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Music and Action! 


Johnny Whatever is a story-driven, mission-based game set in a living city (New London) where you control Johnny in his fight against the oppressive Iron Lady and her minions.  Based out of The Station in underground Lower London, Roland Clockworks dispatches Johnny to create anarchy, destroy the Iron Lady’s mustard plants, and fight her armies in an attempt to save his band mates and free the minds of the people.

Most everything in the world of Johnny Whatever can be affected by music.  Johnny is equipped with an upgraded guitar which manifests his unmatched guitar prowess into spectacular colored waves of electromagnetic impulses.  As Johnny, players interact with a multitude of elements and challenges with music.


Click on any of the links below to get a more detailed description of any of the following play mechanics:

 Note: The following game elements are described from a prototype perspective and are likely to evolve over the life of the project.




The Living City


The world of Johnny Whatever is a living, breathing, interactive stage!


Johnny Whatever is set in a futuristic vision of London where sound and music play a paramount role.  This living, breathing city is the stage for all of Johnny’s adventures as his guitar’s thundering message of freedom echoes to its every corner.  Players are free to explore its vast industrial sprawl and many back-alleyways.  They will discover and interact with a multitude of elements dealing with sound, music and action in any order their chance encounter or mission-motivated adventuring leads them.


This fantastic vision of futuristic London is divided into 3 zones, each with a distinct look and feel. Each of these "zones" has a central hub that Johnny may freely move around.  This hub contains things like a store, and a music club where Johnny can hone his guitar skills and compete in various mini-games.  These three hubs branch out into various levels that are far more linear in their approach.  Much like Legend of Zelda, or Jak and Daxter II, the player will branch out in any particular order and complete levels to move into the next "sandbox" hub.  Furthermore, there are plenty of activities to keep the player busy in the central area.  Freeing citizens and destroying Robo-bobbies are something the player can always do to in the central city. By obtaining power-ups and new abilities in certain missions, the player gains the necessary skills to reach new areas within the hub.  Once the Hub is completed (up to a certain level) the player may enter the final boss fight and move on to the next hub.

Citizens of both Upper and Lower London roam the City’s streets and navigate its roadways under AI control.  Meanwhile the Iron Lady’s goons are on unending patrol in search of anyone whose will won’t bend to the power of the Ministry of Inspiration… someone like Johnny Whatever.


How Johnny interacts with the environment will alter the way the roaming citizens, free thinkers and robot foes behave around him.  Some buildings can be entered or broken into with the power of Johnny’s guitar.  Buildings may house wares to collect, characters to interact with, Robo-Bobby stockpiles or venues of the underground music scene where Johnny can take center-stage.  On the outside, windows can be shattered with shrill-pitched solos, shop signs broken off their hinges and masonry crumbled with low-rumbling bass melodies, all for Johnny to use to his advantage in the battle against the evil robot regime. 


The following are examples of some of the interactive elements players will discover as they explore the environments:


  • Storm Drains – Hopping down a storm drain instantly returns Johnny to his home base “The Station” where he can power up his guitar, record some custom combo riffs for battle or travel to another station.


  • Traffic Lights – Johnny’s guitar can be used to manipulate traffic signals. Red colored notes crackle out of the guitar to connect with red traffic lights, changing them to green and causing collisions or ushering away vehicles that block alleys where power-ups or mission goals are hiding.  With music Johnny can alter the flow of traffic in the living city.


  • Street LightsTinted street lights can be shot out with the appropriate colored music, causing high-voltage electric explosions to rain down on the city streets, dealing damage to any unsuspecting robots there-under.


  • Mustard Mains and Hydrants – Sonically sealed mustard pipes can be blasted open with a powerful sequence of guitar strokes, drowning Bobbies in their own goop, scattering citizens and slowing traffic as mustard floods the street.


  • Boxes, Crates, Barrels etc - Utilizing the Havoc physics engine, New London is made into a virtual playground.  Everything that’s not nailed down can be manipulated!





Johnny Whatever’s controller layout is intended to allow players to navigate the world and combat the Iron Royals intuitively and effortlessly.  One item of interest is the way the musical notes have been mapped to the buttons.  Careful attention was paid to music theory, Johnny Whatever’s musical layout takes a “DVORAK” approach, where the most used notes are put on the fastest keys; additionally just about any combination of the primary keys will yield a pleasant sounding tune.

