High On Life: Rick And Morty co-creator on his new shooter game where the guns talk back – Sky News

High On Life comes from the mind of Justin Roiland, one of the comedy duo behind award-winning animated show Rick And Morty. The new video game is available on Xbox Game Pass, or for individual purchase on Xbox Series X and S, and PC.
By Martin Kimber, gaming reporter
Tuesday 13 December 2022 07:59, UK
Creating a critically-acclaimed TV series is one thing, but a video game is an entirely different matter.
High On Life comes from the mind of Justin Roiland, one of the comedy duo behind award-winning animated show Rick And Morty – a billion-dollar franchise which just wrapped up its sixth season.
The game places the player in the position of a bounty hunter who embarks on various missions to eliminate different targets in increasingly bizarre, Alice In Wonderland-esque worlds.
A unique aspect to the game is that all four available guns come with talking faces on the back, which face the player and react with unique lines during the playthrough.
Despite his success in a TV writer’s room, Roiland says the nature of games makes them a far bigger challenge.
“It’s like writing a TV show that people can reach in and knock things around,” he told Sky News.
“And as a studio, we want to have lots of fun narrative surprises doing that.
“An encounter with an NPC (non-playable character) is different depending on what gun you’ve got out.
“Every gun has their own complete set of dialogue and reactions. You’re writing a lot more stuff, essentially.”
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The studio tasked with bringing Roiland’s writing to life is Squanch Games, which he founded in 2016.
Lead designer Erich Meyr elaborated on just how narratively complex the game could be.
“You have up to four guns and every single one of them had a different line,” he told Sky News.
“So we had to control how wide we could go with it to make sure we could even do it.”
Given just how much work goes into game development, the idea of artificial intelligence doing some heavy lifting is becoming mightily appealing.
Is AI the future of game development?
As advances in AI continue, developers are using it more frequently in production – including High On Life.
While most of the art was hand drawn, Roiland told Sky News the powerful Midjourney AI, which can paint original pictures based entirely on the user’s written prompts, was used to add some finishing touches to his alien worlds.
“It makes the world feel like a strange alternate universe of our world,” he said.
“And we used it to come up with weird, funny ideas.”
“I don’t know what the future holds, but AI is going to be a tool that has the potential to make content creation incredibly accessible,” Roiland added.
“I don’t know how many years away we are, but all you will need to be is somebody with some big ideas.”
Meyr revealed that AI was also used to prototype some character voices, and one minor role made the cut.
The game otherwise features a full cast, including Roiland himself, Curb Your Enthusiasm star JB Smoove, and SpongeBob SquarePants actor Tom Kenny.
While game development is plenty different from TV production, there is an obvious similarity in the madcap sci-fi aesthetic and tone of High On Life and Rick And Morty.
Roiland, who won an Emmy Award in 2018 for his Pickle Rick episode of Rick And Morty, said he had spent his childhood “obsessed with aliens and Area 51 and abductions”.
“It affords you the ability to tell so many different types of stories,” he told Sky News, “which you potentially wouldn’t otherwise be able to tell.
“Even some newer ideas I have, they’re all sci-fi related.”
Among those ideas are some UK projects, though Roiland was tight-lipped on the details.
In the meantime, High On Life is available now on Xbox Game Pass, or for individual purchase on Xbox Series X and S, and PC.
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