Last month, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland announced that he was partnering with Epic Games veteran Tanya Watson to launch a games studio focused on high-quality VR experiences. Today, Squanchtendo (yes, that’s their actual name) announces their first project: a game called Accounting, which Roiland is designing in collaboration with The Stanley Parable designer William Pugh.
So how did a notoriously funny Los Angeles-based writer and TV producer get tied up with a notoriously funny West Yorkshire-based game designer?
The answer is simple: Pugh lied to him.
"William lied to me and said he worked at [Titanfall 2 developer] Respawn," Roiland told Polygon at PAX West earlier this month. "I was in the building where Respawn's offices were, and I wanted a tour. I was like, ‘Oh my god, maybe if I tweet, somebody [at Respawn] will see it and give me a tour.’"
Within just a few minutes, Pugh — whose Twitter handle, appropriately enough, is "HonestWilliam" — replied to Roiland’s tweet.
There was only one problem with this: William Pugh doesn’t work at Respawn. William Pugh has never worked at Respawn. Willliam Pugh doesn’t even work in the same country as Respawn. Currently, William Pugh directs his own small game studio called Crows Crows Crows, built to create experimental games like Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, which it released for free last year.
Roiland didn’t know this, and instead, taking Pugh’s tweet at face value, he excitedly reached out to Pugh for a tour of Respawn’s office.
"I immediately followed him, and I direct messaged him, and I'm like, ‘Oh my god, I'm right here! I'm like in the lobby!’" said Roiland. "And he's like "Listen, I don't ... I'm so sorry, I don't actually work at Respawn. But I'm a huge fan of Rick and Morty."
The entire conversation can still be found on Twitter, including this tweet sent 15 minutes after the incident from a very panicked-sounding Pugh:
Who is from @Respawn and is a Rick and Morty fan - because I need to make a thing right!! Please let me know ASAP so I can not be awful!!— William Pugh (@HonestWilliam) September 1, 2015
Luckily, the story has a happy ending.
"I found out who he was, and I had already played and loved The Stanley Parable, so I was like, ‘Oh my god! Dude, I'm a huge fan!’" said Roiland. "And it was like this ... weird switcheroonie, y'know, like, ‘I don't work at Respawn, but I made this game.’"
The rest is history. After their chance Twitter meeting, Pugh and Roiland flew out to Los Angeles and spent a week jamming out a game idea: prototyping it, recording all the dialogue, and running back and forth between them to implement it.
The result: Accounting, a surreal, laugh-out-loud HTC Vive game that sees you putting on a VR mask and exploring surreal, unpredictable room-scale worlds, most of which consist of Roiland and Pugh screaming hilarious improvised dialogue at you. You’ll later find another VR headset within that world and then go one layer deeper to begin the cycle anew.
Accounting is coming "very soon," Squanchtendo says on the game’s website, and it will be available as a free download from Steam.