The elevator will take you 13 levels below ground, to a darkened facility. You walk in with your rifle held high, check your corners, and turn just in time to see the monstrous, alien face of your enemy before it cuts you to ribbons.
Brendon Amundsen is making this nightmare a reality. Well, aside from the cutting you to ribbons part.
Amundsen,has been hard at work creating a real-life survival horror game, intended to go over and above the experience you have playing Alan Wake or Call of Cthulhu. His business partners are special effects makeup artist and scenery designer Jeff Flitton, and costume designer Debbie Rowles.
Where are the three entrepreneurs planning on creating this project? Why, Rotorua, of course.
Each of the three have invested about $70,000 into the project already, and they’ve done a lot of work–they’ve built the weapons and the animatronic creatures already. But the facility itself is the missing component, and Level 13 needs help to build it.
Through crowdfunding service IgnitionDeck, Level 13 is asking for a lot of money–$370,000–but even if the project doesn’t meet its goal, Amundsen is determined. The crew is already eyeing up warehouses that could potentially serve as a facility.
“If we don't get the funds then we will continue to explore every avenue we can to find the money,” he says.
“By building the creatures and weapon and electronic setups ourselves we keep our initial costs down. It also helps we have had several friends give us tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment for free.”
When you enter Level 13, you’ll pay an entry fee–around $30-$40, Amundsen says–grab a realistic weapon, watch a safety video, and hop into an elevator. It won’t really go anywhere, but it’ll feel like it does; there’s even a change in air pressure.
Inside the facility, you’ll encounter animatronic alien creatures. Some of the are small and creepy, some of them are big and terrifying. There’s even a Queen, who’s 4.5 metres tall and mounted on a rail.
“We have several animatronic setups. The weapons fire an infrared beam. When the beam hits sensors on the aliens head or chest, the alien ‘explodes’ in that area of its body,” says Amundsen.
“The arena contains several IR beams and motion sensors that players passing through will trip to activate screens explaining the storyline in more detail, as well as activating modules that will frighten, shock or damage players.”
When you get ‘damaged’ it won’t hurt, but an infrared beam will be fired from the mouth or claws of the creatures attacking you. The beam hits sensors on your weapon–the system is similar to laser tag. Too many hits, and you’re dead.
But unlike laser tag, you’ll have to place your shots carefully. It is definitely possible to run out of ammo.
“There are no ammo drops, whatever you take in has to last you throughout. If the SAS dont resupply mid-raid, neither do you,” says Amundsen.
“Once out of ammo, you had better hope your teammates cover your back. If you favour the spray and pray technique, you won’t last long.”
Each weapon has “real-world stats and magazine capacities”, and different weapons come with different numbers of magazines.
It’s extremely ambitious, but Amundsen is confident his team can pull it together. After speaking to him, Idealog is convinced too. But we are confused about one thing: why Rotorua?
“Because I designed the system to be recyclable, we can use minimum space and manpower to maximum effect,” Amundsen explains.
“Rotorua has high gamer numbers–PC and console, as well as airsoft and paintball–and is close to surrounding towns and cities with even higher numbers of gamers, without the high rent prices.”
Rotorua also has a lot of tourism, Amundsen says, which will form a core part of Level 13’s target market.
If you want to contribute to the project, you can donate to it at level13.co.nz. If the project is successful, Amundsen promises you’ll get a real-life video game experience, and the most horrifying 25 minutes of your life.