Ion Storm

Last updated

Ion Storm, L.P.
Industry Video game industry
Fate Dissolved
FoundedNovember 15, 1996;22 years ago (1996-11-15) in Dallas, Texas, U.S.
DefunctFebruary 9, 2005 (2005-02-09)
Parent Eidos Interactive (1999–2005)

Ion Storm, L.P. was an American video game developer founded by video game industry veterans John Romero and Tom Hall, both formerly of id Software. Despite an impressive pedigree and high expectations, the company only produced one commercial and critical success, 2000's Deus Ex .

A video game developer is a software developer that specializes in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from one person who undertakes all tasks to a large business with employee responsibilities split between individual disciplines, such as programming, design, art, testing, etc. Most game development companies have video game publisher financial and usually marketing support. Self-funded developers are known as independent or indie developers and usually make indie games.

The video game industry is the economic sector involved in the development, marketing, and monetization of video games. It encompasses dozens of job disciplines and its component parts employ thousands of people worldwide.

John Romero American video game designer

Alfonso John Romero is an American director, designer, programmer, and developer in the video game industry. He is best known as a co-founder of id Software and designer for many of their games, including Wolfenstein 3D, Dangerous Dave, Hexen, Doom, Doom II and Quake. His game designs and development tools, along with new programming techniques created and implemented by id Software's lead programmer John D. Carmack, led to a mass popularization of the first-person shooter, or FPS, in the 1990s. He is credited with coining the FPS multiplayer term "deathmatch".


The company was founded in Dallas, Texas in November 1996; a branch in Austin, Texas was opened in 1997. In April 1999, Eidos Interactive acquired 51% of the studio in exchange for advances to the developers. The Dallas studio would close in July 2001, leaving the Austin office as the new headquarters; after financial struggles at Eidos Interactive, the Austin studio followed with its own closure in February 2005.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.


The Chase Tower, in which the Dallas studio was located JPMorganChaseTower.png
The Chase Tower, in which the Dallas studio was located


Ion Storm was incorporated by John Romero and Tom Hall on December 3, 1996, with its headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Hall came up with the name, the "Storm" part coming from Todd Porter's first project for the company. [1] The company had signed a licensing deal with Eidos Interactive for six games, and the founders planned to scoop up titles from other companies that were close to completion, finish them, and push them out quickly to bring in initial revenue.

Tom Hall video game designer

Tom A. Hall is a game designer best known for his work with id Software on titles such as Doom and Commander Keen. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he earned a B.S. in Computer Science.

Dallas City in Texas, United States

Dallas is a city in the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Dallas County, with portions extending into Collin, Denton, Kaufman and Rockwall counties. With an estimated 2018 population of 1,345,047, it is the ninth most-populous city in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. Located in North Texas, the city of Dallas is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States and the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S. that lacks any navigable link to the sea. It is the most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country at 7.5 million people as of 2018. The city's combined statistical area is the seventh-largest in the U.S. as of 2017, with 7,846,293 residents.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

In a fashion similar to other dot com busts, the company spent lavishly on office decor and facilities for employees. [2] The corporate headquarters of Ion Storm were located in Suite 5400, [3] 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) of space in a penthouse suite on the 54th floor, the top floor, of the Chase Tower in Downtown Dallas. Ion Storm spent $2 million on the facility. Lisa Chadderdon of Fast Company said that the penthouse location was "unusual". [4] For the first ten years after the construction of the JPMorgan Chase Tower, the penthouse location had been unleased. [4]

Chase Tower (Dallas) skyscraper in Dallas, Texas

Chase Tower is a 225 m (738 ft), 55-story postmodern skyscraper at 2200 Ross Avenue in the City Center District of downtown Dallas, Texas. Although it is the fourth tallest skyscraper in the city, if one were to exclude antennas and spires, it would be the third. It is also the 12th tallest building in Texas. The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and was completed in 1987. The building also houses the Dallas Petroleum Club, a business and social club located on the 39th and 40th floors.

