Key art for Nowhere, MI

Nowhere, MI: Feverdream Johnny Maps Out his Upcoming Surreal Shooter

Sometimes it can be hard to get an idea about what to expect from an artist when all you have to go off of is their name. This is not the case with Feverdream Johnny, whose work most certainly elicits the feeling of hallucinating as a result of a cooking brain. John Ellis, A.K.A. Feverdream Johnny, has spent the past 3 years working on a variety of weird and wonderful indie titles and participating in various game jams. Over those years he has seemingly sharpened his skillset as a developer and honed in on his signature style.

I have been a fan of his wild work for quite some time now, and with the release of his first full-length title Nowhere, MI, I was eager to learn more about the title, and about Johnny’s history in game development. Thankfully, Johnny was not trapped in the reality-warping remnants of a reactor explosion, so when I reached out to him he was able to take time out of his schedule to speak with me. I was thankful for the opportunity to shed some light on his upcoming game, and to pick his brain about his style and process when it came to developing these games. After short introductions, and thanking Johnny again for his time, I dove straight into the interview. 

As is almost always the case, I started the interview by asking about his creative history. Being noted for his unique visual style, and the fact that in my research I had found his Soundcloud page, I asked Johnny if he had started out in the fields of illustration or music before moving into game development?

John Ellis: So that’s a complicated story. I started when I was 14 years old. And before that point, I was actually doing engineering. I was doing Cleveland electronics, programs and building little machines. And then I found out that, you know, you actually can make video games, which I had always wanted to do since I was even younger than that, and that’s when I started. The music stuff was actually just an experimental thing for a couple years. I just didn’t have a musician at the time to help me, so I was just trying to figure out how to do that for myself, but I sort of gave up after I made friends with a couple of people.

I was shocked to learn that he had started at such a young age. When looking into his work I was unable to find anything that was published before 2020. I asked Johnny if he had released any projects before this time?

JE: I went under a bunch of different aliases, and I think a lot of it’s just gone now, unfortunately, because I went through, you know, a couple of phases. And I was like, nah, nah and I scrapped it all, and I regret that a lot. But I have been releasing stuff since 2014. I initially started on the Steam Workshop for Game Maker Studio, and all that’s gone as well. Not the workshop, but all my stuff on the Steam Workshop is gone. So I’d say 2020 is about as early as you’re going to get for any of my work right now, unfortunately.

I was still impressed, as a quick look at his Itch.IO page shows that he has put out quite a lot in that short amount of time. One thing I had noticed was that quite a few of his projects were for game jams. Curious to learn why that was the case, I asked Johnny if there was a specific reason he participated in so many game jams?

JE: Well, I’ve always been weird about game jams, kind of picky about it. But sometimes I’ll get the urge to go for it. I don’t know, working on short form content is just better for a game developer because making a full length title takes legitimately like, you know, a couple years as I’m sure you’re familiar, and it’s very difficult to get your name out there if you’re spending years and years just trying to make one thing, so I try to diversify. Recently, though, I’ve been trying harder to actually make a full length title and really, actually do something. But yeah, the appeal really is just getting stuff out quickly.

Another series of short experiences I saw on his page were The Nightmare Games, a series of 7 short experiences, some of which claimed to be based off of nightmares that Johnny himself had. Wanting to learn more, I asked if all of The Nightmare Games had a tie to his personal nightmares, or if that was only limited to the games that explicitly stated as much?

JE: The first one was loosely based on a nightmare I had. The Nightmare games have a bit of an odd backstory. They were very short three hour game jam collab things with people that would just happen in a voice call spontaneously. Mostly at HPS1 as a matter of fact. And you know, we would just put them together, everybody would contribute. They don’t really have a basis, and I think that may be why it started petering off towards the end. There wasn’t anything to work off of and there’s only so much juice people have for improv, so I eventually stopped making them. But yeah, they’re not all based on nightmares, unfortunately, despite the title.

I took a moment to talk about one specific title in The Nightmare Games, titled Hotdog Jeopardy, which was made in 3 hours by Johnny and Bryce Bucher. Frankly, having dipped my toe into game development, the idea of making anything in only 3 hours was insane, and frankly, I was impressed.