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Combat in Johnny Whatever is designed to be both visually and audibly impressive!


Combat  Overview

Johnny’s “upgraded” guitar (Nancy), which was given to him by the Queen’s royal gadget inventor Roland Clockworks, manifests his unparalleled guitar prowess into waves of destruction.  Players call forth a variety of guitar power chords in the form of spectacular colored waves of light which emanate from the guitar's positronic wave amplifier.  Each of these chords is mapped to one of the Xbox controller’s primary 4 buttons.  Players can then get at secondary chords using the controller’s left trigger or cycle through the many effects pedals using the D-pad.



Players control Johnny with the left analog stick.  Just like players are free to engage enemies in any order they wish, they are also free to navigate through the world in any direction they choose.  This is important because during combat, players can maneuver around the environment to gain tactical advantages as well as dodge incoming enemy attacks.  Dodging is accomplished with a simple double tap of the left analog stick.  Johnny moves faster than most of the enemies he will encounter, allowing players to break out of combat or avoid potentially disastrous scenarios.    



While rampaging through Lower London, players will be blasting out destructive chords.  Each chord has a corresponding color, for instance, the E chord is mapped to the controller’s A button and will emanate a fantastic green wave of musical annihilation.  Many of the Iron Lady’s goons have shields that protect them against various types of sonic attacks but make them vulnerable to others.  This is quite visible to players and if dealt with appropriately, is easily handled.  If an enemy is pulsing green, simply shoot him with a healthy dose of E chords!  By spawning and sending shielded enemies at the player in defined patterns we can lead the player into creating music.


Not all the enemies are shielded.  Most of them are “white” enemies and can be dispatched with any flavor of sonic ruin.  In this manner players are encouraged to “freestyle” and play whatever they want.  Even the shielded enemies can be killed with whatever types of tunes players want to play, it’s just more difficult as their shields must first be taken down before they become white enemies.

Whammy Bar

Mapped to the controller’s right trigger is the Whammy Bar.  When a player hits an enemy with a chord, he can then use the whammy bar to lift the enemy into the air.  When an enemy is suspended in the air, the player can use the movement joystick to thrash the enemy around in any direction they wish, smashing them into walls, dropping them on the street or throwing them through windows.


While mashing the buttons in any order will always sound good, players are encouraged and rewarded for playing actual music.  Over the course of the game’s many fantastic levels, players will find new tunes which will be entered into their song book.  These button combinations of chords are the sheet music for the game’s many licensed tunes.  Performing one of these tunes in combat will yield a special result.  Sometimes, a Combo will take the form of large-scale devastation.  Other times, the combo will produce a spell-like effect.  For instance, if you play Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" you will produce a smokescreen effect, giving you the ability to sneak past enemies for the duration of the effect.


Custom Player Combos

There’s even a place where players can record their own combos and pick the type of effects, animations and sounds they want the combo to culminate with.  The game then evaluates their combo and rates it for its difficulty and adjusts its power accordingly.  It's fun to try different combos and find a balance between what you can consistently recreate and what is powerful.  This is where players can invent their own riffs and be rewarded for using them during the course of the game.


Effects Pedals

Basic attacks and combos are just the beginning of Johnny Whatever’s totally unique combat system.  Players will obtain a variety of effects pedals that can be attached to the guitar’s positronic wave amplifier which will affect the way the sound manifests.  These pedals require batteries to run and more powerful effects eat up batteries faster.  Batteries naturally recharge, however new batteries can also be obtained by exploring the many nooks and crannies of the city or often as a reward for obliterating the Iron Lady’s goons.  Some of the effects you’ll find in Johnny Whatever are. . .


  • Echo – Bounce shot.  Player’s sound waves will ricochet off walls and enemies.  This is great for indoor fights or when players are overwhelmed by lots of enemies.
  • Stereo Chorus – Multi Shot.  Player’s sound waves will shoot multiple beams from the guitar.
  • Phaser – Laser damage.  Player’s sound waves will pass through enemies, damaging everything it comes in contact with.
  • Sustain – Damage over time.  Enemies hurt with sustain modified sound will continue to take damage until destroyed.


