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Peter Johnson

Developer Biography

Peter Johnson started around Christmas 1982 when he bought a BBC Micro and in the six months before the end of his HND Computing course he wrote a few BASIC versions of games like Missile Command and then, when he'd learnt machine code, a Light Cycles game that sold a grand total of 12 copies on cassette tape through a local shop. (made a grand total of about £17.50 he thinks!). He managed to finish a version of Q*Bert the day before his HND exams started (which probably says a lot for his revision style) and sent it off to about 12 different companies. He didn't expect to hear anything for some weeks but after his first exam he was amazed to hear that somebody had phoned offering him £1000 for the game, and for the next few days he'd rush home after each exam to find out who had rung.

He decided to sign with Superior Software as he'd seen a lot of Richard Hanson's games and he seemed prepared to give Johnson any help he needed. Q*Bert was only on sale for two months before it had to be withdrawn after Superior got a very scary “cease and desist” letter from CocaCola/Columbia who owned Gottlieb (things were much more lax legally then) but it earned enough for him to buy a disk drive, monitor and printer etc. and start full time.

He wrote nine games for Superior on the BBC micro, Crystal Castles was written for Atarisoft originally but Atari eventually decided not to do games for non-Atari computers so it was released two years later by US Gold (after a chance remark about what else Johnson had available soon after they had picked up a C64 version). He did a whole series of conversions for US Gold/Imagine, going through a number of platforms Electron, ST, Amiga, CD32, Megadrive and Jaguar as a coder. Almost all of the games he coded he also did all the music and graphics for, right up until the Jaguar. They were all written in various dialects of machine code, as it predated the adoption of C (and 3D for that matter)

For around 2 years he spent some time as a composer/musician, doing soundtracks for various companies including Tyne Tees TV (Theme tune to "Up Country" a locally produced series which ran for 2 seasons on Tyne Tees and Border) Sky/Eurosport (Theme for the International Judo Championships, which was used by the company he did it for for over 10 years) and, rather more amusingly, a number of songs for a video featuring "Adonis" a Chippendales-type act.

After a year or so back in the business he set up the Newcastle studio for Rage around 1993, when Rage was a much smaller company. Over time it expanded greatly into a plc and took on a lot more studios, then in its final year or they were forced to go back to basics and cut back to the “core” studios again, including the founding team. Ironically Johnson thinks it was just starting to get its act together again as it had good prospects for its Rocky and Lamborghini titles. The Newcastle team was always a small, efficient team and Johnson believe Rocky and Expendable were two of the top 3 or 4 most successful titles Rage had.

Rage went into liquidation in January 2003 after the bank called in its loan closing down the entire company. In February 2003 Johnson and other developers were able to secure backing to set up Venom Games and he was pleased to be able to invite most of the former staff from Rage’s Newcastle studio to join him as we built back up over the following months.

As Venom Games with Johnson as Studio Head the team completed the follow-up to Rocky, Rocky: Legends for Ubisoft in September 2004, and in the same month Venom was acquired to become part of the Take 2 Interactive group of companies, under the 2K Games label, allowing the team to expand and focus exclusively on the coming generation of console hardware.

Venom Games moved into new offices in June 2005 and increased headcount from 16 to over 30 people since acquisition. The first released product for 2K Games was the Xbox 360 conversion of Prey. After the release of a second title, Don King Presents: Prizefighter, in June 2008, it was announced the studio would finish work on the Wii and DS versions of the title and then close down.

After remaining for a time to supervise the studio closure, in late 2008 Johnson joined Eutechnyx Limited as Executive Producer to work on their ambitious open world title, which is still under development.

In 2010 he formed Soluble Apps to produce apps and games for mobile platforms. Their first major product is MailShot, a group email app for iOS devices.

Gameography
The first batch of the following games are all for the BBC; (E) denotes that an Electron version was also produced..

BBC MICRO / ELECTRON
  • Light Cycles –local store
  • Q*bert - Superior
  • Spitfire Command - Superior
  • Star Battle - Superior
  • Overdrive - Superior (E)
  • Wallaby - Superior
  • Space Pilot - Superior
  • Star Warp - Superior
  • Airlift - Superior
  • Crystal Castles - (Atarisoft)/US Gold (E)
  • Deathstar - Superior (E)
  • Beachhead - US Gold (E)
  • Yie Ar Kung Fu - Imagine (E)
  • Mikie - Imagine (E)
  • Impossible Mission - US Gold (E)
  • Yie Ar Kung Fu II - Imagine (E)
  • ”Arkanoid” - Imagine
ATARI ST
  • “Arkanoid”- Imagine
  • “Wizball”- Ocean
  • “Arkanoid 2: Revenge of Doh”- Imagine
  • “Robocop” - Ocean
  • “Morph”- Flair/ Millenium
AMIGA
  • “Wizball” -Ocean
  • “Arkanoid 2: Revenge of Doh”- Imagine
  • “Robocop” -Ocean
  • “Morph” -Flair/ Millenium
MEGADRIVE
  • “Morph” -Flair/ Millenium
ATARI JAGUAR
  • “Power Drive Rally”
As Studio Head / Producer for RAGE Newcastle
  • “Revolution X” -Megadrive -Rage/Acclaim
  • “AYSO Soccer” (adaptation of UK PC game for US market) PC -Rage/THQ
  • “Under Pressure” (cancelled) PC & PSX- A submarine arcade combat simulator -Rage/EA
  • “Expendable” PC & PSX Rage. This was also known as “Millenium Soldier” on PSX and on the Dreamcast conversion done in Liverpool.
  • “NYPD: Enforcer” PC / Xbox (cancelled when Rocky was secured) -Rage
  • “Rocky” PS2/ Xbox –Rage
As Studio Head / Producer for Venom Games
  • Rocky: Legends PS2/ Xbox (Ubisoft)
  • Prey: Xbox 360 (2k Games)
  • Don King Presents: Prizefighter




Contributed by Peter Johnson (11) on Dec 17, 2004. [revised by : Peter Johnson (11), Sciere (245760) and Peter Johnson (2)].