Rick and Morty is comedic gold. It’s one of the funniest shows currently running and is featured on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim nighttime segment. Co-created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the show follows it’s titular characters (Rick and Morty) on intergalactic sci-fi adventures through time and space. The humor is smart, sometimes subtle, and always on-point.
Last week at VRDC in San Francisco, CA the folks at Google-owned Owlchemy Labs (developers of Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality and Job Simulator) hosted a postmortem discussion panel about the game’s development. During the discussion they talked about not only how they went about adapting a 2D cartoon IP for 3D VR worlds, but also general VR design principles to take note of for future designers and developers.
We previously spoke with Schwartz and several other members of Owlchemy, as well as Justin Roiland himself, about the game’s creation and what went into the process (video embedded above). For the most part it sounds like it was a typical cross-studio collaboration, with a few caveats.
For starters, Rick and Morty isn’t your everyday normal cartoon. “This IP is almost anti-canon and was so fun to work on,” Schwartz said during the VRDC panel. “We got a massive IP bible from Adult Swim to reference during the process, though.”
Schwartz described how loose the company was with regards to following things from the show as closely as possible. For example, the show is a flat 2D cartoon that never shows its characters or environments in three dimensions which means the team at Owlchemy had to take some creative license with adding that extra dimension.
On top of that are the everyday challenges that all VR designers face when making games like player comfort, locomotion, exploration, and even death. “Death in a VR game is very strange,” said Schwartz. “We didn’t want anything to feel punishing or take control away from the player.”
Their solution was to have the screen immediately cut to black and to present a single phone in the middle of a black and red room labeled as “Purgatory” for players to navigate. This way they have to physically pick up the phone and choose to return to the game world.
One of my favorite excerpts that was shared during the panel is the story of how Roiland recorded his voice work for both Rick and Morty in the game. The team at Owlchemy would write out dialog and record mock-up examples of the voice lines that Roiland would then listen to and re-record adding his own flavor and “off book” stylings.
Whether it be Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, Job Simulator, or whatever the team at Owlchemy is working on next, the team clearly has a firm grasp on what works and what doesn’t in VR. Now that they have an infusion of capital from their new owners, Google, we’re excited to see what the company releases next.
Let us know what you think of Owlchemy Labs and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality down in the comments below!