Ion Storm

Last updated

Ion Storm, L.P.
Subsidiary
Industry Video games
Fate Dissolved
SuccessorEidos Interactive, Square Enix Europe  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
FoundedNovember 15, 1996;23 years ago (1996-11-15) in Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Founders
DefunctFebruary 9, 2005 (2005-02-09)
Headquarters,
U.S.
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 .

Contents

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 closed 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.

History

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

Formation

Ion Storm was founded by John Romero, Tom Hall, Todd Porter and Jerry O'Flaherty on November 15, 1996, with its headquarters in Dallas, Texas. [1] [2] Hall came up with the name, the "Storm" part coming from Porter's first project for the company. [3] 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.

In a fashion similar to other dot com busts, the company spent lavishly on office decor and facilities for employees. [4] The corporate headquarters of Ion Storm were located in Suite 5400, [5] 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". [6] For the first ten years after the construction of the JPMorgan Chase Tower, the penthouse location had been unleased. [6]

Russ Berger Design Group, a firm most known for its work in designing recording studios, was responsible for the 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. [4] 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. [6] 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. [7]

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 (RTS) 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. [7]

Daikatana

John Romero, Warren Spector and Mike Wilson at E3 2000 John Romero, Warren Spector, Mike Wilson -- E3 2000.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." [8] During that time, in April 1999, publisher Eidos Interactive acquired a 51% stake in the company, in exchange for advances to the developers. [9] [10] 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. [11] 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. [7]

Anachronox

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, [12] it, too, was commercially unsuccessful on its release in June 2001. [7]

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.

Closure

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. [13] [14] 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

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

Legacy

The rise and fall of the company is documented in great detail in the book Masters of Doom . [7] 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". [15]

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." [16]

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. [17] 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." [18]

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. [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] 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, [24] [25] and in the site's "Hall of Fame". [26] 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, [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] and it was awarded 1st place in PC Zone 's "101 Best PC Games Ever" feature. [33] It was also included in Yahoo! UK Video Games' "100 Greatest Computer Games of All Time" (28th place) list, [34] 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. [35] [36] Deus Ex was named the second-best game of the 2000s by Gamasutra. [37] In 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time, [38] 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." [39] 1UP.com listed it as one of the most important games of all time, calling its influence "too massive to properly gauge." [40]

Related Research Articles

<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 game 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.

Stevana "Stevie" Case is an American businesswoman and executive, former video game designer and former competitive Quake player. Under the in-game name KillCreek, she was known as one of the first well-known female esports players, gaining recognition for beating Quake designer John Romero in a Quake deathmatch. She was the first professional gamer signed to the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL).

<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. The Game Boy Color game of the same name released the same year is entirely different, being a top-down action-adventure game by Japanese studio Kemco. The game is split into four episodes, each representing a different time period, and is centred around the conflict between two rival clans, the Ebihara and Mishima. During development, the game initially had the original Quake engine; however, this was switched to the Quake II engine, causing the game to be delayed. Close to release, the promotion for the game focused on the lead developers and the studio, and one notorious aspect of the promotion was a poster with the phrase "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch". A PlayStation version had been planned but was cancelled during development.

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".

<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.

Tom Hall video game designer

Tom 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.

<i>Anachronox</i> Role-playing video game

Anachronox is a 2001 role-playing video game produced by Tom Hall and the Dallas Ion Storm games studio. 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

Monkeystone Games was a video game developer and publisher founded by John Romero, Tom Hall, Stevie Case, and Brian Moon. After its inception in July 2001, Monkeystone published several titles on multiple platforms.

JC Denton character in Deus Ex video game

JC Denton is the player character and protagonist of the first-person role-playing video game Deus Ex and a supporting character in its sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War. He is voiced by Jay Anthony Franke in both games. Denton was created by Deus Ex director Warren Spector. In his twenties, Denton begins the first Deus Ex as a new graduate of UNATCO, and a prized nanoaugmented agent. JC is initially dedicated to his duties but is influenced by his brother, fellow nanoaugmented UNATCO agent Paul Denton. The character was intentionally designed as a blank slate, one which the player could roleplay and immerse themselves in. This characteristic led to criticism by reviewers, singling out his monotone and lack of prominent personality as flaws. Despite this, JC Denton remains as a popular and iconic video game character.

