily because younger gamers would never show much interest in games with such "primitive" graphics. I can't really blame them, either - when you're used to 32-bit 3D-accelerated graphics, it's hard to pick up something new that runs in 16 colors.

    I do enjoy modern games, but the existence of newer games doesn't mean the older games suddenly suck - it only means the technology that drives them isn't as impressive. If all you care about is cool graphics, then don't bother with older games - I'm certainly not going to argue with you. But I'm more impressed by good design, and without glitzy graphics, good design was the only thing that made the "classics" classic.
  • by Darth (29071) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:25AM (#72437) Homepage
    This has been long rumored to be coming on Fat Babies (http://www.fatbabies.com).

    Apparently Romero and Hall are keeping a few people on payroll while they try to build a new company. There was also a rumor that Romero was talking to Eidos about buying the rights to the Ion Storm name back from them. (presumably to use for his new company)

    Ion Storm Austin has always been it's own autonomous unit so I dont think this will hurt them at all.


    Darth -- Nil Mortifi, Sine Lucre

  • Probably because what is 'fun' is not a very concrete thing. If you have a game which isn't fun, what would you change to make it fun?
  • by M-2 (41459) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:15AM (#72439) Homepage

    After the sheer number of horrors that came out of there - both PR and game - I'd expected Romero's time to be limited. Daikatana was, I think, just the final blow. Most of their games were either fatally flawed or just out of date.

    The only think you can really say is:

    Reality just made John Romero its Bitch.
    ----

  • For those of us who emphasize gameplay over tech, I recommend Hamumu Software [hamumu.com]. And if you don't like gameplay over tech, I WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE NOGGIN!
    ------------------------
  • Almost all of the top-rated articles as I write this contain some kind of joke about such-and-such being made John Romero's bitch, or vice-versa. I guess I missed something somewhere, would some kind soul fill me in?

    Thanks.

  • I very much doubt anyone in their right mind will put Romero in charge of a dev team after this one. Best option for him would probably be to go back to what he does well, which is level design IMO, and to leave game design and company management to people who can do a competent job at it. Pity about Tom Hall, though. I don't see him as being responsible for the ongoing disaster that is Ion Storm; my guess is he chose to back Romero and made one of those "If you fire him, you have to fire me too" statements that can and do blow up in your face on occasion. I'm probably not the first to comment on the irony attendant in Ion Storm now being headed by Warren Spector; I'd think he must be feeling very much vindicated now.
  • they started going downhill. September 30, 1997 - they tried to trademake the phrase SUCK IT DOWN [uspto.gov].
  • > Do you know what an FPS is? Obviously you don't play them...

    LOL - When you assume, you make an ASS out of you and me.

    I've been playing shooters for the past FIVE years. Doom / Quake / Half-Life / UT / Serious Sam. I *think* I know what a shooter is.

    > Deus Ex is not a SIM...it's a FPS with role-playing elements much like
    Excuse the french, but "no SHIT sherlock."

    That is precisely why it is a such a good game: Warren Spector has taken 2 genres (FPS and RPG) and combined them in a novel way. (Aside: Majesty did the same with the SIM & RTS genres. I'd like to see more cross-genre pollination in games :)

    Obviously let me spell the point out for you, since you missed it: "MULTIPLAYER is NOT a requirement for games to achieve X". Where X can be a) Sales, b) Fun.

    Yes, most of the examples I provided were not FPSs. I *did* mention Thief, which is a shooter so I'm not sure why you're assuming why I don't have a clue about shooters.

    You're point about shooters that don't have multiplayer support are "doomed", is noted however, and I agree. It is *very* risky* to sell a game without multiplayer support these days. (i.e. potentially cutting out a BIG section of the market.)

    *Risky but not stupid. If you look at the sales numbers for Age of Empires 2, and Mech Warrior 4, compared to how many people are playing them online, you find a FAR greater number of people playing them SINGLE PLAYER.

    (Sorry for the flame, but I hate people that know jack-shit about me, and then claim I know nothing in a topic just because I was quiet.)
  • >> I guess this is a good indication of the status of the gaming industry, and how risky it is.
    > This is a troll, right?

    Why are you wrongly accusing the parent of being a troll?!

    The gaming industry has ALLWAYS been a risky industry. Don't take my word, but ask other game developers. They will tell you the same thing:

    If a "sequel"/clone doesn't offer enough new features people won't buy it. If it diverges too far with new ground, it also won't sell well.

    i.e.
    - Look at the shooters. Same old game ( & still lots of fun!) but it is STILL the same old "game"

    - Look at hack-n-slashers. Diablo 2 and EQ offer nothing "new" -- they are both the standard hack-n-slashers. (Lots of fun multiplayer, but REPETITIVE/same-old gameplay)

    The game industry is partly about marketing. There is a reason why Diablo 2 has sold over a million copies. Blizzard was hyping their game for a FULL year before Diablo 2 was out. If a game developer can't afford marketing, then they will have a MUCH harder time "making it big" (Exceptions being a developer with a proven track record and everyone buys their stuff regardless *cough Quake 3 cough* ;-) (Yes I love Q3, but taking a break from TeamPlay for a while)

    Cheers
  • > Who needs 15 buttons on a joy stick or a WHOLE keyboard (mech warrior 4) to play a damn game!
    Get a Logitech Wingman Extreme Digital 3D joystick - only 8 buttons -- all you need for multiplayer ;-)

    > Oh well. I'll just pull out my Apple ][ I guess.

