Romero exits Midway

Legendary game designer unexpectedly leaves gig overseeing Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows at publisher's San Diego shop.


One of the most storied careers in the game industry has taken another dramatic turn. Yesterday, the famous--some would say infamous--John Romero revealed on his Web site that he's no longer working for Midway Games. "I can definitely confirm that I have left Midway," he wrote in a post on the forums of his personal Web site.

In October 2003, Romero and longtime collaborator Tom Hall revealed they had accepted Midway's offer to take lead positions at the publisher's San Diego studio. In February, Midway announced Romero would oversee development of the multiplatform action role-playing game Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, along with with J.E. Sawyer, a lead designer of Black Isle Studios' Icewind Dale series.

Since then, little has been heard about Romero's involvement in Seven Sorrows, although the game was on display at E3 in May. For his part, Romero is doing nothing to enlighten gamers of his work on the project post-departure. "Midway says that development of Gauntlet hasn't been impacted by my departure and is scheduled to ship this fall," he said in his post. "I can't say anything more about the situation and hope you all understand."

Romero's comments aren't helping to quell growing speculation that he was ushered out the door of Midway's San Diego studio, though no evidence explicitly supports that fact. All a Midway rep would tell GameSpot was that "John Romero is no longer employed with the company" and Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows' development was still on track.

One thing is for certain, however: Romero has had one of the most controversial careers in gaming. Along with Hall and John Carmack, he cofounded id Software and cocreated such seminal shooters as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II, and Quake. In 1996, he left id to found Ion Storm, where the troubled development--and critical evisceration--of Daikatana made him the enfant terrible of the development community. After leaving Ion Storm, he founded the now-defunct mobile studio Monkeystone Games.

What does the future hold for Romero? He's not saying...yet. "I'm currently looking at lots of exciting developments right now and it'll be a couple months before I can announce my next destination," he wrote on his site. "I've been gone for about 3 weeks and [my wife] Rhaluka and I have been traveling around and having fun together (a sort of honeymoon without going to tropical destinations)."

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