Downtown Dallas Place in Texas, United States

Downtown Dallas is the Central Business District (CBD) of Dallas, Texas USA, located in the geographic center of the city. The area termed "Downtown" has traditionally been defined as bounded by the downtown freeway loop: bounded on the east by I-345 (although known and signed as the northern terminus of I-45 and the southern terminus of US 75, on the west by I-35E, on the south by I-30, and on the north by Spur 366. The square miles, population and density figures in the adjacent table represent the data for this traditional definition.

Russ Berger Design Group, a firm most known for its work in designing recording studios, was responsible for interior design of the headquarters. This included a ten-foot-wide company logo set into the terrazzo floor of the lobby and matching green elevator doors. [2] The headquarters included a "crash room", a dormitory facility with two beds, three couches, a VCR, a wide-screen television, and two telephone booths. It also housed a gaming room with a ping-pong table and four arcade machines, a changing area, and a shower room. The headquarters included these facilities because many employees in the video game industry work long hours at a time. [4] The sun shone through the office's glass rooftop directly into the monitors of the employees, forcing them to cover their cubicles with black fabric. [5]

Terrazzo cementitious composite material, usually used in flooring

Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable material, poured with a cementitious binder, polymeric, or a combination of both. Metal strips often divide sections, or changes in color or material in a pattern. Additional chips may be sprinkled atop the mix before it sets. After it is cured it is ground and polished smooth or otherwise finished to produce a uniformly textured surface.

Elevator Vertical transport device

An elevator or lift is a type of vertical transportation device that moves people or goods between floors of a building, vessel, or other structure. Elevators are typically powered by electric motors that drive traction cables and counterweight systems like a hoist, although some pump hydraulic fluid to raise a cylindrical piston like a jack.

Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3

The company's first attempt was Todd Porter's Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 . Dominion was already partially completed by Todd Porter's previous employer, 7th Level, and was expected to take $50,000 and three months to complete. Instead, development continued for over a year costing hundreds of thousands. When it was finally released it received poor ratings and equally poor sales. Marketing missteps included releasing the real-time strategy game on the same day Blizzard Entertainment put out its highly anticipated demo of StarCraft , which would become a defining game of the RTS genre. [5]

<i>Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3</i> 1998 video game

Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive and released for Microsoft Windows on June 11, 1998. The game was originally developed as a spin-off of the mech simulation game G-Nome by 7th Level. Ion Storm acquired both Dominion and its lead designer, Todd Porter, from 7th Level for completion.

7th Level was a video game development company based in Dallas, Texas and founded in 1993. The company was most famous for developing the three Monty Python games, G-Nome (1997) — a MechWarrior-style game, for publishing Helicops (1997) — an anime-inspired arcade-style aerial combat game, and for Tracer — a game of hacking distributed computer systems for cash using a virtual avatar in the design of Neuromancer, Shadowrun, or Snowcrash styled virtual worlds.

Real-time strategy (RTS) is a sub-genre of strategy video games in which the game does not progress incrementally in turns. This is distinguished from turn-based strategy (TBS), in which all players take turns when playing.


John Romero, Warren Spector and Mike Wilson at E3 2000 Romerosprectorwilson.JPG
John Romero, Warren Spector and Mike Wilson at E3 2000

John Romero's Daikatana was meant to be finished within seven months of the founding of Ion Storm and was to use the Quake engine. From very early on in the game's development, Daikatana was advertised as the brainchild of John Romero, a man famous for his work at id Software in the development of Wolfenstein 3D , Doom and Quake . Time magazine gave Romero and Daikatana glowing coverage, saying "Everything that game designer John Romero touches turns to gore and gold." [6] During that time, in April 1999, publisher Eidos Interactive acquired a 51% stake in the company, in exchange for advances to the developers. [7] [8] An early advertisement for Daikatana, created by marketer Mike Wilson and approved by Romero, was a red poster with large black lettering proclaiming "John Romero's about to make you his bitch", a reference to Romero's infamous trash talk during gaming. Nothing else was featured on this poster but a small tag-line reading "Suck It Down", an Ion Storm logo and an Eidos logo. [9] However, already behind schedule, the decision was made to port the entire game to the Quake II engine, six months into development. Daikatana, was released three years late in Spring 2000, after its promised launch date of Christmas 1997. The game was released to middling critical reviews, and an aggressive advertising campaign in 1997 touting Romero's name as the reason to buy the game backfired as fans grew angry over delays. [5]


