I'm Bill Gardner, a design lead on Bioshock, Design Director on Bioshock Infinite, and now the Creative Director on a game called Perception by my new company The Deep End Games. http://kck.st/1ArmLCu

EDIT: This is a ton of fun, but I think I must be retiring for the night. Thank you all for the support. I'll happily keep updating over the next few days. Keep the comments coming. Help us finish our Kickstarter and #MakePerceptionReality

My Proof: Check out @TheDeepEndGames's Tweet: https://twitter.com/TheDeepEndGames/status/612284498798059520?s=09

Comments: 1198 • Responses: 112  • Date: 

DiddyMoe527 karma

I recently finished playing Bioshock Infinite and I got to say, that game impressed me significantly. I don't know if people mentioned it back when it was first released but I'd like to reiterate the details again.

The way Elizabeth follows you from one location to another and the way she utilizes her environment is incredible. If there's a bench or chair nearby, she would sit in it. She would lean on walls, read papers on a desk or floor, and make comments about the scenery.

I also really enjoyed how Elizabeth was used to provide the player with hints and details rather than using an overlay of text. That made the game so much more immersive in my opinion. She would mention there's a lock pick we can use later, or mention that we need to move on to the current objective if there's nothing left to discover in a room.

I know the series is over but are you personally satisfied with the way everything turned out or do you wish more sequals could be made in the future. Also, will we see any noticeable similarities in mechanics in Perception or is this going to be a completely new game where you try completely new "concepts" (for lack of better words)?

TheDeepEndGames424 karma

Elizabeth was always the biggest part of the game. She drove a lot of the game's development. I'm really proud of what the team was able to create with her. I think we took the right approach and paid close attention to the pitfalls of companion characters from other games. When all is said and done, I think all the work was absolutely worth it - the character still resonates with people and I think the game will age very well. I think Elizabeth is one of the strongest characters in games - but again, I am still too close to it.

And I definitely learned a ton from working on her. Both from Ken and the writing team in terms of how to shape character, but also how to pick your battles.

With Cassie and her blindness, we can focus on what it feels like to "see" the world differently.

showroom123 karma

Played the game few days ago,still looks amazing,art style was pure perfection. And that ending in Infinite God damn ! :)

TheDeepEndGames227 karma

The ending is one of the things I'm most proud to have been a part of. To be clear, I had a very small part in that ending, but wow. I think next to Silent Hill 2, it's the best ending in gaming.

its_casual449 karma

Can you make it your personal quest in life to abolish all escort missions from this day forth?

TheDeepEndGames477 karma

I won't do them. Promise.

theillien440 karma

Biohock is the best phlegm-based game I've ever played. When can we expect Biohock 2: The Loogening? Or Biohock Eternal Phlegm?

TheDeepEndGames287 karma

Screenshot or it won't happen. Wait, no, please don't do that. Seriously. Instead, look up BioShaq.

Designnosaur428 karma

Would you kindly release another Bioshock sequel?

TheDeepEndGames314 karma

Looooooved working on the series. For now, I can offer you Perception. Very different, but there are definitely some similar elements.

Imperialvirtue136 karma

He said the trigger phrase; you have to now.

Vicyorus105 karma

A man chooses, a dev obeys.

TheDeepEndGames132 karma

I can only obey if our Kickstarter gets funded ;)

thefebreeze46 karma

I may be way out there with this one but I find dishonored to be pretty similar in many aspects. Plus its 5 dollars on steam right now. And its fun either way

Cishet_Shitlord23 karma

Yeah, there's been a lot of overlap on BioShock and Dishonored teams from the System Shock and Deus Ex teams. Looking Glass ftw.

TheDeepEndGames78 karma

Dishonored is the shiz. A few friends from Infinite are now working on Dishonored 2. One of my most anticipated titles.

IDroppedMyPocket411 karma

Was there any kind of inspiration behind the appearance of the Big Daddy?

TheDeepEndGames552 karma

Nate Wells, the Lead Artist, was a huge fan of the early underwater exploration, so he was the brilliant mind behind that approach. He's s real salty dog.

msd011140 karma

I'm gonna guess that this had something to do with it. Either that or it's an amazing coincidence.

TheDeepEndGames112 karma

That is entirely too rad. Can't say if that was specifically seen on the team, but still cool.

Dobard60 karma

It's awesome that you're still commenting.

TheDeepEndGames138 karma

Can't stop...Too many interesting conversations...help...

Peanutthepickle221 karma

Of all the games you've developed/created, which one would you say is your favorite?

TheDeepEndGames466 karma

Talk about Sophie's Choice! All things considered, I'd have to say the original Bioshock. So much fun to work on, everyone was firing on all cylinders. We were really exploring uncharted waters at the time, Har Har. Working on Perception is very reminiscent of those early Bioshock days.

dkarlovi229 karma

I'm playing Bioshock for the first time and I'm blown away. The atmosphere is amazing, creepy awesome, like a David Lynch movie.

Your game is great and you should feel great.

TheDeepEndGames205 karma

I love Lynch! Did you ever see the Cohen films from Burial at Sea?

Here's one: https://youtu.be/ckMhTx0Q8ns

Lynch was a huge inspiration for me when I helped create this.

Alexisokay82 karma

As long as we're talking about Cohen's Films, Regardèrent et Furent Observés was probably the most terrifying moment in the entire Bioshock Series for me. I was playing the game in my room with the lights off, and I was legitimately scared to look over my shoulder after that.

destinyrider22245 karma

Well fuck me, that was creepy.

TheDeepEndGames46 karma

Lol. Thanks? That was the goal.

TheDeepEndGames25 karma

Haha. Wow. Thank you. Did you catch his other vids? They're on my youtube page. But that one in particular is pretty cool. So flattered that you would say that.

Ecorin59 karma

Hopefully you'll pick up Bioshock 2 after you're done with the first one. I'm replaying it for the 3rd time at the moment and it really does a great job at expanding the Bioshock universe.

And if you want a similar creepy-awesome vibe and story, I'd also try out System Shock 2, although it's harder to get into because it's a much older game.

thereij48 karma

System Shock 2 is on sale via Steam right now for $2.50. There are mods that bring the graphics up a bit from the late 90s, but it's still one of the best games ever made. Couldn't give the game a higher recommendation.

TheDeepEndGames84 karma

SS2 = the reason I joined Irrational. Still holds up 16 years later. That's rare for 3D games.

your_mind_aches14 karma

Oh man you are in for a treat. BioShock is hella scary and is amazing. BioShock 2 has some of my favourite gameplay ever. BioShock Infinite has such a beautiful aesthetic and an amazing, heartbreaking story. Playing them all in order was such a treat.

TheDeepEndGames17 karma

What a great summary. A true fan. Thank you.

ectish209 karma

I got to do the motion capture for BioShock 2; that was a lot of fun! And tiring, but fun! I was 'guy with a pistol' and the other actor was 'guy with a rifle.' Did you work on any of the animation and if so, what was your favorite take/capture?

TheDeepEndGames187 karma

First off, that's awesome! I'd love to see any outtakes if there are any public. Especially if it involves those awesome suits.

The only animations I "worked on" were occasionally sitting next to the uber-talented Shawn Robertson and acting out awful weapon animations. He knows the exact bounds of my lame-ness.

ectish61 karma

I'm picturing you as a bot in GoldenEye. I too, would love to see some outtakes! We shot in the Novato, CA studio and I still can't get the rubber smell out of my nose.

