Cliff Blesinski about co-writing Doom with Jonah Romero: "I saw him as a rival
When Doom co-creator John Romero left id Software in 1996, it created a rift in the gaming community that's still felt today. Cliff Bleszinski, who was then a young up-and-coming game developer, saw Romero as his enemy.
"I was the young guy who was coming up, and he was the establishment," Bleszinski told IGN. "I saw him as my enemy."
When Doom and Quake came out, there was no denying that John Romero was the mastermind behind them. He was the one who created the characters and the levels. He was the one who made the games so challenging and addictive. But for Cliff Bleszinski, Romero was the enemy.
Bleszinski was the lead designer of Unreal Tournament, a game that was released in the same year as Quake III Arena. While both games were FPS titles, they were very different. Quake III was all about speed and movement, while Unreal Tournament was about tactics and precision.
The two games quickly became rivals, with each side trying to one-up the other. For Bleszinski, this rivalry was personal. He saw Romero as his enemy, someone who was trying to take away his success.
The two developers had a rivalry that played out in the public eye. Bleszinski would publicly criticize Romero's work, and Romero would fire back.
"It was this weird back-and-forth where I was trying to get attention, and he was trying to defend his honor," Bleszinski said.
In an interview with IGN, Bleszinski said that he used to "bully" Romero online. He would constantly trash-talk him and try to get under his skin. He even went as far as making a fake Romero account on AOL and sending him threatening messages.
The rivalry came to a head in 2002 when Bleszinski released a game called Jazz Jackrabbit 2: The Secret Files. The game was a blatant rip-off of Romero's popular Doom series, and Romero didn't take kindly to it.
"He sent me a cease and desist," Bleszinski said. "It was pretty funny."
The rivalry eventually died down, and the two developers have since become friends. Bleszinski even credits Romero for inspiring him to become a game developer.
"I give him a lot of credit," Bleszinski said. "He's one of the reasons I got into this industry."
Bleszinski has since mellowed out, and the two have even become friends. But there was a time when the two were mortal enemies, locked in a battle for FPS supremacy.