    Hear, Hear !

    My favorite Apple ][ games (Using * to designate ones that I still love playing)

    * Rescue Raiders (Armor Alley on the PC sucked)
    * Aquatron
    * Wings of Fury
    * Gemstone Warrior
    - Goonies
    * Lode Runner (& Championship LR)
    - Ultima Series (1 - 5)
    - Lady Tut
    - Karetaka (Had just as much fun ripping the music hehe)
    - Bruce Lee

    Thx god for ApplePC [google.com] ! (It even has mockingboard support!)

    P.S.
    Feel free to add your own to the list !
  • > I challenge you to identify a single FPS made in the last three years that has been hugely successful (financially - I don't really care whether you liked it or not) without multi-player capability.

    Thief (it's successful enough that they are doing the 3rd version :) and Max Payne (which just went gold. It has enough "cool" elements that it will be BIG.)

    > But when it comes to running around with a first-person viewpoint and shooting the crap out of people -- AI sucks.
    I wholeheartly agree. The "ultimate" AI is/are people. CTF bots are probably the best examples of this. "Simple" rules for CTF, but bots suck @$$.

    > That's why I was so disappointed that it took them a freakin' year to add multi-player support. That indicated to me that they hadn't even thought multi-player through until after the game was released...

    If you read the post-mortum article in Game Developers (online at Gamasutra [gamasutra.com] ), it says: "We wanted to provide multiplayer support but didn't have the time to do the job we knew we needed to do, and so it got cut."

    If you knew Warren Spector, he's a bit of "perfectionist." He's not one to just "add X into the game" if he feels it's not working. Multiplayer is NOT something you jsut "drop" into a game. Gameplay must be designed / changed to accomodate it. Witness all the "balancing" Unreal went through on it's transition to UT. Same with Q3 & Q3A. Secondly, shipping a game ON SCHEDULE is more important then "wish-list features".

    As a game developer, I can tell you, that when a game is designed, multiplayer is not just some checklist on the list of feature, but usually thought more in terms "does multiplayer even 'work' in the confines of the game rules. e.g. Does the meta-game support multiplayer?" (Usually the publisher is the one thinking: add multiplayer so we can get more $ale$ )

    > and in this day and age, that (in my mind) is unconscionable.

    Obviously multiplayer support is important to a LOT of players (FPS crowd), but you have to stop jumping to the conclusion that "FPS w/o multiplayer = sucks & won't sell." (We have Deus Ex and Thief as examples)

    Let me expand what I mean.

    There are elements of a single-player game that just CAN'T be experienced multiplayer.

    For one thing, in a single player game, the control of time. i.e. Something as basic as savegames, and pausing.

    Also in single player games, the game designer has better control of the plot/story, and can immerse the player in it, MUCH better then any multiplayer version.
    e.g. *You* can be the hero. Having N "heros" running around, is a b!tch to design and give everyong a rewarding experience. This is currently one of the "unsolved" problems of massive gaming.

    Deus Ex is partly an RPG. Multiplayer isn't a "perfect" fit like the Deathmatch-only designed games (Q3/UT) and hence it doesn't "loose" much w/o multiplayer.

    I mentioned Max Payne at the top, and the developers are basically saying the same thing.
    e.g. The Max Payne interview [google.com]

    I think you need to look at ALL the evidence: Where have games been, what is being made, what "problems" do FPS still have, etc, and you'll come to the conclusion:

    Single-player FPS's are NOT dead.

    Cheers
  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:43AM (#72448)
    > It had no multi-player support for about a year
    Talk about deadly combinations!

    Neither do The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Simcity 3K. All sold REALLY well. So much for no multiplayer being a deadly "un-feature"

    > If it has no multi-player capability, then it's gotta' have a longer, more difficult storyline that takes weeks of gameplay to finish (Thief at least did the latter).

    Not true. Sim's typically don't have ANY storyline at all. Don't be so quick to lamblast a game just because it has no multiplayer. Sometimes it DOES NOT make much sense for the game - in this case the Sim genre.

    Cheers

  • guilty as charged. i'll be there too, making meta-commentaries and being rightfully heckled by Anonymous Cowards.
  • by smirkleton (69652) on Friday July 20, 2001 @09:42AM (#72450)
    Amazing to see the continued vitriol.

    If only Ion Storm had released a 3d shooter called "Storming Ion Storm", in which you play an opinionated geek running around a virtual community armed with an obnoxiously deadly penchant for regurgitating old jokes about Daikatana, they might have had a grassroots hit on their hands.

    Clearly, there are already legions of players here.

    FWIW, I'd prefer not to play that game. It was fun two years ago maybe. And maybe it'll come back on a wave of retro-nostalgia when today's /. young bucks are having the 20 year reunion in 2018. Picture it with me, won't you?

    It'll be at a 10x10 booth at PC Expo, the Linux "Woulda Coulda Shoulda" gathering. Two dozen middle-aged dorks sitting around bashing Microsoft and AOL/Time Warner (their booths occupying 95% of the entire tradefloor). Then the subject of crappy games will come up, because X-Box Ultra is the only gaming system around. Then invariably, with the sense of nostalgia for the halcyon days causing all sorts of synaptic activity, someone will say, "You know who used to really SUCK?" - "Jon Katz?" - "No, even more than Katz..." - "Who?" - "Ion Storm!"

    A burst of chuckles. Then someone shouts "First Post!", causing everyone else to await his comment.

    "Hah- turns out KillCreek made John Romero HER bitch!"

