Daikatana should've to be a slam dunk, v a superstar lead designer, endless budget, and also a talented team prepared to blow the gaming people away. However internal strife resulted in a lackluster final product. Here's what happened.

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John Romero in ~ Milan gamings Week 2016 (Photo by Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)

On may 23, 2000, every the piece were in place: the superstar command designer behind Doom, the game that identified the first-person shooter genre; a massive brand-new company v potentially unlimited budget; and a team that hungry talent that were prepared to shock the world. So exactly how did Daikatana turn into such a disaster?

Brutal Days

The confluence of talent that coalesced to form id software in 1991 to be a once-in-a-lifetime team. Programming whiz child John Carmack was obsessed v squeezing every drop of performance out of the PC. Adrian Carmack (no relation to John) to be a gifted artist who can make pixels explode. Tom hall was a dual-threat designer/programmer with big dreams. And then over there was john Romero, a long-haired workaholic overflowing through concepts.

Together, they knocked the end genre-defining gamings at a breakneck pace. Commander Keen showed side-scrolling platforming might work ~ above PCs. Wolfenstein 3D pioneered first-person shooting, and Doom transformed it right into a nail-biting test of reflexes the would conquer the computer system gaming market. Yet it wasn’t every smooth sailing. Room left the firm in 1993 throughout Doom’s production, can not to reconcile an innovative differences v Romero.

Romero and Carmack clashed during the breakthrough of Quake, and this time it to be Romero who was presented the door, ostensibly because that "not working difficult enough." but his call had already been made, and also he got to out to hall to shot and start over. Their pockets flush v cash from signing a six-game distribution attend to Eidos, the two id alumni set out on their own in 1996 together Ion Storm.

Two Swords

Ion Storm was split into a pair that teams. Hall would head increase a task at the company’s Austin office, a story-based shooter the futuristic espionage and also player an option named Deus Ex. The bigger Dallas facility, located in the penthouse suite the the 54-story follow Tower, would certainly tackle Romero’s Daikatana.

The company planned to have actually Romero’s video game out the door in simply seven months. The would use the Quake engine arisen at id, which allowed for real-time 3D calculation of both enemies and also environments. When he was still functioning on the game, Romero want to have actually Quake function 3D melee combat, motivated by Sega’s arcade fight Virtua Fighter. That feature was dropped yet would end up being a an essential element of Daikatana. It additionally boasted AI-controlled companions that you might work with to clear the end enemies and also solve puzzles, along with an epos storyline that criss-crossed with time. The exaggeration was through the roof—this to be Romero unchained, ready to present the people what he could do.

Six months later, the first of many bumps fight the road. Id previewed Quake 2, which supplied a totally new engine the was leaps and bounds better than the first. Realizing the sticking with the old software application would do their big game watch dated, Ion Storm began from scratch. One problem, though: id was happy come let Ion Storm patent the new engine, but they couldn’t start working with it till after the video game was released. The finish result? Ion Storm shed 11 month of development.

Things weren’t happy in the Dallas penthouse, either. The multi-million disagreement office room had substantial skylights that streamed sunlight onto computer monitors, forcing coders to set up black color curtains to rotate their cubicles right into caves. Romero’s 400-page design record was viewed as insurmountable, and employees started to burn out, gain fired, or quit.

But this to be an era the quantum development in computer system graphics, and when lock dropped a demo in 1999, the had currently been lapped by even an ext impressive-looking gamings like Half-Life. Also worse, Ion Storm’s demo the Daikatana at E3 the year ran in ~ a dismal 12 frames per second—unforgivable in ~ that allude in the game’s development. The ns of lead programmer Steve Ash was the final nail in the coffin. Publisher Eidos, which had sunk $25 million right into the game so far, wanted it done. It cut a transaction to purchase managing interest in the company, giving them firmer authority over the development process.

Not so Superfly

Finally, Daikatana limped to the complete line, three years late. The video game was greeted with mediocre reviews and also poor sales. Eidos needed to move 2.5 million copies of the video game to make its investment back; it marketed a small over 40,000 through September.

Not only did the graphics look at dated, but many the the game style decisions to be puzzling. Rather of enabling players to save anywhere, as had end up being standard because that single-player FPS campaigns, Daikatana tied conserving to a consumable item, with just three gift able come be brought at once.

In addition, the AI companions, billed as one of the game’s crucial features, merely didn’t work right. They would neglect commands, gain stuck top top level geometry, and walk right right into the heat of fire. If castle died, you automatically lost the level.

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John Romero, when the golden boy of computer gaming, had end up being a laughing stock. The marketing the Daikatana hadn’t excellent him any favors. A notorious magazine ad that trumpeted “John Romero’s about to do you his bitch,” merged with man Carmack telling magazines that Romero’s work-related ethic was gone, had turned Romero’s public image from a hardcore gamer made great to a lazy, out-of-touch playboy.