INTERVIEW: 'Double Action Boogaloo' Developer Jorge Rodriquez
You may have seen recently that we have been posting gameplay from free to play shooter Double Action Boogaloo. With enough ammunition and Matrix-esque style to satisfy your action fantasy needs, Double Action Boogaloo is a hell of a lot of fun. We reached out to Jorge Rodriguez, the developer and mind behind the game to learn where this all started.
Hey Jorge, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about what you do?
Hi I’m Jorge, I’m a game designer. I built Double Action as my side project while I was a student at UCLA. Before I went back to school I was an independent game developer.
I understand that you’ve been working on games for a long time now, having worked on numerous projects with many collaborators and even dedicating time to teach others on YouTube. What compelled you to get involved in making these games?
The high-concept answer to your question is: I just like making things that other people enjoy or find useful. I like to help people and make people smile. I can’t stop making things. I have on my desk a list of projects I’m working on, a list that continues to grow more than my time capacity allows for. The last item on the list reads “Don’t add anything else to this list!” Sometimes I build things because they’re helpful for other people (like the YouTube math videos) and other times I want to entertain and share an emotion. For Double Action I wanted to make an emotion in the people who play it: The emotion of feeling like an action movie star.
I found out about you from Double Action Boogaloo, which we’ve been sharing footage of a lot recently. How did Double Action come to fruition and what are its origins?
In 2001 or so I was playing a lot of Half-Life multiplayer mods, like Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike 1.3. A friend introduced me to a mod called The Specialists. It was a simple deathmatch game with dives, slowmo, and lots of firearms. The simple-minded expression of fun vicariously by way of action movie appealed to me. I played it a lot and became active in the community, eventually persuading the original creator to let me take over development. Years later, fans of The Specialists asked me to make a sequel, but since I didn’t create the original game and I wanted to go in a slightly different direction, I decided instead to create a spiritual successor. That’s where Double Action came from.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of comparisons to John Woo, Heroic Bloodshed cinema and Max Payne over the years when people mentioned Double Action. Were these notable influences during the development of the game? What influenced you specifically?
I certainly saw all of those movies and played the games even long before I started making Double Action. I’m proud to say that we made The Specialists and Double Action before Max Payne 3 had multiplayer! I watched many Hong Kong action movies as a kid, like The Professional and Hard Boiled. They all inspired Double Action. “Capture the Briefcase” mode in Double Action was refined from an idea I had from watching The Professional while working on The Specialists. The original idea was “Save the Girl Mode”, where there would be a Natalie Portman NPC that any player could lead around, and if you got Natalie to a goal point in the level then you win. But there were a lot of problems there so the girl turned into a briefcase, because I’ve seen all of the early Tarantino films, back when they all had briefcases full of money.
Double Action has a very loving community behind it, turning the game into a bit of a cult hit. What were your expectations before the game was released?
I had no expectations that it would garner the audience that it did. Double Action is the opposite of a competitive game, in fact I would say that it’s aggressively anti-competitive in most ways, and it’s difficult to build a lasting audience for a game like that. I was humbled that videos of it were made by many popular YouTube and Twitch people. I almost couldn’t believe it. The fact that people are still finding the game and playing it after all this time is wonderful. At one point I remember a published list of the best free games on the Internet and Double Action did surprisingly well, #19 I think. Right up there just under Dwarf Fortress.
Double Action did better than I would have thought, and I would have liked to build a business around it and release more versions. We even had features planned and a name picked out. The next version was to be called Double Action: Doves of Fury, and each version would have another fun subtitle. But I didn’t want to be beholden to a business while I was in school because I thought it would be irresponsible to the players if I had a higher priority for my time, and after school I decided to go a different way with my career.
Lastly, what can we expect to see from you in the future?
I now work as a designer at Amazon Game Studios on a game called Crucible. What little information there is out there about it is old and out of date, but announcements will come eventually and I think folks who enjoyed Double Action should look forward to it.