The VicScreen supported game is almost done, but it's been a long learning process for solo developer Ant Tan.
When WAY TO THE WOODS was announced at E3 2019 as part of Microsoft's event it had already caught a lot of attention.
It'd been quietly picking up fans on Tumblr and Reddit hitting the front page when developer Ant Tan was just 16.
The reality of making that game and the gap between what could be achieved by a solo developer has meant that development has been quite a journey.
"A lot of the development process has been figuring out what is best for the game, it's gone in a couple of different directions, but they didn't feel like what this game to be for me, the ways I wanted it to be were hard to do and they fail easily," said Tan
"I didn't really know how to make this game before in like 2017-19 whatever, when I first started it I started from scratch."
"I knew how to do the art but not very well, I had to learn how to become professional and then do the programming and then the animations. I had help with all these things, but like, I still had to do it, you know?"
"So it's just the labor and the skill gap between what I wanted to make and what I could make at the time, there's just a lot of lot of love that has to go into the game."
"I have immense respect for anyone who can finish their game. Yeah, it's so hard, hopefully it's worth it and you will be like, Oh yeah, I kind of see how this took a long time."
The narrative adventure game puts you in the hooves of a deer and a fawn as they travel through the destroyed remains of humanity, that was directly inspired by a ruined shopping mall filled with koi, with the game aiming to be both cinematic and arcadey at the same time.
"I wanted to try to put those two like completely polar adjectives together. It's like JOURNEY combined with KATAMARI DAMACY."
Tan said that it was important to try and convey a sincere story, but all the while never forgetting that you aren't a person, you'e a deer.
"So there's this GIF of like a deer that's bouncing through the beach, like on an ocean and it's gone. It's like super popular GIF and I it is like the the heart of the gameplay is like this bounce button that you have."
"It's not called Jump. I think it's called Sproing. So like that kind of sells the philosophy of what I want that button to do."
"I never want to be like you're not a deer, you don't have like an absurd personality. You're just a really cool deer"
Seven years on since it was first revealed to the world the VicScreen supported game is closer than it's ever been with a planned launch in early 2023.
"A couple of people have played the first level already, I want to get it all done by the end of the year and then maybe, release in the first quarter of next year," said Tan
"It's gonna take a while to do all the translations and the marketing and then the localization and stuff, that's a glimpse behind the curtain, and let's say like Elden ring, two drops in February or something I don't want to be launching around then"
"So I'm just gonna hold my cards to my chest for a bit, but when it drops I'm hopefully gonna be like on social media just telling everyone nonstop, and hopefully joining you for another SIFTER podcast"