TheDeepEndGames45 karma

Haha. I know exactly what you're talking about.

TheEvilGerman39 karma

Ha! Sorry I...I get excited when I see my town on Reddit...ha.....ha...hi.

TheDeepEndGames45 karma

Novato rules!

RandomNerdGeek141 karma

Here's a summary of the questions and answers so far. It'll be updated every three or so hours.

Part 1

Part 2

Question Answer
Was there any kind of inspiration behind the appearance of the Big Daddy? Nate Wells, the Lead Artist, was a huge fan of the early underwater exploration, so he was the brilliant mind behind that approach. He's s real salty dog.
What was the inspiration behind "Perception"? For instance, was it inspired by a certain person or event? The primary inspiration for creating a game featuring a blind protagonist was that I wanted to put the player in a unique perspective. Games, and particularly first person games, are awesome because they allow you to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. I argue that not enough titles leverage this. I wanted to show the world in a different way, and seeing through sound was the perfect way. Add to that, it works so perfectly for a horror title and a narrative-driven game, and it was a no-brainer.
Of all the games you've developed/created, which one would you say is your favorite? Talk about Sophie's Choice! All things considered, I'd have to say the original Bioshock. So much fun to work on, everyone was firing on all cylinders. We were really exploring uncharted waters at the time, Har Har. Working on Perception is very reminiscent of those early Bioshock days.
What are your favorite games? Top few, no order: A Link to the Past, System Shock 2, Super Mario World, World of Warcraft, Super Metroid, Resident Evil 4
I just watched the trailer for your new game, Perception, and it looks awesome and original (it's what i prefer in horror games). What are the games/movies that inspired you to create the atmosphere of a game like this? For one, The Shining. The Overlook Hotel's history and ambiance were big inspirations. Every nook and cranny of that setting oozed history. I'm also a big fan of Carpenter's The Thing - the isolation, the paranoia, the tone - an absolute classic. Biggest of all was simply growing up in the northeast of the US. I think you'll feel Perception is uniquely New England - both in atmosphere and history.
Are you a fan of Stephen King and his Maine settings for his novels? Oh, man. Yes! King is the king. Did you read Dr. Sleep? Huge fan. I've always connected with Stephen King's work. I'm telling you, there's just something in the air up here. Most people who've lived in NE will agree. Take a look at the authors (off the top of my head): King, Poe, Lovecraft. If that's not the holy trinity of horror, I don't know what is.
What are your options if you don't get the appropriate funding? I really hope that you hit your goal but in the event that you don't what are the chances of some sort of release? Let's not let that happen! ;) My focus is on crushing our goal. I think our next trailer on Monday will definitely help.
How did you get into game design? Did early childhood passions lead you to it? My two passions growing up were film and video games. I was OBSESSED with both. My parents actually owned one of the first video stores in the state, so I pretty much watched everything (especially horror!) This also gave me access to video equipment, so I was always shooting horror films in my back yard. Truly terrible stuff. Anyhow, when I was about 9 or 10, I sent in some design ideas to Nintendo - including a "design pitch" for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A few months later, I received a letter from Nintendo saying "you'll be pleased to learn that Mindscape is making Indiana Jones." I read that as "we're making YOUR game." Anyhow, I then spent years learning about making games, but thought it would never happen since development was mostly in Japan at the time. After a short stint in Hollywood, I came home, decided to learn about making games (thanks to inspirations from Blizzard et al). I took up my old college job at Electronics Boutique and met Ken Levine, creative director at Irrational. Somehow, I managed to impress him and he was kind enough to give me a shot in QA.
What is your perfect Sunday? A marathon gaming session with friends and family on a giant projection screen in my backyard. I really should get a giant projection screen and make this happen.
Did you guys ever think Bioshock would become as big as it at the end of the generation became? We believed in what we were building from day 1, but you never know what the audience is going to like. I mean, sure you can build, say, a zombie game and increase your chance of success, but ultimately, game development is always a risk. It's part of the reason pubs weren't interested in BioShock at first. It took a lot of clever work to garner interest. We took huge risks with Bio, and I think we were all on edge about how it would do up until we released our demo and essentially broke X-Box live for a few hours. Despite all the praise up until that point, I had no idea how the game was going to be received.
The inspiration for Perception must have been something powerful that moved you guys to create a game about a "blind" character. So what was that thing that inspired you guys to create something so different? The inspiration came from a lot of different places, but it was primarily from a drive to do something different. To show the world in a different way.
Why did you go the Kickstarter route with Perception? The game is likely too unique to go a traditional route (e.g. pub/dev model) 2) Crowdfunding is awesome in that you can connect with people right up front! I just earned my Master's degree in human factors and I ran user testing at Irrational for years. I really value what gamers have to say and with KS, I hope to leverage what I learn in the process. So I hope people jump in and participate!
Who was the inspiration for atlas/fontaine? That's really a question for the big man himself, Ken Levine. Don't want to speak for him, but he's a huge Cohen brothers fan and he was watching a ton of Miller's Crossing, which everyone should watch.
What's on your perfect sandwich? A turnip, princess tomato, power pellets, green herb and some meat found in a wall - all prepared by the dude from Burgertime. Or just an In-and-Out burger if that counts.
So, how is it that you've been doing this for under an hour and there are already two Cohen brothers references? It's safe to say that I'm in good company.
Bill have you any recommendations for people interested in taking up game design as a hobby? It's a great time to get started! There are so many tools and tutorials out there! I got started by just digging into Unreal and watching the phenomenal videos at 3Dbuzz.com Zak, one of the dudes behind those vids, now works at Epic. He rocks. The biggest thing is just getting rolling. The barriers to entry are crumbling. Even I get stuck with a tough problem from time to time, and sure enough, I check youtube and there's a solution. Feel free to email me with follow ups at info (at) thedeependgames dot com Download Unreal, watch their tutorials and get crackin!
Having just heard of Perception for the first time, how would you describe the gameplay? I think the trailer we're releasing on Monday should definitely help paint a clearer picture. There are definitely BioShock elements in mood and narrative, but you're not armed to the teeth like in that series. In fact, all you have is your white cane and your phone. Alien Isolation is a pretty good point of reference. The Presence is essentially unstoppable and will relentlessly hunt you. Be sure to check out our new gameplay trailer though.
In Bioshock, for those readers who haven't played the game, you can choose to either harvest or save Little Sisters. While harvesting appears to be the option with greater rewards initially, for every 3 little sisters you save you get a gift which more-or-less balances out the game for those who chose to, and those who chose not to, harvest. Of course, Bioshock takes place in a fictional city where the Randian values of self-interest are exaggerated; self-interest is king, and altruism is nonexistent. Was the decision to give these bonuses to the more altruistic players a gameplay decision (looking to keep the harvester players from feeling over-powered) or was it a subtle commentary on objectivist values, saying that in the long term empathy and altruism can yield greater results than self-interest? Don't hate me for this, but I honestly don't remember the specific motivation here. It's a great question though - one that I don't think I've encountered. I know the save mechanic was supposed to be a real leap of faith. Tennenbaum promises she'll "make it to be worth your while." I remember discussions about making sure we didn't disappoint people in this regard. We tried a few different approaches here, and I believe we wound up with the "rewards" based on a combo of what was right for the story and the feedback we got from early testers.

