Okay, sure, a lot of people know Justin Roiland as the co-creator of the ever-popular Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty (which just wrapped up its fourth season last night). But people aren’t just one dimensional beings here to give you more episodes of their cartoon shows. He has other ambitions, and it’s a good thing he does, otherwise we may never have had the chance to experience Trover Saves the Universe. I recently had the opportunity to pick Justin’s brains out on what it was like to do Trover, what he loves most about his co-creation, and what could be the next step for the franchise.
Justin Roiland, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Squanch Games
Shacknews: Trover was your first adventure in the world of video game creation beyond exclusive development for virtual reality. What were the highlights for you when you went from concept to fully realized game?
Justin: The biggest highlights came when we loaded a new version, either a block, a prototype, or a more refined version of a level. They were always really exciting times. Seeing things in action, all of our ideas in motion was a really big highlight.
Shacknews: What’s one of the most important things that changed at Trover during development?
Justin: The addition of the traditional, “non-VR” mode was a big change that happened during development. It was exciting to understand how the game would traditionally work and it really wasn’t that hard to sort out. It definitely changed the way we look at the game as a whole. But that only happened halfway through development.
Shacknews: Is there anything you wish you had known before getting into game development?
Justin: I can’t think of anything that I wish I had known before starting development. A lot of the challenges were a bit similar to what you encounter in TV production, so I was pretty familiar with the territory. I’m sure there is one obvious thing that I don’t think about but nothing really occurs to me. I am really sorry. I am very sorry that I do not have a correct answer to this question. Please don’t be mad at me. Please don’t hit me.
Shacknews: Do you have a favorite moment in the game?
Justin: Yes. My favorite moment in the game is on Flesh World, with the boss fight with Gale. We recorded a lot that day and I was getting drunk more and more and you can kind of hear it throughout this level. It culminated in the boss fight with Gale and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea from a comic standpoint, but it’s one of my favorite moments in the game and he always makes me laugh. It’s so sloppy and definitely not something you would normally hear in a video game. I was basically talking to myself as Gale, then as Trover, bouncing back and forth. Just cracking me up and not really thinking it would all end up in the game. Once we stuck that level with the new recorded audio, it became my favorite moment and I knew it had to stay that way no matter what. point it’s screwed.
Shacknews: Will we see a Trover sequel or prequel or something like that in the future?
Justin: Never say never! There are a lot of ideas that we had that we didn’t, that would be really cool for a sequel. Plus, stepping into a sequel knowing that traditional gameplay is on the table somehow changes what we can do and the way we approach things. I love the world, I love everything in this world. I think it would be really great to do something with these characters. We discussed some really great ideas for sequels that kind of continue the story in a really unexpected way.
Shacknews: What do you like most about Trover?
Justin: I love how improvised and loose the dialogue is. This is the opposite of most games that are heavily scripted. I would definitely like to remake a game this way.
Shacknews: You’ve had some really cool appearances when it comes to voice actors. How did the process of integrating some of your actor friends go?
Justin: Not hard. It was as easy as calling and asking if they wanted to be a voice for the game. Everyone improved a lot and we had a lot of fun recording it. Little secret, little Easter egg in the game, Jack Nicholson made a voice. He is the voice of a tree somewhere in the game. If you can find the tree and hit it just in the right place, it will come to life. And Jack Nicholson is the voice of the tree. I recorded it with him at his home and it was a pleasure to work with him.
Shacknews: I know you are a huge Nintendo fan. What was it like seeing Trover coming to the Switch?
Justin: Surrealist. It’s really a lot of fun on Switch. But yeah, just very surreal. I’m sure it’s Miyamoto’s favorite game. I think he loves it. But I don’t know because I don’t know him and I don’t know anyone who knows him. I really hope to meet him one day. I want him to sign my DS.
Shacknews: Last year you helped us finish our live broadcast on E3 and we had a ridiculous funeral for the event where sharks jumped over the grave at E3. How strange is it that it ended up being almost prophetic?
Justin: Holy shit, is E3 dead? My heart is broken. It is my religious holiday. E3 is my religious holiday and I cannot live without E3. I need my E3.
Shacknews: What’s next for Squanch Games?
Justin: We can’t say much about it yet, but we’re here and the people are working. People are working hard on things we can’t talk about.
And that concludes our series of exclusive interviews with Squanch Games! We thank the team for taking the time to answer our questions and ccongratulate them to celebrate the first anniversary of their first title shipped! Don’t forget to check out our conversation with Tanya Watson, CEO of Squanch Games as well as our discuss with the development team for a deeper look behind the scenes of Trover’s development. You can find out more about Squanch Games at the company website. And if you haven’t had a chance to play Trover Saves the Universe yet, be sure to participate in our giveaway to try to win your own key to the game! You have until June 8, 2020 to participate!