Romero & Carmack Return With FPS BLACKROOM

John Romero and Adrian Carmack, two of the founders of id Software, have reunited to work on a new FPS game. It’s called BLACKROOM [official site] and it has just arrived on Kickstarter, seeking $700,000 of funding. As you might expect, Romero is pitching the game as a return to the principles that drove the original Doom and Quake. Rocket-jumping, circle-strafing and “expert abstract level design”. All of the levels will be the work of Romero himself, though there will also be full modding and custom map support, and they’ll take place across diverse environments thanks to a sci-fi plot involving holographic technology gone bad.

A reprisal of Romero’s reversed speech at the end there, though this time it’s not an instruction to kill him. The lack of in-game footage is most likely explained by the proposed release date, which is late 2018.

The proposal is for a game that is an unashamed attempt to shut up all those people who like to suck on their teeth and mutter, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” Romero and Carmack want to make one like ‘they’ used to; ‘they’ being id themselves and the many developers inspired by those early FPS games. The Kickstarter campaign calls BLACKROOM “a return to fast, violent and masterful play on the PC”.

There will be a single-player campaign to go with the various multiplayer modes (which are supported by dedicated servers). That should make use of the storyline’s holographic tech to cover some interesting environments, and there’s also mention of a device that can be used to ‘hack’ the environment. Quite how that’ll work isn’t clear.

Change your environment from within the game with the proprietary Boxel, a device only allocated to HOXAR engineers. Influence the environment, your weapons and your enemies.

Levels include “ruined Victorian mansions…Wild West ghost towns…treacherous pirate galleons” and more, and will be spread across a ten hour campaign and six multiplayer maps.

It’s a long way off, but has grabbed my interest. I can’t imagine it’ll fail to hit the target thanks to name value alone, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep a close eye on development as it progresses.


  1. Kemuel says:

    But is he going to make us his bitch?

  2. kabic says:

    D A I K A T A N A II?

  3. Mungrul says:

    My shiny pate is envious of Romero’s glorious, flowing, lustrous locks.

    Cautiously optimistic here, and while Daikatana was an obvious misstep, I still have faith that Romero can do something good.

    I’m also hoping he and Adrian realise the importance of modability and make the game as open to users as possible. We need to break away from companies attempting to build walled gardens around IPs that have traditionally been celebrated for their openness (new Doom, I’m looking at you).

    • Buggery says:

      Good news then: a significant part of the pitch is detailing that it will be very mod friendly. Cautious optimism ahoy!

  4. Marquis says:

    I, for one, am unreasonably excited.

    • Czrly says:

      I, for one, am not excited at all.

      Let’s see: industry legends return with Kickstarter project, looking for money, spouting lines about return to principles and wot-not. I don’t even feel the nostalgia, this time. As much as I hope they make something awesome, too many others have really ruined the market by fouling up the same strategy.

      • Premium User Badge

        DuncUK says:

        Agreed. John Romero is a developer whose main claim to fame (aside from the hair) is having released one of the most disappointing games in videogame history on the back of some absurd media hype and a slew of broken promises. Not to mention his history of being photographed flamboyantly flouting his riches and rockstar lifestyle. I’m really not sure that pleading for donations on Kickstarter is the appropriate medium for him to create anything.

        • tnzk says:

          His main claim to fame is Doom and Quake. The notoriety of Daikatana rides off of that.

          While I’m not placing my bets either way, the guy is always on the money on what makes a good game. Doom was (and still is) the perfect marriage of vision and execution.

          I honestly wouldn’t mind him to get his mojo back

          • Premium User Badge

            DuncUK says:

            Call me cynical, but I can’t remember any other circumstances in which a video games industry veteran with a long absence and a most recently troubling back catalogue comes back and wows us all with something great. Chris Roberts perhaps? Hmmm, not really.

            You’re right though, ‘claim to fame’ was the wrong phrase, it’s just what he;s most notorious for. Daikatana is the thing most people will think of first when you mention his name, because of that ad. It’s certainly the thing you can call most specifically ‘his’ responsibility compared to the ID years which were very much the product of a small team. I’m just not that convinced that JR was ever really that talented.

          • Distec says:

            It’s good to be skeptical of Romero’s abilities, as it is with every gaming “Rock Star” returning with the promise of gaming Nirvana. I can only hope he’s still got some magic in him.