JE: Well, a lot of it really comes down to how long I’ve been doing this, I just have tools that I’ve made for myself, and being able to recycle tools is always a very instrumental part of these things. I think Boiling Static may have been done entirely from scratch, but a lot of the other ones recycled similar scripts, and that saves a lot of time, which is why it’s possible to do it in three hours. Because I agree, normally it’s not very feasible.

On the topic of the tools he had made for himself, I had seen that he had listed multiple tools on his Itch.IO page for people to download and use. And I wondered what his aim was when releasing these. So I asked Johnny, did he release these tools just so other people had access, or did he see a need for these tools in the community when he released them?

JE: Well, sort of, I just made them for myself and just threw them out there for other people to use. The thing about the community, particularly around the Unity game engine is that there are god knows how many, 1000s of tools out there already that cover almost everything you can think of. So I really wasn’t innovating on anything with making, for example, a first person player Controller when there’s some other very popular ones like Brogan’s and, oh lord, Tora? I forgot that person’s name, but I know they’re a part of Arcane Kids. But like, there have been other tools already like that. I just sort of thought “hey, it doesn’t hurt to just put my little thing out there for other people in case it covers something those tools didn’t.” But yeah, there wasn’t necessarily a need to drive the tools being made.

Speaking of community efforts, I had seen that on quite a few projects Johnny had teamed up with other artists, who would contribute music, assets, and more to his projects, but I wanted to know how often he got assistance on the coding end of things. With that in mind, I asked Johnny if he had an idea about what percentage of his games were coded solo as opposed to working with other programmers?

JE: Pretty much all of them. Most of the people I work with are typically not programmers, I usually do most programming roles for the stuff that I make. I’d say that I have people involved with almost all of the stuff I’ve worked on, the amount that they do is always random. There’s no way to really predictably draw a line on that, but I do all the coding for the most part. My friend Ben is probably one of the bigger collaborators I work with. He’s that musician I was talking about earlier, that kind of kind of filled in that role for me because he’s very phenomenal, and you can really just say anything to him and he’ll just make the most flawless music, it’s pretty remarkable. I don’t know, he’s something else.

Even with the help of others in the artistic fields, each of his games still feature his signature style. I know that inspiration and the will to work come in different ways for different people, and I wanted to know what motivated him to create all of these crazy worlds across multiple genres. I asked Johnny, bluntly, what compelled him to flesh out these worlds and create these games?

JE: So contrary to what delightful YouTube commenters like to claim, no, I am not mainlining heroin directly into my arteries every day. In reality, the ideas are pretty spontaneous, and I want to give a lot of credit to my friends, because I talk to them a lot, of course, as you would with your friends. But I feel like it’s some sort of nebulous, ephemeral thing, I’m kind of tying in from like, they’ll make jokes or contribute little ideas that really add up over time, and it’s definitely a group effort. Peeb’s Adventure was probably one of the most spontaneous ones of all, because originally it was just like, “wow, grappling physics is a cool thing. I want to learn how to do that.” So I started just doing it from scratch, which is so smart, not looking up any formulas to figure out how you’re supposed to do overlay integration, but making the most hellish thing you can think of with a formula. But while I was working on it, I remembered that a friend of mine named Aaron had made this little character named Peeb, and I made sure to credit him on the game, on the page, everywhere I could because I wanted to emphasize this was his character, not mine. But I made Peeb into a little 3D character like, you know, mascot platformers and the classics and then it just kind of went on from there. Pretty spontaneous stuff, really, the bananas were an inside joke with that same friend, and it’s hard to explain, but I would say it’s kind of a stream of consciousness method. Despite that, I really don’t know, it really is chaotic. But yeah, it’s very ephemeral, I guess. For the smaller projects like that, I usually just go with the flow. For longer ones, I do take an effort to actually write out an entire master planning document, a GDD, all that, you know, make sure to make it concrete. For little ones, I just kind of let it go as it does.

