John Johnson had been working at Canadian studio Relic Entertainment for over seven years, having contributed to the breakthrough RTS Company of Heroes, winning huge scores and awards from critics.
Johnson, who stands today as Smoking Gun’s CEO, recently sought the services of talented writer and essayist Douglas Rushkoff, who has helped the studio deliver on its mission to become truly multimedia-focused.
What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
We are just wrapping up Chapter 1 of our initial launch of our new IP “X” that we launched through a graphic novel and online interactive experienced at www.exoriare.com
Which aspect of it do you think will impress players the most?
We have designed a very interesting ending that has never been considered before for entertainment so we’re pretty excited to see how our fans react.
What does your desk/window view look like?
Well, I am looking at the beautiful North Shore Mountains as I write this....
What was your first job in the industry – and what was the first game you worked on?
My first job was in QA, I believe my first game was Need for Speed 1 (PC) – DOS, windows.
What was the first video game you ever played?
Atari 2600 combat was the first console video game I played. In the arcade I am sure it was Space Invaders. Playing it really changed my direction back then to lead me to where I am now with Smoking Gun.
What was the last game you played? Did you enjoy it?
Forager, last night to help the community come online. Yes I still like it.
What’s your favorite game ever?
How many hours a week do you get to spend playing games?
Not enough. I have a family now, so that changes everything. I play with my little boy now, which is great fun but we limit that to a couple of half-hour sessions a week.
What area of the industry needs more investment?
Innovation in how players interact with their products. People are going online wherever they are, and that’s where tomorrow’s games are going to be played, not just on one device or console, but all of them interacting together.
What disappoints you about the industry?
It's a new, young, dynamic industry. I get disappointed when it acts old and tired.
What do you enjoy most about working in the video game industry?
The passion of everyone in the industry! It’s not often you can work with hundreds of people that are all incredibly passionate about what they are doing.
This industry probably has the largest percentage of people that feel they are living the dream in terms of having a job they love.
Of all the games you have been involved with in the past, what has been your favourite, and why?
Company of Heroes. We were given the freedom to pull out all the stops and really create something that we only dreamed could be possible in an RTS at that time, and then we had this incredibly passionate team that delivered on that vision in spades. It was very rewarding.
What do you do in your spare time that isn’t related to video games?
Spend time with the family, outdoors whenever possible.
What’s your favourite book, movie or TV show, and album of all time?
I really liked Jericho, it was a shame that ended so quickly but that is also what I liked about it. It was fast paced, (unlike a lot of shows that drag the main story on too long) and it delivered a compelling believable story. Favorite Album? U2's Boy had to be one of my all time favorites.
What game would you most like to have worked on?
XCOM or Half-life series.
Which other games developers do you most admire?
Valve, they are always creating top notch, quality.
Warren Spector – Always created compelling interesting games, and stories that you could dive into and get lost.