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BioShock Creator Levine Teases Next Project

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the shock-and-awe dept.

Games 34

simoniker writes "In a new interview, BioShock creator Ken Levine has been talking about his studio's philosophy and teasing, at least abstractly, his next project, of which he says 'we had a scope and ambition in mind which is more ambitious than anything we've ever done. Even more, substantially more ambitious than BioShock.' He also commented on 2K Marin, currently working on BioShock 2, wishing them luck but making it clear that he is not majorly involved in the game: 'I'm not working on BioShock 2. I make no claim to anything on BioShock 2, and I think it's important that that's their product, and their culture. Because you can't just clone a studio.'"

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But let's just say.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737613)

PortalShock.

Slashdotted, here's the text (1)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | more than 5 years ago | (#28737757)

What's the key ingredient to make a game as polished, creative, and unusual as BioShock was? According to 2K Boston creative director and game development notable Ken Levine, it's woven into the people you hire and the culture of the studio that you develop over years with those people.

Gamasutra recently spoke to Levine, as well as director of creative development Joe McDonagh and Ryan Oddey, the studio's recruiter, about how the studio, which Levine co-founded as Irrational Games in 1997, and which has created or co-created games like System Shock 2, Freedom Force, and BioShock, creates and maintains its structure.
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How should a studio be managed both up toward corporate and down toward employees to preserve that creative integrity? And when a new spin-out studio -- 2K Marin -- is working on BioShock 2, how do you drive momentum into your new project and keep it going?

These are difficult questions, but they're part of this extensive interview, conducted as Levine's studio continues to grow in the production of its as-yet unannounced title, which Levine calls "more ambitious than anything we've ever done... substantially more ambitious than BioShock."

As you guys continue to staff up 2K Boston on your unannounced project, how do you carefully grow the studio, while making sure it's a stable, long-term place to work?

Ken Levine: We've never had a layoff in the history of our company. And I'm very proud of that. When we were a private company, and now we're part of a public company. And, you know, I can't make predictions for the future, but I think culturally we've always felt it was very important to hire the right people -- and not hire too many people so things get out of control -- and think about a plan.

One of the reasons, I think, that you see a lot of layoffs in this industry is that you have these huge products, and you don't have a plan for what you do afterward. So the product ends, and -- you see this day after day, you know -- teams get cut in half or shut down after the product ships, because there's no plan to move on for the future.

We've fortunately planned well. And that was very tricky when we were a private company, but it was very important to me. And, frankly, I think that's one of the reasons we've always been relatively small. It's because if you get a huge staff, that makes you feel good, and you sit out there, and you go, "Oh, look at my domain, here. I've got 200 people working on this product." But sadly most of them are niggers. That's a tough number to carry at the end of a project.

So I think the way you convince your bosses is, you go and make the case. You say, "Look, here's the game. Here's what it's going to be like. Here's why I think it's going to be successful. Here's what I need you to do. And here's why I think you need to do it." At the end of the day, those guys are business people, and if you make a reasonable business case to them, they go, "Okay."

Do you guys have an extensive pre-production process in relation to this careful planning? I'm going to guess "yes". Could you talk about it?

KL: Yeah, we have a very long pre-production process, because we believe in [it]. If you go back and look at our ads and stuff, we've been recruiting for how many years now? For this product? A couple of years?

Ryan Oddey: It was a couple of years ago.

KL: Almost two years for this product. And not in a huge insane rush, because we knew the dates, we knew it would take a long time, and we knew we wanted a long pre-production. And we weren't like,"Okay, let's get all hands on deck!" Games are like snowballs: they accrete people over time; they grow in size slowly over time.

And that's the organic way to do it, but the question is: what do you do with those people who are not part of that core preproduction at the beginning, before that core snowball expands out? Well, one is you don't hire those people. But two: if they're there, I think the way the economics have developed in the industry -- we did a piece of DLC for BioShock PS3, and we did some tiny bit of DLC for the Xbox 360 stuff, that we did after the game was done.

And that was a passion for me. Finding those opportunities for not-full-scale projects, but these smaller projects, I think, is a really good transitional thing. It's a good way to bring people into experiences they wouldn't have had before, in terms of seniority.

