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The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

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The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

Postby HispaZargon » Monday March 25th, 2024 5:14pm

Dear all,

Fantasy games & GW history specialist Jordan Sorcery performed during November 2023 a great interview with Jervis Johnson, one of the GW historical designers who participated in the development of HeroQuest and most of the hobby games made by Games Workshop during the 80's and 90's.

The interview was performed at the same period of time as Jordan interviewed Stephen Baker (more info here), and the full interview with Jervis Johnson can be found in the Jordan Sorcery's website here, however, I took the licence of copy here the first question and answer, which I think is the most relevant one of the interview for any HeroQuest fan...

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EXTRACT OF INTERVIEW WITH JERVIS JOHNSON by Jordan Sorcery, performed in November 2023 and published in March 2024 at his website, jordansorcery.com

    Jervis Johnson worked at Games Workshop for the better part of 40 years, from the earliest days under Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, migrating from London to Nottingham when Bryan Ansell took over, and through to one of his most recent creations - the rules for the Age of Sigmar.

    Jordan Sorcery (JS): I understand that you were part of the Citadel team that worked with MB Games on HeroQuest, could you share a little about that experience? How did it inform your subsequent work on Advanced Heroquest?

    Jervis Johnson (JJ): I did help out a tiny bit with Heroquest, mainly by doing some playtesting I think, but really the game was at Stephen Baker’s work and I had very little to do with it. My main inspiration for Advanced Heroquest was D&D, especially the games of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons that I played with Albie Fiore as the DM. As an aside, you can see a little bit of Albie DMing and me playing on this clip from 1984(!). Albie was a brilliant DM, and I channelled as much of the experience of playing in his games as I could into AHQ. This resulted in a game that is quite old-school in the way it plays, with rewards being limited and survival by no means assured. As another aside, I recently met someone who is still playing and enjoying AHQ, and even had a question for me about the rules!

    .
    .
    .

    November 2023

End of interview.


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Well, quite interesting answer given by Jervis Johnson, because after recently published interviews with Stephen Baker, including the one I participated, it is again confirmed the participation of Jervis Johnson in the development of HeroQuest, however this time it is clearly recognized by him that Stephen Baker was the main creator of the game, which clarifies decades of authory confusions, depending the source you were checking.

It would be interesting to know how far was the participation of other GW designers involved, especially Rick Priestley, which involvement I bet went further than JJ, even suggesting ideas for the game rules, but just speculation from my side.


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Re: The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

Postby cornixt » Tuesday March 26th, 2024 3:33pm

That's quite curious since I thought he was credited early on as helping develop the game rather than just playtesting. Maybe the feedback caused Baker to make some major changes. Too bad we can't have an interview with Brian Ansell to finally put it to rest, it starts to suggest that maybe Ansell just wanted GW to get more credit for the game and that was how he did it. The first announcement of the game in White Dwarf claims that GW had co-written the rules. Maybe he considered the feedback of "You need to simplify this, this, this, this, this, and all of this" as substantial enough for a writing credit.


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Re: The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

Postby lestodante » Tuesday March 26th, 2024 5:59pm

Bryan Ansell sadly passed away on last December. :(
I remember a post of him on Steve Casey's blog about HeroQuest prototypes (seems he deleted his Google account later so you can't read his name anymore and he's now credited as "unknown") LINK HERE
I guess I posted this somewhere else on the forum already. So it seems they had very different opinion about the game development or maybe Brian was referring to their GW Advanced HeroQuest instead:

Bryan Ansell wrote:Stephen Baker, Roger Ford, and Ben Rathbone had damn all to do with HQ's developement. SB had produced a poor derivative of D&D. GW had to be called in to perform a rescue mission and deliver an actual game. We did that: we were paid for delivering an actual game that actually worked. We used nothing from the SB version. Stephen Baker managed one of our shops. I have no idea who Ford and Rathbone are.
We always sculpted models in an open, casual, questing and experimental way: we were always looking for a better way forwards. That's all there is to it: we always did our absolute best in the time available. Moving forward fast and fearless always gives the best results. We never gave a toss about the thickness of a sword or any other petty detail: we just wanted every part of what we did to look as good as we could manage in the time that was available.


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Re: The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

Postby HispaZargon » Tuesday March 26th, 2024 7:21pm

lestodante wrote:Bryan Ansell sadly passed away on last December. :(
I remember a post of him on Steve Casey's blog about HeroQuest prototypes (seems he deleted his Google account later so you can't read his name anymore and he's now credited as "unknown") LINK HERE
I guess I posted this somewhere else on the forum already. So it seems they had very different opinion about the game development or maybe Brian was referring to their GW Advanced HeroQuest instead:
Bryan Ansell wrote:Stephen Baker, Roger Ford, and Ben Rathbone had damn all to do with HQ's developement. SB had produced a poor derivative of D&D. GW had to be called in to perform a rescue mission and deliver an actual game. We did that: we were paid for delivering an actual game that actually worked. We used nothing from the SB version. Stephen Baker managed one of our shops. I have no idea who Ford and Rathbone are.
We always sculpted models in an open, casual, questing and experimental way: we were always looking for a better way forwards. That's all there is to it: we always did our absolute best in the time available. Moving forward fast and fearless always gives the best results. We never gave a toss about the thickness of a sword or any other petty detail: we just wanted every part of what we did to look as good as we could manage in the time that was available.

If you check a backup of such website from year 2019, yes it can be clearly seen that the message was posted by a user called "Bryan Ansell", here a screenshot:

2014-08-13_BryanAnsell_HQ_Authory_Answer.JPG
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Re: The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

Postby cornixt » Wednesday March 27th, 2024 10:13am

Here's the earliest literature I could find In White Dwarf that mentioned who wrote the game. One says GW co-wrote the game, the other gives Jervis the front credit.

Rathbone seems like a good person to interview, Baker mentions that he was big in the development but no one has ever asked him what his role was. He's done interviews in the past and is still in the games industry it would seem.

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Re: The Jervis Johnson Interview Nov/2023

Postby cornixt » Monday May 6th, 2024 4:18pm

Jordan Sorcery did an interview with Jervis (https://youtu.be/6dubsHTIFpQ?t=1917) and he just says there was a little playtesting on the GW side for Heroquest but not much.


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