Melbourne International Games Week came to a close over the weekend. Even as an online event, it still featured plenty of chances to connect to the Australian games industry in meaningful or insightful ways. The annual Australian Game Developer Awards (AGDAs) were held among the many events and shows. An entertaining show to watch, but also a chance to see the local industry honour their own. Coming out with the night’s big award was Brisbane-based studio Witch Beam, whose game Unpacking won the Game of the Year award.
Following the awards night, I got the chance to get a couple of questions answered by the Art Director and Designer of Witch Beam, Wren Brier.
As an Australian team, I asked what it meant to be a finalist in the AGDAs, and Brier said that “recognition from our peers and our home country means a lot! Melbourne International Games Week holds a special place in our hearts.”
I was most intrigued to know how COVID-19 and the lack of physical events could have affected Unpacking’s development.
“The lack of physical PAX/MIGW in the past two years hasn’t affected Unpacking’s development — if anything, not attending physical events for a couple of years has allowed us to focus on development more. However, the pandemic, in general, has taken a toll on our mental health, and we had been lucky enough to be able to take Unpacking to shows earlier in development, which led to a lot of opportunities for us down the line.”
Although there was a lack of hands-on feedback from events like MIGW and PAX, Brier explained that they’d still managed to get plenty of feedback through the online shows over the last year.
We have seen a rise of exclusive demos over the past year and a half during the pandemic. Shows like PAX Online has most recently featured exclusive demos, just as they did last year. I played the new demo for Unpacking and wrote about it during last years online PAX. However, it wasn’t quite the same as checking it out at PAX 2019 the year prior and feeling like I was doing a horrible job of placing everything in the room compared to the person playing next to me.