Like Daikatana, Tom Hall's Anachronox was moved over to the Quake II engine. These changes brought costly delays to an already beleaguered product line. Although Anachronox received critical acclaim for its vast storyline and characters, [10] it, too, was commercially unsuccessful on its release in June 2001. [5]

Deus Ex

Deus Ex and Ion Storm director Warren Spector GDC Europe Monday Keynote Warren Spector of Junction Point (4897439817).jpg
Deus Ex and Ion Storm director Warren Spector

In late 1997, Warren Spector was asked to found the Austin branch of Ion Storm. By keeping well clear of the troubles at the Dallas office, Ion Storm (Austin) was more successful. It developed the highly successful and critically acclaimed Deus Ex . With the demise of Looking Glass Studios, Eidos Interactive secured the rights to the Thief franchise and together with Spector tried to relocate as many of the Looking Glass team to Austin as was possible.


Romero and Hall left the company after producing Anachronox in July 2001. On July 17, 2001, four and a half years after the company's creation, Eidos Interactive closed the Dallas offices. [11] [12] The Austin office remained open to produce Deus Ex: Invisible War and Thief: Deadly Shadows until Spector's departure to "pursue personal interests outside the company" in 2004. A number of other senior staff also left at about the same time. After finishing their 6 game contract, on February 9, 2005, Eidos announced that the Austin office would also close, meaning the end of Ion Storm as a company.

Games developed

GBC Mac N64 PS2 Win Xbox
1998 Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 NoNoNoNoYesNo
2000 Daikatana YesNoYesNoYesNo
2000 Deus Ex NoYesNoYesYesNo
2001 Anachronox NoNoNoNoYesNo
2003 Deus Ex: Invisible War NoNoNoNoYesYes
2004 Thief: Deadly Shadows NoNoNoNoYesYes


The rise and fall of the company is documented in great detail in the book Masters of Doom . [5] Doom was just one of a series of blockbuster games Romero had designed, and Ion Storm was founded in no small part on his celebrity status within the industry. This elevation of the game creators over the products themselves caused problems early on, evidenced in a 1997 advertisement which hyped the subsequently delayed Daikatana by boasting "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch....Suck it down". [13]

In 2010, Romero would later apologize for the infamous advertisement. Romero stated in an interview that "up until that ad, I felt I had a great relationship with the gamer and the game development community and that ad changed everything. That stupid ad. I regret it and I apologize for it." [14]

The critical and commercial failure of Daikatana was a major contributing factor in the closure of Ion Storm's Dallas office. ScrewAttack named this game the #7 bust on their 2009 "Top 10 Biggest Busts", which listed the biggest failures in gaming, due to its controversial advertising and the hype that Romero built on this game, which in the end turned out to be a failure. [15] GameTrailers ranked this game the #2 biggest gaming disappointment of the decade (the 2000s), citing the game's terrible AI for friend and foe alike, pushed-back release dates, controversial magazine ad, and gossip-worthy internal drama (among other things) as "the embodiment of game's industry hubris." [16]

