Liberation Through Destruction – Interview With Just Cause 3’s Roland Lesterlin

At PAX Australia 2015, Ewan sat down with Just Cause 3 game director, Roland Lesterlin, to discuss the game’s development and philosophy. 


We got Rico in the background watching over us –

Roland: Kicking –

Not only is he kicking you he’s got his gun pointed at you too hey?

Yeah, yeah, maybe he wants to direct Just Cause 4.

[laughs]

We didn’t just confirm Just Cause 4 did we?

No! No! Never!

[chuckles all round]Just Cause 3 Interview.00_00_43_17.Still001Alright cool. My question is Just cause seemingly has such a passionate fan base, I’ve seen that just on the floor today playing Just Cause 3, I’ve got a friend who is particularly passionate about it –

Nice! I like him already!

[laughs]

How important is that for you to have these loyal fans and what sort of aspects did you incorporate into 3 to as to really win them over?

“…let’s focus on the sandbox first, let’s focus on player mechanics and gameplay systems that surround it, then do everything we can to kind of get out of the players way to what they feel like doing.”

Having a hard core fan base that’s been playing the game for 5 year in Just Cause 2 allowed us to actually get a lot of information as to what people are after, you know they loved the grappling hook they loved messing with things; we saw there was a humour that players would find themselves, like, they use the game as a sandbox first and foremost. They were kind of like, “Ah let’s just do what I want, I’m gonna tether people to whatever I feel like” and we’re like, “OK”, so if that’s the way people play the game let’s make sure the first thing we work on with Just Cause 3 is getting that to feel right, let’s focus on the sandbox first, let’s focus on player mechanics and gameplay systems that surround it, then do everything we can to kind of get out of the players way to what they feel like doing. And that philosophy went in there and also said, we see people laughing a lot when the play Just Cause 2 and so we knew we had to laugh a lot while making Just Cause 3 ’cause there’s something that gets into games when people are having fun making something, there’s a bit of a soul or something that gets into it and hopefully people have a lot of fun with Just Cause 3.

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So in listening to the fans, there was quite a popular multiplayer mod of Just Cause 2. So far we’ve only seen some asynchronous multiplayer elements, do we have any plans for a competitive for cooperative multiplayer at any stage?

“…we found that the game’s a lot of fun to play but watching a great just cause player is also a lot of fun.”

No, we really wanted to focus on doing one thing really well. So, we wanted to create that open creative sandbox for the player, and Just Cause we found had kind of two players in it; in Just Cause 2 ’cause there were some features, where you could upload to YouTube and in the end we had 12 million videos of Just Cause 2 uploaded to YouTube which is kind of insane, and we found that the game’s a lot of fun to play but watching a great just cause player is also a lot of fun. And over the last couple of years we’ve seen the rise of YouTube fan-bases: a kind of new way to entertain people over the internet –

Streaming –

Streaming of course. And we knew that if we could create a game that kind of fit in there we could have a game that people could have a tonne of fun with all the amazing things they can think of, the creativity behind it. I remember sitting down with people like Microsoft, and Sony, and Valve guys when they were talking about what their future plans were, you know, as a dev you kind of get the inside scoop on how, you know, the consoles are gonna be, they’re gonna be like, “ here’s the next-gen console this is what we’re gonna do”. And we’re sitting there like, “wow, they made the consoles for Just Cause” they got more powerful and now you can easily jump in there and upload videos for it. So that’s where we kind of kept our concentration…

“…they made the consoles for Just Cause…”

…and those mod guys – and a bunch of them from Australia as well – who did the multiplayer are incredible, I mean to spend that much time and dedication on a labour of love, full respect. We even played some Just Cause 2 multiplayer with them in the office, set up a little private server so all the devs kind of jumped on there and we played together, but right now we want to first and foremost make that game, just like the Just Cause 2 fans got it. They got this incredible big single player game, and we wanna do that again for Just Cause 3 and yeah, we added a lot of asynchronous features because it’s tough, you and I have different schedules, we’re literally on the other side of the world from each other but it would still be fun to compete against each other and have that conversation that Just Cause can make, like, “Can you fling a person as far as possible?” And I’ll fling someone 700 metres, like off the side of a cliff and then you’ll send me a challenge back that says, “I flung some 1.2 kilometres cause you used the top of a mountain”. To have that kind of dialogue back and forth, I think, is pretty unique a lot of fun to be able to support.

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We’ve seen quite an impressive amount of destruction in Just Cause 3 –

[laughs]

And you spoke of the power of the consoles as well, so the question I’ve got for you is how permanent do you expect this destruction to be, is there gonna be any aspect of it changing the game world much at all?

For sure. Anything, the destruction that you do against – militia and his military force and the dictators hold on the world, everything you destroy from the military assets in a base to the propaganda in a town, you destroy, we actually discretely save in the background constantly so you never have to worry that you know that like I destroyed this fuel tank and you leave the base and come back that fuel tank stays destroyed, so that’s how you progress through the game, you kind of liberate the world through destruction, ’cause liberation and destruction sort of go together for sure.

“…that’s how you progress through the game, you kind of liberate the world through destruction, ’cause liberation and destruction sort of go together for sure.”

It does, having played some this morning. It’s a lot of fun!

[chuckles all around]

My particular favourite one was grappling the motorbike and just sought of hurling the rider off, and I figured you could do that with a jet ski as well.

[more laughs. I’m funny alright?!]

We did have a few things we decided not to keep permanent in the destruction which is like a bridge or like a gas station cause the gas station which is so much fun to blow up that we’re like, “no, it’s gotta rebuild” so we’re trying to give jobs to the people of Medici –

You’ve got those construction crews working hard –

Yeah exactly! [indicating to Rico] He’s a job creator.

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So finally, what I wanna ask you is, you’re releasing in December –

Yeah

It’s a pretty packed holiday schedule

It is…

We have a lot of open world games this year as well, and some particularly notable ones. What do you feel makes Just Cause 3 standout and worthy of a position on people’s Christmas lists?

“There’s  just a real sense of enjoyment and almost like taking a vacation in a video game, game-cation, something, I just made up a new word.”

Well, we have a certain humour to it. And I think Just Cause has always been a game you can go to. It’s winter – in the rest of the world it’s winter, its summer down here – and when it’s winter time and it’s cold outside and you’ve had a long day at work, Just Cause is kind of a perfect game to going in and play for a few of hours, blow some stuff up and just get the sunshine, and wing-suit through the world. There’s  just a real sense of enjoyment and almost like taking a vacation in a video game, game-cation, something, I just made up a new word. But I think Just Cause does something a little different because there are a lot of open worlds but this is kind of more of a sandbox, and the open world is almost secondary to the sandbox experience. It’s about finding your creativity, and laughing and just enjoying yourself. You know, it’s an action-comedy game and it’s got some good 80s one liners in it and you know, sitting around with your family at Christmas it’s entertaining to watch.


Just Cause 3 is set to be released on December 1, 2015 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 

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