In the industry since 1982 when he bought a BBC Micro, Peter completed a version of Q*bert the day before his HND exams started, which, as Peter puts it "probably says a lot for my revision style". He sent it off to a few publishers, not expect to hear anything for some weeks. "After my first exam" says Peter, "I was amazed to hear that somebody had phoned offering me £1000 for the game, and for the next few days I'd rush home after each exam to find out who had rung."
Finally signed with Superior Software, Q*bert was only on sale for only two months. The reason was one of the industry's earliest cases of legal wranglings surrounding trademark infringement, Q*bert IP holder CocaCola/Columbia (owner of the game's publisher, Gottlieb) put the frighteners on Superior, sending a "cease and desist" letter to the company. Needless to say, the game was withdrawn. In those two months, however, the game earned Peter enough money to buy a disk drive, monitor and printer, and started full time with Superior.
During his Superior days Peter wrote nine games 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 on a visit to Ocean about what else Peter had available, soon after they had picked up the rights to the C64 version). He also did a whole series of conversions for US Gold and Imagine, going through a multitude of platforms; Electron, ST, Amiga, CD32, Megadrive and Jaguar as a programmer. Written entirely in various dialects of machine code, as it predated the adoption of C (and 3D for that matter), Peter not only coded the games but also created and programmed the all the music and graphics for almost all of his creations - right up until the Jaguar,
Taking a sabbatical, Peter stepped out of the games industry for two years, becoming a composer/musician for TV. He produced soundtracks for various companies including Tyne Tees TV (theme tune to "Up Country", which ran for two seasons on Tyne Tees and Border), Sky/Eurosport (theme for the International Judo Championships, which was used 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 games industry, Peter set up the Newcastle studio for Rage circa 1993, when Rage was a much smaller company. Over time it expanded greatly, becoming a public company and taking on a lot more studios. In Rage's final year it was forced to go back to basics and cut back to the "core" studios again, including Peter's Newcastle studio. Things were starting to turn around for Rage but, as Peter says "Ironically, I think 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 I 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 a number or staff from the Newcastle studio were able to secure backing to set up Venom Games. "I was pleased to be able to invite most of the former staff from Rage’s Newcastle studio to join me as we built back up over the following months", says Peter.
Venom Games completed "Rocky: Legends", published by UbiSoft, in September 2004. In the same month Venom joined 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 around 30 people since acquisition. The team's first released product for 2K Games was the Xbox 360 conversion of Prey, the hotly anticipated FPS from developers Human Head and 3DRealms, and we are also working on another unannounced next gen game.
Peter Johnson's first video game work that SPOnG is aware of is the 1982 title, "Q*bert" (BBC/Electron) as Lead Artist.
Peter's most recent involvement was as Programmer on the 2001 release "Driven" (PS2).
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