Mojo (Health)

While dispatching enemies, players must keep a close watch on their health or “Mojo Meter”.  When a player’s mojo is depleted they will be taken in for reprogramming by the Iron Royals.  Mojo is depleted when players take damage.  Mojo is obtained in a variety of ways, like picking up a can of Mojo-cola or returning to the Station where players can refill their mojo.



Johnny Whatever’s targeting mechanic is an intuitive “point and shoot” system where players simply point Johnny to face in the direction they want to shoot.  Within a determined “lock on” radius the guitar will auto orient the attack to the direction of the closest enemy or object.  The current target is indicated to the player by highlighting.



The robotic minions of the Iron Lady come in all shapes and sizes and deliver a wide range of threats.  From melee to ranged attacks, the enemies present in the prototype version of Johnny Whatever will represent a range of gameplay mechanics.


These enemies include:


  • Robo-Bobbies - The Iron Lady’s stock goon.  Even though the Robo-Bobbie is a basic model, they can come with all kinds of attachments which alter and enhance the way they subdue troublemakers.  From Billy Club wielding Bobbies, Mustard Cannon Shooters or Riot Shield wielding Enforcer Bobbies, Robo-Bobbies will present a variety of threats when encountered.


  • Beefeater-Guards - Towering mechanized hulks nearly two stories tall, the Beefeaters protect the most important facilities of upper London.  They have the ability to crush enemies beneath their massive, metallic feet with stomp attacks as well as deal powerful, swooping blows with their fists.


  • Propaganda Bots - Outfitted with a deafening array of back-mounted speakers, Propaganda Bots fly through the streets blaring messages and sanctioned music from the Iron lady to the subjugated populous.  Propaganda Bots fight back with actual sound, dispensing musical countermeasures which dampen the effectiveness of rock-n-roll music (Johnny’s music) to protect other robots in their vicinity from the power of illegal music.  More importantly however, Propaganda Bots have the ability to turn free-thinkers back into horribly oppressed citizens by filling their minds with the bleak uninspired tones of the Iron Lady.




Free the People!


The people need music to free their minds! Johnny is out to start a revolution against the Iron Royals and Rock-N-Roll is his weapon. This manifests most prominently when Johnny performs for the people.

In all environments, whether it’s a city street in Lower London or the upper regions of New Buckingham, the environments are mostly populated with people going about their horribly oppressed lives. People in Johnny Whatever all respond to music. Music deprograms and jolts them out of the ‘metronomic trance’ they live their lives in. Missions in the game will often have multiple objectives and freeing a certain number of people is a frequent theme.


Change the world with Rock n Roll!

Each citizen has a favorite song they desperately want to hear.  When a player approaches a citizen he can use the ‘Use’ button and a song bar at the bottom of the screen will display the right sequence of buttons to play that citizen’s favorite song.  If Johnny plays the song well enough, POW! The citizen’s inner rocker comes out and the dull gas-masked suited citizen model is replaced by a free-thinking music loving rocker dynamically generated by our create-a-rocker character system. Once they’re free they set out on their own path of destruction! Convert every citizen in a level and create Total Anarchy!


In the case of licensed song riffs, when a player brings up the song bar for a citizen and plays the first note of the song, the full version of the song complete with backup instruments, effects and lyrics kick in to play along.  Johnny’s guitar will sound just like the guitar from that famous riff!

Visually: Once you’ve converted a citizen to the ways of Rock-N-Roll they’ll set out on their own path of destruction and mayhem pelting Robo-Bobbies with jars of mustard, smashing windows and generally wreaking havoc. The player can completely convert a level of the city into total anarchy if they choose

Visually: Once you start converting citizens to rockers, each one has a value and the more you convert, the higher the Anarchy Level will rise. The higher the Anarchy Level, the more enemies will be dispatched to try and capture you. The converted citizens while under the influence of Rock-N-Roll, trash the city and attack any authorities that show up, helping you in your fight against the Iron Royals. Also dispatched is the Propaganda-Bot, designed specifically to turn the anarchist rockers back to horribly oppressed citizens. It’s important to destroy any Propaganda-Bots that enter the level quickly, because they can put a stop to your revolution in no time at all.

