John Romero on Wolfenstein 3D's postmortem & pioneering the FPS

Ahead of an official postmortem on Wolfenstein 3D, legendary game designer John Romero spoke to us about the foundation of the game.


Wolfenstein 3D is coming up on its 30th anniversary. That’s 30 years since id Software pioneered the foundation of the FPS and its Nazi-shooting franchise. It’s been an amazing journey since and the genre has evolved so much past the humble designs that brought Wolfenstein 3D to life. Designer John Romero is preparing to do a postmortem on Wolfenstein 3D and, ahead of that, we got to talk with him about various aspects of the game, including how id Software approached the concept and how it innovated upon what was being done at the time.

There were quite a few things that inspired id Software to take on the challenge of designing Wolfenstein 3D. For one, there weren’t really games that featured both first-person perspective and real-time movement. Games like Ultima Underworld, Bard’s Tale, and further games had you move a certain amount of space per move. Games like Battlezone did have real-time, but they were wireframe graphics. The team itself had also explored the first-person space with Hovertank 3D, but it was confined to a vehicular format. Romero recalls Wolfenstein 3D being one of the few first-person games of the time where you were on foot and moved in real-time.

Romero speaks to a number of further interesting behind-the-scenes details in the interview as well. One of the major topics includes how the team approached the touchy subject of creating a game with Nazi iconography, placing a gun in the player’s hands on the screen, and even the design of Mecha Hitler. In particular, Romero speaks to a number of interesting perspectives and experiences from players who thoroughly enjoyed a chance at outright killing Hitler.

Be sure to check out the full interview above for all of Romero’s answers to our burning questions on Wolfenstein 3D. Want more videos? Be sure to check out our YouTube channels at Shacknews and GamerHubTV where you can find our video gameplay, reviews, interviews, unboxings, and more on the latest video games, technology, and toys.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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