Richardson-based game developer id Software has a rich history. As it turns out, the history of its games' characters is also somewhat richer than most people realize.
Though not necessarily "new" knowledge (depending on who you ask), a former id employee recently confirmed that the protagonists from Doom, Wolfenstein and Commander Keen are all related.
Back in December, id co-founder John Romero tweeted about seeing ads for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus in London. He mentioned that the game's protagonist, B.J. Blaskowicz, was created by another co-founder, Tom Hall, "based on" Commander Keen. A month later, on Jan. 29, a fan brought up the theory that Blaskowicz, Commander Keen and the nameless Doom Marine were father, son and grandson, respectively.
Hall responded to the tweet on Jan. 30, saying, "The lineage isn't a theory. Fact. And I think you have one generation off, there."
If you're keeping score, this means that within a handful of generations, members of a single family fought to save the world from Nazis, then aliens, then demons.
As a story from Ars Technica points out, though, "This adds a bit of a macabre angle to the fact that Keen-related Easter eggs could be found in the Doom series, particularly a secret room in Doom II that required you to gorily kill four hanging versions of the original Keen sprite."
Doom and Wolfenstein 3D are world-renowned classics that defined the first-person shooter genre, so the connection there may not seem very surprising. Commander Keen, however, is a colorful side-scrolling game that's appropriate for all ages. Yet the Keen connection is the oldest and most concrete. According to a post on the gaming forum ResetEra, a Wolfenstein 3D guide from 1992 gives away the family lineage with a knowing nudge.
Answering the question "Who is B.J. Blazkowicz?" the guide says that the World War II hero's grandson, William Joseph Blazkowicz II, "signs his grade school homework, B. Blaze." Billy Blaze is the real name of the titular Commander Keen.
I continue to ask the folks at id Software when we're going to see Commander Keen in video game form again. (Both Doom and Wolfenstein have seen recent, successful reboots, after all.) Will this revelation move the needle toward a new game in the series? Probably not, but a man can dream.