    Laughter. One person comments, "Funny +1". Another repeats it. Another. Then someone else says, "Overrated -1". More laughter. Some high fives.

    Life will go on, even for those who, while living, do not have a life.

  • by szcx (81006) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:30AM (#72451)
    Daikatana wasn't "bad luck" is was bad management, bad design, bad implementation, and bad PR ("John Romero's Going to Make You His Bitch!").

    IMHO, Eidos should have shitcanned Dallas two years ago. They would have saved themselves in the vicinity of $10m.

    Here's a test for future Eidos executives...

    When a title is years behind schedule, you're haemorrhaging staff, and company email indicates a subsidiary is screwing you, do you;
    A) Cut the developers loose, or
    B) Firehose more money on them in the hope that "Design is Law" and that you don't really need those whiny engineers to create a game. All you need is a "Gaming God" with a rockstar attitude.

    To misquote Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; Fuck Ion Storm Dallas, fuck them in their stupid asses.

  • If this means no more atrocities like Daikatana, I'm all for it.

    Hope that Thief and Deus Ex aren't killed or severely mangled. That'd be a shame.

    So...if they're leaving, are they starting another company then? Or heading off on something else entirely?

    We all know what happened last time Romero started his own studios...*gag*
  • There's no reason for Eidos to kill off either Thief 3 or Deus Ex 2. Both of their predecessors made significant money (too late for Looking Glass, unfortunately), which, of course, Daikatana failed miserably at.

    Personally, although DOOM was a great game in its time, I never thought much of any of the original id crew or the game design. The concept is extremely simple-minded (and conitnues to be) and it did well because of (Carmack's) execution.

    Btw: is it just me or can nobody among these early posters spell Thief correctly?
  • by Sax Maniac (88550) on Friday July 20, 2001 @11:51AM (#72454) Homepage Journal
    Holy crap, that lard-ass web page crashed Netscape three times in a row, even with Java off and Junkbuster. GameSpy, I hereby revoke up your copyright on pages if you load them down in 40MB of shit.

    Thursday, 7/19/2001

    Romero, Hall gone
    Warrior | 12:50 | GameSpy News 13 Comments

    GameSpy has learned from Eidos that John Romero and Tom Hall have left Ion Storm Dallas.

    In a statement released to GameSpy, Eidos said:

    "John Romero and Tom Hall have decided to depart ION Storm to pursue other interests. We wish them luck in their future endeavors and thank them for their contribution to Ion Storm over the years, without which we would never have put together such talented teams in both our Austin and Dallas offices. Ion Storm will continue as a wholly owned subsidiary of Eidos and work on the sequels to the awarding winning Thief and Deus Ex titles as well as Deus Ex for the PS2."

    Everyone at the Dallas office received a pink slip on Friday and that only a few administration and MIS personnel are left there to close down the office, said a former employee who was part of the layoff.

    Eidos would not confirm that the Dallas staff was gone, but said they were waiting to on the sales figures for Anachronox.

    Ion Storm Austin was not affected, but Warren Spector will now become head of the Ion Storm subsidiary. The Austin office is looking at changing its name from Ion Storm, but a new name has not yet been chosen.

    "Though we went through some turbulent times, our relationship with ION was *super* beneficial at times," said Harvey Smith, who is heading up the Deus Ex 2 team at Ion Storm Austin. "ION gave Warren a place to start building up the earliest version of this studio. (Which is now working on Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3.) Without the initial support of ION Storm, who knows whether we would have been able to create Deus Ex. There were some great people there at the Dallas studio, with lots of passion, and I wish them all the best. The game industry ebbs and flows - heroes today are villains tomorrow, and vice versa."

  • by TheAlchemist (89319) on Friday July 20, 2001 @01:06PM (#72455)

    Okay, what actually happened is back in spring of 1997 Looking Glass wasn't doing too hot financially. In May of 1997 I moved from Cambridge, MA (where Looking Glass was located) to Austin to work on a game called Junction Point. Well, imagine my surprise when Looking Glass shut our office down on July 1st. Okay, it wasn't really too surprising. :) They didn't want to do it, but it was either shut down our office and continue to make payroll up in Cambridge, or shut the whole thing down. A core group of six people stayed together, receiving no salary, and worked on various project ideas and shopped them around (well, Warren shopped them around.) Eventually a deal was struck with Ion Storm to create an Ion Storm Austin office, as none of us wanted to move to Dallas (can you blame us?) We became Ion Storm Austin on September 1, 1997.

    The six people who started the office were Albert Yarusso (myself - programmer), Chris Norden (programmer), Steve Powers (designer), Dave Beyer (designer), Kraig Count (artist), and of course Warren Spector. Of those, Steve and Warren are the only full-time employees still with ISA. Chris and I are working as contractors on Deus Ex for the Playstation 2.

  • If I'm pathetic, why did you feel you needed to hide behind AC status to make fun? I sense we have a closet garage-era-gamer here...

    Seriously - I marvel at modern games - they are just a heartbeat from reality in a lot of cases. HOWEVER, this doesn't make them BETTER in many cases.

    And no, I will not be forced to adapt to EVERY change that technology flings at me. I CAN adapt, but I also have the freedom to choose what I WANT to adapt to, and ultimatly that makes me a better person.

    -----

  • by jacobcaz (91509) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:14AM (#72457) Homepage
    I am amazed by the graphics and game play on today's "modern" games, but when I wax nostalgic it's not for "Final Fantasy 72" or "Metal Gear Solid: 49" it's for the games that were done by a couple of guys in their garage.