I found the idea that drugs were to blame very amusing, because in my personal experience, the last thing I ever want to do when I am intoxicated is work on anything, creative or not. 

JE: I took two CBD gummies once, and I’m not kidding, this is embarrassing, I’m telling this out loud to the public because it is a funny story. There were these gummies, you know, I’m sure you’ve heard of Hello Mood as a company. It’s gotten famous because like “oh, here’s this thing It’ll help you go to sleep” and I’m like “wow, I can do with some good sleep.” So I took two, which is the maximum dosage that was allowed and immediately got high off of what were supposed to be CBD gummies because they had Delta-9. So yeah, it’s fair to say I really don’t do that, I don’t do any drugs, to be frank. I smoke a cigar sometimes and that’s about as far as I go. I’m very much a lightweight when it comes to a lot of that.

Aside from the influence of his friends, I wanted to know if there were any specific artists that perhaps shaped his style in a more subconscious way. Hoping to learn more about what inspires him, I asked Johnny if there were any specific artists that helped shape his style?

JE: So that’s a fascinating one, because I have a curse that I have been well aware of, which is, I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of Outsider Art. I have a lot of deep respect for people who do that, because my favorite games are actually outside art. They’re made by people who don’t really have a background in game development, but they got into it, and they brought something that you can’t really find anywhere else. And some of my biggest inspirations were people like Cicada Marionette, who made Crypt Worlds and some other delightful titles. And a big one was Stephen Gillmurphy, or the Catamites, who’s made Magic Wand, 10 Beautiful Postcards, Space Funeral will probably be his most well known title. These were very important things during the early period, when I first started making games. They’re very formative for me, because it was like, “Oh, wow, you can do weird things with games.” But I was always an insider. Some of these people have a background in writing or film or, or music, and that brings a very unique edge to it that I’ve always liked. But I’ve been cursed with being unable to be that guy. 

As for the reason why my games have a persistent style, I’ve always been struck by the idea that what’s important about a game is that it should really convey the creator’s personality, or the team’s personality as a whole, if you have more people. But for independent games, I think the biggest curse is just having somebody else’s soul in your game, you know, not really having its own identity as an extension of yourself. So I’ve always tried to just put things I think would be fun in there. And a lot of the certain things, like certain formulas I’ve written that I use a lot in my games, because people have also said that despite how the styles change a lot artistically, you can always tell it’s a Johnny game. And I think it really does come down to programming somehow. There’s a personality in my programming, which I don’t know how that works, but that seems to have contributed as well. Let me think of who else because I think there’s some other important thing, Adam Pype was definitely a big inspiration, he’s a cool guy. He’s made a lot of games that also have a very springy aesthetic to them, that’s been something of more of a recent inspiration, I think. But outside of that, it’s tricky. Really, I’ve always been very spontaneous, and those three figures I mentioned are really the only ones that come to mind right now. I’m sure there’s probably others that I’m not thinking of. But that’s yeah, those are the three I can think of. 

Having spoken about the litany of smaller titles he had released online, I was curious if there were any he would ever want to return to, so I asked Johnny if he had ever considered turning one of his smaller titles into a full game?

JE: I mean, I guess I would say no, because the only two that I do have intentions to turn into full titles were games that were already supposed to be. Like Peeb’s Adventure, for example, only came out as a demo, and that is going to get a full title. Because you know, it’s a demo, it’s not the end of the line for that. And Nowhere, MI is also getting a full one, which I’m currently working on. But other than that, I don’t know, like Let’s Go Baby was literally making fun of ARGs, which might be a very cynical thing to do. But it was just a bunch of random things, as I made it in like, four days, I was just like, “alright, I’ll just, ooh, there’s daddy. Ooh, he’s so scary” and just making up a bunch of crap. And I guess that’s the problem, you know, committing that cardinal sin of not being distinctly a parody enough that you just become the content you’re making fun of. But you know, it’s par for the course in this world, death of the artist and all that. Other than that, they’re all very good. I know it’s not the focus of this interview. But Let’s Go Baby is a nightmare in and of itself, the things that came out of that, and the fans that I’ve developed because of that, I don’t even know what to make of it anymore.

