When it comes to video game development, Australia isn’t exactly a premier player, at least when it comes to big production titles. The indie game scene, however, is continuing to move from strength to strength, and Anthony Tan‘s beautiful upcoming game, Way to the Woods, is a testament to that fact.
Officially announced a few years ago, Anthony more recently gained the support of Microsoft‘s [email protected] program, which provides much-needed resources to indie devs trying to get their games off the ground. This year, Xbox‘s pre-E3 showcase featured Way to the Woods’ gorgeous new trailer, showing off its full potential on one of the gaming world’s biggest stages, and the reception has been next-level for the young game maker.
“When I actually came here and I walked in and I saw the stage and I saw the screens and the lights and looked into the crowd and saw all these Xbox fans, my heart was like, BOOM BOOM,” he told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
Seeing his game amongst so many massive titles like Gears 5, Halo Infinite, and the bonkers Cyberpunk 2077 trailer featuring actual Keanu Reeves, was an incredible moment for him.
“I was definitely just blown away, it felt surreal, it felt like a dream,” he said.
While you’d be forgiven for thinking Anthony has been making games for some time, or has come from some kind of tech background, he’s actually 20 years old and released the first screenshots from Way to the Woods when he was just 16. After an overwhelmingly positive response from the Reddit community, he decided that it was a venture worth pursuing, even if he didn’t know exactly what he was doing.
“I’ve been teaching myself,” he said. “It’s been a life long journey [laughs], but probably really picked up [when I was] around 16 or so when I did the screenshots and posted them.”
“In terms of how I learnt to make games, I can’t really pinpoint a specific moment, but it’s been probably a decade of YouTube tutorials and Googling and just asking people and hitting up everyone’s DMs or emails.”
In other words, Anthony is completely self-taught, using online resources readily and freely available to anyone with an internet connection. As for the inspiration behind Way to the Woods itself, he says it mostly comes from creators like Studio Ghibli, Rebecca Sugar and more.
“They’re so endearingly genuine and their work all carries the same positive spirit and optimism,” he said. “Especially movies like Spirited Away which are kinda scary and dark, but carries this light throughout the whole movie. I always love work that leaves me feeling this like, awe-inspiring feeling of goosebumps.”
“I feel like I’m a better person for having watched or seen or read those, and I just wanted to do the same, to try and make people feel the same way.”
That vibe certainly comes across in the trailers, particularly the latest one, which is the most comprehensive look so far.