Style Meter and Monster Riffs

As players free citizens, they're awarded a number of style points depending on how closely they matched the ideal rhythm for the citizens’ songs. These points accumulate in the Style Meter, which also takes into account things like use of the Whammy Bar and the accuracy of notes. When the Style Meter is maxed out and flashing, Johnny can execute a Monster Riff (a combo played when the Style Meter is full). Players can perform any of the combos from their song book as soon as their meter fills or they can keep freeing citizens and let the Style Meter's power grow and grow untill they're ready to unleash a Monster Riff of incredible strength.

Connectivity to other mechanics

The Style Meter ties in directly with the other key mechanics in a system that is designed to create natural dependencies and opportunities, supplying the player with many potential destinations and goals within a given level.  

The keystone of all of these mechanics is our core mechanic at work empowering and rewarding the player to create music with their game controller in fun interactive and accessible manner.





Puzzles in Johnny Whatever are designed to be easily solved and very rewarding!


Puzzles Overview

Everything in the fantastic world of Johnny Whatever is music based.  Players will be confronted with a variety of musical brain-teasers that will challenge their precision, memory, rhythm, reflexes and observational skills all at the same time.  By using the guitar, players solve these puzzles and gain really cool rewards!


These riddles are rarely choke points in the game; rather they serve as bonus areas where players can pick up something extra.  However, when a puzzle is a choke point in the game, the solution will be fairly obvious.


Sometimes these musical puzzles block access to new areas, sometimes they will bestow new powers on the player and sometimes they will involve boss encounters.  Puzzles in Johnny Whatever help to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting and are never too complicated that it frustrates the player.


Puzzles found in the Johnny Whatever Prototype


  • Gridlock - This is a very simple puzzle that challenges players' observational awareness.  There’s an alleyway that is blocked by a large truck.  This truck can not move because traffic is held up by a red light at the intersection.  An observant player will by this time have noticed that traffic lights work under the same governing mechanics as all other things in the world . . . music!  Whenever a traffic light in Lower London changes from red to green it makes the musical note “E”.  Likewise when a light changes from green to red, it makes the note “B”.  If a player shoots a burst of “E” at the traffic light (by pressing the Green button) it will change from red to green and the traffic will start moving allowing access to the alley!


  • Musical Lock - The Mustard Refinery is located at the far end of the city.  Access to the refinery is guarded by a door with a musical combination lock.  The lock consists of several brightly spinning dials and a heavy iron bar.  The spinning dials are color-coded and blink at intervals corresponding to a specific song the door needs to hear before the bar will slide away and the door will open.  This puzzle rewards the player’s ability to play a sequence of different notes, as well as their ability to time their button presses (the player’s rhythm).  Playing an incorrect song will reset the combination lock.  However, if Johnny plays something close to the correct song but not quite, the door will shudder, telling the player they are close to succeeding, but remain closed.


  • Mojo-Cola - Frequently located around the world of Johnny Whatever are Mojo-Cola vending machines.  These vending machines will dispense a delicious can of the frosty beverage when the proper tune is played for them.  Since Mojo-Cola is used to replenish the player’s health these frequent puzzles are simple and obvious.



Boss Encounters


Every Boss encounter in Johnny Whatever is a totally memorable experience!


At the end of each area, players will face some pretty nasty bosses.  Each of these mini levels will test the player’s abilities in new ways.  From robotic boy bands, to a massive mechanical Big Ben that comes to life, bosses are sure to be memorable encounters.  For the prototype, players will have to defeat the Mustard Mixer.  Once inside the Mustard Factory this mechanized serpent emerges from the vats of thick ochre goop where he perpetually patrols the inner workings of the factories many tubes and tunnels.


The Mustard Mixer looks like a giant, nickel-plated, robotic centipede whose segments are brightly lit with colored lights.  Quick and versatile, he doesn’t stay above the mustard for long as he pops his head up to take pot shots at Johnny and then quickly sinks back into the thick goopy vats.  Players will quickly see that each of the segments in this Behemoth are colored and are likely to work just like everything else in the game.  Players can only shoot one segment at a time, the head.  Upon doing so, the head will pop, and mustard will splatter everywhere and the next link in the chain will become the head!  This new head will also be colored and must be killed in the same way.  In this manner the players will have to play a specific song to kill the Mustard Mixer.  Get it wrong or take too long and the Mixer’s segments will start to grow back! 