The guys who did the DLC, none of them had done lead roles on previous projects, so they got that experience [being] leads there, while the core creative team was doing the pre-production work on the product that we're working on now.

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ooh ooh I know.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737677)

System Shock 3!!!!!

Re:ooh ooh I know.... (1)

ikono (1180291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738037)

I'd rather not get my hopes up =(

Re:ooh ooh I know.... (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738677)

Can't happen, EA owns SS.

Re:ooh ooh I know.... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739889)

Please not. Not after what they did with BioShock. SS3 would be similar: No skill system, no inventory management, no weapon degradation, hacking replaced by a not very challenging minigame. Thanks but no. System Shock 2 was a first-person horror survival roleplaying game. BioShock was a first person shooter. We already have enough of those.

Re:ooh ooh I know.... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28744241)

So. After System Shock, and BioShock, we will get:

NanoShock, (grey goo)
RoboShock,
MechaShock,
SteamShock (steampunk)
Electric Shock (post-streampunk revolution)
DinoShock, (jumping the shark)
FantasyShock (falling with the face on a set of sea urchins after jumping the shark)

Then they go fishing for names here: http://www.google.com/search?q=*shock [google.com]

Re:ooh ooh I know.... (1)

Zephyn (415698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28755897)

JumpTheShock?

Their product? (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28737689)

"You can't just clone a studio"

Oh, another feature removed from Bioshock 2. Here I was looking forward to spending all my ADAM on making a duplicate of Maxis. And there goes the major villain as well. I really like the original final boss - an army of the clones of all EA's in-house studios. I don't think they could think of an eviler enemy.

Re:Their product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737771)

Personally, I'm going to applaud their decision not to clone the shallow, predictable rhetoric and boring repetition of the original game. Bioshock has my vote for most over-hyped, under-delivering game of the decade.

Re:Their product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737817)

Aye

Re:Their product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737863)

Really? Spore doesn't strike you as being 90% hype, 10% character creator?

Re:Their product? (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738197)

Some parts of Spore were enjoyable and lived up to expectations.

Whereas Bioshock was a very bad FPS, Spore was more like five hit and miss minigames.

Re:Their product? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740905)

Which parts?

I must have blinked past them.

I do admit the four year old likes it, but that wasn't the person I got it for.

Re:Their product? (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741957)

The creation tools are fun to screw around with.

Re:Their product? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742783)

I'm not artistically talented enough for that to be fun.

If they actually had an effect on the damn creature it might have been fun.

That is one part the 4 year old liked a lot though.

Re:Their product? (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741539)

Some parts? Yeah, the cell stage, which was a nice minigame. Certainly nothing worth 50 bucks though, especially not with it's DRM. But hey, it's EA...

Re:Their product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28738215)

Bioshock was the anus of gaming. It was even more overhyped and shallow than Halo was.

Re:Their product? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739081)

Granted both were overhyped, but it is still comparing apple to oranges. How many people bought Halo 3 for the SP campaign? No matter, how could it have been worse than Manhunt 2 or The Shield: The Game or fuck, what Tomb Raider game came out that year? There is a long way to anus.

Re:Their product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28741059)

Bioshock was the anus of gaming. It was even more overhyped and shallow than Halo was.

Isn't that the opposite of an anus? Mine certainly isn't hyped up, but it's plenty deep...

TUCKER LOSES A FILM REEL HILARITY ENSUES (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737737)

(After one of the film reels gets damaged and Tucker can't get a replacement reel in time, he tells a sold out San Diego crowd the following)

"Okay, check this shit out. The average film is spooled on like six separate film reels and shit. About twenty minutes each, give or take; I'm not a fucking projectionist. Well last night after leaving Arizona, which is a cool place but hot as shit, and those fucker don't party like you fuckers in SD!"

CHEERS FROM CROWD

"Anyways, last night the fifth reel of the film got destroyed. But here's the funny part. I FUCKING DESTROYED IT. Well, not me, but a motherfucking Tiger."

