Q&A: Amanda Gardner talks ‘Perception’
Perception is a game that’s been on my radar since it wrapped up its successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015. I always found the concept of having a blind protagonist intriguing. The team over at Deep End Games was also a point of interest for me. It’s not every day you get ex-members from the teams that made Rock Band, Dead Space, and Bioshock together to make a horror game. So I decided to catch up with producer Amanda Gardner to talk about their first project as a team. Amanda was nice enough let me pepper her with questions over the course of several months for this interview which turned out to be a lot of fun. Thanks again Amanda. Hope you guys enjoy.
I think the pedigree at Deep End Games is what gets me excited the most about this project. You have staff that has worked on games like Bioshock, Dead Space, and Rock Band. As someone that follows the indie scene that’s exciting, how did the team come together? What did everyone at Deep End Games do at those studios?
How did the concept for Perception come to be?
Your team ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Perception. Being that this team was put together in such a way, was Kickstarter your first choice to get the game funded? How stressful was the process? And would you go that route again?
Dead Space was a game that flaunted its horror movies influences, while Bioshock subverted storytelling conventions as much as it could, what can you tell us about Perception in term of its influences or is your team trying to make something completely new?
I played and really enjoyed Alien: Isolation, but hearing you name drop Fatal Frame and The Shining as influences is really exciting. Even though they’re different mediums the mood they both manage to set is a thing of beauty. Perception is described as a first person narrative horror adventure game. You play as a blind girl named Cassie, and she’s investigating this estate that’s appearing in her dreams. Is that right? What else can you tell us about the premise and your approach to making a horror game based on a such a unique idea?
Your protagonist Cassie is played by Angela Morris, she seems to have put a lot of thought into Cassie as a character. When creating characters for your stories, how much is sacred versus how much you’re willing to give up for the actor’s interpretation?
In the game Cassie uses echolocation to make her way around. As a result Perception has an inherent darkness about it that lends itself to so many interesting horror possibilities. How do you pick and choose when to scare the player and when to bring it down a notch? I can imagine this could be a really intense game if things got out of hand.
You mention that Bill had a hand in designing the Medical Pavilion level in Bioshock. Of all the levels in Bioshock that’s the one that strikes me as the most horror-centric, there are moments of terror I’ll never get over. That one sequence when you are waist deep in water and see the doctor’s silhouette and then the lights go out is so perfectly done. It manages to do a jump-scare of sorts without the “jump”. I remember when the lights went back on I ran out of the water and put jack’s back to the wall. Very effective scare. Is this the type of horror you guys are shooting for or am I just projecting my fanboy love for Bioshock here?
What’s your position on playing other games in the genre while you’re making your own game? I know some teams use it as inspiration while others shy away as to not subconsciously crib ideas.
How long has the Perception been in production? And how much has changed since that first design document. Or has development of the game been pretty consistent on what you first envisioned?
Friendly Eyes sounds interesting. I’m imagining some type of digital assistant, similar to the various AR modes that became popular with the Arkham games. But in this instance Cassie actually needs descriptive assistance because much of the game is shrouded in darkness. Is that accurate? Or would you describe Friendly Eyes as something more?
Friendly Eyes sounds so much cooler than what I imagined. As creators how do you decide what stays in the game and what gets put on hold for a possible sequel? Which leads me to another question, do you see Perception as a franchise you’d want to expand on if you had the chance to?
We’ve seen some gameplay footage of The Presence, it’s design looks terrifying. What, if anything, can you tell us about it?
One of the more intriguing promises is to “travel back in history to exercise your own nightmare” is there anything you can tell us about Cassie’s nightmares? And how traveling back in history will work?
Perception sounds like its chalked full of great ideas, I can’t wait to get a look at it. I think that about wraps it up for me. Unless there is anything else you want to add. Thank you again for letting me interview you about the game and the team, I’m really looking forward to Perception and your future projects. Hopefully we meet again!
That sounds good, I’ll do a little homework on them. Thanks again Amanda. Good luck with Perception, really looking forward to it!
(Note: I did my homework, I found the CEO of Feardemic and threw some questions at him, but publishing a game is a lot of work so he couldn’t get his answers in on time. When he gets back to me I’ll update the article.)