Courtesy of Gamasutra, with Brenda Brathwaite and John Romero at Indiecade:
Brathwaite asked if the girl played video games. “Of course!” she said. “I play shooters.”
“Oh, my husband John pretty much invented shooters,” said Brathwaite.
“Hmm,” said the little girl. “But did he make Halo?”
I do not think John Romero has actually succeeded at any game-related project since id fired him in the late 1990s after Quake wrapped up. John Carmack has been quoted as saying that Romero became terminally lazy after the success of Doom and refused to do any real work from that point on. It seems that he, like so many ‘aspiring’ designers simply wants to be an ‘idea guy’ – he’s proven time and again that he’s bad at the business, management, and programming ends. He seems to have just had the good fortune to be at the right place at the right time in the early Austin, TX game development boom of the early 90s.
Truth be told he probably just had the rotten luck to be born 5-10 years too late – he works fine on very small projects with perhaps 6 team members, but modern production of games have been demonstrated to be completely beyond his ability.
I remember working for a small government contractor doing XML work in the early 2000s that had a half dozen young 20-somethings (myself included) that consisted of a professional graphic designer, a musician/media production specialist, a writer, and a few programmers. Ten years prior (~1992-1993) we’d have a decent shot at running an A-list game studio with just that setup. It’s just not in the cards these days for modern development aside from mad geniuses for studios to be that small.
Like any creative industry, the guy who self-promotes and comes across as cool often gets a lot more attention than the workhorse who may have had a greater contribution to the output.
I look at Romero’s more recent history – like getting his Slipgate Ironworks studio bought into by Gazillion, with Gazillion shutting the studio with absolutely nothing produced, then moving onto Loot Drop – and wonder how anyone looks at their Kickstarter at all seriously.
But that’s the wisdom of crowds, I guess.