TheDeepEndGames78 karma

Now there's dedication! Thank you for doing this. Very helpful!

RastaMe131 karma

What is your perfect Sunday?

TheDeepEndGames223 karma

A marathon gaming session with friends and family on a giant projection screen in my backyard. I really should get a giant projection screen and make this happen.

TheEvilGerman102 karma

Just get a HUGE white sheet. Close enough. Then all you need is the projector. Then you just tell me when to come over.

TheDeepEndGames122 karma

Will you bring S'mores? ;)

Wulfegang90 karma

What was the inspiration behind "Perception"? For instance, was it inspired by a certain person or event?

TheDeepEndGames129 karma

The primary inspiration for creating a game featuring a blind protagonist was that I wanted to put the player in a unique perspective. Games, and particularly first person games, are awesome because they allow you to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. I argue that not enough titles leverage this.

I wanted to show the world in a different way, and seeing through sound was the perfect way. Add to that, it works so perfectly for a horror title and a narrative-driven game, and it was a no-brainer.

Bardimaeus67 karma

What are your favorite games?

TheDeepEndGames156 karma

Top few, no order: A Link to the Past, System Shock 2, Super Mario World, World of Warcraft, Super Metroid, Resident Evil 4

plagr109 karma

I just want you to know you made my all time favourite game. I even have a BioShock tattoo. I've never been so in awe of a game and its atmosphere. In my opinion that's a feeling that hasn't been in games since.

TheDeepEndGames111 karma

You just made my day. Thank you for that. I would also love to see the tattoo. Fans like you are the reason I make games.

shmameron40 karma

Can we see a pic of your bioshock tattoo?

theillien101 karma

Only if you want a pic of "Big Daddy" 😉

TheDeepEndGames28 karma

Haha. What have I gotten myself into?

Red_Editor23 karma

What do you think of the new A Link to the Past? Many people have called Bioshock a spiritual sequel to System Shock, is that what you were going for? Also SMW2 > SMW. What expansions/vanilla versions of WoW did you play?

TheDeepEndGames60 karma

I thought A Link Between Worlds was magnificent. I didn't expect to revisit the map. I also loved how they mixed up the formula with the shop. Awesome stuff.

SMW 2 is great as well, but I think you're flat out wrong. ;) That baby Mario cry. Yikes.

I played all the way up through Pandaria. I play like a weirdo though. Mostly random adventuring. Very little end-game content. I'm a loner. A rebel. Plus I soloed as a Resto Druid up to 80. Yup. I'm also really dumb.

stevensi101852 karma

I just watched the trailer for your new game, Perception, and it looks awesome and original (it's what i prefer in horror games). What are the games/movies that inspired you to create the atmosphere of a game like this?

TheDeepEndGames66 karma

Thank you! I love this question and could go on all day with it ;)

For one, The Shining. The Overlook Hotel's history and ambiance were big inspirations. Every nook and cranny of that setting oozed history.

I'm also a big fan of Carpenter's The Thing - the isolation, the paranoia, the tone - an absolute classic.

Biggest of all was simply growing up in the northeast of the US. I think you'll feel Perception is uniquely New England - both in atmosphere and history.

Wulfegang20 karma

Since you mention the northeast and New England, are you a fan of Stephen King and his Maine settings for his novels?

TheDeepEndGames39 karma

Oh, man. Yes! King is the king.

Did you read Dr. Sleep? Huge fan.

I've always connected with Stephen King's work. I'm telling you, there's just something in the air up here. Most people who've lived in NE will agree.

Take a look at the authors (off the top of my head): King, Poe, Lovecraft. If that's not the holy trinity of horror, I don't know what is.

Wulfegang13 karma

Couldn't agree more!!! I haven't gotten around to Dr. Sleep but I recently read "Salem's Lot" and "Needful Things".

TheDeepEndGames20 karma

I'm ashamed to say that I've never read Needful Things. Any good?

Salem's Lot is unreal.

IT also really stuck with me. I love the way King paints childhood in it and Stand By Me.

Wulfegang8 karma

Read "IT" once and watched the series Tim Curry. Too scared of clowns now to do it again. "Needful Things" is very good (only watched the movie version of it once). It reminds me of the old Jonathan Price movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in a be careful what you wish for/want in life manner.

TheDeepEndGames18 karma

Wow, I didn't realize "Something Wicked" was a film. I have to look into that.

I know a lot of people who are absolutely terrified of clowns because of IT. IT always reminded me a bit of Zelda for some reason. Am I crazy?

And didn't the remake just hit a speedbump? That's actually one remake I'd love to see happen.

stevensi10188 karma

Great to know that two of my favorite horror movies were inspiration for the atmosphere of your fuure game ;) . Both have isolation in common and that's definitely something I'm looking for in an horror game.

TheDeepEndGames20 karma

Great! I think games do this feeling really well, but a lot of games run away from it rather than embrace it.

Silent Hill for example, understands that it's a strength rather than a weakness. Even when there are characters with you, they feel so vacant that it increases the horror rather than relieves it.

Super Metroid was hugely inspirational to me. The series does such a magnificent job with isolation. Look at the first 10 minutes of the game...it has more atmosphere and mood than 90% of the games released today. The creators knew their limitations and ran toward them rather than away from them.

Few games have aged as gracefully.

Blahblahblah20633 karma

The outside shots of the hotel in The Shining are from the Timberline hotel in the Cascades/Oregon btw...

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

Didn't they recently tear it down? If not, I would love to go to it.

Mario1bro38 karma

How did you get into game design? Did early childhood passions lead you to it?

TheDeepEndGames87 karma

My two passions growing up were film and video games. I was OBSESSED with both. My parents actually owned one of the first video stores in the state, so I pretty much watched everything (especially horror!)

This also gave me access to video equipment, so I was always shooting horror films in my back yard. Truly terrible stuff.

Anyhow, when I was about 9 or 10, I sent in some design ideas to Nintendo - including a "design pitch" for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A few months later, I received a letter from Nintendo saying "you'll be pleased to learn that Mindscape is making Indiana Jones." I read that as "we're making YOUR game."

Anyhow, I then spent years learning about making games, but thought it would never happen since development was mostly in Japan at the time.

After a short stint in Hollywood, I came home, decided to learn about making games (thanks to inspirations from Blizzard et al). I took up my old college job at Electronics Boutique and met Ken Levine, creative director at Irrational. Somehow, I managed to impress him and he was kind enough to give me a shot in QA.

Mpur34 karma

As a game programming student going out on a 5 month internship in November, do you have any advice? I am currently a bit nervous how to best make my way into my dream career.

TheDeepEndGames52 karma

Have you worked on any projects in school? Any mods? I think beyond being a kickass coder, showing that you can solve real problems in clever ways will get you very far.

Obviously talent and know-how are number one, but it's important to find out how to "sell" your skills. Creating code for, say, a Skyrim mod can really help make you stand out.

Be warned: I am not a coder.

Mpur27 karma

Yeah, three projects so far and soon to be four.