            But as for Daikatana, I reckon it’s time to let it go. That game was released sixteen years ago and I think that’s plenty of time to live something down. If something like that doesn’t knock the hubris out of you, then I don’t know what will. And given that John Romero’s record of self-aggrandizement and ego has been very quiet since, I’m guessing this is no longer a concern.

            I get the appeal of bringing up Daikatana, because I remember how I felt about it at the time. I had many mean words directed at Romero, over half of which I’m frankly embarrassed by over a decade later. Dude released a mediocre game with bewildering PR behaviors and I consider the hatchet buried.

          • steves says:

            Replying to child comment really:

            “I can’t remember any other circumstances in which a video games industry veteran with a long absence and a most recently troubling back catalogue comes back and wows us all with something great”

            Me neither.

            But there’s certainly precedent in music & cinema, and gaming is so young, perhaps most of the veterans haven’t got past the bloated & self indulgent phase yet.

            What I’m saying is Daikatana is maybe Romero’s equivalent to Bowie’s Tin Machine days. Hopefully. I do really *want* a fast, dumb, old-school, unashamedly PC-based shooter though.

      • Czrly says:

        Frankly, I wish RPS would stop covering Kickstarters until they’re actually delivered or at least gave me an option to mute all coverage of “vapourware”. I’d tick that box instantly.

        … along with the much wanted boxes to hide stories about MOBAs, stories about mobile games now available on Steam and stories about E-Sports teams and ban scandals.

        • Asurmen says:

          And I wish the exact opposite.

        • Gnoupi says:

          Note that if you want ot filter what articles you get, you can use a RSS aggregator such as NewsBlur, to just see what you like, and hide what you don’t.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          … along with the much wanted boxes to hide stories about MOBAs, stories about mobile games now available on Steam and stories about E-Sports teams and ban scandals.

          Oh god yes. I knew I couldn’t be the only one.

          I would like to suggest adding “entire articles about ‘character reveals’ in big budget games” to that list, too.

          RPS, if you add this feature I will become a subscriber just to avoid having to scroll past stories about esports or cartoonish dwarves/elves.

      • klops says:

        1. There’s nothing else than concept art and the idea of the game. The latest big titles Romero worked in, Quake and Daikatana (see #2), were originally promoted something very different that they turned out. Quake was saved by the physics and multiplayer (and music), Daikatana wasn’t. Blackroom will not be a forerunner in new technology like Quake was.
        2. Doom was released 23 years ago, Quake was released 20 years ago, Daikatana 15 years ago.
        3. For the last 10 years Romero has been making Facebook games.

        I wish that Blackroom would be a good game. But I also wish people demanded more than just a name to pay for stuff.

  5. Abacus says:

    That’s all well and good, but will it have crates and flaming barrels?

    • Tacroy says:

      These days the time to crate requirements are so stringent due to the influx of casual gamers in the market that I’m pretty sure this game will consist solely of staring at a crate. If you try to turn aside your camera is slowly dragged back to the crate.

      I can’t wait for the VR adaptation!

      • LionsPhil says:

        The VR adaptation is just duct taping a wooden plank to your face.

        $499.99. Duct-tape not included.

      • Geebs says:

        There are both crates and barrels in the concept art. This game is due to ship in late 2018, which works out as a world-beating start-to-crate of minus 2 years.

  6. Herzog says:

    Looks awesome, will pledge. I mean these guys made some of my favorite games ever. And it has to be better than Daikatana in the end, or not?!

  7. baseless_drivel says:

    For a moment I was really excited and thought this was JOHN Carmack and Romero getting back together, and I was happy that they’d finally reconciled their differences enough that they could make a new game. I suggest reading the book Masters of Doom if you’re interested in the history of id Software.

    Although Romero certainly made an infamous name for himself, he seems to have mostly mellowed out and humbled, perhaps unlike, say… Derek Smart.

    But I guess an Adrian Carmack is alright too, although I’m curious as to who’s going to be handling the 3D engine tech since that’s traditionally been a key part of the John & John id games — that stark contrast between brilliance and insanity combined into one tasty package.

    I’m sure the ideas and concept of the game will be great, but I’m more worried about the execution; John Carmack used to be the level-headed guy who made sure things got done properly. You can kind of see it in id’s recent games — they’re all arguably technically competent, but as actual games they’re a bit lifeless without Romero.

    Also, HOXAR? Is that like a combination of HAXOR and Pixar? Boxel? That’s the kind of strangely endearing nonsense I’d expect from Romero.

    • Geebs says:

      The engine is Unreal 4, which I guess makes them Tim Sweeney’s bitches.

