“A slam-bam, non-stop action game.” That’s the phrase that we used when we originally presented our first Just Cause game concept and design for the team at Eidos back in 2003. Three years later, Just Cause was released and we are now celebrating a decade of chaos.
Just Cause is so much more than a game to me. The way we approach game design, the way we work in our studio, how we are physically seated; a lot of that comes from the philosophy behind designing Just Cause. With all its playfulness, colourfulness and ultimate freedom, the game is a perfect metaphor for how we run Avalanche Studios.
I also think Just Cause is important to the open-world genre, and know that we have inspired a few games to let go a bit of that seriousness. We’ve inspired developers to have their games less grounded in reality, because the opposite is so much fun. Rico is really the ultimate action hero and even though our worlds are realistic, Rico can do things most action heroes only dream of. Who cares then, if he has a parachute that goes in and out of his back, shoots an infinite cord from a thing on his arm to connect a huge gas tank or jumps in and out of cars like a rubber man. It’s Just Cause!
My original vision for the game was really simple. I wanted to make a game where players could skydive and land on a moving vehicle. Why? Because it’s fun and crazy.
It was something I had never seen in a game before. Linus Blomberg, the other co-founder of Avalanche Studios, had this vision of a technology that could deliver infinite landscapes in explicit detail. That paved way for a game where we needed lots and lots of vehicles of all kinds.
The parachute was just a necessity from day one. The grappling hook however, was invented quite late in the project and I have to give some of the credit to our former Executive Producer at Eidos (which today is Square-Enix), Martin Alltimes.
By this time, sometime in early 2004, we called it the Grapple Gun. We had a little trouble getting over that hurdle that we needed to explain the rationale behind everything in the game. That all changed in Just Cause 2 when we attached the grappling hook to Rico’s arm. All of a sudden, all bets were off. We had a game that offered more autonomy than any other, which obviously inspired our players to live out those action-hero dreams they carried inside of them.
Causing chaos was a given, considering the tools at our players disposal, but the idea of actually making chaos into a game currency came in during the later phase of Just Cause 2. Now the game had become a chaos simulator. The more chaos you caused the more we rewarded you for it, because what can be more fun than blowing sh*t up!
Speaking of simulations, our worlds have always been just as strong characters as Rico himself. San Esperito, Panau and Medici. All worlds with unique terrain, architecture, vehicles and villains. These are playgrounds for destruction and have all been designed by taking pieces of reality and mixing them up in humorous and beautiful chaos cocktails.
Lastly, I see our development team as much bigger than the team actually working on the game. Our players are just as much a part of the process as everyone at Avalanche Studios. The community and fans have inspired us to constantly improve and have come up with things to do in the game we could never think of. It’s been great to have them – you? – along for our decade of destruction.