Lady Bazooka is a 2 - 4 player fast paced platforming shooter for PS3 and PC. It was made in 10 weeks as our second school project. https://vimeo.com/129124615

Alien Weapon X is a singleplayer rail shooter for the PSVita, I didn't work on this project from the start but I had to jump in the last three weeks to help them get on track (no puns intended) for their deadline. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXKXU5N7L6E

Kronhjort is a singleplayer speedrunner game for the PC, this was my first school project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tYdFjWlWC0

All of them are made in C++ using our in-house middleware "Tengine".

While I'm at it, could you tell me a bit about The Deep End Games? Where are you located for example? I tried looking for that on your website but I could not find it. Is there any place I could send an application for an internship by any chance?

TheDeepEndGames53 karma

Nice. Lots of stuff to show. Do me a favor - it's a bit busy here - please DM me on Twitter @GameOnGardner I'd love to take a look when I have time.

Keep at it!

Pterodactylic29 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this AMA, I'm a huge fan of the Bioshock franchise and I can't wait for your next game! I have two questions for you!

  1. There is one question about Bioshock I've always had, and I'd love it if you could help me find an answer.

    In Bioshock, for those readers who haven't played the game, you can choose to either harvest or save Little Sisters. While harvesting appears to be the option with greater rewards initially, for every 3 little sisters you save you get a gift which more-or-less balances out the game for those who chose to, and those who chose not to, harvest.

    Of course, Bioshock takes place in a fictional city where the Randian values of self-interest are exaggerated; self-interest is king, and altruism is nonexistent. Was the decision to give these bonuses to the more altruistic players a gameplay decision (looking to keep the harvester players from feeling over-powered) or was it a subtle commentary on objectivist values, saying that in the long term empathy and altruism can yield greater results than self-interest?

  2. From what I've seen of the game so far, the color scheme appears pretty limited. What challenges does this present in level design (as colors are often used as subtle indicators to steer players in the right direction) and what was the rationale behind this unique style, particularly after working on a series as famously color-rich as Bioshock?

TheDeepEndGames44 karma

1) Don't hate me for this, but I honestly don't remember the specific motivation here. It's a great question though - one that I don't think I've encountered. I know the save mechanic was supposed to be a real leap of faith. Tennenbaum promises she'll "make it to be worth your while."

I remember discussions about making sure we didn't disappoint people in this regard. We tried a few different approaches here, and I believe we wound up with the "rewards" based on a combo of what was right for the story and the feedback we got from early testers.

TheDeepEndGames45 karma

2) The aesthetic we have allows us to not only show a unique visual motif, but also to focus on the broad strokes of the world. This gives Echo Bluff a fresh look. But yes, it also means that we have to find ways to keep the environments varied. One of the ways we try to do this is by going bold with the architecture.

I think the monochromatic look does really help make thing pop when you do see color, through things like Cassie's memories or ghosts. When you think about it, Star Wars is a very monochromatic film from shot-to-shot. Think about the Death Star. It's practically a black and white film! This makes the lightsabers and blasters pop even more. The eye craves that contrast and it helps focus on the stars of the shots. I'm not going to knock the prequels, but because everything was so colorful, you get a bit fatigued. (for the record, I love Episode III)

similar_observation16 karma

Ah, kind of like Sin City or Schindler's List where the film is showed in black and white with one detail colored to highlight it's importance.

TheDeepEndGames19 karma

I wish I could say I was thinking of those, but you are obviously way smarter than I am. Great references. And yes, exactly like these.

Shadenfall27 karma

I'm a huge Bioshock fan and was sad to see the series end, but as someone who worked on it, do you find yourself wanting to work on the series even more or are you happy to let it end in the, frankly, bloody awesome way it did?

TheDeepEndGames42 karma

I want to go back to the series all the time. I'll probably want to for the rest of my life. It's just such a rich world and it presents so much opportunity.

I'm very pleased with how we wrapped up the series, but certainly look forward to see if 2K revisits it.

Glad to have you as a fan, btw.

Tinyds26 karma

Where is the ace in the hole?

TheDeepEndGames36 karma

Right here. Did you see my pics?

zakk1225 karma

What are your thoughts on making a Super Metroid inspired Bioshock 2d platformer?

TheDeepEndGames50 karma

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.

You just broke me.

yoyoq1224 karma

Do you use a spell checker ?

TheDeepEndGames47 karma

Am I hacking it that bad? Mabye I hsould strt?

RandomNerdGeek20 karma

Here's a summary of the questions and answers so far. It'll be updated every three or so hours.

Part 1

Part 2

Question Answer
From what I've seen of the game so far, the color scheme appears pretty limited. What challenges does this present in level design (as colors are often used as subtle indicators to steer players in the right direction) and what was the rationale behind this unique style, particularly after working on a series as famously color-rich as Bioshock? The aesthetic we have allows us to not only show a unique visual motif, but also to focus on the broad strokes of the world. This gives Echo Bluff a fresh look. But yes, it also means that we have to find ways to keep the environments varied. One of the ways we try to do this is by going bold with the architecture. I think the monochromatic look does really help make thing pop when you do see color, through things like Cassie's memories or ghosts. When you think about it, Star Wars is a very monochromatic film from shot-to-shot. Think about the Death Star. It's practically a black and white film! This makes the lightsabers and blasters pop even more. The eye craves that contrast and it helps focus on the stars of the shots. I'm not going to knock the prequels, but because everything was so colorful, you get a bit fatigued. (for the record, I love Episode III)
Racism is a huge theme in Bioshock Infinite; did you have any concerns about how that would be received by your audience? That first violent scene on that stage was shocking to me, but I imagine it was intended to be. I felt like everything was very well done throughout the game though. I can't speak for others, but I was certainly concerned. Our intent was never to simply shock. My understanding of the intent (again, I hate speaking for other people) was to portray a time in which that was the reality. Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely. But if games can't take on that sort of material, how can we address the issues? Isn't it one of the roles of art to shine a light on humanity - ugliness included? I think the key here is that BioShock was never meant to be exploitative. It took on difficult subjects with the intent of making people think rather than simply pushing hot-buttons.
How many hours have you put into Perception already? Does it feel different working on your own game, as opposed to Bioshock, etc? I started around October of last year. Hour-wise? Tough to say. I'm having so much frickin fun working on it that it's a bit of a blur. Tons? It definitely feels different than past projects in that I'm taking on so much more with it being my old company. Irrational was awesome, particularly in the early days, in that we were allowed to wear many different hats. I learned a ton, but running the business and the kickstarter is an enormous amount of work. Still, the rewards are also far greater than I imagined. I absolutely love hearing what people think and connecting directly with you folks!
Will there be the possibility of actually tapping the screen on touchscreen devices to emulate Cassie tapping? That would certainly be an awesome idea. Right now we're only targeting PC, PS4 and XBox One, but as an enormous Nintendo fan, I'd love to talk WiiU. If things go well, I would definitely look into it. We're still a very small team though, so I'd need to look into how much value the kind of tapping would bring to the experience. I want to make sure if we take on a challenge, gamers are going to love the result.

Here's my question: seeing how Perception is different from the traditional horror genre, how do you think the game will be received by reviewers? Is there a game you would compare it to?

TheDeepEndGames13 karma

One of the key differences is that it lets you determine how much information you get. In this project, I've always said information is the enemy of horror. Well, we're taking that concept and making a game out of it. To get more information, you need to create noise.

By creating noise, you risk being discovered by The Presence. And believe me, you will be creating many of your own unique horror stories about your encounters with this relentless being.

