At the D.I.C.E. 2017 Summit, developers, press, and entertainment industry veterans gathered from around the world this week to discuss cutting edge technology and design principles. One of the most applicable discussions thus far for our audience took place today as Geoff Keighley hosted a live interview session with both Tanya Watson and Justin Roiland of Squanchtendo. The duo discussed their views on the budding VR industry, what made their debut effort in Accounting (created in collaboration with Crows Crows Crows) so special, and most interestingly, what they’re working on next.
Tanya Watson brings years of AAA game industry experience, having worked at Epic Games, and Roiland, a self-described “student of gaming” his entire life, is the co-creator of Rick and Morty and possesses one of the most iconic comedic personalities in the entertainment scene today. Their combination led to the creation of Squanchtendo, a brand new game studio, last year.
During their talk, Watson and Roiland issued very slight and minor teases about their next project. According to Watson, “We have a long-form game, a traditional game length game that I can’t talk too much about that we are in development on for VR,” she said. “But we would also love to make more of those dense, short-form experiences like Accounting as continued experiments.”
Judging by the hilarity and innovative interactivity of Accounting, we’re putting our money on this larger game retaining that same sense of humor. In last year’s interview, they also alluded to their next project being something of a comedic-action RPG, but that’s all we really know. It certainly sounds like it will no only be quite robust, but also likely just as witty and clever as we’d expect.
But that may not have always been the case.
“There was a period of time where I was going away from comedy and thinking about making a VR experience that was more eerie…” said Roiland. “Even going down that road it kept going back to comedy for me. I’m so drawn to absurd comedy I realized pretty quickly we shouldn’t try to do that.”
Accounting was released and marketed as a “Vive-exclusive” title, although it seems to work just fine when played with an Oculus Rift and Touch controllers through Steam. Designing the game with Vive in mind wasn’t meant to anger non-Vive owners, but rather was meant to make the game as good as it can possibly be.
“There is something to love about every piece of VR hardware,” explained Roiland. “My thought is, ‘How can I use these constraints as a benefit, what can I do with these limitations?’ All of this stuff is in my sketchbooks: game design, stories, characters…We have pitches that work for seated gamepad, some are designed for roomscale, there are some experiences that you can’t port over properly.”
Elaborating on that point, Watson said, “Designing bespoke for a platform is important and taking advantage of what makes the platform special. How do you put the player in the world? That’s been the thing we’ve been approaching for all of our pitches. Making it more than just a screen on your face.”
There are no tentative release plans for Squanchtendo’s next project, but we’ll keep you posted as we find out more information. In the meantime, you can check out Accounting for free on Steam right now. And keep an eye out for more details on Owlchemy’s upcoming Rick and Morty VR game (teased above), built with feedback and input from Justin Roiland himself.