Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality is a hilarious game. When you’re inside of a VR headset, playing a game by yourself, it’s sometimes hard to laugh. It can feel a bit awkward, like laughing at jokes alone in your room, but you won’t be able to help it while playing this game — especially if you’re a fan of the popular Adult Swim cartoon that it’s based on.
We recently had the chance to speak with Justin Roiland, co-creator of the show and the voice of the two main characters, about the game’s origin and he revealed a lot of really interesting tidbits that were previously unknown during the development process.
For starters, the entire thing had a very relaxed iterative development cycle. The team at Owlchemy Labs were given a tremendous amount of creative freedom to create the game and instead of having to submit ideas for approval every step of the way, they’d just send Roiland entire sections of the game for him to play on his own and give feedback afterwards.
“The first build was just like the first third of the game and a script,” Roiland explained during a phone interview. “When I played the build, Andrew Eiche did his Rick and Morty impression voices and I have a lot of love for that stuff. The first act of the game I’d played so many times hearing his version of the voices that when I went into the garage to record the dialog for real I started imitating him. But I realized it sounded like I was imitating him and not being the characters themselves, so what I ultimately did was I went back in the garage and tossed out the script and went off book.”
Going “off book” means that virtually all of the game’s dialog was improvised and wasn’t specifically planned, but hey, it worked. Owlchemy created the framework for each scene, as well as a roadmap of what happened and the things the characters should say, then Roiland would go into his actual garage and kick things up a notch by just riffing off of the thoughts in his own head, like a mad scientist such as Rick might do.
“I had played it so many times I knew the plot and just went into the booth and did improv for everything,” Roiland said. “It really brings a special quality to the characters and we try to do it a lot on the show too. If I’m in the right zone I can riff as the characters and it feels good. So we just went off book and I’d make it my own. With each new build I’d play it a few times then I’d go in my garage and record a bunch of stuff, send it back, they’d add it in, they’d send more, and we just repeated that process.”
Just like Rick and Morty VR itself, which is full of Easter eggs that people will likely continue to find for weeks, months, or even years to come, the game’s development process is full of interesting stories. It’s an expected result when creative powerhouses like Justin Roiland and Owlchemy Labs get into a room together.
“It was an incredible collaboration,” Roiland said. “I’m such a massive Job Simulator fan so to see our characters and Rick’s garage be interactable is just an absolute blast…It was so surreal that we were making this a reality.”