I think that reviewers will really dig Perception for its originality and for taking on a bold approach to narrative and gameplay. We've got a really great story in addition to. So I'm hoping the critics will enjoy it as much as they've enjoyed seeing it in these early stages.

lightkira1518 karma

What does a creative director do? How do you become a creative director?

TheDeepEndGames34 karma

Creative Directors are like film directors. They set the tone for the project and drive the overall creative vision. This usually means working very closely with the different departments to hone content to ensure cohesion and overall awesomeness.

For example, for the sequence at the start of the trailer where the blizzard reveals the house, I worked with Hung, our level artist to find the right look for the house's facade, and also David from FX ville to get the snow feeling right and finally with Jim Bonney, our audio director to find the right mood for the audio.

It's a whole lot of talking, digging up references, gesticulating and creating crude prototypes/mockups.

In short, it's hellafun.

There is no proscribed path to becoming a CD. For me, I worked my way up from QA (quality assurance). The key is to learn as much as you can as possible. Every situation is going to be different, but the only way to make it happen is to get out there and start making stuff happen. Mod, network, learn, communicate - do whatever you can to do something related to your dream.

You'll get there eventually if you plug away at it.

haXona17 karma

I think you guys know me from Twitter and Kickstarter but either way here are 2 questions:

  1. Did you guys ever think Bioshock would become as big as it at the end of the generation became? Its one of my top games that I've played because of so many things that other ganes didn't do before the 2010s

  2. The inspiration for Perception must have been something powerful that moved you guys to create a game about a "blind" character. So what was that thing that inspired you guys to create something so different?

Here is to 25k$ in 4 days! 🍻

TheDeepEndGames16 karma

1) We believed in what we were building from day 1, but you never know what the audience is going to like. I mean, sure you can build, say, a zombie game and increase your chance of success, but ultimately, game development is always a risk. It's part of the reason pubs weren't interested in BioShock at first. It took a lot of clever work to garner interest. We took huge risks with Bio, and I think we were all on edge about how it would do up until we released our demo and essentially broke X-Box live for a few hours. Despite all the praise up until that point, I had no idea how the game was going to be received.

TheDeepEndGames11 karma

2) The inspiration came from a lot of different places, but it was primarily from a drive to do something different. To show the world in a different way.

haXona9 karma

Perfect example of how to move the medium forward! I like that

TheDeepEndGames4 karma

Gonna try. :p

haXona7 karma

Yeah I remember being really sceptical before I played the demo and was seriously amazed. The atmosphere was unlike a lot of games before it, there was this quirky thing about a town under water, like who makes a game about a town under water? There was so many things that just was so different from other games.

Looking back I can see why some publishers would have been weary about doing Bioshock but I'm glad it paid off big time both for the industry and you guys.

TheDeepEndGames15 karma

Kind of you to say.

Frankly, I think if you don't have a tinge of skepticism before playing a game, maybe it's too safe. If the game is so familiar that you immediately say "yes, I get it and I'm sold" maybe it's not pushing enough boundaries.

I hope that doesn't sound pretentious cuz I hate that sort of thing. I play everything. But for me, if I'm going to spend a few years of my life devoted to a game, I want to walk away from it and be proud for trying something a little different.

haXona5 karma

Nahh I totally get the feeling, being into game development and motion picture myself(been studying for 3 years now).

I really dont want to play things safe, I like when people and studios take a "leap of faith" or at least try to mix things up. We have seen that a lot lately which is something I really like to happen.

TheDeepEndGames7 karma

I think it's a sign of the times. With platforms like KS and with amazing tools like Unreal, people can just get out there and build stuff. They can make the case directly to the audience rather than have arbitrary gatekeepers barring entry.

You're studying film? That's awesome. What a great time to do so. Did you happen to catch our "Blair Witch" inspired video? We shot this a couple weekends ago over a few hours:

https://youtu.be/uv_GDyUADNI

Not saying it's brilliant or whatever (it's not ;) but I think it shows that you can do amazing things now.

When I was studying film at Emerson, we actually shot everything on film. Which was awesome, but hugely expensive.

GingerGuerrilla15 karma

Having just heard of Perception for the first time, how would you describe the gameplay? Is it more puzzle based akin to Unfinished Swan and P.T. or more action-adventure like Bioshock or Fatal Frame?

TheDeepEndGames24 karma

I think the trailer we're releasing on Monday should definitely help paint a clearer picture.

There are definitely BioShock elements in mood and narrative, but you're not armed to the teeth like in that series. In fact, all you have is your white cane and your phone.

Alien Isolation is a pretty good point of reference. The Presence is essentially unstoppable and will relentlessly hunt you.

Be sure to check out our new gameplay trailer though.

TheDeepEndGames19 karma

There are definitely some bits in here that may have some of the same feeling as PT. Love that demo. Although I wish it weren't so obtuse at times. :P I had a tough time figuring out what I was supposed to be doing. Had to frequently check the FAQs/walkthroughs. Unfortunately, I played it right after it came out and the details weren't quite out there yet.

Then again, I'm not a smrt man.

shinjuki14 karma

I heard you had an entire team devoted to water effects on that? What is the process on water like that?

TheDeepEndGames32 karma

I don't know if I would call it an "entire team," but there were a few devs on it for a good chunk of the project. Mainly Stephen Alexander and Jesse Johnson. Pound-for-pound, they were probably the equivalent of a whole team.

The process was mostly them pouring dixie cups of water on the office floor for 5-6 hours a day.

shinjuki12 karma

Would you do Bioshock Remaster on Xbox One at least?

TheDeepEndGames17 karma

If I had any say on that, I definitely would. Not my call though. Would be nice to see though. If you want it, I'm sure 2K would listen if there was enough demand.

Blade_Of_Equinox12 karma

I'm a Games Designer coming into my 4-5th years of experience in the industry, and i'd like to one day make the jump into a Lead role. What kind of qualities/experience do you think would help me make that leap from a team player to a team leader?

Also Would you kindly take a picture of yourself with the most interesting thing on your desk?

TheDeepEndGames18 karma

Find a chance to take ownership over something and run with it. If you feel that there is a part of the game that isn't up to par, find a way to identify what the problems are and, more importantly, how to solve them. You need to be very, very careful here. Keep in mind that people don't always like to have their work criticized. But if you stick to the facts, provide examples of how other games are solving the problem and how you can do the same, you'll increase the liklihood that people will listen.

Avoid hyperbole, don't make it personal, use compliment sandwiches, but be honest. If you do this in the right way, you may find yourself being given more responsibility. Then, keep at it.

similar_observation9 karma

You and the team are the reason I shoot dead bodies twice before I loot them. Damn you for this paranoia.

These games are pretty damn immersive already. But do you see Perception making it onto platforms like Occulus and SteamVR?

TheDeepEndGames6 karma

Haha. Glad to have damaged your psyche in this way. This was a feature that was fairly close to getting cut at one point. Good thing we managed to get them in.

I'm a huge fan of VR - been since the 90s. We have VR as a stretch goal and I would love to see Perception take advantage of the tech. I feel like it's uniquely positioned to bring a fresh angle to VR.

I agree with you on the immersion. If you've had the pleasure of experiencing VR, I'm sure you'll agree that it really does make you leave your body.