<i>Project Snowblind</i> Video game

Project: Snowblind is a first-person shooter video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive in 2005 for PlayStation 2, Xbox and Microsoft Windows. The game follows soldier Nathan Frost, who is enhanced with nanotechnology following injuries on a mission and sent against a military regime known as the Republic. Players control Frost through a series of linear levels, using enhancements both in combat and to manipulate security devices hazards such as cameras. The online multiplayer allows up to sixteen players to take part in modes ranging from team-based to solo battles.

<i>Thief: Deadly Shadows</i> 2004 video game

Thief: Deadly Shadows is a stealth video game developed by Ion Storm for Microsoft Windows and Xbox that was released in 2004, on May 25 in North America and on June 11 in Europe. It is the third video game in the Thief series.

Square Enix Limited, doing business as Square Enix Europe, is a British video game publisher, acting as the European subsidiary of Square Enix. The company was founded as Domark in 1984, named after the founders Mark Strachan and Dominic Wheatley. In 1995, the company was acquired by Eidos and was merged with two other studios and renamed Eidos Interactive the following year. Eidos was in turn acquired by SCi in 2005, and Eidos Interactive was sold to Square Enix in 2009. On 9 November 2009, Square Enix completed the merger of its existing European branch with Eidos Interactive, renaming the resulting company Square Enix Europe.

<i>Thief II</i> video game

Thief II: The Metal Age is a 2000 stealth video game developed by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive. Like its predecessor Thief: The Dark Project, the game follows Garrett, a master thief who works in and around a steampunk metropolis called the City. The player assumes the role of Garrett as he unravels a conspiracy related to a new religious sect. Garrett takes on missions such as burglaries and frameups, while trying to avoid detection by guards and automated security.

<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.

<i>Deus Ex: Human Revolution</i> 2011 video game

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an action role-playing video game developed by Eidos Montréal and published worldwide by Square Enix in August 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360: a version for OS X released the following year. It is the third game in the Deus Ex series, and a prequel to the original Deus Ex. 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 grant experience and allow customization of the main character's abilities with items called Praxis Kits. Conversations between characters feature a variety of responses, with options in conversations and at crucial story points affecting how some events play out.

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

Deus Ex is a series of role-playing video games. The first two games in the series were developed by Ion Storm, and subsequent entries were developed by Eidos Montréal, following Ion Storm's closure. The series, set during the 21st century, focuses on the conflict between secretive factions who wish to control the world by proxy, and the effects of transhumanistic attitudes and technologies in a dystopian future setting.

An approximately 20-person team at Ion Storm developed Deus Ex, a cyberpunk-themed action-role playing video game, over the course of 34 months, culminating in a June 2000 release. Team director and producer Warren Spector began to plan the game in 1993 after releasing Ultima Underworld II with Origin Systems and attempted the game both there and at Looking Glass Technologies before going into production with Ion Storm. Official preproduction began around August 1997, lasted for six months, and was followed by 28 months of production. Spector saw their work as expanding on the precedent set by Origin, Looking Glass, and Valve.

Daikatana is an action-adventure game developed by Will and published by Kemco for the Game Boy Color handheld game console. It was released in Europe in 2000 and in Japan in 2001 for the Nintendo Power cartridge. A North American release was planned but was cancelled due to the poor reputation of its Windows and Nintendo 64 counterparts of the same name. Where these versions are first-person shooters, the Game Boy Color version was designed at the request of creator John Romero to be an adventure game similar to The Legend of Zelda in order to differentiate it. It stars Hiro Miyamoto, who must rescue his friend and the titular sword Daikatana. It has received generally positive reception, as a contrast to the poor reception other versions received.

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