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Exploring The Fictional World Of Medici In Just Cause 3

by Ben Reeves on Nov 26, 2014 at 08:00 AM

A lot of developers will buy photo books or travel videos based on the locations they're designing a game around; Avalanche Studios collects vacation photos. Anytime someone on staff gets back from a trip to the Mediterranean they send over their photos to Avalanche's art team and writes it off as a travel expense. Avalanche has used this database of photos to create the fictional world of Medici, the setting for Just Cause 3. To get a better understanding of this new world, we spoke with art director Zach Schlappi who walked us through the game's entire ecosphere.

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"For Just Cause 3, we wanted a sort of new location, and no one has tackled the Mediterranean in the way we saw it. Of course, Assassin's Creed had Florence and Italy, but we were looking at Monaco and the central/southern Mediterranean. It's such a good area because it's a little bit of everything. Everyone's done South America. Everyone has done Eastern Russia, but we thought that the Mediterranean was an untapped resource. I looked at a span of places from Sicily to Northern Africa to Greece to Albania, which gave us a nice quilt to work with. There are some great dusty environments, and you get some of that hot hazy feeling, those beautiful emerald waters, and those great big skies. It seems like a great area to lay waste to, because it was so beautiful."

"A deep world has to have some culture, it has to have a lot of meaning, it can't be something that's throw-away or disposable. Medici is believable and yet very approachable. It's a place you might want to go on vacation, yet it has trouble. It has a dictatorship. After that, I wanted to ask ourselves, 'How do you play with that language in the environment?' So, I created a system of colors: grey, yellow, and red are the colors of oppression. While the pristine world is full of more natural colors. If you look at any picture of the Mediterranean you see blue skies, wheat fields, and a lot of lavender. If you look at all our concept art there is a constant color theme of golden ochre versus teal blue. It's always those two complementary colors bouncing around."

"We have five different biomes and they all have there own palette feel. Each one has an identity. There is an air of exploration and expanse as people travel the world. We have two different coasts. One that is brutal with jagged rocks and deep sea cliffs, and the other is very smooth and sandy were all the tourist go. As you wander further inland you have the pastoral areas, which are full of fields of lavender and sunflowers like in Italy or Spain. That adds a sense of the human element to the game; this is a place where people live. It also creates a contrast for the scrublands which is like the Mediterranean wild west, which is full of industry and deforestation. Beyond that you have the forest, which are full of mystery and have a smokey atmosphere. Finally, players will approach the icy mountains. So players have this full sense of progression of all representations of water, from mountain snow to watery coasts."

For more details on Avalanche's upcoming open-world title be sure to check out our cover hub, which is filled with exclusive content such as hands-on impressions and a video history of the studio.