    Yeah, I like the more simple, more FUN to play games. Who needs 15 buttons on a joy stick or a WHOLE keyboard (mech warrior 4) to play a damn game!

    Oh well. I'll just pull out my Apple ][ I guess.

    -----

  • Alice was also a great FPS (well, third person, but whatever) that didn't include Multiplayer support. I definitely got my moneys worth out of that one.
  • Ive got a buddy that used to work at ion storm. apparently, they hadnt given him anything to work on for a LONG time, several months. This was highly expected.. and he kept bitching about how he knew they were going to fire him... Still not sure if hes got another job yet.
  • Ion Storm Austin actually used to be known as the Austion branch of a little game company called "Looking Glass." Yeah, that Looking Glass. Warren Spector has come out and said this either on another forum I occasionally read (www.ttlg.com) or in a magazine article-- I forget which. Either way, it began as an entirely separate company from Ion Storm, and only became part of that because, I think, Eidos didn't know what else to do with them.
  • If it took you only 3 days to beat it, you missed a _lot_ along the way. It's full of side-trips and random stuff. Beating the end is only a tiny fraction of the journey. Josh
  • I think it should be noted that your comment really only applies to the games that make it to the shelves. There are a TON of fun games out there, that happen to have the same gameplay level as some of the old C64, Apple II, etc. games. Go hit VideoGameDownloads.com [videogamedownloads.com] sometime and take a look around - not every game is done in 3D, and quite a few a good games with solid gameplay (however, separating the wheat from the chaff is a problem sometimes.) Yeah, I know - these aren't games offered on the shelves. But ya know - you can complain all you want about what's on the shelves, but you can't compain there aren't good games out there - there are.

    And the situation is only getting better. Brian Hook, IIRC, is now changing his focus on develoment. Instead of trying to make the next multi-player extraviganza in 3D or money munching MMORPG, he's going after the classic games. (Of course, he's also refocusing what platform he's working on - Mac.) MidnightRyder.Com [midnightryder.com] (that would be my company ;-) is resurecting old gameplay in the form of Jumpman: 2049 and Trajectory (think Scorched Earth, but a bit more modern.) Trajectory may see shelves, but, Jumpman: 2049 probably never will, dispite the fact that IMHO it's going to have considerably more depth of play and actual play time than a good 3/4th of the stuff on the shelves these days.

    As for the actual substance of modern games - well, I'll avoid the normal flame war that starts with these particular discussions ;-) But - it's definitly a case of to each his own. I don't mind all the glitz - I love UT, for instance. But I also can't set down and enjoy it nearly as much as some of the stuff I did back in the C64 era. That's just me.

  • This is wonderful news.

    Romero was one of the biggest drags any company could have had. The corporate infighting and backstabbing amongst the top executives at Ion Storm was appalling, and led to multiple programmer walkouts. Meanwhile, the fighting executives continually siphoned profits that didn't exist yet for lavish personal expenses. It was one of the worst cases of management I've ever seen. Its amazing that they didn't have the plug pulled on them.

    Amazingly, the projects that weren't micromanaged by upper management did very well... gee, I wonder how that happened...

    -= rei =-
  • But... Decathlon is a Microsoft product! :) BTW, MS has declared Decathlon obsolete and will no longer be providing support for it... awww :) See what else is on their list [microsoft.com] of obsolete products.
  • I guess this is a good indication of the status of the gaming industry, and how risky it is. Some bad luck (Daikatana, ugh) and you're toast. Next success game they have, they'll reopen another office, or expand the Austin one.
  • Early ads for Daikatana claimed "John Romero will make you his bitch, suck it down."

    Quite the PR failure, and actually admitted to be a mistake by Romero himself. Obvioulsy something else started "sucking," like sales.

  • It'd be interesting to hear his thoughts on the matter.
  • Sure, it's important to think about Tom Hall's future with Anox2 and whatnot, but I think it's a little more important to talk about what's going to happen to Anachronox 1's tech support.

    Thanks to Ion Storm Dallas's final folding (and subsequent overdue removal of two employees who shall remain nameless here), tech support for Anox 1 is all but B4NX0R3D.

    ***JUMP PAD ACTIVATION INITIATION START***
    ***TRANSPORT WHEN READY***

  • That's what impresses me so about Warren Spector. When compared to people like John Carmack, he doesn't have a history of incredible engines or ground-breaking technologies (not to detract from the great JC, of course; the guy's incredible).

    But what he does have (and this is more important IMO), is a consistant track record of awesome games. Has Spector ever produced anything average, I wonder?

    ***JUMP PAD ACTIVATION INITIATION START***
    ***TRANSPORT WHEN READY***

  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity.sbcglobal@net> on Friday July 20, 2001 @01:22PM (#72470) Homepage Journal
    I can't stop laughing every time I hear that...

    ...and then I start crying after I remember what happened to Looking Glass Studios.

    For those of you who don't know, after releasing the successful (and brilliant) Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II, Looking Glass Studios was denied funding by the publisher so that Ion Storm could continue working on Daikatana.

    Looking Glass Studios closed its doors, and Ion Storm kept on keepin' on.

    I totally agree with you that it's about time Romero got what was coming to him, but before that happened, a lot of innocent bystanders were hurt.

