Developer Squanch Games announced their next virtual reality (VR) title during Sony’s conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018 recently, Trover Saves The Universe. This title is an action platformer in which players will set out on a grand adventure full of the outrageous sense of humor of Justin Roiland. Now, following the announcement of the title Justin Roiland and Tanta Watson of Squanch Games reveal more on the title in an interview with PlayStation.
The trailer that was shown for Trover Saves The Universe was a taste of what players can expect in this new VR adventure coming to PlayStation VR. That said, one character from the start of the video has stood out to people and his name is Bathtub Guy. Speaking to PlayStation, Roiland revealed some details on this orange character: “He’s unlockable, you can play as bathtub guy (laughs) no, no, but he is a character your going to meet along your epic journey through the cosmos. Bathtub guy will be very helpful to you on your journey.”
Roiland goes on to explain that Trover Saves The Universe is a grand adventure in which players will not only be controlling Trover as a third-person character but they themselves will be in the world of the title as a first-person character. “It’s co-op with yourself,” Roiland says: “Your in the game as a first-person character but then there’s a third-person character that your also controlling and it actually works really, really well like control-wise. It’s actually really comfortable and not to complicated”
To allow players to move around the many different planets within the title, and to avoid motion sickness, Squanch Games are making use of two different systems. One of these is dubbed the ‘Telepod’ which will move players from planet to planet, and takes on the form of a circular elevator. To navigate this planets thought players will move between ‘Warp Nodes’ allowing them to easily see Trover and the action at all times.
Roiland’s last VR title was a much different style of videogame, and when questioned about what the driving force behind the design of Trover Saves The Universe‘s design was he explained: “I wanted a really sticky, fun platformer/action title. I love the combination of you being there with this little purple partner, Trover, and your working together to figure things out and progress but also because your there when you met an NPC or another wired character in the world there talking directly to you and you can answer them, literally in the game but yeah, there is a lot going on in this game.”
“The north star for us was really once we had that foundation of really good, sticky gameplay was like ‘okay, now we’re going to be a house of comedy on top of it and we’re going to make fun of ourselfs, we’re going to make fun of, you know, just games tropes.”
The humor of Roiland is a main draw for the title. He went into detail about the process of building the universe within the title and how to create the humor that would fill it, including a number of jokes that poke fun at other titles: “We try to keep it very much in it’s own universe you know for the most part, but we make comments and references but there masked as like an alien version of the thing we’re talking about. So if we’re going to do a pop culture joke it will be under a layer of weirdness, but it’s more like casting really funny people to do the voices and then really loose, having a lot of fun in the booth, outtakes for intakes, messing up a line and keeping it, breaking character because whoever is recording might go completely off script, make something up and then we’re all laughing at it, then we use that.”
This plays into the title in the form of different moments players can experience, including the reactions that some characters will have to the player. Roiland explains that thanks to the power of VR, they are able to build a number of moments that are otherwise not possible in non-VR titles. That said, and as Trover Saves The Universe is playable in both VR and non-VR, they took the opportunity to build some jokes into those moments for the non-VR version. Roiland stress that both versions are pretty much the same experience and that in fact it is possible players will need to play through the title twice in order to witness every encounter. This freedom was something that Roiland picked up from working on Accounting.
“So imagine you have a cutscene in a game, a lot of games will lock you in or force you to sit and listen to a character go on about whatever it is that’s narratively important to the game and I have a much more like ‘let’s make the player make that decision’. If they want to sit and listen – this character might talk for 20 minutes – if they want to sit and listen to this character their more than welcome to, if they don’t, like they can just go, we never force the player to do anything and that was very much a high level design philosophy in Accounting.”
“The game itself was build to be very contextual,” Watson adds: “So we want the player to feel like their the star of this game and their doing things with Trover that’s like typical gamer stuff like jumping over something, and Trover will responses in real-time hes like ‘Why you overhear doing this thing you should be over there’ or like ‘we’re not on track!’ so we continoue to build it that way”
“That’s something I really want in VR,” Roiland comments: “Characters that are aware of you and what your doing. I love that in VR you know, and in games in general and it’s not new new but it’s something i think is really important.”
With Trover Saves The Universe, Roiland and Squanch Games are clearly trying some new things and if the above and teaser trailer are anything to go by, it all sounds rather promising. Trover Saves The Universe is currently in development for PlayStation VR and for all the latest on it and E3 2018, keep reading VRFocus.