BioShock Infinite: So Many More Words than First BioShock
Ken Levine promises that gameplay won’t be compromised either. Does this man ever lie? No, because he’s a part-time genius, and part-time living god. For players who worry about the scope and love given to the floating city of Columbia, fear not. In an interview with Eurogamer, Levine explained that in just one level of BioShock Infinite, there will be “three or four times” more scripting than was found in the entirety of Rapture. Yeah, you really did see that right.
“When I first came up with these characters Booker and Elizabeth talking to each other and interacting with their world, I didn’t consider how much writing that was going to be,” said Levine. “Just one level of BioShock Infinite writing and the amount of character interaction we have is probably three or four times as much writing as in all of BioShock 1.”
Considering how you were a man who didn’t know what was going on and had nobody to really talk to in the first BioShock, this really shouldn’t be surprising. Still, there was quite a bit of interaction between Jack, the splicers, Atlas, and let’s not forget the crazy antagonists (a certain madman named Cohen comes to mind…).
“I’m doing the vast bulk of [the writing] and it really is… it can get overwhelming,” Levine continued. “But on the other hand it’s a world that I absolutely love to write. Mostly because it’s a new challenge. Thinking how these scenes are going to play out, how we keep them interactive and how you communicate the ideas.”
He sort of painted himself into the corner on this one. Levine is a huge fan of keeping the action moving as opposed to a cut scene, so the only person he can blame is himself.
“It would be so much easier just to write tons of cut scenes — I could tell the story much more easily,” said Levine. “But my gut feeling, which probably comes from being forever changed by playing System Shock 1, is to keep the experience going.
“That makes it more challenging, as you keep on ramping up the audience’s expectations of the kind of stories you’re going to tell. So you come up with certain rules, like, if there’s ever a moment where the player is locked to the ground, there must be some context. We don’t just lock a player’s feet to the ground. There has to be a reason why they can’t move – they’re using a machine or something.
“You fight against the suspension of disbelief as soon as you lock a player in place or start moving him along without the player controlling it.
“But it’s challenging because these two elements often struggle with each other. And in that struggle you often say either I need to take a lot of control away from the player, or I need to simplify things. And generally anything encouraging you to simplify things is a good impulse. If a scene isn’t working it’s generally because you’ve made it too complex.”
So, did Levine and the team at Irrational Games manage to pull it off? Yeah, you know what the answer is — wait until October. BioShock Infinite takes you into the skies on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 16th in North America and October 19th in Europe.