  • Yeah, apparently they had the penthouse suite in a rather swank office building downtown. Scuttlebutt is that the lawfirms, etc. that shared it with them petitioned the building owners (although unsucessfully) to reprogram the elevators so that one was dedicated to the penthouse, and none of the others would go there. Seems they didn't like having to share the elevators with long-haired, unshaven programmer types in torn jeans and the like.

    God, that would have been a cool job.

  • Oh well. I'll just pull out my Apple ][ I guess.
    Absolutely. It's been all downhill since the days of Choplifter and Olympic Decathalon. (Did anybody but me ever break their arrow keys doing the long jump in that game?)
  • by LordOfYourPants (145342) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:12AM (#72473)
    "The remains" of Ion Storm are now working on Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3. I don't know if that was a poor choice of words or if you were expressing subjective opinion.

    Deus Ex is one of the most involved first-person I've ever experienced. To me, it set a new standard for what a first-person game should be. It didn't assume that the player was mentally retarded in terms of storyline, nor did it need to be sprinkled here and there with toilet humour/strippers to remain interesting.

    If "Warren Spector," creator of Deus Ex, System Shock, Ultima Underworld, Thief -- a consistently GOOD game designer is considered a remnant of a company, then I'd love to see the state of a full-fledged gaming company.
  • I worked in that building for a law firm. The Texas Commerce Tower changed its name to the Chase Tower a couple of years ago. I used to see some of the ION guys outside on smoking breaks. The building looks really cool. Check out these pix: It wasnt't all that swank. Of course, if you're from Texas (and esp. Dallas) it doesn't take much to impress you. The tower is on the northern end of the downtown district so if you needed to get to anywhere else downtown it wasn't close. IMO its best feature was how easy it was to give directions to it: As you approach Dallas, look for the building with the hole in it. Can't miss it!BRBR> There is some nice office space surrounding the keyhole, but AFAIK there is no penthouse. Also, downtown Dallas closes up tighter than a clam's ass at 9 PM so there's virtually nothing to do at night. If you work late you have to travel some miles to find nightlife. Unless you consider the over-hyped tourist district "entertainment".
  • Has Spector ever produced anything average, I wonder?

    Mr.Spector wrote some books that he has mentioned that were subpar.
    A quick search on amazon will give you a list of what he's written (lameness filter won't let me put a link, but the URL: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-ur l/index=books&field-author=Spector%2C%20Warren).

    Disclaimer:
    I haven't read any of these, so I dunno if any of them are excellent or subpar, but in interviews, he's mentioned that he hated them....

    --
  • Hey (after looking like a complete ass in front of you) are you guys hiring programmers? Recently graduating computer engineer with a penchant for OOP.

    Hey.... its worth a shot....

    --
  • Mind if I send you one directly? My email is in my header if you don't wish to publish yours. Thanks!!

    --
  • Warren Spector (aka God) in charge is the best news I've heard in the PC Gaming industry!

    Everything outta IonStorm will mean it has a great plot, and incredible gameplay, not to mention a good RPG element!

    My only question is why not change the name to "Looking Glass Studios"? After the major breaking of Looking Glass, Warren hired most of the employees. Its almost like a reincarnation!

    --
  • Huh?
    U:UW was well before Doom. That's a damn nice engine. IMHO, better than Doom's

  • They are doing console hames, witness the porting of Deus Ex to PS2, and the fact that both Thief 3 and Deus Ex 2 are being concurrently developed on PC/Console.
  • you make a very interesting point. The problem for game developers is that most people look at pictures of a game on the box on the shelf, and unless they are amazing 3d graphics, dismiss them right there in the store. Developers need to make money, and therefore need to be visually stunning as well. Your 'garage'-era gamers made visually stunning games back then as well.. (now they wouldn't qualify at the same level) but there are other reasons why you have a nostalgic feeling for them (I will presume), more than their actual artistic style (read pixelated 2D art)...

    I digress; The real hope is to find developers that can make visually stunning and technologically advances games that portray reality, but at the same time can instill a sense of nostalgia for the future of gaming. A game that can entice the minds and entertain the masses by its gameplay and originality alone; but still keep up with technology and be realistically stunning (or unrealistically stunning, depending on your genre). This is the holy grail for most developers. Many are satisfied with making money churning out games that aren't inspiration but get them a paycheck regularly, and never aspire for more. The majority I believe (and their producers no doubt) want to create a game that meets everyone's desires.. not only for the money but for the venue of success.
  • I suppose that when iD had 5 people or so, and Romero helped out deciding the gameplay he wasnt actually a MANAGER of anyone, which is what I said. I'm not questioning some of his judgements in terms of style technique or artistic ideology, I am questioning his ability to run and manage a department in a game developement company. I still stand by my original statement:

    ...anything so far you seem to have helped to manage has turned into crap, and fallen apart.
  • Recently, the Austin team has expressed that they don't agree with the Dallas office as to the style of games being made, and that an imminent seperation was at hand. Austin has made some good titles, while Dallas has basically only made crap; not a major blow for the video game developement community, except now Romero will claim you are his bitch from another venue, just what we need.

    Romero, take a hint and go join some video gaming subculture and keep out of the mainstream attention: anything so far you seem to have helped to manage has turned into crap, and fallen apart.
  • What would Old Man Murray [oldmanmurray.com] say?

    Something a lot more funny that I can come up with to be sure.

    ---Romero, try not to be such a goddamn fruit!---

  • While I agree that Deus Ex was a pretty awesome FPS to play, it suffered from two incredibly large flaws:
    1. It took about three days to beat it
    2. It had no multi-player support for about a year
    Talk about deadly combinations! If the game is eminently easy to beat, then it has to have multi-player capability to provide any value. If it has no multi-player capability, then it's gotta' have a longer, more difficult storyline that takes weeks of gameplay to finish (Thief at least did the latter).

