We Ask New Flight Sim Developer Jason Williams About His Company
SimHQ: Jason we’ve known you for several years now and we had no idea you were working on something this big until very recently. You dropped a hint to “20mm” at the E for All show in LA, but then we heard nothing more. It comes somewhat of a surprise. When and why did you start up 777 Studios?
Jason: I started 777 Studios almost a year ago with the hope of realizing my long-time dream of actually building flight-sims for a living. It’s taken almost 12 months to put the proper pieces into place to begin development. And now it’s go time! I’m very excited to say the least. I’m living the American dream. Oh and the correct way to pronounce it is “Triple Seven Studios”. If my wife couldn’t pronounce it right I figured I’d better say it here. LOL.
SimHQ: Excuse the bluntness, but is this a “real” company or is this you and a couple buddies who can code getting together and promising to make something awesome only to have it never see the light of day?
Jason: No this is a real company. 777 Studios is completely professional in every regard. I am 100% committed to its success. I am risking my personal fortune and professional reputation on its success or failure.
SimHQ: You’ve been nice to our members and most folks at SimHQ know you as the “GoGamer.com guy”. What else have you done to qualify you to develop a flight sim?
Jason: Good question. Well as you mentioned I am the VP of Marketing at Game-Xpert, inc. which is the parent company to GoGamer. We are a multi-million dollar retail and distribution operation that specializes in PC games and accessories. The position has given me great vantage point in which to learn all about the sales and distribution of PC games including simulation titles. It’s been an amazingly useful experience for what I am getting into now. My position at GoGamer has put me in touch with so many people who work in the gaming industry which has allowed me to understand the process of creating a game much more than before. I have also been involved in product development for the TekNmotion brand of computer accessories. The Pulsar SX headphones you see advertised on SimHQ were actually designed by me.
Before GoGamer I was at NaturalPoint as the TrackIR™ Product Manager. I was responsible for marketing and developer relations. I was an early believer in the TrackIR™ and eventually working for NaturalPoint was another great learning experience. I learned a lot about marketing and developing a product for a niche market like computer flight simulation. And my products will always support TrackIR™.
And even before my work at NaturalPoint I was part of the massive undertaking that was the Pacific Fighters 3rd party modeling team. My partner Simon and I built and painted some of the planes found in the sim. Notably the Mk. 21 Beaufighter, the Ohka and we modified the Betty mother-ship for it and all three variants of the Ki-46 are ours. And let me just say that my skinning skills have improved ten times over since then. Every time someone bashes the defaults skins for the planes I painted a little part of me dies inside. LOL. We also made a TBD Devastator that looked sweet, but never made it in.
During this time I ran a web site at www.il2-database.com which attempted to track the progress of all the 3rd party activity for Pacific Fighters. What a chore that was! It eventually consumed all of me and I had to shut it down since the 3rd party thing was not working well. I watched my friend Ilya Schevchenko manage that operation and I have tried to learn from what I saw him go through. He worked extremely hard to make that title happen and about killed himself from exhaustion I think.
I guess you can say I have done just about everything except be the developer. I have always tried to support our hobby by giving simmers something to cheer about at every step. A couple of my favorite moves that I look back on and smile are; bringing IL-2 1946 to the USA three months before anyone else, bringing Lock-On Flaming Cliffs and the printed manual to the USA, selling the X-52 Pro for only $99 and introducing the Ergodex DX1 multi-function panel to the community. Of course, my efforts here pale in comparison to someone like Oleg and Ilya, but I am proud of them nonetheless. I hope someone had some fun due to my efforts.
SimHQ: So does this mean you are leaving GoGamer?
Jason: I’m not leaving GoGamer for the time being. I will be pulling double-duty until I need to devote all my time to 777 Studios. That won’t be a problem until we get completely ramped up. I’ll let everyone know if and when I leave GoGamer. I like working at GoGamer and leaving it would be hard, but if everything goes as planned it will happen eventually. There are more savvy marketers out there than me I can assure you. GoGamer will be fine.
SimHQ: We know you’re risking a lot — but why take the chance? There are a lot of start-up flight sims that stay in vaporware mode forever. Why would 777 Studios be any different?
Jason: There comes a time when it’s simply now or never. I felt that I had acquired the requisite management skills and knowledge to pull it off and I finally realized that I was tired of waiting around for others to make the kind of sim that I wanted to see. I want to build what I and I think the community wants to fly. And I think the biggest difference between us and others is the fact that we have an actual tried and true engine at our disposal. We’re not hacking it, we’re not hexing it and we’re not de-compiling an encrypted executable. We have full access to the source code and from there we can go anywhere.