By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Local residents Bill and Amanda Gardner have launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new video game they have created.
The Gardners are founders of the video game company The Deep End Games, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new North Shore-based horror game Perception. Amanda is the writer and producer at The Deep End Games while Bill serves as the company’s CEO/creative director.
Bill Gardner said the Kickstarter campaign will help bring Perception to life.
“It’s a project we have been working on for the last six months,” said Gardner. “I am really proud of it. The horror genre is really popular right now and there is so much diversity in the market. It’s amazing we are going to get this project off the ground.”
According to Gardner, Perception is a first person narrative horror adventure about a blind woman named Cassie who flies from Phoenix, Arizona to the fictional estate at Echo Bluff in Gloucester because she is looking for answers to the nightmares “that have haunted her for countless nights.” While at the haunted mansion, Cassie is “hunted down” by a villain called The Presence.
“It’s essentially a game of hide and seek inside a terrifying mansion,” said Gardner. “Cassie goes to the mansion to find answers, and players have to try and gather all of the clues and piece together what happened. You have to constantly try to delve deeper into the mysteries.”
Gardner said players have to use echolocation to “see” via sound during the game. Players also have to use their razor-sharp wits to solve mysteries and escape the deadly Presence because Cassie is blind. In order to survive the deadly game of hide and seek, Gardner said players must “carefully weigh the risk of making too much noise against the possibility of being discovered by the terrifying Presence.”
Additionally, Gardner, who grew up in Lynnfield, said the North Shore influenced Perception.
“If you look at the game, it has a North Shore feel to it,” said Gardner. “We tried to infuse our love for this area into the game.”
Gardner said Perception will be partially crowd-funded via Kickstarter. He said the game will be released in 2016 on PC and he also hopes to release it on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
“Part of our stretch goals on Kickstarter is to bring the title to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One,” said Gardner. “We don’t know exact release dates on any of the potential platforms. We’re also very cautious about making promises we can’t keep, so we are going with the 2016 release. However, it is our goal to continue to keep our backers in the loop as to our progress. That’s one of the more exciting aspects of this approach to development: A direct connection with the audience.”
Gardner said he hopes to get some feedback from the public during Perception’s Kickstarter campaign.
“We really want to build a relationship with the audience,” said Gardner. “We are not interested in just throwing a product over the fence.”
Gardner has been involved in the video game business for many years and used to pitch video game proposals to Nintendo when he was 10. After graduating from Emerson College, he worked as an intern at Mostow/Lieberman, the production company who created the film “U-571.”
“I was there shortly after U-571, so the company was looking for their next project,” said Gardner. “I loved my time in Hollywood. I was lucky enough to pitch in a bit in finding the next script. It was an amazing process that helped shape me as a designer and writer.”
Gardner decided to move back to Massachusetts because he wanted to be closer to his family and wanted to work in the video game industry.
“Games have been a lifelong passion of mine,” said Gardner. “And with the explosion of developers emerging in the U.S. at the time, I figured it was a great chance to make that happen. I moved back home, started networking in an alien industry and learned as much about the tools and the process of making games as I could.”
After moving back to town, Gardner worked at an Electronics Boutique store when he met Irrational Games co-founder Ken Levine. Gardner’s knowledge of video games impressed Levine, who in turn asked Gardner join Irrational Games’ team as a quality assurance specialist.
“I happened to be at the right place at the right time,” said Gardner. “I busted my butt learning about the technology and I worked my way up and eventually became a designer.”
While working for Irrational Games, Gardner served as the Design Director for 2012’s Bioshock Infinite and 2007’s Bioshock.
After Irrational Games shut its doors last year, the Gardners started The Deep End Games.
“The team is composed of top talent across the country who have experience working on titles, including games of the year winners Bioshock Infinite, Bioshock, Rock Band, Dead Space and more,” said Gardner.
The Gardners grew up in town and attended Lynnfield schools. Bill graduated from Lynnfield High School in 1997 and Amanda graduated in 1998. In a twist of fate, Amanda served as LHS’ yearbook liaison to the Lynnfield Villager.
“We love Lynnfield,” said Gardner. “We always said we wanted to come back home and raise our kids here.”
If residents want to support the Gardners’ Kickstarter campaign, they should visit www.kickstarter.com/perceptiongame.com. For more information about The Deep End Games, visit www.thedeependgames.com.