It would seem that the ghost of Ion Storm hasn't quite faded into the night, as two of its more prominent employees, John "Suck It Down" Romero, also formerly of id, and Mike Wilson, now at Gamecock, are engaged in a nasty war of words. Romero posted on his personal blog this week that Wilson was up to his usual "jackass stunts" and recalled his former co-worker's time at Gathering of Developers/GodGames "where he pretty much just partied all the time and after the whole thing got reined in by Take 2 he went underground for a while, waiting for his next victim/investor so he could go hogwild all over again."
In the same post, Romero also placed part of the blame on Wilson for the laughable "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch" print ads that ran prior to the release of the ill-fated shooter Daikatana.
Wilson responds in an open letter to Romero, sent to Kotaku, that he will "not allow you to rewrite the history of it all, more to your liking and to my public detriment, and I will in no way take the rap for what you did (or didn't do) with your dream company", going on to defend his character and refute certain claims.
It gets particularly nasty near the end of the letter, when Wilson says to Romero "your unparalleled work ethic and strong character has [...]left only a bloody trail of ex-wives, fatherless kids, and ill advised breast implants strewn across this fair nation." Insert stunned silence here, then continue for the full "Dear John" letter.
Dear John, I'm writing this letter from Moscow, having just read your lovely post about me, which a good friend forwarded me and implored me to reply to. I really never thought I would relive the joy that was Ion Storm, circa 1997, or that the memories of those times still troubled you so 11 years later. Then again, I would guess you live in the memories of your twenties as much as you can, given the reality of your thirties. Glad to know I'm still in your thoughts.
I enjoyed your comments very much, but several of my friends (especially those that were around for those heady time to witness the truth of it up close) did not find it quite so funny, and thought that I should take the time to set a few things straight as publicly as the flame you chose to randomly launch my way.
While I am not at all interested in reliving those days, I will also not allow you to rewrite the history of it all, more to your liking and to my public detriment, and I will in no way take the rap for what you did (or didn't do)with your dream company. So here are just a few reminders to jog your memory.
While my job title (which you gave me) was CEO of your company, I was one of two "junior partners" in a partnership of 6. I made about 1/3 of what the 'big boy partners' (as you liked to call yourselves back then) did and owned less than five percent of your company. I wasn't awarded a 250k signing bonus like you were for signing up to your own startup and I didn't have a personal assistant like you, nor occupy one of the 4 corners of power in the original Ion Storm building. And unlike you, I didn't get to file a federal trademark for my own personal catch phrase," Suck it Down." I remind you of these things only to remind you that there was absolutely nothing done by me or Ion Storm, including the advertisements which bore your name and which you happily posed for, that didn't require your full approval and grand signature.
And while I did think that famous Bitch ad was pretty funny, I'll remind you that you signed that one too, and I'm fairly certain I wasn't holding your hand or using a Jedi mind trick on you when you did it. I'll also remind you that the whole reason for running the teaser ad was that we felt we should be starting to advertise the game since it you said was shipping so soon, for Christmas in 1997. Even though we had nothing but a logo and that signature promise to use for an ad 6 months before you promised Eidos and your partners that Daikatana would be ready to redefine shooters on shelves worldwide.
Our former employee also reminded me that I fought on a daily basis to try to save that company from the poison which you had invited into it (and watched spread like a cancer while you kept your head in the sand), only to find myself ushered out the door, since it was such a buzz kill to hear my incessant complaints about the way things were being run, which were really those of the 80 or so young fresh faced developers we hired in the 10 months I was there. But hey, it was clear that I was the problem there, as you guys really took off the year after I left. Or, more accurately, nearly every one of those 80 hires did.
I do owe you a thank you for that little shove to get me started on Gathering of Developers, a company that I was an actual partner of, and which Take Two 'reigned in' buy buying for 30 million dollars, two years after we opened an office, which resulted in no less than eight million unit selling PC games and over 350 million dollars in revenue for TTWO (my investors) during roughly the same amount of time that it took you and the remaining 'big boy partners' to shit away Eidos' (your investors) 30 million and deliver one of the biggest heaps of dung ever put onto a CD Rom, just before being foreclosed on. Thank god for Warren Spector, who was also made a 'junior partner', and later delivered Eidos Storm's only salvation in the form of Deus Ex.
And please don't be too concerned for the independent developers I work with... just like with GodGames, and like the deal I struck for you with Eidos, Gamecock owns their IP and is branded above the publisher on everything, and has a great royalty rate. Royalty rates are what you make if you actually make a game that is good and sells. Remember Quake one?
I'm also grateful for your concern over my incessant partying, which has somehow led me to be married to the same beautiful woman for 17 years now, while raising two incredible daughters together. You should maybe try the partying, since your unparalleled work ethic and strong character has (just in the time I've known you) left only a bloody trail of ex-wives, fatherless kids, and ill advised breast implants strewn across this fair nation, even before you flew all the way to Romania for your latest wife. If she's not still around, let me know, and I'll see if I can pick another one up for you here in Russia.
Its been great catching up, but I'm off to dinner now with Harry Miller, my best friend and business partner for the past decade (ever had one of those, John?), and our very happy new investor, followed by some crazy partying to keep it real, just for you.
You take care now, and remember just because id, Eidos, and then Midway fired you doesn't mean you're not still awesome!
Suck it down,
Your pal Mike
Happy weekend, everybody!