On or offline, Johnny Whatever has endless multiplayer potential


Multiplayer is where Johnny Whatever really shines.  Whether online or offline its many modes and games are designed to foster a community through competition and love of music.  These modes include…


  • Cooperative story mode – This is where up to 3 players can blaze a trail through the fantastic world of Johnny Whatever’s main story using any combination of the games 3 main instruments; guitar, bass, and drums.
  • Versus Combat – In this mode up to 8 players vie for supremacy in the streets of Lower London.  In a clever twist on the game's music mechanic. Capture the Flag, Death Match and Team Death Match modes are available.
  • Jam Mode – A multi-user jam room where players can pick up any of the multitudes of instruments and simply jam out.  Create a rock-star and take him online to showoff your musical skills.  Online bands!
  • Dueling Guitars – Go head to head with an opponent in a musical showdown.  Often referred to as Mentor Mode, this game doubles as a way to teach others how to lay down your wicked riffs.
  • Premium Content – For an additional small fee players can download new maps, new songs, new instruments and new skins.  Download the Tommy Lee skin and drum samples and take them into a Jam room. (online only)


For the prototype version of Johnny Whatever, Cooperative story mode is available for up to 2 players.  Guitar and Bass will be the two instruments and any combination of them is allowed.


The story mode portion of the game dynamically adapts to the number of players and the instruments in the world.  New functionalities, combos and previously unavailable areas can be found when playing with friends. Some examples of this include . . .


  • New Areas – Guitars have the ability to hit high squealing notes that will shatter glass.  Bass has the ability to hit low rumbling notes that will crumble away loose concrete.  In this manner new areas can be reached.  Sometimes it requires the ability to do both in order reach super secret areas.
  • New Combos – Players are always free to play whatever they want.  However, if in a multiplayer game one person plays the guitar part of a combo while another plays the very different “drum” part of a combo. The resulting effect will be an over-the-top finish with spectacular, multiplayer only visuals.
  • More Enemies – When more players are in the world the Ministry of Inspiration will dispatch more of its forces to deal with the increased threat.  This makes for an interestingly different level.
  • Jam Mode – The ability to simply lounge around, pick up an instrument and “jam out” is a key feature in Johnny Whatever’s multiplayer functionality. 
  • Vehicles – While vehicles and the role they will play in Johnny Whatever is still not completely hashed out, the option to have drivable vehicles that support multiple riders and gunners has not been ruled out.





This game is no rental, Johnny Whatever offers near endless playability!


Unlockable Characters

Johnny is the greatest guitar player the world has ever known.  On his quest to free his band mates he’ll encounter many guitar specific challenges that will test this fact.  These tests revolve around rhythm, timing, accuracy, reflex, memory and the role they have in playing the guitar.  So playing through the game with Johnny and his guitar Nancy is a very unique experience. 


Players beat the game when they defeat the Iron Lady and free Johnny’s band mates, The Hooligans.  Upon doing so, each of the Hooligans becomes a playable character.  Now players can play through the entire game again with the bass player Rory Cummings or the drummer Cyil Valicious.  Playing through the game as either of these two characters is a very different experience as all the challenges now revolve around totally different instruments.  The riffs players learn and the songs they are taught are now from the perspective of a completely different instrument.  Additionally, because these new instruments will affect the world in new ways, new areas previously inaccessible can now be explored.


Note: The idea is that by the time players beat the game with any of its playable characters they will feel comfortable playing that characters instrument in an online band.




Each of Johnny Whatever’s many “sand box style” levels are chock full of hidden rewards or “Schwag”.  Many of these Schwag items are easy to find as they are placed in clear site, however some are more difficult . . . much more difficult.  Often involving complex puzzles or intense battles, these pickups make for lots of fun replayability as they are not required to complete missions, but just cool extras to collect. 


When a mission is completed, the player is clued as to how many Schwag items were available and how many were actually collected within that mission.  This combined with the ability to freely go back to any completed area makes for fun, replayable missions! 


Back at the Station, players can enter the Treasury Car where Roland keeps all the valuable knick knacks he’s collected over the years, this is where players can view their Schwag. Schwag range from unlockable crazy hair pieces or wild rock star clothes, to full length versions of the games many licensed tunes.  Other Schwag items might be trailers or teasers from upcoming games or rare concept images from Johnny Whatever.  Mini games, new guitar samples, new skins . . . the possibilities are endless, players never know what they’ll get when they find some Schwag!

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