DG2 Dev Profile - Matt "Twig" Johnson

02/20/2014 by Kaboom

DG2 Dev Profile - Matt
Are you a Seattle native?
No. I was born in raised in St. Paul, MN and Stillwater, MN. I lived in MN until after I graduated from college and then moved to Seattle to start my job at Microsoft. I don’t miss the really cold winters in MN, but I do miss the sun in the winter and thunderstorms. There’s just no sun here in Seattle during most of the winter months and thunderstorms are rare. Even when they do occur, they are nothing like the storms in MN. The summer’s here in Seattle are far superior to MN though. MN is hot and humid. It’s perfect here.

If you could time travel back to your childhood bedroom, what toy would you bring back with you?
Hmm…There’s probably a few toys I’d bring back. And a couple I actually did bring back with me!

I think I’d have to grab the first computer I owned, and Atari 800XL. It had a floppy disk drive, a cassette deck (for saving/loading programs to magnetic tape!), and a printer/plotter (it used really short ball point pens to draw!). That was computer I learned to program with. Started by teaching myself BASIC and just moved on from there.

The second toy I might have to take would be a huge stuffed elephant. My dad has this knack for winning the really hard carnival games at the Minnesota State Fair. (Especially the Stand the Pop Bottle one.) He would practice in our basement prior to fair opening. One day he won this huge stuffed animal elephant. It was as tall as my brother and I. It stood maybe 3’ tall and about 3’ long from head to tail. It was bring enough for us to ride on its back. It didn’t go anywhere of course, but it was totally awesome because stuffed animals larger than you are awesome.

The one toy I did bring back with me recently was my Lego Castle. My son just turned 7 and has been a big fan of Legos for a while. My parents still had my Legos from when I was a kid so asked them if I could take some of them. This past Christmas when I was back in MN for the holidays, I brought my Lego Castle home for my son to add to his collection. (Which is already larger than mine was!)

What’s a few of your all-time favorite movies?
In no particular order:
Memento – I really loved this movie because it was a mystery that you were trying to solve along with the main character.
Primer – Time travel is awesome and this movie is quite a mind bender. You’ll have to watch it more than once just to see how all the threads are woven together.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – A classic action adventure movie.
The Last Starfight – As a kid that loved computers and video games, this movie had both. In addition to spaceships and a war to save the galaxy.

Do you have a favorite book or comic?
I’m not a comic book reader, but I do have a number of favorite books. Also in no particular order:
Jhereg (Steven Brust) – And the rest of the Vlad Taltos series. Vlad is a very fun and entertaining character. He’s a witty assassin.
Wheel of Time Series (Robert Jordan) – Still haven’t finished reading the series. Need to start from the beginning again so I remember everything.
Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson) – And the rest of the trilogy. I’m currently in the middle of the second book and am really enjoying them.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) – Funny book, great read, and just all around entertaining.
A Spell for Chameleon (Piers Anthony) – This is the first book the Xanth Series. I read a ton of these books from this series when I was young.

How about a favorite band?
Muse, Green Day, Nirvana, Bare Naked Ladies, The Beatles, Nine Inch Nails, and a lot more.

What video game do you think changed the industry the most in the last decade?
The last decade? That’s pretty recent. How about I go back a little farther than the last decade? One game I really enjoyed was Ultima Online. I kind of credit it as being the first really big and popular MMO. It was sort of the father of all the MMOs you see today. I have lots of fond memories from staying up late playing UO, chasing down PKs (Player Killers), taming dragons, and sneaking through dungeons. It was great. The Origin run events were truly epic. UO had actual game masters in the world playing as the evil mastermind of special events. An actual person playing that boss you and everyone else was trying to destroy. You’d just gather up as a group and try to take down the evil monster and hoping you don’t become another one of the dozens of bodies littering the ground. But you would. Often.

What exactly do you do on Defense Grid 2?
I am the dev lead for DG2. That means in addition to writing lots of cool code, I also get to help plan the schedule, assign tasks, make sure everyone has work to do, and answer a lot of questions. When I do get to write code I’m primarily focused on the user interface and fixing anything in the code base that’s needed to make sure everyone else can continue working uninterrupted. It means I get interrupted a lot, but if it helps everyone else work smoothly, then it’s worth it.

What is the most rewarding thing about making video games?
You get to make video games! Aside from that, the best part about games, or making any piece of software in my opinion, is just having people enjoy something you helped create. There’s nothing better than knowing that someone somewhere is having a blast because of something you made.

Posted in Defense Grid 2 | Keywords: DG2