Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Top 10 PC Game Developers - #5 Tom Hall

Is that a dinosaur patting Tom on the head?

Famous for: Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Rise of the Triad, Anachronox and the Dopefish
Affiliations: iD Software, Apogee and Ion Storm

Tom Hall has developed games for over two decades, starting in the late 80s. Eventually he and John Carmack, John Romero and Adrian Carmack would go on to found id Software in 1991. Hall worked on such classics as the Commander Keen games, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom while at id. Interestingly, a big, stupid green fish he created in Commander Keen 4, known as the Dopefish, would go on to become a cultural icon in gaming. Usually the Dopefish would be an easter egg hidden in other games and still appears in games even to this day.

While Hall did work on Doom, he didn't enjoy it and this is probably the reason he left for Apogee. He felt he wasn't able to make the game to his liking since there was limited story, no characters and no puzzles. At Apogee, Hall worked on several more titles with Rise of the Triad probably being his most important contribution. In 1996 Hall left Apogee and formed Ion Storm with his buddy John Romero where he produced the hilarious RPG, Anachronox. Here is what he had to say about its development:

I loved making this game, even though the company struggles were insane. The guys that stuck it out were bonded in ways that no one else will understand. Likely by body funk.

After Ion Storm closed down (not before releasing the critically acclaimed, Deus Ex), Hall switched jobs several times over the following years working for Monkeystone Games, Midway Games, Kingisle Entertainment and Loot Drop. According to his blog, he accepted a position as Principal Designer at PlayFirst (developers behind the Diner Dash games) in March this year. He also started a Kickstarter project called Worlds of Wander last year which was to be a game creator and spiritual successor to Commander Keen but sadly it failed to get off the ground.

Tom Hall's contributions to the FPS genre and PC gaming culture as a whole means it’s not surprising he's on my Top 10 list of PC Developers. Up next at #4, a man who has previously been featured on this blog and the fifth adventure game developer to feature on this list (if you can count Scott Murphy, Mark Crowe, Corey Cole and Lori Ann Cole as the first four).

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