Ecorin9 karma

Do you think that the story of Rapture should be visited again in a future game, maybe set at the point where things in the underwater city were just starting to fall apart and the first splicers/big daddies were created ?

I loved the first 2 games, but I was kind of sad that everything was in ruins and shambles. I would have loved to see Rapture in its full glory.

TheDeepEndGames20 karma

Maybe. I think it depends on the overall pitch. I don't like to say never.

Did you check out Infinite's DLC? You get to see Rapture in its heyday.

sgannon2008 karma

Bill have you any recommendations for people interested in taking up game design as a hobby? i.e. Books, tutorials, tools, or other.

TheDeepEndGames16 karma

It's a great time to get started!

There are so many tools and tutorials out there!

I got started by just digging into Unreal and watching the phenomenal videos at 3Dbuzz.com

Zak, one of the dudes behind those vids, now works at Epic. He rocks.

The biggest thing is just getting rolling. The barriers to entry are crumbling. Even I get stuck with a tough problem from time to time, and sure enough, I check youtube and there's a solution.

Feel free to email me with follow ups at info (at) thedeependgames dot com

Download Unreal, watch their tutorials and get crackin!

frauenarzZzt8 karma

Could you elaborate more on your choice to use unreal engine 4 for your work? Is there a reason you chose this over other engines?

TheDeepEndGames10 karma

The team is really familiar with Unreal as it's what we used on BioShock.

The tools with Unreal are...oh dear...I almost wrote unreal. But they are. UE4 has seen massive improvements to UI and blueprints are truly empowering.

So it was a combo of familiarity, support, available tutorials, etc. Plus the engine absolutely crushes it in the graphics department. That's the technical term. I'm not a programmer tho.

Mwunsu8 karma

who was the inspiration for atlas/fontaine?

TheDeepEndGames15 karma

That's really a question for the big man himself, Ken Levine. Don't want to speak for him, but he's a huge Cohen brothers fan and he was watching a ton of Miller's Crossing, which everyone should watch.

haXona8 karma

What about everyone's cute little sister? :P

TheDeepEndGames16 karma

Lol. Well, did you see our original concepts? The awful bug looking things? We wanted to strum up some sympathy, or at least some reluctance to attacking the "gatherers" as they were called at the time.

What do you think people did as soon as they saw the bugs? "GET IT!" Yup, ran right at them and clubbed the shit out of them.

We wanted players to have some sort of a connection. After a few hundred concepts, the little sister emerged and it was pretty clear that they were the only way to go.

haXona4 karma

Lool I can imagine everyone would crush them if they looked like bugs but being a little kid sure made everything they did seem harmless :P

TheDeepEndGames14 karma

Yeah, we'd put friends and family in front of the game. Atlas would be explaining, "now don't go attacking those things as they are protected by..." and users were all like "Eff this, I'm squashing that thiiiiiiiiinnnng!!!"

FraaWhy7 karma

I'm so late to this but I can't help but ask this question.

What was your reaction to the resizing/structuring of Irrational, that resulted in so many people losing their jobs? Infinite being a game in development for several years, and went on to become one of the largest titles released that year, I felt extremely bad for the people suddenly being swept out the door to make room for Ken Levine's ego.

TheDeepEndGames8 karma

I can only speak for myself. Obviously, it was tough news, but I'm grateful for my time at IG and to Ken for taking me under his wing.

I also wouldn't be making Perception had it not gone down this way. And Ken continues to be a close friend and huge supporter of the game.

StarTroop7 karma

How large is Deep End Games, and how do you think the size of a development team can affect creative output?

TheDeepEndGames12 karma

We're 12 people total, but I'm the only one full time at the moment.

The team size affects the game in every possible way. However, a bigger team doesn't necessarily equal a better game. I've seen countless teams crash and burn just because they were too big to manage. I've also seen smaller teams take on too much and fail.

This is why I've taken every lesson I've learned over the years to carefully choose which battles the team takes on. Every decision we've made has carefully weighed the team size along with our strengths and weaknesses against our core vision.

We're lean and mean.

M_1245 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA. I really enjoyed Bioshock. I want to ask - were there some cool features or parts of the story that did not end up in the final game for some reason?

TheDeepEndGames10 karma

We had this whole environment system that controlled things like pressure. By hacking it, you could manipulate the game's ecology to make splicers weaker, but big daddies stronger. It would change the game's mood through lighting and fog, but also obviously had a big impact on the gameplay.

Eventually we cut it because it was so difficult to read and was going to take a ton of work for very little payoff.

roman88885 karma

I've seen the art for the movie were you involved in that? Is there anymore?

TheDeepEndGames6 karma

Sorry, which movie? The BioShock movie?

TheDeepEndGames6 karma

Ummm...I've been so busy with Perception that I haven't seen it!!!

Amanda is showing me right now. Holy snikeys!

IFindYouDreadful5 karma

What are your options if you don't get the appropriate funding? I really hope that you hit your goal but in the event that you don't what are the chances of some sort of release?

TheDeepEndGames9 karma

Let's not let that happen! ;)

My focus is on crushing our goal. I think our next trailer on Monday will definitely help.

ndc35 karma

I understand it was a typo but I was really confused with biohock I thought it was a porn parody like ass effect . Also did infinite meeting your guy's expectations? Loved them both

TheDeepEndGames4 karma

Typo? I'm not sure I want to know.

Did you hear about the Pokemon one? Yikes.

Changing gears: I was personally ecstatic by Infinite's reception. To see such a challenging title be embraced by so many was amazing.

curiouscorncob5 karma

So whats your design process like? How do you work with the other designers? What do you actually do considering there are others to do that job?

TheDeepEndGames6 karma

It's always changing. I think anyone who tells you they've figured out "the process" is lying.

It all depends on the challenge at hand. I've found that it's best to establish some best-practices, but not allow rigidity to hold you back.

For Perception, the process has involved a lot of pitching ideas, then moving on to crude prototypes, applying them to different situations and then trying to poke holes in it.

spaz10205 karma

Hello Mr. Gardner,

I was wondering in what you look for when you're hiring people either from indie studios or right out of school and what should be focusing on going into an interview.

Do you think some schools are better than others when it comes to getting their students industry ready?

TheDeepEndGames6 karma

You'll likely hear me say this a lot: it depends.

If you're looking to become a designer, then get out there and start building stuff. It doesn't matter if it sucks or if no one ever sees it - you'll learn a ton.

Eventually though, you should move toward building something that you're proud to show off as part of a portfolio. Doesn't need to be anything big or exotic. Just make it clear. Sell it. Your idea should stand on its own legs with minimal explanation. If you need to talk people through it, you probably have more work to do.

As for schools, I know there are a lot of great programs out there, but I don't know first hand. I've had the pleasure of visiting Becker College a few times (MassDigi) and they do a spectacular job preparing students. Best of all, they make some fantastic games - check out Castsunami or Midnight Terrors to name a few.

JynxVII4 karma

What's your favorite color?

TheDeepEndGames21 karma

Blue...no Yell-OOOOOOOOWWW!!!!!

OzrowO4 karma

What was it like to work with Courtnee Draper during Bioshock infinite?

TheDeepEndGames7 karma

Collaborating with talent is always one of the more rewarding parts of a project. Unfortunately, I only met her a few times and didn't really work with her.

The folks who did said she was a ton of fun though.

