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9/11/2007 11:53:49 AM - In Memoriam - John Watson...

John Watson, my roommate at International Residence and Country Court Condominiums (now Hunter's Chase) from the days of Origin, committed suicide with sleeping pills on September 4th, 2007 - his 38th birthday.

I'll post some memories soon.

- TZ


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9/14/2007 10:35:15 PM by Mogs

I-m so sorry about your friend. Everything I-ve read on igda and wcnews sounds like he was a really kind and talented person to have known. I can only imagine the debates and discussions ya-ll had as roommates and co-workers.

My condolences,


9/16/2007 2:34:47 AM by TZ

News of Johnís death reached me days ago (on 9/11/2007), but itís been difficult focusing my thoughts. Recollections of him now frequently flood my mind. I have so many good memories of him that I could write a book, and itís hard trying to really describe what was so unique about him without going into a lot of detail. I last ran into John at an E3 in California several years ago. He talked about how he might one day move back to Austin, and I looked forward to the possibility of being able to see him on a regular basis once more.

My first real encounter with John Watson was in January, 1991 at the initial Ultima VII design meeting. The game was only in its infancy but Johnís head was already filled with ideas and suggestions of where the game should go. He was the very epitome of a great game designer Ė replete with knowledge of the industry, incredibly enthusiastic, and loaded to bear with ideas that could elevate a simple concept to its full potential.

We eventually became very good friends and roommates and lived together at International Residence and Country Court Condominiums (now Hunterís Chase.) He used to drive a motorcycle in those days and I can still see him coming into work every day with his trademark black boots, black pants, black shirt, and black helmet in tow. I had one black shirt in my wardrobe in those days...and it was the only piece of clothing he ever borrowed. I eventually bought that motorcycle from him.

I always enjoyed those nights and weekends when we were both free and could simply sit and talk. We talked about philosophy and the meaning of life, women (on many occasions), religion (one of his favorite topics), politics, science (especially physics), and everything else under the sun. We talked about the future Ė about game ideas we had, and how weíd both like the creative freedom to pursue those visions.

I remember being awed by Johnís relentless desire to try new things. He would play every game that he could get his hands on...and master it. While he read some nonfiction books, he was particularly well-versed in fiction. I donít think we ever talked about a work of fiction that he hadnít already read or, upon being told about it, didnít read shortly thereafter. Iím sure it contributed to what made him a superior game designer. He had a curiosity about him that pushed him to experience new things and the patience to finish what he started.

While most people in the game industry focus on a single discipline (and are only very rarely competent in a second), John had the amazing ability to seamlessly shift between art, programming, and game design. I-ll never forget how impressed I always was when I-d see him writing usecode to implement something that he had conceived, flip over to DeluxePaint to create the art that he needed, and then transition right back into the usecode to finish the idea. He was able, at times, to go from concept to finished feature entirely on his own. His multiple talents gave him a design freedom that few others will ever know.

While we were living together he once told me that he would never get married. He was dating quite a bit at the time, working long hours but having a lot of fun doing it, and didnít want it to ever end. Six months later he was leaning against the stove in our apartment and sheepishly trying to find the right words to tell me that he was getting married. I pointed out what he had previously said and suggested he might be rushing into things, but that was John. He lived for the moment. He was in love and ecstatic and wanted to take it to its conclusion. He had absolutely no doubt that it was the right thing to do.

Origin in the early-to-mid-1990s was a very special time and place for me. John Watson was a huge part of that. His love of games, his natural curiosity, his unique mix of intellectual sophistication and innocence, his easygoing and cheerful nature, his passion and sincerity...with John, you could work 60-100 hour weeks for 12 months straight and still think you were having the time of your life. He was that fun to be around.

John Watson was as good a friend as one could ever hope to find, and years of separation and thousands of miles did nothing to dull the strength of that bond. I will miss him.


9/19/2007 2:44:12 AM by TZ

I went to a memorial for John at Opal Divine-s tonight. There were about 35-40 people there, including an ex-girlfriend, an ex-wife, lots of ex-teammates, and myself - the ex-roommate and "kindred soul." (That description was applied to my relationship with John tonight by his ex-girlfriend, and I found it interesting because I described us as having been "kindred spirits" the other day.)

The people that I recognized - about 90% of the total - were from Origin in the 1990s.

Those days were magical.


10/19/2007 3:28:00 PM by

My condolences for your late friend =( this game industry is sure going to pot now with many of the great designers leaving it. Tony, off the subject, who owns the copyrights to the Crusader series? and do you think they-d want to sell it? Crusader No Regret/No Remorse was a life saver for me ... it was not just a gaming experience for me and would love to somehow help bring it back to life.

10/19/2007 9:57:55 PM by TZ

Electronic Arts owns the Crusader: No Remorse/No Regret property. They haven-t made a Crusader game since I left Origin/EA in September, 1996, but I-m sure that it would still take a large amount of cash to get them to part with it.


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