Two of the co-creators of franchises like Doom and Quake are turning to Kickstarter to make a new first-person shooter inspired by their former games.
John Romero and Adrian Carmack, who were also two of the co-founders of id Software in the early ’90s, are returning together to bring back that classic first-person shooter style in a new game called Blackroom.
A Kickstarter launched on Monday to help fund the game’s development. The team is looking for a funding goal of $700,000 by May 27. If the Kickstarter reaches its goal, Romero said the studio will have further investors funding development that Blackroom needs in order to be completed. Without this additional funding or a successful Kickstarter the game most likely won’t get made.
The studio behind Blackroom will be Night Work Games, a subsidiary of Romero Games. Development will take place where the company is based in Galway, Ireland. The Kickstarter shows concept art for some of the levels and the main character.
The game is planned for a PC and Mac release in winter 2018. Blackroom will feature a 10-hour single-player campaign and online multiplayer. Romero said that the game will be fully moddable and feature levels created by the community. Modding and player-created maps will be a huge part of Blackroom.
The multiplayer will feature an arena mode, 1-vs-1 deathmatch and story mode co-op all running on dedicated servers with worldwide leaderboards. The game will have six designed multiplayer levels with the rest coming from the community.
Blackroom will be a return to classic FPS design found in games like Doom (1993) and Quake (1996), according to Romero. Gameplay will feature fast-paced action, with rocket-jumping, circle strafing, strafe jumping and violent effects. It will feature health and weapon pickups across the stages. There will be no loadouts like in Call of Duty or iron sights like in other modern shooters. The game also won’t have a competitive multiplayer, eSports focus like many recent shooters either.
“We’re developing exactly the type of game we think a lot of shooter fans want,” Romero said. “It’s the type of shooter we’re known for, and the type of game we love to play ourselves. It’s a skillful shooter, from movement to weapon and map mastery.”
There currently isn’t any prototype gameplay footage for Blackroom but instead just design concepts and details from the Kickstarter campaign. Console versions could happen later as a stretch goal but the game is primarily designed for the PC, Romero said during a Twitch stream on Monday.
Pledging $29 gets a digital copy of the game at launch while giving $59 grants a physical release that’s stored on a customized thumb drive. Kickstart pledges range from $5 to $10,000 with various rewards at each stage. The game will release on Steam and as a DRM-free version.
Blackroom won’t just be about multiplayer. The game will have an important story-focus like Half-Life 2 (2004), according to Romero. Blackroom is about holographic worlds gone wrong. The story takes place in 2036, inside the Blackroom. Hoxar, a technology company, creates simulations called HoloSims for military and police training and also entertainment for regular people. In the story mode you will play as Dr. Santiago Sonora, the lead hNode engineer at the company assigned to the Blackroom. Hoxar’s simulations are blending together with the real world because of its new Predictive Memory Technology, creating deadly areas that Sonora must investigate.
The environments in Blackroom can be changed using the Boxel, a device created for Hoxar engineers that will be one of the main weapons in the game. Walls and other elements can be destroyed with the Boxel. The Boxel will also be able to stop time. The military simulations have glitched and folded into the entertainment HoloSims, mixing new worlds that allow for creative levels like a Victorian mansion or a wild west ghost town. Keycards, another old school gameplay tool, will be used in the levels. Romero said that the game’s setting will allow the team to incorporate many creative elements to the levels.
“Because of the Blackroom’s setting, we have a lot of freedom to create environments that players might not expect in an FPS,” Carmack said. “Blackroom technology lets its users enter just about any universe imaginable, and gives them the power to alter the world. That gives me lots of artistic freedom.”
All the game’s levels will be designed by Romero, while Carmack will serve as its art director, creating Blackroom’s visuals that will take on a more realistic style. Other former members of id Software won’t be joining Romero and Carmack for Blackroom’s development. George Lynch, a guitarist known for his work with “Dokken” and “Lynch Mob,” will be making the game’s music.
Some aspects of the levels will be influenced by the architecture in Ireland that has old castles around the country. Ten environments are planned for Blackroom with five ready at launch that will each have several levels to them. Each level will have different challenge modes to them, like speed runs or finishing the stage a certain way. Some of the game’s enemies could include different creatures, pirates, barbarians, dragons and more. Blackroom also won’t be limited to conventional military weapons because of the holographic simulations.
Romero said he’s been designing Blackroom for around a year. Blackroom will be created using the Unreal 4 engine. Actual development of the game hasn’t started yet but will begin once the project receives its necessary funding. The studio will receive millions of dollars in additional funding if the Kickstarter is successful, according to Romero.
The game’s lead programmer will be revealed later, but Romero said this person has extensive experience, having worked on several AAA games and just recently shipped one. The development team will most likely be up to 20 people with some additional contract work, Romero said. The full team will be announced as an update to the Kickstarter. Blackroom also currently doesn’t have a publisher, but there are companies that are interested.
Both Romero and Carmack helped create Wolfenstein 3D in 1992. They are most known for co-creating Doom in 1993, a game that revolutionized the industry and first-person shooter genre. Romero designed Doom, Doom II (1994) and Quake at id Software as Carmack made the art for those games. Romero left id Software in 1996 while Carmack stayed with the company until 2005. Adrian Carmack isn’t related to fellow Doom creator John Carmack, who joined Oculus as its chief technology officer in August 2013.
Romero’s last major game was Daikatana, a first-person shooter released in 2000 that was negatively received for its bad gameplay and is considered one of the industry’s biggest disappointments. Daikatana is also infamous for its marketing campaign that featured a tagline about what Romero was going to do the game’s players.
“I have repeatedly apologized, and will continue to do so, for the dumb decisions that led to that ad, for the ad itself and for shipping a less than stellar game,” Romero told ShackNews. “Obviously, that’s not something any designer wants to do. It was a very ambitious project, and while everyone worked hard, there were simply some things we were not able to overcome…The lessons from Daikatana are deeply internalized at this point and are reflected in Blackroom.”
In January Romero released a new level called Tech Gone Bad for the original Doom after 21 years that was a warm up for something bigger. Romero and Carmack teased the project a few days ago in a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” spoof video.
Hoxar even has a fictional website that describes the company.
In a homage to their old games, the end of the Kickstarter pitch video has Romero saying backwards in a demonic voice, “To get Blackroom you must fund the Kickstarter campaign by John Romero.”
Watch the pitch for Blackroom: