Peter Johansson talks Just Cause 2
Peter Johansson, lead game designer at Avalanche, is in London to talk about Just Cause 2, the developer's new action title which has been firmly off the radar in recent months. However, with the game now in a position where publisher Eidos are willing to give it a public airing, we saw some in-game action then sat down with Peter for a bit of a chin wag about Rico's new adventure.
How long have you been working on Just Cause 2, Peter?
Actually at the beginning it was only me, so we've been working on it from before Just Cause 1. When I got involved in the project we were starting to evaluate Just Cause 1. We went through the things we wanted for the sequel. That was three years ago; we went into full production just after the first game was released.
Is Just Cause 2 more open-world?
I'd say so yes, it is important to us, because we have this huge game world. We created a game, with great content, a game that works with a huge game world. In the first game there was the huge world - but not enough stuff to do. We worked on that. This time it works with the size of the world. I would say the chaos system comes in here; giving everything around you meaning. Everything works together, and helps you progress.
How much variety is there in the gameplay? How does the 'chaos' work?
You have a lot of different way of causing chaos. The smartest way is probably a combination of free-roaming and missions, even while you're doing missions you can keep causing this chaos. We have a lot of missions; loads of variety. There's a lot for people to do - submarines, chases, twists, lots of variety. We wanted a lot more mission variety. As you do them, there is more diversity in the game world. More locations. You can just blow things up, but there are also Colonels to hunt, it's all up to you. You could play the game purely for free-roaming, if you want, although you probably won't.
How much gameplay is there?
There's a lot. Someone asked me... I'm not sure. But if you do everything there's a lot. Some of the missions are large, they take 30 or 40 minutes; and there are over 50 missions. There are 260 settlements to discover in the world, there's the free roaming. They'll be added to the map as you discover them. You can spend 20 minutes in each of those.
Could the game be more "over the top"? Have you gone as far as you can?
Actually, that's one of the things we've been thinking about. Can we really do this? Basically, that's what Just Cause is about. Somewhere, deep down, it has realistic routes, but its all about fun. Just Cause is all about playing around; we're offering a playground.
Was there anything so crazy you decided you couldn't do it, in the end?
Yeah, I mean, you have a bunch of things. There's even stuff in there we're not sure about. Dragging guys behind trucks; attaching the grappling rope to people, pulling them together automatically, it allows you to include the reflex, suspend the guy from the roof. It's almost too cruel! There's a lot of fun stuff you can discover. The other day, at the office, some guy tethered a guy to a pressure gas tank. Then he shot it and it flew away, with the guy still attached!
Is the story important?
It is quite important. We wanted to have one, keep the player involved. It gives the world context. The reasoning behind the need for chaos. You have to have a goal in mind. You need to provoke a reaction; that's where the story comes in. It is important. You get story in the missions, too, everything is delivered via cut-scenes.
Does it follow on from the first Just Cause?
It's a few years after the first game - the regime change theme is back - our hero spent a few years in Mexico drinking beer. We wanted to make Rico grow up.
Will there be a third game; does the story support that?
You never know where the agent will end up... they could find some other corner of the world to work in next. We'll see where that takes us.
Do you have any DLC plans?
Yes, we do, I can't talk about it too much. We have the technology to do it...
What can you tell me about the technology... the engine?
The technology is completely developed in house.
Will it be applied to other games?
We are working on other things, that I can't talk about now. It's all our in-house engine. We're really proud of that.
Could you do a Just Cause movie?
Yeah, probably! That could be a cool movie!
Antonio Bandaras as Rico?
He could be good, definitely. It would be cool. We've discussed it; but we wouldn't be involved as game designers, we have spoken about how it could be done. It would be really fun.
Thanks for your time, Peter.