Daikatana should've to be a slam dunk, through a superstar lead designer, unlimited budget, and also a talented team all set to punch the gaming civilization away. However internal strife led to a lackluster final product. Here's what happened.

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John Romero at Milan games Week 2016 (Photo by Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)

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

Brutal Days


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

Together, they knocked out genre-defining gamings at a breakneck pace. Commander Keen showed side-scrolling platforming could work top top PCs. Wolfenstein 3D pioneered first-person shooting, and Doom changed it into a nail-biting check of reflexes that would overcome the computer gaming market. However it wasn’t every smooth sailing. Hall left the agency in 1993 throughout Doom’s production, unable to reconcile an innovative differences v Romero.

Romero and Carmack clashed throughout the advancement of Quake, and this time it was Romero who was shown the door, ostensibly because that "not working difficult enough." however his reputation had currently been made, and he got to out to hall to shot and begin over. Their pockets flush v cash native signing a six-game distribution deal with Eidos, the 2 id alumni collection out on their very own in 1996 together Ion Storm.

Two Swords


Ion Storm was break-up into a pair of 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 larger Dallas facility, located in the penthouse suite that the 54-story chase Tower, would tackle Romero’s Daikatana.

The firm planned to have actually Romero’s game out the door in simply seven months. The would usage the Quake engine emerged at id, which allowed for real-time 3D calculation of both enemies and also environments. Once he to be still functioning on the game, Romero wanted to have Quake attribute 3D melee combat, influenced by Sega’s arcade struggle Virtua Fighter. That feature was dropped yet would end up being a vital element that Daikatana. It likewise boasted AI-controlled companions the you can work with to clear out enemies and also solve puzzles, in addition to an epos storyline the criss-crossed v time. The hype was through the roof—this to be Romero unchained, all set to present the world what he could do.

Six month later, the very first of numerous bumps struggle the road. Identifier previewed Quake 2, which used a totally brand-new engine the was leaps and also bounds better than the first. Realizing the sticking with the old software would do their big game watch dated, Ion Storm started from scratch. One problem, though: id was happy to let Ion Storm license the brand-new engine, yet they couldn’t begin working through it until after the video game was released. The finish result? Ion Storm lost 11 months of development.

Things weren’t happy in the Dallas penthouse, either. The multi-million dollar office space had enormous skylights that streamed sun onto computer system monitors, forcing coders to collection up black color curtains to revolve their cubicles right into caves. Romero’s 400-page design document was viewed as insurmountable, and employees began to burn out, get fired, or quit.


But this to be an era the quantum development in computer system graphics, and also when they dropped a demo in 1999, the had already been lapped by even much more impressive-looking games like Half-Life. Even worse, Ion Storm’s demo the Daikatana in ~ E3 the year ran at a dismal 12 frames per second—unforgivable in ~ that suggest in the game’s development. The ns of lead programmer Steve Ash was the final nail in the coffin. Publisher Eidos, which had actually sunk $25 million right into the video game so far, want it done. It cut a transaction to purchase regulating interest in the company, offering them firmer authority over the advance process.

Not so Superfly

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

Not only did the graphics watch dated, but many that the game style decisions to be puzzling. Instead of allowing players to save anywhere, as had end up being standard for single-player FPS campaigns, Daikatana tied saving to a consumable item, with just three gift able to be carried at once.

In addition, the AI companions, billed as among the game’s crucial features, merely didn’t work-related right. They would neglect commands, acquire stuck on level geometry, and also walk right right into the line of fire. If castle died, you immediately lost the level.

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John Romero, when the gold boy of computer gaming, had end up being a laughing stock. The marketing of Daikatana hadn’t excellent him any favors. A well known magazine ad that trumpeted “John Romero’s around to do you his bitch,” an unified with john Carmack informing magazines the Romero’s work-related ethic to be gone, had actually turned Romero’s public photo from a hardcore gamer made great to a lazy, out-of-touch playboy.