Since its release, Deus Ex has appeared in a number of "Greatest Games of All Time" lists and Hall of Fame features. It was included in IGN's "100 Greatest Games of All Time" (#40, #21 and #34 in 2003, 2005 and 2007, respectively), "Top 25 Modern PC Games" (4th place in 2010) and "Top 25 PC Games of All Time" (#20 and #21 in 2007 and 2009 respectively) lists. [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] GameSpy featured the game in its "Top 50 Games of All Time" (18th place in 2001) and "25 Most Memorable Games of the Past 5 Years" (15th place in 2004) lists, [22] [23] and in the site's "Hall of Fame". [24] PC Gamer placed Deus Ex on its "Top 100 PC Games of All Time" (#2, #2, #1 by staff and #4 by readers in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2010 respectively) and "50 Best Games of All Time" (#10 and #27 in 2001 and 2005) lists, [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] and it was awarded 1st place in PC Zone 's "101 Best PC Games Ever" feature. [31] It was also included in Yahoo! UK Video Games' "100 Greatest Computer Games of All Time" (28th place) list, [32] and in Edge 's "The 100 Best Videogames"[ sic ] (29th place in 2007) and "100 Best Games to Play Today" (57th place in 2009) lists. [33] [34] Deus Ex was named the second-best game of the 2000s by Gamasutra. [35] In 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time, [36] and G4tv ranked it as the 53rd best game of all time for its "complex and well-crafted story that was really the start of players making choices that genuinely affect the outcome." [37] listed it as one of the most important games of all time, calling its influence "too massive to properly gauge." [38]

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<i>Deus Ex</i> (video game) 2000 video game

Deus Ex is a 2000 action role-playing video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive. Set in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world in the year 2052, the story follows JC Denton, an agent of the fictional agency United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), who is given superhuman abilities by nanotechnology, as he sets out to combat hostile forces in a world ravaged by inequality and a deadly plague. His missions entangle him in a conspiracy that brings him into conflict with the Triads, Majestic 12, and the Illuminati.

<i>Daikatana</i> video game

John Romero's Daikatana is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ion Storm for Microsoft Windows and Nintendo 64, and released in 2000. A PlayStation version had been planned but was cancelled during development. The game received negative reviews from critics and is known as one of the major commercial failures of the video game industry.

<i>Deus Ex: Invisible War</i> 2003 action role-playing video game

Deus Ex: Invisible War is an action role-playing video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows personal computers (PC) and the Xbox home console. The game released in 2003 in North America and 2004 in other regions. It is the second game in the Deus Ex series, and a direct sequel to the original game. The gameplay—combining first-person shooter, stealth and role-playing elements—features exploration and combat in environments connected to multiple city-based hubs, in addition to quests that can be completed in a variety of ways and flexible character customization. Conversations between characters feature a variety of responses, with options in conversations at crucial story points affecting how some events play out.

<i>Anachronox</i> video game

Anachronox is a third-person role-playing video game produced by Tom Hall and the Dallas Ion Storm games studio. It was released worldwide in June 2001 for Microsoft Windows. The game is centered on Sylvester "Sly Boots" Bucelli, a down-and-out private investigator who looks for work in the slums of Anachronox, a once-abandoned planet near the galaxy's jumpgate hub. He travels to other planets, amasses an unlikely group of friends, and unravels a mystery that threatens the fate of the universe. The game's science fiction story was influenced by cyberpunk, film noir, and unconventional humor. The story features a theme of working through the troubles of one's past, and ends with a major cliffhanger.

Warren Spector American game designer

Warren Evan Spector is an American role-playing and video game designer, director, writer, producer and production designer. He is known for creating immersive sim games, which give players a wide variety of choices in how to progress. Consequences of those choices are then shown in the simulated game world in subsequent levels or missions. He is best known for the critically acclaimed video game Deus Ex that embodies the choice and consequence philosophy while combining elements of the first-person shooter, role-playing, and adventure game genres. In addition to Deus Ex, Spector is known for his work while employed by Looking Glass Studios, where he was involved in the creation of several acclaimed titles including Ultima Underworld, Ultima Underworld II, System Shock, and Thief: The Dark Project. He is employed by OtherSide Entertainment, where he is part of the development team for the upcoming game System Shock 3.

Monkeystone Games

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JC Denton character in Deus Ex video game

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Doug Church American computer game designer and producer

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<i>Deus Ex</i> video game series

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