INTERVIEW: Mark Voorsanger and Greg Johnson on ToeJam & Earl

From: Sega Visions (May/June 1992)


S.V: How did you two get started developing video games?

Greg: Prior to ToeJam & Earl, I was working with Electronic Arts on games like Star Flight and Star Flight II. After these in-depth games, I wanted to develop a game that would be lighthearted and fun. In college, I studied biolinguistics which is how animals, like dolphins, communicate. When I graduated, I took some time off and got a job developing video games.

I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley. I always planned to work as a programmer. ToeJam & Earl was the first game Greg and I worked on together, even though we've been friends for years.

S.V: Where did the idea for ToeJam & Earl come from?

Greg: Both Mark and I enjoy listening to funky music. After finishing Star Flight II, I was in Hawaii on vacation. While I was relaxing on the beach, I came up with the idea for ToeJam & Earl. I guess I still had spaceships and aliens on my mind. After creating the characters, the plot for the game came together.

S.V: Are the ToeJam & Earl characters modeled after either of you?

Greg: I don't think we started modeling ToeJam or Earl after ourselves, but as the game evolved, I decided that Mark is ToeJam and I'm Earl. We had to develop the characters in detail, and I think they have many aspects of our personalities.

Mark: I think it would be more accurate to say ToeJam and Earl are two different aspects of Greg's personality. Greg originally came up with the idea for the game and the characters.

S.V: In what ways is ToeJam & Earl an unusual game?

Greg: Aside from the characters having their own personalities, we tried to make the game funny to watch as well as fun to play. We wanted a game that was original, easy to understand and that offered an immediate response to the player's actions. This makes ToeJam & Earl very different from other video games on the market.

Mark: We really wanted to design a two player game so Greg and I could play against each other. We consider ToeJam & Earl to be a two player game with a one player option. If you haven't seen this game in the two player mode, grab a friend and give it a try!

S.V: What can you tell us about the sequel to ToeJam & Earl which you are currently working on?

Mark: ToeJam & Earl are invited back to earth to give a rap concert. Unfortunately for our heros, a boogie man steals the compact discs which are necessary for ToeJam & Earl to perform the concert. The object of the game is to search for the CDs on many different levels. The game will look different and offer a larger variety of gameplay experiences. There will be many new places to explore.

Greg: We are planning various world environments and many more default items which ToeJam & Earl will be able to use all the time. We've also created many new items and plenty of new characters.

S.V: Will the basic gameplay of the sequel be similar?

Mark: No. ToeJam & Earl 2 (working title) will feature fixed worlds, not randomly generated ones. This allows us to offer more detail and more secret places to explore.

S.V: When will the sequel be released?

Greg: It takes us nearly a full year to complete a game like ToeJam & Earl. For the sequel, we're getting more help, so it's going a little faster.

Mark: We're not sure exactly when the new game will be released, but we're working hard to complete ToeJam & Earl 2 in time for Christmas 1992.

S.V: Aside from ToeJam & Earl, what other games do you enjoy?

Greg: We really like Road Rash and Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis.

S.V: Suppose someone has an idea for a hot new video game, what should they do?

Mark: If you want to create video games, I suggest you first finish college, because you must have a computer or technical background.

Greg: An artistic background is also helpful, especially if you're not technically orientated. If you have an idea for a game, develop a demo on a computer. No video game publisher wants to hear just an idea. They always want to see a working prototype of the game. If you don't have the knowledge to write a game on a computer, put together a team of friends who can help you.



All content ©1999-2009, for more information contact the webmaster