You're probably familiar with the name John Romero. The legendary co-founder of id Software, and co-creator of Wolfenstein 3D
, Romero is often credited with the first-person shooter mechanic that now commands so much of the video gaming world's devotion. And you might be surprised to learn that Romero's newest game -- no, it's not the Slipgate Ironworks-developed MMO, though he's still working on that as well, downsizing be damned -- is a Facebook game called Ravenwood Fair
. "Clear the scary forest and build a fun fair!" it instructs players.
The game -- built by the terribly titled, up-and-coming Facebook dev LOLapps -- is akin to peers like Zynga's Frontierville
. In fact, Romero points to Frontierville's
lead designer Brian Reynolds, formerly of Big Huge Games
, for helping set the Facebook stage for developers like himself. "I knew when the game developers moved into social games it would get more gamed up," Romero told VentureBeat
The small-scale, "craftsman-like" work of building a Facebook game is familiar to Romero; id's original (and current!) team sizes are dwarfed by the rest of the industry. Romero's projects with larger teams -- from the ill-received Daikatana
to the refocused Gazillion-published MMO
-- are complicated affairs, while his early cellphone-gaming company, Monkeystone Games, was marked by a familiar DIY ethos. VentureBeat reports that "it took Romero and his handful of people about two months to make" Ravenwood Fair
. For Romero, that's an incredible trade-off for the hundreds of millions of potential users Facebook offers. "More people could play it than would ever play an MMO," Romero said.
You can play Ravenwood Fair
today, if you're not worried about certain Facebook apps accidentally revealing your personal info to unscrupulous advertisers. But then, who will clear the scary forest? Decisions, decisions.