Veazie native starts video game studio with classmates, prepares for first release

Posted June 02, 2013, at 12:25 p.m.
The team from High Class Kitsch, a fledgling indie game developer, Jill Sauer (from left) , Mike Frankfort, Ryan Casey and Alex Thornton-Clark, poses for a photo in Worcester, Mass., where they got their start as Worcester Polytechnic Institute students and hope to grow their business. Casey, a Veazie native and John Bapst Memorial High School graduate, said he has been dubbed the &quotpublic face" for the team since it began receiving attention from national gaming media outlets.
High Class Kitsch
The team from High Class Kitsch, a fledgling indie game developer, Jill Sauer (from left) , Mike Frankfort, Ryan Casey and Alex Thornton-Clark, poses for a photo in Worcester, Mass., where they got their start as Worcester Polytechnic Institute students and hope to grow their business. Casey, a Veazie native and John Bapst Memorial High School graduate, said he has been dubbed the "public face" for the team since it began receiving attention from national gaming media outlets.
A screenshot from &quotPandora: Purge of Pride," the first game produced by a four-person team of fresh college graduates that call themselves High Class Kitsch.
High Class Kitsch
A screenshot from "Pandora: Purge of Pride," the first game produced by a four-person team of fresh college graduates that call themselves High Class Kitsch.
A screenshot from &quotPandora: Purge of Pride," the first game produced by a four-person team of fresh college graduates that call themselves High Class Kitsch.
High Class Kitsch
A screenshot from "Pandora: Purge of Pride," the first game produced by a four-person team of fresh college graduates that call themselves High Class Kitsch.

BANGOR, Maine — Ryan Casey, a 22-year-old graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and John Bapst Memorial High School, says there are enough games available that allow players to shoot the bad guys and hack away at zombies.

That’s why he and three college classmates made something different, something they hope kids, their moms and dads, and the guy playing Bejeweled on his cellphone will all enjoy, he said during an interview Saturday. The result of their effort, “ Pandora: Purge of Pride,” is poised to go on sale for PC and Mac later this month.

Casey, a Veazie native, teamed up with Mike Frankfort, Jill Sauer and Alex Thornton-Clark in April 2012 to devise a senior project. The group’s fledgling studio is called High Class Kitsch.

The group knew it didn’t want to make anything featuring characters or themes common to games made by developers large and small. Zombies, aliens, ninjas and pirates, among others, were crossed off the list of possibilities almost instantly.

“One of the things we liked was classical mythology, particularly Pandora’s Box,” Casey said.

In mythology, Pandora was the first woman on Earth, who, driven by curiosity, violated Zeus’ rules and opened the box, which is actually a large jar in the myth and game. In opening the jar, she released evil into the world.

In the game, you play as Pandora, but this time she’s a woman left alone by her husband inside a mansion in Victorian England. Pandora opens the jar in the mansion and releases the seven deadly sins. She then has to solve a series of puzzles in different parts of the mansion in order to right her wrong and return the sins to the box.

Then, the students set about designing the game, eventually showcasing what started as a class project at games conferences, including PAX East in Boston, one of the largest gaming events in North America.

The game received attention and praise, making the developers believe they could make a career out of independent game development if they could successfully sell “Pandora: Purge of Pride” to the public, Casey said.

“People really seemed to enjoy it, even at the early stages,” he said.

An effort to raise $5,000 on Kickstarter, a crowd-source funding website for creative projects, yielded $6,100 in one month to allow the team to pay for software to complete the game and make it available to the public.

Casey said High Class Kitsch is already crafting a concept for the studio’s second game.

“The independent games scene has absolutely exploded in the past 5 years,” Casey said. “The most creative games and the most interesting experiences are coming from independent studios.”

Casey said the game itself is more important than how much money it makes, but he said he hopes to sell 5,000-7,000 copies.

“Frankly, if you make a game you don’t enjoy, you’re going to have a hard time making anyone else enjoy it,” Casey said.

For more information on High Class Kitsch or to preorder the group’s first game, visit www.HighClassKitsch.com or www.BackInTheBox.net.

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