I told Johnny that he was more than welcome to go on a tangent during the interview.

JE: Well, I’ll briefly talk. So there was someone, and god bless his heart, because it really made my day to see and I really appreciated that somebody cared about this more than I did. But somebody actually did make a video where they tried to pull apart the narrative behind Let’s Go Baby. And they actually found one. And I felt bad, because like, he contacted me on Twitter later and was like, “oh, you know, so I did the video. And I’m thinking about doing one for the expansion.” We were talking and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m sorry. But all of that was just done as a joke.” Like it was spontaneous, like this stuff about Daddy and the cyanide milk. All of this is just stuff that I kind of just spewed out as I was going like, I didn’t have anything written down. I was just kind of freewheeling and somehow it came out as a coherent backstory to the game that was literally just about babies with pictures of weird looking guys on their faces. I mean, I don’t know, I kind of made a bit of a bad turn, because the sequel to that game was me just being like, “Okay, I need to just be, I need to actually put something there to make it clear what this might be.” And I managed to come up with a story, but I felt bad because like, maybe I should have just let that stay the way it was, and not try to be like, “well, actually, it was a disgruntled employee. And  there’s no eight. This isn’t an extended universe. The first game is the product of a disgruntled employee, and it’s a commentary about the games industry.” it was really lame, and I regret having ruined people’s fun for that. But well, you know, bad urges, I guess… it got really big in Russia. That was probably the weirdest thing of all. My friends were sending me Russian tiktoks of hard bass playing and a bunch of babies dancing. And I’m like, “This is not what is happening. What is happening?”

Moving on to Johnny’s upcoming full release for Nowhere, MI, I had a question about the world of the title. I had seen that there were small cameos from other characters in Feverdream Johnny’s repertoire of weird guys. I asked if we should take this to mean that these take place in the same universe, or if these cameos were nothing more than pointless easter eggs?

JE: So that’s a complicated one. They share a universe but Peeb and Orbo probably won’t appear in the full thing. I put them in there because I thought It’d be cute for people who are looking forward to that game to know I still cared about it… just to assure them like it’s not dead. Let’s Go Baby has the same thing, there is a castle and that says “Peeb is not canceled” on the back of it, like, just reassuring people. So it’s a shared universe but it’s different. So Let’s Go Baby and Peeb’s Adventures are both video games in Nowhere, MI‘s world. That’s also why the Let’s Go Baby baby show up in that one part, which I think I might also take out, but the idea of Nowhere, MI was that due to the reactor meltdown things that were originally just fictional and  anything that was inside the cultural zeitgeist that people were thinking about manifested as a result. So they just started existing, as horrible as the implications of that are. In the full game I probably won’t keep them for tonal consistency reasons. I’d rather have Nowhere be its own thing. I might keep little levels and stuff like references but I don’t think I’m going to be as explicit. 

Continuing my questions about Nowhere, MI, I had a question about surrogates, the superpowered organs or body parts the player can equip for new skills. Specifically, were the surrogates always in this world, or was it a result of the reactor meltdown and the rot?

JE: The world of Nowhere, MI before the reactor meltdown happened was a lot like regular Earth. The only differences though, is that, for example, instead of Mario, you had Peeb, and Let’s Go Baby was like an MMO. Like they like it’s the same kind of world except that the kinds of fiction and the stuff people consumed were different. But eventually, they had discovered ephemerons, which was a new type of elementary particle. And when the government was researching them, they started building reactors to cultivate them, and then eventually there’s a big explosion, reactors chain react, the whole world gets screwed up. The thing about surrogates is that it is complicated, I don’t want to just run around in circles being like, “here’s actually the reason” and then pushing my taped glasses up my nose. So there’s two different types of life forms, there’s Zeitgeist and Possessors. Possessors are where human souls get trapped inside of an object of significance or an animal, literally anything can become possessed by a person. If you get hit by enough ephemeron radiation, you get melted down, and if that makes contact with an object, there’s a chance you can bond with it, and possess the object. Surrogates manifest when a person is not able to fully possess an object and is able to  have, effectively a consciousness, they’re essentially living objects. So surrogates were people once, but it’s not people in the sense that like, you might say, somebody’s arm is a part of a person, a surrogate is like an organ. Essentially, it bonds with a host to function, like, it has a person’s soul in it, but it’s more of like transplanting organs to somebody else for them to use, and it has supernatural properties.

