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Trover Saves the Universe 1-year anniversary interviews: Squanch Games co-founder Justin Roiland

In our final exclusive interview for our Trover Saves the Universe anniversary spectacular we're squanching down with Squanch Games co-founder and chief creative officer Justin Roiland to find out what it was like for him to publish his first game.


Okay, sure, a lot of people know Justin Roiland as the co-creator of the wildly popular Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty (which just happened to finish it's fourth season last night). But people aren't just one-dimensional beings here to just give you more episodes of their animated cartoon shows. He has other ambitions, and it's a good thing he does, otherwise we may have never had a chance to experience Trover Saves the Universe first-hand. I had the opportunity recently to pick Justin's brain about what it was like making Trover, what he loves most about his co-creation and what might be next for the franchise. 

Justin Roiland, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder of Squanch Games

Shacknews: Trover was your first venture into the world of creating video games beyond developing exclusively for VR. What were some of the highlights for you as you went from concept to a fully realized game?
Justin: The biggest highlights came when we got to load up a new build, either a block in, a prototype, or a more polished build of a level. These were always really exciting moments. Getting to see things in action, all of our ideas in motion was really a huge highlight.

Shacknews: What was one of the biggest things that changed about Trover during development?
Justin: Adding traditional mode, “non VR”, was a big change that happened during development. It was exciting to figure out how the game would work traditionally and it really wasn’t that difficult to sort out. It definitely changed the way we looked at the game as a whole. But that didn’t happen until halfway through development.

Shacknews: Is there anything you wish you knew before diving into game development?
Justin: I can’t think of anything that I wished I knew before kicking off development. A lot of the challenges were somewhat similar to the stuff you deal with in television production so I was kind of familiar with the territory. I’m sure there is some obvious thing that I’m not thinking of but nothing comes to mind really. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I don’t have a good answer for this question. Please don’t be mad at me. Please don’t hit me.

Trover Saves the Universe screenshot

Shacknews: Do you have a favorite in-game moment?
Justin: Yes. My favorite in-game moment is on Flesh World, with the boss fight with Gale. We recorded a lot that day and I was just getting more and more drunk and you can kind of hear it throughout that level. It culminated in the boss fight with Gale and it may not be everybody’s cup of tea comedically, but it’s one of my favorite moments in the game and still makes me laugh. It’s just so sloppy and definitely not anything you would normally hear in a video game. I was basically talking to myself as Gale and then as Trover, bouncing back and forth. Just cracking myself up and not actually thinking any of that would end up in the game. Once we got that level blocked in with the new recorded audio, it became my favorite moment and I knew it had to stay in despite how f*cked it is.

Shacknews: Will we be seeing a Trover sequel or prequel or anything like that in the future?
Justin: Never say never! There’s a lot of ideas that we had that we didn’t get to that would be really cool for a sequel. Also, going into a sequel knowing that traditional gameplay is on the table, kind of changes what we can do and how we approach things. I love the world, I love everything about that world. I think it would be really awesome to do something with those characters. We have discussed some pretty great sequel ideas that kind of continue the story in a really unexpected way.

Shacknews: What do you love most about Trover?
Justin: I love how improvisational and loose the dialogue is. It’s the opposite of most games that are heavily scripted. I would definitely want to make a game that way again.

Shacknews: You had some really cool guest appearances as far as voice actors are concerned. What was the process like getting some of your comedian pals on board?
Justin: Not hard. It was as simple as just 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 did a voice. He’s the voice of a tree somewhere in the game. If you can find the tree and hit it in just the right spot, it will come alive. And Jack Nicholson is the voice of the tree. I recorded it with him in his home and he was a delight to work with.

Shacknews: I know you're a big Nintendo fan. What was it like to see Trover come to the Switch?
Justin: Surreal. It’s actually really fun on the 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 that because I don’t know him and I don’t know anyone who knows him. I really hope I get to meet him someday. I want him to sign my DS.

Shacknews: Last year you helped us close out our E3 livestream and we did a ridiculous funeral for the event that involved sharks jumping over E3's grave. How weird is it that ended up being almost prophetic?
Justin: Holy shit is E3 dead? I’m heartbroken. It’s 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 that right now but we are around and people are working. People are working hard on stuff that we can’t talk about.

And that wraps up our series of exclusive interviews with Squanch Games! We'd like to thank the team for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulate them on celebrating the 1-year anniversary of their first shipped title! Be sure to check out our conversation with Squanch Games CEO Tanya Watson as well as our chat with the dev team for a deeper behind-the-scenes look at Trover's development. You can learn more about Squanch Games at the company's homesite. And if you haven't had a chance to play Trover Saves the Universe yet, be sure to enter our giveaway for a shot at winning your very own key for the game! You've got until June 8, 2020, to enter! 

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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