As with many of my games, it began with a title.
My coworker Matt and I were both fascinated by juggalos — the fan culture surrounding the horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse. An entire subgenre of music had sprung out of this duo, and if that wasn't enough, other enterprises like movies, wrestling events, and even an annual festival — the Gathering of the Juggalos — all expanded the reach of juggalo culture.
A couple years later, I stumbled upon Nathan Rabin's book You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes. I was somewhat familiar with the fandom surrounding both of the bands that the book mentions, but the empathy Rabin developed from his time in the ICP world really resonated with me. In particular, I found the mythology surrounding ICP's discography — each album representing a fabled "Joker Card" that helps round out their conception of heaven, hell, and the souls that inhabit the space between — pretty interesting in its own right. I knew it wasn't my scene — I'm a west-coaster, far from the land of Faygo soda — but I couldn't stop thinking about it.
And I had the title: Escape from Juggalo Mountain. I think it's a good title — it grabs you. But I realized I wanted to tell a deeper story, less about ICP itself and more about the mythology they had created. And I realized it would make for a fascinating setting in a futuristic, dystopian world where a separatist society of the true believers had carved out a piece of land for themselves, one that they'd defend to the death.
In 2017, I brought the idea up with a couple of my friends, Ben Morgan and Nathan Harrison. Both are skilled writers with an interest in creating narrative-driven video games, and they latched onto the idea immediately. And thankfully, they each made it their own. Together, we took the story into some unexpected directions and laid the groundwork of a deep, richly realized fictional world together. It was one of the most challenging things I've ever done as a writer, and it's honestly something I'm very proud of.
But it wasn't until we brought on Sarah Morgan as our illustrator that the game really came to life. Her detailed illustrations of the locales you visit really gives the game a sense of place and progress. You can see a sample of the game's illustrations below.
Some content warnings before you play: this game is rife with profanity and it depicts several situations of sexual harassment. We worked hard to strike a tone that feels genuine and even inspirational through the eyes and actions of our protagonist, but bear in mind that you're gonna see some grim and gross stuff along the way.