    • SingularityParadigm says:

      John Carmack is plenty busy as the CTO of Oculus VR. He was always more interested in the interesting technology engineering problems of software and hardware than he ever was in the games. I highly doubt he has time among all of his current projects to work on a games Kickstarter.

  8. Llewyn says:

    Adrian? Isn’t Romero doing this wrong?

    • LionsPhil says:

      RPS know exactly what they’re doing leaving the forenames out of the article title, those crafty dashers of hopes.

  9. GWOP says:

    Wait, there were two Carmacks at id?

    • ddaymace says:

      yes, and they always had to make a point of saying ‘no relation’.

  10. ddaymace says:

    I’m skeptical that the theme is bloody enough, but the idea of a classic doom/quake style multiplayer is appealing.

    I’m thinking quake3 arena with a plot, deform-able environment and bots, seamless w/ multiplayer like dark souls.

    quake3 (and unreal) was IMHO the peak of ‘classic’ rocket-jump fps deathmatch.

    Hey, if they can only get $100,000 they could even use the q3a engine :)

  11. kud13 says:

    How did that Tom Holt “old-school RPG” turn out? Romero was in that pitch as well, iirc.

  12. horrorgasm says:

    Ehhhhhh. I feel like I should be excited about this, but when all they have to show is a few not particularly interesting concept art pics and a bunch of Romero walking and talking clips? No thanks. That’s a terrible pitch.

  13. melnificent says:

    I want to back this but let’s take a quick look at the dev stars of yesteryear and their kickstarters/crowdfunding so far…

    Peter Molyneux – Godus, Promised for completion in Sept 2013, currently in early access. not been updated in over a year (2 April 2015) and seemingly abandoned. Studio currently on a major radio silence after a brief stirring to push Godus Wars. Never delivered on promises.
    Tim Schafer – Broken Age, Promised for completion in Oct 2012, was split into two parts. First part was released in Jan 2014, with an eventual completion of April 2015. Let’s not even touch the Spacebase Early access stuff.
    Richard Garriott – Shroud of the Avatar, Promised for completion in Oct 2014. Currently in Early Access, full release is planned for this year.
    Chris Robert – Star Citizen, Promised for completion in Nov 2014. Currently releasing modules as and when, expected release at the end of the year.

    This is predicting a 2018 release date. Daikatana was 3 years beyond it’s estimate at the time… so we’re looking at a more likely release date of 2020-2021.

  14. frogmanalien says:

    Interesting concept… but concept art does not a good Kickstarter make – given that’s an existing engine “big names” alone would not sell me on backing a Kickstarter (and I’ve backed a fair few now) for a FPS – especially one asking for quite so much money (there must still be some Doom money lying around!).

    Novelty is all fine and well, but there’s plenty of great, low cost FPS games from smaller studios (and larger ones, Borderlands 3, etc) around to make me need a bit more qualifying information about a device which “changes” the environment (Red Faction gave me deformable terrain, Duke Nukem 3D gave me the ability to deploy holographic distractions, etc.). Maybe there’s something interesting here… but far too vague at this stage.

    As for Doom – the new one (full disclaimer: I have not played, but watched the videos) fails to interest me (they’ve got the tone of the game artistically, but not the speed as far as I can tell) – I’d like another Serious Sam instead please.

  15. PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

    Yeah.. Y’see.. The trouble with new Doom is that it is designed like they used to.. This is doom-ed.

    • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

      Yeah, after Daikatana John just can’t live down his bad carma.

  16. kwyjibo says:

    Blackroom just isn’t an appealing name for a FPS.

    BLACKFACE however…

  17. Dave3d says:

    I wish I had money to back this!
    This is exactly the kind of game I want (except for the online part).

  18. vahnn says:

    I’m going to need to see some gameplay because far this is really great at helping me go to sleep.

    What I’m saying is this looks bleh. Very boring.

  19. Razumen says:

    If Romero’s doing the level design, that sounds promising, though I can’t believe he’ll do ALL the levels himself, that’s just not really feasible with today’s level of detail.

    Aside from that, it sounds like a rather convenient mishmash of ideas. We want varied environments, but how do we tie them together? Oh, we’ll just say it’s all holograms! Yeah…

  20. caff says:

    If you want to play some old-skool type multiplayer deathmatch, download the latest build of Unreal Tournament from Epic and see how a community-driven project is producing a fine, brilliant shooter:

    link to