    Anybody who releases a FPS like Deus Ex with no multi-player support in this day and age is mentally deficient and can be safely referred to as "The Remains." I am not alone in the sentiment that $50 is a bit much to pay for a game with less than week of playability...tons of people never bought it because all they had to do was borrow it from a friend who was already done with it.

    Not that John Romero was making things any better with his lame Daikatana piece of crap...

  • Ummm...Did I stutter? None of those games are FPS games are they?

    Anybody who releases a FPS like Deus Ex with no multi-player support in this day and age is mentally deficient

    Do you know what an FPS is? Obviously you don't play them...Deus Ex is not a SIM...it's a FPS with role-playing elements much like - Oni or Half Life. You will note that Half Life was everybody's Game of the Year when it came out and continues to make tons of cash due to the plethora of mods (Counterstrike, etc.) that have been written to use its multi-player gaming engine. The same is true of Unreal Tournament and it's excellent engine. Oni, on the other hand, bombed despite its innovative combat system and fantastic graphics because...say it with me now...It has no multi-player support.

    Perhaps you should figure out what the difference between a sim, an FPS and a role-playing game is before you say anything else...

  • While I agree that Deus Ex was a pretty awesome FPS to play, it suffered from two incredibly large flaws:

    and...

    Anybody who releases a FPS like Deus Ex with no multi-player support in this day and age is mentally deficient and can be safely referred to as "The Remains."

    I challenge you to identify a single FPS made in the last three years that has been hugely successful (financially - I don't really care whether you liked it or not) without multi-player capability. You say you are a big player of FPS games...then why do you keep giving me the following examples?

    The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Simcity 3K, Age of Empires 2.

    The only game you supplied that is even somewhat an FPS is Mech Warrior 4, and that is somewhat unique in that it had a strong customer base from earlier, single player only versions. Hey, I like a good strategy or sim game as much as the next guy, and to be frank with you, I have never played any of them multi-player. You're right -- they are generally much better as stand alones.

    But when it comes to running around with a first-person viewpoint and shooting the crap out of people -- AI sucks. Bots make lousy opponents because they are predictable in their behavior. The only way to make them worthy opponents is to beef them up with impenetrable armor, blazing rates of fire, and extra damage weapons. That's why there is no substitute for a human opponent who hides in a dark corner behind some boxes and hits you with a burst of fire when you run buy him. I LOVED Deus Ex...for three days. That's why I was so disappointed that it took them a freakin' year to add multi-player support. That indicated to me that they hadn't even thought multi-player through until after the game was released...and in this day and age, that (in my mind) is unconscionable.

  • My only concern is that Ion Storm did not stick to the Open-Source/Free Software roots that gave birth to the gaming community, as well as the Free Software community.

    While Thief 3 will be an excellent game, it's adherence to closed-source, proprietary API's like ActiveX and OpenGL threaten the fundamental freedoms that we enjoy as programmers and citizens.

    Not only do these proprietary technologies violate the core tenets of liberty, they make it difficult to port the game to platforms other than Win32.

    Implementing a game such as Thief 3 using Free GPL'd APIs would be a statement against tyrannany and a big boost to the software for freedom movement. As an added side-effect, Open API's would allow the open-source community to port Thief or any game to platforms as diverse as S/390 and Palm devices.
  • I stand by my post.

    I don't know about you, but everyone I know who learned C/C++ in a university in the last decade used gcc & emacs. Maybe some probally use Sun or Microsoft tools, but I think that they are the exceptions.

    Most game programmers, especially those in 3d games need solid grasp on advanced mathematics. The math community is very similar to the open-source community in terms of collaboration.

  • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:50AM (#72490)
    Implementing a game such as Thief 3 using Free GPL'd APIs would be a statement against tyrannany and a big boost to the software for freedom movement.

    Wouldn't a GPL'd API prevent them from releasing Thief 3 as commercial software? I'm all for open APIs (such as with Allegro or OpenGL), but since you're generally linking code when you use an API, it would seem that the "infect other software" clause of the GPL would come into play.

    It may be that I'm misunderstanding the relation of APIs to the GPL. Since it's my understanding that "API" refers to the definition of functions to call, rather than the functions themselves, a GPL'd API for an LGPL'd (or BSD-licensed or public-domain or...) library might be kosher. However, there's at least an issue there that would need clarification.

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that major libraries and languages should seriously consider using more commercial friendly licenses, as a means of actually promoting free software. If a commercial entity is capable of using your tool to produce commercial software, but at the same times sends back any changes to your side of the fence, you both win. The FSF party line, which I understand to be, "If they can't get it elsewhere, use the GPL instead of the LGPL so it gives them incentive to make it a GPL'd project." just doesn't work in the case where the company already feels the resulting software must be non-GPL'd.

  • Yeah I miss the simple stuff like Pitfall, and galaga...I played those for hours!
  • Moderators - that wasn't funny, that was depressing. Fortunately many of the Looking Glass team are working on Thief 3 at Manifesto (formerly Ion Storm Austin). This has been hashed to death, but I personally still feel that Eidos did the world a disservice by allowing Ion Storm Dallas to continue (even this long) and Looking Glass to go under.

