We’ll be working on a review for Unpacking, so I got in touch with Wren Brier to talk a bit about the game. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Hi! Thank you for joining us this morning. Could you please help us get started by telling our readers a bit about yourself and your work?
My name is Wren and I’m the Creative Director of Unpacking. My background is in game art, but on this project I also did game design, production, and bizdev. Before Unpacking I was a freelance artist, and before that I worked as an artist at Halfbrick Studios, making updates for Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride.
PS4B: Unpacking is now ready to go on Nintendo Switch. How would you describe this project to someone who’s never heard about it?
Unpacking is a zen game about the familiar experience of pulling possessions out of boxes and fitting them into a new home. Part block-fitting puzzle, part home decoration, you are invited to create a satisfying living space while learning clues about the life you’re unpacking. Over the course of eight house moves, you are given a chance to experience a sense of intimacy with a character you never see and a story you’re never told.
PS4B: It’s been a while since we first got a glimpse of Unpacking. How long was the overall development process? How did things change between the initial concept phase and the final game we now get to play on Nintendo’s console?
The overall development process took three and a half years. It actually changed surprisingly little in that time! The biggest change was that the game became less about the puzzle aspect and more about self-expression – we relaxed our rules of where items could be placed quite a bit since our earliest prototype. This is because when the rules were too strict it was quite frustrating to players, and we weren’t trying to be judgmental about how people organize their own homes!
PS4B: Humble Bundle is acting as the game’s publisher. How did this deal come to be? How did Humble’s support help to shape the whole process for Unpacking?
When the game first went viral we were approached by several publishers, and Humble seemed to be a good fit. They were fairly hands-off throughout development, which is what we wanted as we had a very clear idea of the game we wanted to make. They helped us the most towards the game’s release with all the testing, localization, and releasing the game on three platforms simultaneously.
PS4B: Sanatana Mishra mentioned there are over 14,000 foley wav files in Unpacking, to which the correct reaction would be… WHAT?
Indeed! That was all Jeff and Angela van Dyck. The game required about a thousand different items to be placeable on a whole bunch of different surfaces made of different materials, requiring an absolutely mind-boggling number of sound effects for all the different combinations. Each item has multiple sounds it can make for each surface, too. Jeff and Ange actually constructed a mini foley studio in their spare room for the sole purpose of recording all these different sound combinations.
PS4B: On average, how long would it take someone to go from starting with the contents of that first box to fully unpacking?
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer! We’ve had playtesters range from 4-8 hours depending on how they play, although it’s certainly possible to go through the game faster than that. It ultimately comes down to how long a player spends examining the items, exploring the environments, and arranging rooms to their satisfaction.
PS4B: Any chance we can get a physical version for Unpacking on a Nintendo Switch cartridge? It’s the type of quirky, zen, charming indie release that should be preserved in physical format.
We’d love to do a physical release! But no news on this front so far.
And now it’s time for us to go. Is there something else you’d like to add before we end this one?
If you haven’t played Unpacking yet, you can get it on PC, Switch, and Xbox One. I hope y’all enjoy the game!