Why I Backed Perception and the Power of Startups

Posted by Frosthaven |

Raise of hands - who here liked Bioshock? Do you know who made Bioshock? The Bioshock devs, of course! What have those crazy devs been up to since the dissipation of Irrational Games? Preparing the world for a new spin on narrative horror via Perception - under their new studio The Deep End Games.

The Catch-22 of AAA Studios

Let's face it, behind every amazing story we've experienced through video games lies a business model. No matter how badly a studio wants to unleash a game upon the world, the financial side of things has to be in order. This is especially true of AAA studios, who are expected to polish their products beyond spit-shine levels.

Speaking on the financial side of things, it's wise to spend development time on a project you know will be received well. It's why you see Assassin's Creed every year. What about all of those World of Warcraft clones? Same thing. Once a winning formula is found, studios do well to play the formula out as long as it can produce a profit. New ideas are risky, and not in a small way either. Do you remember Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? Their innovations almost bankrupted Square (now Square Enix). It's a scary situation to be in. As a studio you want to bring something new to the table, but new could also mean the difference between life and death.

Startups to the Rescue

Unlike those big-business power houses, startups must innovate lest they sink under the weight of the crowded market space. Sometimes the bigger fish in the sea appropriate these innovations - as such was the case of Narbacular Drop feeding into the success of Portal.

Ken Levine Has Brass

Former creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games, Ken Levine, shocked the world with his intention to disband the studio giant. Personally, I shed a single tear in mourning knowing that Bioshock as we knew it was gone. Ken's words were pretty clear:

To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience. -Ken Levine (full transcript here)

Where most talent enters the arena at the indie level and wishes upon a star for those above to notice them, Ken wants to take things in reverse. Maybe he sees the benefits of innovation in the startup scene? Either way, this accumulates into quite an interesting situation. Now swimming downstream, Ken Levine is bringing the experience of a AAA development studio into the startup market. With a name we can trust leading the bright minds forward, perhaps we can avoid more kick-starter horror stories.

Enter Perception

Speaking of horror stories, let's talk about the new studio's kick-started project. Perception has not only met its goal, but even dipped into a few stretch goals in the process. Here's a short synapse of the game taken directly from the official website:

Perception is a first-person narrative horror adventure that tells the story of Cassie, a blind heroine who uses her extraordinary hearing and razor-sharp wits to unravel the mysteries of an abandoned estate that haunts her dreams.

Let's not forget that trailer: Perception Official Trailer

If we've seen anything from the devs with their other works - it's how to tell a great story laced with darker overtones. The echolocation mechanic has me intrigued - the idea that sounds would illuminate the surrounding area with visible outlines.

With all of the ingredients needed for a successful game, I'm very eagerly awaiting its June 2016 release date. If Perception delivers on its promises, it will be the breath of fresh air that we've been waiting for. What do you think? Will Perception open wide the eyes of innovation, or stub its toe in the dark?