Seeking clarification I asked if the talking gun Concord was a possessed item?

JE: He’s a higher class, surrogates are the lowest class of possessor and Concord is a poltergeist, which is when a person’s soul can possess the object enough to have free will, essentially be alive and sentient.

Moving on from the world of Nowhere, MI and into the story itself, it seemed as though the outline for the plot was rather cut and dry. The protagonist James is looking for his brother to bring him home, that seemed rather simple to me, so I asked Johnny if the story was less important than the characters James would meet along the way?

JE: It’s actually the opposite, the story is very important. I wrote a Tumblr post discussing my goals for the story. But one of the bigger things that the demo doesn’t show is that James is very dead set on getting his brother back to the point where he’s just selfish, like, he doesn’t care about anybody else he’s dealing with if they aren’t helpful to him. And it’s really a narrative about him trying to learn to deal with that better and to actually be more helpful to people. But ultimately, not to spoil too much, the ultimate reality is that you can’t fix bad behavior in the span of a single fun adventure, like James still has to work through it. He doesn’t just get better, because he went on a crazy adventure with a talking gun. But that’s the whole motivation for him is getting his brother and then just going home, that’s the whole motivation. And the characters you meet are mostly there as a vehicle for that narrative to help James become better by helping them and trying to develop. But also just to be fun, because this is the first time I’ve tried to do a narrative with more serious undertones, which again, the demo does not explore appropriately when you meet a man named Big Juicy Ass, who was stung by a bumblebee. But I do, in the full game, hope to better convey that. But yeah, it’s a big focal point of the story. 

It sounded like between the surrogates, the zeitgeist, and the rest of the crazy cast, the world of Nowhere, MI was full of colorful characters. Aiming to hear more about the game, I asked Johnny which character was his favorite out of those he created for the game?

JE: Oh, that’s a tricky one, because there are some characters I still haven’t integrated that I think will be fun. I think Big Juicy Ass is still one of my favorites. Because in the full thing, there’s going to be a whole quest related to helping him deal with his big juicy ass. Because he got stung by a bumblebee when he sat down one day. In the full thing he’s a researcher. He’s researching the local biology because the reactor meltdown was recent, and nobody really understands what happened because of it, it was a bit of a secret, a little bit of a classified government thing. So people are only starting to realize something’s wrong. And he was researching when a radioactive bee stung him, and there is no known anti venom to get his ass to stop swelling. And while it doesn’t hurt, everybody is so focused on it, he can’t actually do his job anymore, because he’s basically a celebrity now in the town. So there’s a side quest where you have to go find the bee to get its venom in order to help him manufacture an anti venom. But when you find the bee, it’s a boss fight, It’s very dramatic, it’s going to be all in. It’s like, well, here it comes, but it’s just a tiny bee. And if you walk up to it, it will sting you, and it will die immediately, it has one health, and the fight just ends anticlimactically and you just get the anti venom and you can help Big Juicy Ass or BJ as he is going to be called in the game, you help him get his ass fixed. And then he gives you an upgrade. But I feel excited about that quest because I think it’s very ludicrous in a delightful way.

As a follow-up I asked if the wizardly old man had always been in Nowhere, MI or was he the result of the reactor explosion?

