#433: ‘Rick and Morty Simulator’: Making Narratives More Plausible through Interruption

alex-schwartzWhen Owlchemy LabsAlex Schwartz saw that Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland was a fan of their Job Simulator VR experience, then he reached out and met up with Justin in Los Angeles. They came up with the idea of creating an interactive Rick and Morty Simulator VR experience that would combine the mechanics of Job Simulator within the setting of Rick’s garage.


When Alex started adding narrative components to the and discovered a big problem that would immediately break presence. Every character and action needed to be interruptible in order to maintain the plausibility illusion within the experience. Matching expectations is the biggest challenge for creating a highly interactive VR environment, and interacting with real humans means that they should have an appropriate reaction if you try to interrupt them. One of the most complicated new systems that Owlchemy Labs had to develop was a framework that could account for all different types of interruptions.

The result is that Rick and Morty Simulator is one of the most advanced interactive narratives that I’ve seen so far. Their interrupt system seamlessly blends highly dynamic interaction within a narrative structure that keeps the overall experience moving forward in what ends up feeling like a complete adventure within the Rick & Morty universe. There’s still a lot of work to be done in having the characters directly respond and react to your physical presence and action directed at them, and Alex says that this is one of the biggest open problems that they’re working on.

I had a chance to catch up with Alex at PAX West where we talked about how the Rick and Morty Simulator project came about, the importance of interruptions in interactive narratives, maintaining presence within VR, their workflow for writing and collaborating with Adult Swim and Justin Roiland, and some of the open problems that they’re working to solve.

Here are some tweets that document how Alex and Justin first got together.

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