    May Thief 3 rock.
  • the a.i. in daikatana was so bad, if you tried to leave certain zones, superfly (and the other sidekick, whatsherface) would get stuck and wouldn't leave with you :)

    Regardless, i still think daikatana was an excellent multiplayer game.

  • The "trash john romero" bandwagon is so 2000.

    You're forgetting that Romero was singlehandedly responsible for the LEGENDARY gameplay of quake 1.

  • Hmm, please make sure you know what you're talking about before you reply.

    John Romero was 99% responsible for the gameplay for Quake 1. Romero actually PLAYED the game during development and would go back and forth between the game and Carmack and request changes to the gameplay. Carmack only did the tech. The reason there was a rift between the two was because in the differences in style: Carmack put tech before gameplay and Romero put gameplay before tech.

    In a ways they both failed: Just look at how dull Quake 2 and 3 are gameplaywise.

    Put your money where your mouth is, thanks!

  • a complete dismantling. I think this just tolls the end of the prima-donna programmer. The household names like "John Romero" are going to be replaced with the companies like "Black Isle". Who ever said that a genius programmer had the knowledge to run a company, and drive a project to completion. I think the one thing these "egos" lack is self control and the understanding that they cant do everything by themselves. Daiktana was a failure mostly because of the lack of management.
  • So they're workin on Dues Ex 2 and Thief three- I'm all for continuing a successful series, but if all the have going is more of the same, maybe they should consider broadening their horizons, and being a little bit innovative- maybe something besides a first person/shooter/quest/3rd rehash.
  • Making games is a business, and the idea of this business is to make more money selling software than you spend. IIRC Anachronox did not do very well financially. Why would a game company throw good money after bad by making a sequel to a failed game?

    Buying anything is a risk as far as support goes. If that product is unpopular then there is no financial reason to support it.

    And were things better in the old days? The gaming industry has always worked this way, and in the old days you never had companies like Id or Epic that put out dozens of patches to fix issues 3 or 4 years after the game was released.

  • For those of you who don't know, after releasing the successful (and brilliant) Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II, Looking Glass Studios was denied funding by the publisher so that Ion Storm could continue working on Daikatana.
    Not true. Looking Glass closed due to their own financial mismanagement (they were in debt before they ever approached Eidios for funding). Check out this page [itcnet.ro] under the section 1.2: The Demise of Looking Glass Studios for the complete story of Looking Glass' closure.
  • Perhaps the board of Eidos had their head stuck between Lara's ...polygons.

  • I agree that the short-term mindset in the game industry, but in a way I think they are to blame for it. So many of these games are hyped so heavily prior to release that they can't help but be delayed ("We gotta add quad-linear interpolation predication to the renderer because Quake 32 has it!"). And when they do come out they inevitably fall short of the hype. I think the best games are the ones that no one sees coming. (I will admit that Half-Life, Deus Ex and several other lived up to the hype.) But the game companies PR machines don't believe in toiling in anonymity. :)
  • Even though Daikatana became the albatross around Ion Storm's neck, Anachronox ended up being a pretty good experiment. Problem is, it's only half of the story -- it ends where Part Two should technically begin.

    Would it be possible for the reorganization to lead to Tom Hall being able to develop Anox 2, much in the way the Thief team reformed to develop Thief 3? Or will Eidos dump the franchise / hire some hacks other than TH to finish it in a bastardized way? (See also: Space Quest, and to a lesser extent, Monkey Island.)

    It's really a shame that the gaming industry has developed into a Here Today, Gone Tomorrow mindset. For simple FPS shooters that's fine and dandy but for story-driven games like Undying, Thief, Half-Life, Deus Ex and Anachronox, it can end up killing off great concepts before they have a chance to fully develop.
    ---

  • I guess this is a good indication of the status of the gaming industry, and how risky it is.

    This is a troll, right?
  • Quit whining - garage games are alive and well, it's not even hard to find them. Check out this [bridgebuilder-game.com] or this [pompom.org.uk] for great examples of PC garage development

    There are also a lot of low-production-value, simple, fun games for consoles - not done by two guys in their garage, but with a definite substance-over-style design ethic. Try Bangaioh on the DC or Kuru Kuru Kururin on the GBA to see what I mean.
  • All you say may be true (obvious even), but Ion Storm is the WORST EVER example of it, which is why the original post looks a lot like a troll.

    Consider the story in question: The guy responsible for the absolute turd of a game (which sold very badly) leaves, the guy responsible for the ground-breaking game (which sold a bucketload) takes over the top spot. This is an absolutely terrible illustration of how 'risky' the industry is, it's rather a great illustration of how things would work in an ideal world.
  • "I hear primates are the in thing for developer names these days anyhow..."

    It's called the Guybrush Threepwood effect. ;-)

  • "If "Warren Spector," creator of Deus Ex, System Shock, Ultima Underworld, Thief -- a consistently GOOD game designer is considered a remnant of a company, then I'd love to see the state of a full-fledged gaming company. "

    Amen. Thank for you saying this.

    I wonder how Spector feels about this...remember that Ion Storm's parent company is Eidos. And it was Eidos who wasn't able to give Looking Glass Studios the short-term cash to keep them from going belly-up because they were throwing it down the throat of Romero and Ion Storm. And now Spector is heading Ion. The mind boggles...

    This is so ironic.

    I think that this is a great move on the part of Romero and Hall because assuming that they want to keep working in the gaming industry, they need to start fresh. They tarnished the Ion Storm name because of Daikatana and are going in the right direction if they want to be taken seriously again. Also, they are showing some wisdom by giving a genius like Spector the helm of a development house that already is blooded and has some momentum. Perhaps they are doing this to 'apologise' to Spector for being indirectly responsible for the demise of LGS, which was, IMHO, the most innovative game production house ever. Period.