Quelandoris4 karma

Hi, hopeful future game designer here, about to enter college. Aside from the obvious advice like paying attention in class, do internships, make connections, etc. what advice do you have for a college video game Design student?

Also, separate question, what would be a good minor for a Game Design student?

TheDeepEndGames7 karma

Get on Unreal (or unity) and build something. Not tomorrow. Now.

There are a ton of videos and extensive tutorials out there that teach you how to do just about everything. I learned Unreal through a site called 3d buzz. One of the creators from the site now works for Epic and creates vids through them.

You don't need to build anything too big or fancy - just start building. Learn the tools. Learn the workflow. Learn.

Go make something awesome!

Ekap23 karma

If you were held on a top secret prison here on earth, would you want Ryan, Atlas, Jack, Dr Tanenbaum, and Fontaine with all the tech of Rapture, or Booker, Comstock, Elizabeth, and the Luteces, with all the tech of Columbia, to team up and save you?

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

This needs to be a comic book or something. Love it!

I'm going to flip-flop here. Uhhhhhh....

The Luteces seem to know everything and appear to pull all the strings. But then, Elizabeth is omniscient, headstrong and a snazzy dresser. Blarg, but the Booker always gets the job done.

Come to think of it, I hate this question. :p

I'm gonna go with Jack. Because they used my face for him in BioShock. And I know what my face can do.

MaelVerse3 karma

What excactly is your job as lead designer, and what as creative director. How does your average workday look like?

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

Both roles vary from studio to studio.

As Creative Director, I drive the vision of the project. It's a lot like a film director.

It involves a ton of collaboration, seeking and sharing motivations, touchstones and inspirations.

Then, getting in the trenches with different departments to realize the vision. That can mean working directly with an animator to nail the timing of a sequence or to help balance the gameplay.

It's a ton of work, but a ton of fun. If you're interested in this path, I would recommend learning as much as you can about development and try to get your foot in the door as something like QA (Quality Assurance). That's how I got my start 13 years ago.

myhappylittletrees3 karma

I have to listen to music when I'm doing anything creative (I am a graphic designer by trade, painter by passion), and I know a lot of artists and creative types are the same. Do you listen to music when creating something? What are your favorites (if you have any)?

TheDeepEndGames8 karma

Yes. I find that it helps my mind from wandering if that makes any sense. It seems to occupy a portion of my brain that needs taming while I'm focusing.

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of game soundtracks. Legendary Axe 2 and Akira Yamaoka's work have been getting a lot of play.

I've also been loving Faith No More's new album. Plus some new Muse

RustAndroid3 karma

Hey, just saw this AMA and couldn't resist as I am a huge fan of the entire Bioshock series. I have a few questions;

When you were creating the first Bioshock, were there any difficulties with naming the game? Can you show us some names that you guys considered?

What scrapped content from the games do you wish you could have included? Additionally, do you have any comments on the enemy we saw in the Elisabeth Prototype Interview?

TheDeepEndGames4 karma

OMG. Ummm...yes.

Oh man. We were batting around all kinds of terrible names.

Before BioShock, Ken had one horribly embarrassing name idea. I don't think I can repeat it. He'd likely murder me with a wrench. Too funny.

Naming a game is sooooo tough!

dudeAwEsome1013 karma

Do you see the old man / young kid Spoiler relationship between Booker Elizabeth to be a better way to create attachment to characters in games targeted toward more grownup audience compared to romantic relationships seen in other RPGs? Other games such as the Last of Us and the Witcher 3 have employed similar story between main characters in a way that brought more depth to them.

TheDeepEndGames5 karma

It's been a while, but please be careful of spoilers. ;)

I like these relationships because their different. It's an exciting time to be in games because I feel like we're trying new things out. I feel these particular connections work because they're fresh.

Of course, with Booker/Liz, that attachment would only be in hindsight whereas in Last of Us, it's more overt from the getgo.

galaxiim3 karma

I wonder if this question will get answered.

After Ken Levine did a tremendous amount of PR and press for Bioshock Infinite, he says he cut down the size of the Irrational Games company down to a few core people who were going to go off and develop some new kind of game intelligence engine. I guess that is when you split off to form your own company, Deep End Games.

Have you heard anything about their progress? Are you still in touch with them?

TheDeepEndGames5 karma

Ken a lot of the folks over there are close friends. They've been HUGE supporters of Perception.

I hang with Ken all the time and frankly, I tell him to keep the details to a minimum as I want to see it with fresh eyes. That way, maybe I can offer him some valuable feedback. I am off the wall excited about what I know and think they're going to really shake things up. I cannot wait.

khaleesi_braidz3 karma

Why did you go the Kickstarter route with Perception?

TheDeepEndGames10 karma

There are a lot of reasons really, but in short:

1) The game is likely too unique to go a traditional route (e.g. pub/dev model) 2) Crowdfunding is awesome in that you can connect with people right up front! I just earned my Master's degree in human factors and I ran user testing at Irrational for years. I really value what gamers have to say and with KS, I hope to leverage what I learn in the process. So I hope people jump in and participate!

Wulfegang8 karma

Congratulations on the Master's Degree!

TheDeepEndGames10 karma

Oh. Didn't expect that! Thank you! It was a lot of work, but I was so happy to learn a whole new universe of design. Plus, it was good to challenge myself again academically. I mostly forgot how to read since college :P

Funny story, the initial seed of Perception hit me when one of my professors challenged the class and said, "when you leave class tonight, you're all going to think of a brilliant idea by the time you get to your cars."

Sure enough, it worked.

polite-13 karma

Originally Bioshock had a very different story - something about deprogramming a kidnapped politicians daughter. How did you feel about that original story?

Also have you ever read "How I would have ended Bioshock" by Tom Francis? Has some really cool small modifications to the last act that really make the finale much more neater. It's only a short read.

http://www.pentadact.com/2009-04-15-ending-bioshock/

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

The original story didn't really get much attention. It was sort of a placeholder bit while we focused on the systems. Ken knows that story changes a lot in development, so he didn't spend a whole lot of time on it.

While the original plot was kind of neat, I'm obviously glad it evolved the way it did. Especially since it originally took place on a tropical island. Yikes. Not that I have anything against tropical islands (Star Tropics is one of my all time faves, btw). I just can't imagine Bio without the city under the sea.

I just opened Tom's article. Never heard of it, but I look forward to reading it. Thank you for sharing it. Always exciting to see new stuff on the franchise.

jutct3 karma

I think Bioshock 2 is my favorite. I loved the mechanic of becoming a big daddy and a little sister. That was just too cool. Was that your idea?

TheDeepEndGames5 karma

I did not work on Bio 2. Jordan Thomas was the CD on that title. He's brilliant. If you haven't had the pleasure of playing The Magic Circle, you should. Truly outside the box and an absolute joy to play. Jordan, Stephen and the team over there are absurdly talented.

suhayma2 karma

What steps can one take to become a writer for games like yours? It's been a dream of mine, but I never know where to start. Thank you!

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

Amanda, my wife, is our writer and she started out with an English degree. She started by writing novels and getting a NYC agent, but everyone's path is different. I'd study screenplays since that's closer.

simster702 karma

How many hours have you put into Perception already? Does it feel different working on your own game, as opposed to Bioshock, etc?

