SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 — KansasFest 2012, the Apple II convention scheduled for July 17–22 in Kansas City, Missouri, comes just two months after the twentieth anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D, the first-person shooter that, when released for MS-DOS in 1992, defined a genre that is still popular today. Not only did the game, which was later ported to the Apple IIGS, use as its inspiration the Apple II game Castle Wolfenstein; Wolfenstein 3D’s creators got their start working at Apple II disk magazine Softdisk.
To commemorate that anniversary and heritage, KansasFest 2012’s keynote speech will be delivered by none other than Wolfenstein 3D co-creator John Romero.
Romero, whose Apple II credits include Dangerous Dave and Dark Castle, has been a pillar of the electronic entertainment industry for nearly as long as the Apple II has existed. Popular Apple II magazine inCider published Romero’s first program in 1984, with many more of his titles to appear in both inCider and Nibble. Romero later joined Origin Systems, publisher of the Ultima and Wing Commander games, as a programmer, after which he co-founded Inside Out Software. At both companies, he ported software to and from the Apple II and Commodore 64. With KansasFest 2008 keynote speaker Lane Roathe, Romero also co-founded software company Ideas From the Deep, where he developed the Apple II game Zappa Roidz as well as the InfoDOS operating system for Infocom’s Apple II games.
In 1989, Romero joined Softdisk, a stint that introduced him to three important people: John Carmack, Tom Hall, and Adrian Carmack. The four co-workers left Softdisk in 1991 to co-found id Software, which a year later revolutionized electronic gaming and demonstrated the potential of the shareware distribution model when they released Wolfenstein 3D, which sold 100,000 units in its first 18 months. Later id Software blockbusters, including DOOM and Quake, further cemented the company as an industry powerhouse. Romero has since been involved with many additional high-profile games, including Deus Ex, Daikatana, and Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. He most recently co-founded social games company Loot Drop, developer of the popular Facebook game Ravenwood Fair, which currently has nearly five million users.
Despite such overwhelming success and a storied résumé, Romero has long celebrated his roots as an Apple II programmer. In 1998, he reunited forty Apple II programmers in celebration of the Apple II turning 20 the year before. So prestigious were Romero’s invitations that in attendance was Apple II inventor Steve Wozniak, KansasFest 2003’s keynote speaker. It was this event that later inspired Jason Scott, keynote speaker at KansasFest 2009, to begin production on a documentary of the 6502 processor, which powers the Apple II. Romero appeared in Scott’s text-adventure documentary, Get Lamp, and will support Scott’s upcoming 6502 film as well.
From Commander Keen to DOOM and Quake, Romero’s games — 97 to date — regularly become household names and spawn countless imitators. Romero’s reflection on the role of the Apple II in both his and the industry’s successes will captivate KansasFest 2012 attendees.
KansasFest is an annual convention offering Apple II users and retrocomputing enthusiasts the opportunity to engage in beginner and technical sessions, programming contests, exhibition halls, and camaraderie. KansasFest was originally hosted by Resource Central and has been brought to you by the KFest Committee since 1995. Any and all Apple II users, fans, and friends are invited to attend this year’s event. Registration details will be announced on the KansasFest Web site in early 2012. For photos, videos, and presentations from past KansasFests, please visit the event’s official Web site at https://www.kansasfest.org/