JE: Wizardo was from before. As are a lot of the people you meet there with the exception of a thing I’m not going to talk about because it would spoil a major thing that happens in the second part of the game. Some of the people are manufactured, like they’re not people at all, they were manufactured by the reactor thing. Wizardo is just this old guy, and he lived in Nowhere with his wife as well. But after the reactor went off, both of them became amnesiac, forgot their histories and gained supernatural properties as a result of having made contact with some of the rot. So that’s another thing is that possession works via rot. And that’s basically the thing you find inside the garden, which is that giant thing with all the weird meat flowers you platform between, that’s where possession begins. But there’s another possessor phenomenon: instead of objects or animals people can become possessed as well. But instead of them being overtaken by a new personality, what ends up happening is they get supernatural properties. And so Wizardo and Esmeralda have superpowers, basically. Wizardo doesn’t actually know how to use it, so he’s just a bumbling old man who has a little scrying orb and he sucks, while his wife is extremely powerful and well respected in the community. And Wizardo is just useless, he likes candy, he eats candy all day and then cries because his wife took it away because he’s getting too obsessed. He’s very lame, but you help them.

I loved what I was hearing, the world of Nowhere, MI sounded crazy, kooky, and a little bit spooky. With so many interesting characters, some of whom will offer side quests to the character, I was wondering how long it would take to see all there was to see. I of course would never expect a dev to give a concrete answer before the game had launched, but I asked Johnny if he had a length in mind for the game that he would like to achieve?

JE: I have no clue how it will actually go. Because the demo, for example, I thought was only going to be about 15 minutes. But it turns out, it can take people up to a full hour to finish if you go looking for everything that’s in it. So I don’t know how long it will actually end up being. The thing I’m aiming for is eight to nine hours for just, you know, the general adventure and some of the side quests, just kind of exploring the whole experience. The metroidvania thing is interesting, because as I’ve gone further with it, I’ve realized that a lot of the metroidvania elements in the game, I think, are going to be more for optional stuff. Because there’s a system I’ve already integrated. For one thing, you get multiple gun types, and you need certain forms to do certain things, like the rocket launcher to break certain walls, so the metroidvania elements are there for the critical path. But another thing I’m also implementing is the ability to add upgrades to guns, like you can slot them in, that’s already done internally, but it basically means you can have a rocket launcher that lights enemies on fire or shoots chain lightning, or bullets that home in and curve and hit stuff. And by combining these different upgrades together to get different syner-jess-tic, synergistic? getting that quality upgrade synergy, I guess. You can sort of access hidden things by lighting stuff on fire, or like electrocuting unpowered objects. So the metroidvania elements are going to be done. They’re certainly going to be there, but they’re definitely more, I guess, more of an im-sim angle. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s more like, you just have to rationalize, “oh, if I use this on this, because it appears to be this, then it should work.” I guess that’s a complicated way of explaining it. But that’s sort of the idea. I guess.

With these new mechanics being introduced I was curious if the original timeframe for release, listed as 2023 in the game’s trailer, was still viable. I asked Johnny if he felt like he was still going to be able to finish in 2023, or if he worried that feature creep would expand the game beyond his original scope and delay it?

JE: So at that time, the scope of the game was a lot more simple. Thankfully, scope creep hasn’t been too bad, because I made sure to actually organize what is going to be in the game. At that time, that wasn’t the case, I had far more simple goals for it. So I thought, you know, the revolver will be the only thing you get, the way the upgrades were going to work was going to be more simple as well, it was just going to be very direct, like you just get a grenade launcher thing that sticks to the gun. And there’s no menu to customize it, it’s just there. So I was kind of thinking it was going to be simpler, so that’s why it was aiming for 2023. I ended up re-scoping when I came up with the full breadth of what I actually wanted for the mechanics in the game. And that’s pushed the release date a bit further out, I can’t guarantee it because I don’t know, I might get a sudden burst of energy and then just make the entire thing by the end of 2023. But the current safe estimate was April 2024, just a couple extra months just to be sure, because I do want this to be a full proper experience. Because what I was going to originally come out with was going to be way more, I’d say lighthearted and not as gameplay heavy. But I was like “no, I really do want to make a thing that I can feel happy about” like, a satisfying game, so I think it is going to be a bit longer until it comes out unfortunately.

It didn’t seem unfortunate to me, as the things being added to the game sounded awesome. After hearing about the new weapons system being implemented, I wanted to know what type of playstyle the dev used, so I asked Johnny if there was a specific loadout he leaned towards whenever he was testing the game?