TheDeepEndGames2 karma

I started around October of last year. Hour-wise? Tough to say. I'm having so much frickin fun working on it that it's a bit of a blur.

Tons?

It definitely feels different than past projects in that I'm taking on so much more with it being my old company. Irrational was awesome, particularly in the early days, in that we were allowed to wear many different hats. I learned a ton, but running the business and the kickstarter is an enormous amount of work.

Still, the rewards are also far greater than I imagined. I absolutely love hearing what people think and connecting directly with you folks!

The__Ugly2 karma

Would you kindly send me loads of money?

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

Should I put that on the Kickstarter page?

TaylorDangerTorres2 karma

What's on your perfect sandwhich?

TheDeepEndGames2 karma

A turnip, princess tomato, power pellets, green herb and some meat found in a wall - all prepared by the dude from Burgertime.

TheDeepEndGames2 karma

Or just an In-and-Out burger if that counts.

BigLebowskiBot4 karma

Those are good burgers, Walter.

TheDeepEndGames6 karma

SHUT THE %$(# UP, DONNIE!

Eji17002 karma

What happened with bioshock infinite?

It's a fun game, even a good game, but given what was being shown and I believe shot for from the early demos, and the amount of time spent in development, i'm guessing that at some point you scaled the game back, as it really didn't feel quite as unique as any of the other games, and it felt like it was trying to be something more.

TheDeepEndGames4 karma

As with all development, we learned a ton throughout the process. Iteration took us to the place we ended up - a place that I'm personally very proud of.

We always wanted the game to be about Elizabeth and I think we did a great job with her character.

simster702 karma

Will there be the possibility of actually tapping the screen on touchscreen devices to emulate Cassie tapping?

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

That would certainly be an awesome idea. Right now we're only targeting PC, PS4 and XBox One, but as an enormous Nintendo fan, I'd love to talk WiiU. If things go well, I would definitely look into it.

We're still a very small team though, so I'd need to look into how much value the kind of tapping would bring to the experience. I want to make sure if we take on a challenge, gamers are going to love the result.

Bardimaeus2 karma

Will be there any achievements in perception?

TheDeepEndGames2 karma

My gamerscore is nearly 100k. Does that answer your question?

hyde163416342 karma

hi Mr. Gardner.

im surprised you guys shut down the entire series. to be honest. there was so much potential in that series. maybe you all got tired of it creatively. i dont know.

  1. is there going to b another bioshock game underwater?

  2. is there ever going to be a movie adaptation of bioshock?

  3. i always wondered, why didnt you guys ever implement exotic marine life in bioshock? there was so much potential for that. like giant fish monsters, giant piranhas, giant sharks, giant octopuses, giant goldfish? giant underwater monsters like giant rats,stuff like that? to make the underwater world more lush with life and variety and more beautiful?

  4. same question above, why didnt you guys implement more mutants freaks creatures like experimentations. like bug people like the early designs for the little sisters?

  5. same question as above, why didnt you guys implement giant insects like giant flies, giant cockroaches for the underwater world? you couldve of had a giant flying freakshow with giant fly wings (maybe with armor) or a swarm of giant flying insects coming from a hive. Giant bees? and then maybe a flying queen (the one with armor) like in the movie Aliens.

  6. and you guys couldve done zombies too. To add to the creepy environment and challenge factor. so many creepy monsters! so much variety!

so much potential!

Say hi to Kevin Levine for me!

thank you :) :) :) :) :)

TheDeepEndGames2 karma

1) I wish I knew.
2) I wish I knew. Someone in this thread just introduced ME to concept art from the project. It would be awesome though, huh? 3) Sounds cool. The main focus of the story was about Rapture and its inhabitants. At one point, early in development, we had Splicers with much more aquatic themed mutations. It was really neat, but felt a little too samey. There are a lot of monster games out there. What was unique about BioShock (one of the things, anyhow) was the human element. In a lot of ways, the game was so terrifying because those affected were so human.
4) Mostly the same answer as above. We looked at The Fly a lot early on and were inspired, but ultimately pulled back to play up the human story.
5) Haha.
6) Did you see our Division 9 story? http://irrationalgames.com/insider/division-9-unreleaesd-zombie-shooter/

Will do. Ken is the man.

TeflonDapperDon2 karma

What's the most challenging thing about level design?

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

Anticipating how gamers will play your level. You're going to be wrong. So, it's critical to be open to feedback and then adapt based on reactions.

There's a lot you can do to incentivize people, but short of cutscenes, you never have full control. Use lighting, geometry, pickups, animations, etc to pull the eye and drive behaviors.

It doesn't hurt to study a bit of psychology as well.

khaleesi_braidz2 karma

So, how is it that you've been doing this for under an hour and there are already two Cohen brothers references?

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

It's safe to say that I'm in good company.

cornyguy1 karma

When working on the Bioshock serie, did you personnally read 'Atlas Shrugged' and if so, did it affect the way you worked on / designed the games ? Thanks for doing this AMA !

TheDeepEndGames3 karma

I had read it in high school and re-read it at the start of Bio. It definitely helped get into that mindset. Ken also printed up a bunch of choice quotes and interviews from Ayn Rand. Those were key in understanding the philosophy and helped drive a lot of the moment-to-moment gameplay and narrative.

myhappylittletrees1 karma

I'm a female gamer and a big fan of the Bioshock series and your work. The first Bioshock is one of my all-time favorite games.

Racism is a huge theme in Bioshock Infinite; did you have any concerns about how that would be received by your audience? That first violent scene on that stage was shocking to me, but I imagine it was intended to be. I felt like everything was very well done throughout the game though.

Edit: Because people are questioning it, I put that I am female for two reasons; 1) I work in marketing and I know people like to know who is using and enjoying their products, and 2) I have never had anyone assume I am female, I always have to correct them halfway into a conversation, so was just nipping that in the bud, just in case.

TheDeepEndGames18 karma

Mine too! But I suppose I'm biased.

I can't speak for others, but I was certainly concerned. Our intent was never to simply shock. My understanding of the intent (again, I hate speaking for other people) was to portray a time in which that was the reality. Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely. But if games can't take on that sort of material, how can we address the issues? Isn't it one of the roles of art to shine a light on humanity - ugliness included?

I think the key here is that BioShock was never meant to be exploitative. It took on difficult subjects with the intent of making people think rather than simply pushing hot-buttons.

TheDeepEndGames11 karma

Context matters.

myhappylittletrees5 karma

I think the key here is that BioShock was never meant to be exploitative. It took on difficult subjects with the intent of making people think rather than simply pushing hot-buttons.

Honestly I think you guys nailed it. The characters and cultures in the games were human; good, bad, and ugly. I guess I hadn't really seen that in many games before this series, it was refreshing. Thanks for taking the time to answer!

TheDeepEndGames11 karma

I can't tell you how much it meant to me to see gamers embrace these issues and tackle them head on rather than kneejerk to them.

I'm proud to be part of an industry that is willing to embrace challenging ideas like this - and like a blind protagonist.

Verbank1 karma

Why is Bioshock infinite mechanically just a shooter with some gimmicks? where did everything go so wrong with that project? I expected a little more than what i got...

TheDeepEndGames1 karma

Sorry, you were disappointed. I'm not sure what gimmicks you're referring to. I'm certainly interested to hear feedback.

What did you feel was missing or gimmicky?