Justin Roiland almost didn’t voice the main gun in High On Life

High on Life, a talking gun game in which you stop people being sold as drugs, is the latest title from Squanch Games, a development studio founded by Rick and Morty Co-creator Justin Roiland, When I played her last game, Trover Saves the Universe, a few years ago, I was surprised at how naturally Roiland’s impromptu dialogue translated into video game form. The characters rambled on for as long as you listened, and I would stand for five or six minutes at certain points, just listening as Roiland (who provided his voice to many characters, including Trover) told a joke over and over again. While High on Life and Trover are two very different games, Roiland’s comedy style features heavily in both. When I had a chance to speak to Roiland (and Design Director Erich Meyr), I was surprised to learn that he initially wanted this game to take a different direction.

“I didn’t really want to do the main gun,” says Roiland. “I was trying to get out of there. But the team said, ‘No, you have to do it.’”

Meyr interjects and repeats the team: “It’s something like our signature at this point.”

Roiland finally agreed because the team had been pushing so hard. “I must be wrong if everyone else is saying that,” he continues. “So I thought, alright, I’ll do it. And I knew that from a production point of view it would be helpful for me to do that.”

The player fires Kenny, the gun voiced by Justin Roiland.

They explain that Roiland cast so many votes in Trover Saves the Universe because it was originally temporary dialogue intended to be replaced later in the development cycle. The team eventually decided to keep it, both because it wasn’t worth re-recording everything and because they thought it was funny enough as it was.

“Trover was like 70% improvisation, 30% script, probably something like that,” said Roiland, who wasn’t sure of the exact ratio. “This game is definitely the opposite. But it’s still fun to improvise.”

“Especially with the weapons,” says Meyr. “Many of the weapons are improvised.”

The weapons in question are the main narrative gimmick of High on Life. As you explore the world, you’ll find a number of talking guns with different personalities, each voiced by a different comedian. I asked Roiland about the casting process for such a strange series of roles and he said that most of the time they knew who they wanted before they even started.

“JB Smoove was definitely someone I wanted from the start,” says Roiland. “Tim Robinson was different… our head writer Alec Robbins is friends with him. So he just said, ‘Hey, do you want to do that?’ and [Robinson] is like ‘yeah, I’ll do it’ without really realizing what he’s getting himself into.”


Gus, pictured here, is voiced by JB Smoove.

Meanwhile, Betsy Sodaro landed the role through an audition, rounding out a cast that Roiland says has the same level of quality as a good animated comedy series. However, the narrative design in a game like High on Life is far more complicated than the linear dialogue of an episode of Rick and Morty.

One mechanic this game shares with Trover, for example, is the “opt-in” dialog. That’s what Squanch calls a scene that players can leave at any time, even while the other characters are still talking: the player chooses how much dialogue they want to experience, and NPCs respond appropriately to their behavior. Squanch Games’ work on Trover gave them an idea of ​​the structure of these types of scenes and made the writing process smoother.

“You can stand next to them and they know you’re there, and then when you leave, they know you’re leaving,” says Roiland. “Writing all of this stuff is just thinking about how the player could possibly interrupt or re-engage. If they do something, how does the NPC react?”

An example of this in High on Life is a section where the player encounters a group of aliens called the Mac and Cheese Brothers. Typically, a player approaches, meets the brothers, and decides how to act. However, Meyr says, “When we were testing the game, we had someone shoot a special ability from afar and blow them all up before even hitting them. And we’re like, ‘Okay, well, that’s one thing someone could do, isn’t it? Let’s write a line for that.”

As much work they’ve done predicting player behavior, Roiland says he could see them going another year just to add more detail. The project was so ambitious that they tripled the studio staff from around 20 to 60 to pull it off, and they still cut a lot of content.

“There’s a lot of stuff,” Roiland says when I ask what didn’t make it. “What’s interesting about it, though, is that sometimes you come back to it… Definitely Rick and Morty There are episodes in almost every season that we made up like season one or two that we went back to [to] with fresh eyes … and then it suddenly clicks.”


Justin Roiland, Founder of Squanch Games.

“Actually, it’s surprising how much we got in,” says Meyr. “A lot of ideas are like crazy.” He didn’t mention it here, but one of the most surprising things that made it was four full-length movies that were licensed to appear in-game and play in the background on TVs. The two developers didn’t want to list any specific cut content in case they come back one day, but I can’t help but wonder – if four full movies were cut, what wasn’t?

Today the game is finally ready and available to the general public. This is an exciting time for Meyr.

“It’s great to see it in full, you know,” says Meyr. “Because there are so many cycles where you focus on what’s broken… and then in that final month you kind of have to take off your little developer glasses and say, ‘Oh, that’s the game, right?'”

Meyr says his favorite thing to do after launching one of his games is watching streamers play. Before Twitch, they had to wait for reviews and then maybe hear some people mention it online, but watching someone tackle it on release day is “much more immediately gratifying, which is just really cool.”

After hearing about Meyr’s passionate love for Launch Day streamers, Roiland pauses for a moment and then says, “Yeah, I don’t.” When I ask why, he says, “I’ve experienced it so many times and seen that I’m fine. I am well. I’m glad people are playing it… I just need some space.” It’s not a one-stop opinion on gaming either – he feels that way about all of his creative projects. He and Meyr also agree that it takes a few years after launch before they can really enjoy a game they’ve been working on.

However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy with this project. “I’m really proud of where we ended up with this one,” says Roiland. “All the crazy ideas, it’s just crazy. The team worked incredibly hard. It’s cool because we’ve all been living with and believing in this thing for years.”

High on Life is available now for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC and is available in Game Pass on those platforms. For more information about the game, see our Rooftop interview from earlier this year.

Download at: https://www.gameinformer.com/2022/12/13/justin-roiland-almost-didnt-voice-the-main-gun-in-high-on-life

Fry Electronics Team

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