    And about Warren Spector... I'm literally grinning ear to ear about having him at the helm of a production house again! It should be interesting to see if he can turn Ion Storm into another Looking Glass Studios.

  • by Bonker (243350) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:16AM (#72508)
    Programmer 1: So I'm envisioning a completely non-restrictive mode of play... Pass the bottle will you?

    Programmer 2: Like Unreal? It has it's advantages, but -- Damn, this cardboard box isn't very warm, is it?

    Programmer 1: You can usually get coats from the Catholic mission. At any rate, I think we can overcome the problems that an unlimited map will create by using this special algorithm.

    Programmer 2: It'd be easier to see if it wasn't written on the sidewalk.

    Programmer 1: Yeah, I know. It's been a while since I managed to scrounge up any paper.

    Programmer 3: Buggrit! I tol' em! Millenium-hand and shrimp....
  • No longer can a game company develop and release a game quickly and at a low cost. Gone are the days when simple, addictive games like Tetris, pinball, and so forth can be developed in a short time by a small staff and sold for a profit.

    The average game development model now involves huge staffs with scary-big salary and support costs. No longer is it a few talented programmers. Now we have level designers, graphic artists, and testing staffs to create the incredibly complex games we demand. If the company guesses wrong about what will sell, what hardware to target, or how many man-hours will be invested in development and testing, they can be facing a multi-million dollar catastrophe. For every successful game series like Quake, Unreal, and Tomb Raider, there are hundreds of games that will never turn a profit.

    We, as consumers, keep raising the stakes. We're willing to blow $50-$60 on a game now, but we demand a level of cinematic polish that would be daunting to a Hollywood movie studio. I don't know where it will end or how.

  • I almost thought that Slashbots would have some more fully formed opinions than the average rabid gamer. My mistake. Does anyone realize that in addition to Romero and the Daikatana team, Tom Hall and the entire Anachronox team have also been fired? (whu? tawm hall?) Anachronox is a great game, and now its in doubt whether we'll ever see a sequel. It's a damn shame.
  • Actually, Warren hired only five ex-LG programmers after the LG implosion:

    Chris Carollo (Lead Programmer, DX2)
    Alex Duran (Programmer, DX2)
    Randy Smith (Project Director, T3)
    Lulu Lamer (Associate Producer, T3)
    Terri Brosius (Writer, T3)

    Matt Baer (Programmer, DX2) had also previously worked at LG, as had Bill Money (Associate Producer, DX2).

    But he hardly hired "most of the empolyees". ISA (or whatever we end up being called) is working on LG-style immersive worlds, but LG was a different company, and honestly I think it would be a little insulting to those ex-LG employees that don't work at ISA to assume the "Looking Glass" name.

  • by dswensen (252552) on Friday July 20, 2001 @10:09AM (#72513) Homepage
    There was also a rumor that Romero was talking to Eidos about buying the rights to the Ion Storm name back from them.

    Why? To carry on the tradition of excellence and compelling gameplay fostered by Daikatana, which everyone now associates with Ion Storm?

    If I were him, I'd want to get as far away from that name as possible.

  • Ion Storm came out with a full page magazine ad stating in big letters, "THIS FALL JOHN ROMERO'S GONNA MAKE YOU HIS BITCH" (Daikatana ad).

    The ad came out in 1997, three years before Daikatana came out.

    Suffice it to say that after incessant delays and a game that was at best lackluster, this became an irony point.


    Schnapple

    • If you have a game which isn't fun, what would you change to make it fun?

    (From experience) In a programmer led team, you strip ruthlesslely until you've got a fun game, even if comes down to "Left. Right. Fire." and looks like a C64 retro blaster. Then you add all the whizzo-3D, neat gimmicks and storyline that the designers and artists are churning out.

    However, if you're a producer or designer or artist led team, you keep adding more and more cool ground breaking concepts and gimmicks and 5000 polygon models to fix it, until you end up with, er, Daikatana. ;)

    • The guy responsible for the absolute turd of a game leaves, the guy responsible for the ground-breaking game takes over the top spot. This is [...] a great illustration of how things would work in an ideal world

    And in the real world, the remaining guy is left in charge of a dead name, and the majority of games buyers won't know the difference, they'll just know that Ion Storm created Daikatana. Meanwhile, the teflon coated cocksucker slips off to start up another lame ass pit of fear and loathing, with a shiny new name and more experience - "Hey, finance me again, I know how not to create a game now, plus I have a Ferrari, so I must have something going for me!".

  • by PyromanFO (319002) on Friday July 20, 2001 @08:33AM (#72524)
    John Romero cant leave without his buddy Superfly!
  • by CmdrDangerMouse (463901) on Friday July 20, 2001 @09:50AM (#72528)
    Actually Ion Storm-Austin (Deus Ex) and Ion Storm-Dallas (Daikatana) are becoming two independent companies. Warren Specter's company will be called Manifesto Studios and is currently working on Deus Ex II and Thief III. John Romero and Tom Hall have registered Mentallion.com (Mentallion Industries) and MonkeyStone.com (Monkey Stone Games) however it's undecided which name they will be using. John Romero claimed a while back that he wouldn't be releasing information on his next project after Daikatana was insulted by the gaming community. We're still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing...

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