Justin Roiland and William Pugh on why Excel is VR's killer app

Job Simulator lampoons work instead of simulating it. Pugh isn't too pleased with its disparaging attitude towards actual accountants.

Job Simulator lampoons work instead of simulating it. Pugh isn't too pleased with its disparaging attitude towards actual accountants.
William Pugh

Pugh Interview Headshot

William Pugh is a designer, writer, game developer, and Director of Crows Crows Crows.

Does it? Why?

Pugh: Well, because it doesn't accurately simulate the jobs.

Roiland: It's a much more cartoony and arcadey job simulator, where we're–

Pugh: We're one-one, it is what it is. We don’t want to do it and have it not be an accurate depiction of accounting, because that’s just offensive. To accountants.

Roiland: We want to make sure that when accountants put this on, that they're like, 'This was made for me.' We shouldn't make promises, but the ability to export your spreadsheets and import your spreadsheets—Excel—into the office, that's something we're still trying to find exactly how to make work.

Pugh: We support the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, we support the format of Microsoft Excel, Excel files, we support those too.

Johann: The Open Office.

Pugh: No no no no no!

Johann: Are you absolutely sure?

Pugh: No, we've got most the different ones. We've got Microsoft Excel.

Roiland: Excel is the one that's the big one we have.

Pugh: And then we also have Microsoft Office Excel.

Roiland: The newest year.

Pugh: And we do all the different versions of Microsoft Excel.

Roiland: You can open an excel file from four years ago, and one from yesterday, and it'll all work.

SOURCE: TK TK — An example of the work Microsoft Excel makes possible.

(Image source: Deviant Art user psychoTR2)

Forgive me, but how exactly is this visualized? Can you paint me a picture?

Roiland: You're in the office, the desk is in front of you, you've got the ability to interact with your accounting things. And then there's cinderblock walls, just very sort of basic office lighting.

Pugh: Nothing too distracting.

Roiland: File cabinets. And then just a few things you might find in a typical accountants office, like on the wall as decoration. Motivational things. When the accountant is like, "I've been in here for five hours, I'm almost done with this spreadsheet', they can look to the left and see a motivational, you know 'Keep crunching the numbers!'

I imagine a cute picture of a cat reaching for the sky. Accompanying text.

Roiland: Yeah, I mean that's not in there but, maybe.

Pugh: We don't want to make promises.

Roiland: We could put that cat in there, that's easy.

Johann: It's highly customizable.

Roiland: Well, it isn't [for the users]. It is on our side.

Pugh: Yeah, don't listen to Dom. It's customizable for us.

Roiland: We can customize it before we ship it.

So do you guys plan to add the ability for the player–

Pugh: The accountant.

Excuse me. For the accountant to put up pictures of their family, or something like that?

Pugh: Maybe if you import it into the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, I don't know if you can do image formatting in those, but if you do, then I guess maybe?

Roiland: I mean, we could potentially, at a later date allow for the accountant to decorate their accounting office with their own things, but I feel like that-

Pugh: That's down the line. I mean VR is changing so much, so who knows, that might be possible.

Roiland: We also feel like that's sort of what their real office would look like. We want to maintain the–

Johann: Focus on the actual work.

Roiland: Yeah, focus on the work, and also the fact that it's in VR. Your real office would have pictures of your family, but now you're in a virtual office.

Pugh: Like why would you want to go into a virtual office that looks like your real office.

Hey, welcome to 2016, welcome to VR, now you can do all your accounting in a headset, standing.

I never really thought about VR that way before.

Roiland: Right, you want it to be a little lower poly, a little more video-game-environment-office-like.

Makes sense! I think a lot of the rhetoric around VR has to do with presence–

Pugh: Christmas presents?

Oh, there's room for that, no doubt. So, presence. It's really just how you feel in the experience, so what kind of emotional landscape are you going for with this? I know it's an office, but what do you want the accountant to feel?

Roiland: I want them to feel like, 'Hey, welcome to 2016, welcome to VR, now you can do all your accounting in a headset, standing.'

Pugh: I mean, we were coming from so many different places, emotionally, while making this. I mean, Dom was quite upset for most of it.

Johann: Yeah.

Pugh: He was crying a lot.

On the final page, we find out why Johann cried so much, the origin of the living room, potenital for robot assistants, and more

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.