JE: Well, the way weapon upgrades work is that there’s two slots for mechanical or elemental upgrades, which is its own system, and then an additional slot for a weapon frame. The frame makes major changes to how the gun works, and all four of them are currently implemented. But one of them is just called PX-2 Hornet. And if you equip it to a weapon it fires extremely fast and has a large magazine. So you fire micro rockets, like really quickly, instead of just four big, chunky rockets. I found it quite funny to have an upgrade that causes projectiles to split impact with the surface and they reflect and turn into a bunch of little projectiles. So if you can bind it with that, and then you get the homing projectile upgrade as well. And put all that on a rocket launcher. It just sprays rockets everywhere, they just ricochet off walls and come back in and just everywhere. The whole room was just covered in rockets. And you know, that’s been pretty fun. I think I do like the fast firing loadouts so far, but you never know.

That sounded very cool, and left me very excited to get my hands on the title when it is released in the future. Before I wrapped up the interview, I had one last question I wanted to ask before I opened up the floor to Johnny. I asked him if he was forced to live in one of the worlds he created, which would he choose, and what world would he never want to step foot into?

JE: Oh, boy. Well, yeah, you know, I do have an answer to that, I would say Nowhere, MI for the world to live in. Because the idea is that a lot of strange supernatural phenomena are kind of constrained a little bit. So it’s not like a post-apocalyptic world, really. It’s more like, things just kind of continued on, but now there’s just something really odd going on that nobody really seems to understand or know about yet. So I think that’d be fine, because that would pretty much just be the same life I’m already living, except now there’ll be a chance of an evil flying clown face shooting missiles at me, which I think would be a good way to die in real life. As for worlds I would never want to live in, I’d say maybe the Turgor Pressure one is just kind of gross. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where a big evil thing comes out of the ocean and turns us all into little clay blocks.

With that, I had gone through all of the questions I had prepared for the interview, but before we ended the call, I took a moment to ask Johnny if there was anything we didn’t discuss that he would like to mention, whether it be more information about the game, a personal plug, or even just recommending other cool online oddities to the reader?

JE: You know, I actually do, I’ll just kind of run around on my little treadmill. I will say it would be cool if people would check out the inspirations I mentioned. I think Crypt Worlds in particular. I’m sure people have heard of it, because it’s probably one of the more well known weird games to come out of the early 2010s. Definitely everything by Stephen Gillmurphy, I would say 10 Beautiful Postcards is very underrated. I would strongly recommend playing it as it’s my Game of the Year for 2020. Not really much of a game, somebody described it as Yume Niki for people who eat glue. And I think that’s a very beautiful turn of phrase. So I’d say if you’re one of those people, play the game, please. I don’t eat glue, but I do love it. I’d say stuff by Bryce Bucher, he made Fatum Betula. That’s another really rad game. He’s a good friend, please play his games. Also, just shout out to my friend Ben. He put out the game Northstar Courier on the HPS1 demo disc for this year, play the Northstar demo because it takes place in the same world as Nowhere, MI, which is a fun little detail I will spoil here because it’s not really much of a spoiler. But I think it’s a fun game, you get to take photos of cryptids and drive around on your moped. There really isn’t anything quite like that, you know, driving around on the moped and getting violent brain trauma whenever you try to go up a slope. That’s my fault, by the way. But you know, stuff like that. What else? I mean, to be honest, I think that’s kind of it. It’s kind of hard to conjure these little shout-outs up. But those are definitely the ones I would recommend folks to look at. 

And with that we wrapped up the interview, I thanked Johnny again for taking the time to meet with me and to discuss his works. I ended the call infinitely more excited for Nowhere, MI than I was when I had started it. Hopefully we can get our hands on it by the end of 2023, but frankly, no matter how long it takes, it seems like it will be worth it. 

If you want to stay up to date on the development of Nowhere, MI, then be sure to visit Feverdream Johnny on Twitter, or visit his Itch.IO page to play the demo and see more of his short and spooky games. 

And as always, if you are fiending for the latest and greatest in ghoulish and gruesome gaming, then head back to DreadXP and read more of our frightful features.