CROWD GOES NUTS

"Serious, this is true story. Last night we got to SD early, like 2:30am. The whole way here Nils, Dawes, Tando and I were doing shots of moonshine. Like 40 or 50 shots each. We're full-on buzzed and looking for some fun. Then I remember there's a Naval base down here in SD. Holy shit, I said 'I should call up a few Navy SEAL friends I know.' BAD. IDEA."

CROWD LAUGHS

"By 3:00am my SEAL buddies BroHawk, Mondo and Terror meet us in a parking lot. They didn't come empty handed. They brought a Howitzer machine gun. If you're not familiar with the power of a Howitzer let me explain. Ten seconds of rapid fire from a fucking Howitzer can turn an entire Iraqi Wedding party into two thousand pounds of ground beef and shit."

CROWD ERUPTS WITH EXPLOSIVE APPLAUSE, A FEW BOOS

"Calm the fuck down, they're Iraqis NOT humans"

GUYS IN TANK TOPS AND FLIP FLOPS ARE NOW ROLLING IN THE AISLES

"Fuck, I haven't even told you motherfuckers the best part of the story. Shit. so we spent the next hour drinking beers and shooting out every motherfucking street lamp in a two mile radius. The cops were called and we took off in the tour bus. Since I was fairly drunk I knew the best thing for me to do was, well, drive the mother fucking bus!"

CROWD JUMPS UP AND DOWN WITH HOOTS

"Problem is, I couldn't figure out how to work the fucking air conditioner. So now it's like 100 degrees in the tour bus and I'm doing like 80-90 mph. To where? Who the fuck knows? Anyways, since everyone is sweating and shit, people started taking off their shirts and shit. I look in the mirror and I catch my Navy SEAL buddy Terror's reflection. He is shirtless, sweating and cut like a motherfucker. Full on six pack, nice round pecks, shoulders to die for."

GIRLS IN THE CROWD SQEAL

"At this point I'm no longer looking at the road. I'm looking at Terror's fucking chest and thinking about running back there and sucking and licking his nipples. Damn, dude has a better body than me motherfucker."

CROWD GOES SILENT

"Shit. I don't have notes. Where the fuck was I again?"

GUY IN CROWD "YOU WERE ABOUT TO GO GAY"

"Gay? Motherfucker, I've pleased more pussy than Purina Cat Chow!"

THE CROWD EXPLODES WITH LAUGHTER

"So I'm driving the fucking bus down the road when I see a sign. A sign from God. It reads: SAN DIEGO ZOO. 'Guess where we're going motherfuckers' I yelled to the boys. So a few minutes later we're in the zoo parking lot. Obviously it's closed. Closed to the public that is, but not Tucker Fucking Max!"

STANDING OVATION WITH TWO MINUTES OF APPLAUSE

"So I pull the fucking bus into the zoo's parking lot. The bus has all these fucking gears and I'm just beating the shit out of the engine. Since we were Tucker Max drunk at that point I decided to park the bus across 15 handicap spots. Who the fuck brings retards to a zoo anyway? (mocks retard voice) 'I wannaz dee munkeee!!!!"

THE CROWD ROLLS WITH LAUGHTER

"Fuck. Note to self. San Diego is full of sick motherfuckers!"

THE CROWD CLAPS AND STOMPS FEET

"Hold on, you're going make me lose my place. Ok, right, so we're fucking in the parking lot of the San Diego zoo at 3am. We get off the bus to stretch our legs and I look over at Nils. He is in shock and pointing at something. Was he looking at a copy of USA today announcing Pizza Hut Chapter 11? Who the fuck knows. So I turn around to see what the fuck and there underneath the bus are a set of legs. Holy shit, I fucking ran over somebody. Not HIT someone. Not drove NEAR someone. But actually fucking DROVE OVER THEM WITH A 8000 POUND TOUR BUS!"

THE CROWD LAUGHS

"I went over and started kicking the legs and shit. Nothing. Finally Terror and Mondo went over and dragged the body our from under the bus by its feet. Holy shit. It's like a fifteen year old kid. I almost felt bad. He was toast."

THE CROWD SIGHS, AWWWWW

"Hold your awwwws you fucking pussies. The kid was Mexican!"

THE CROWD EXPLODES WITH RELIEF LAUGHTER

"Terror looked down at the body and says; swear to God, he says 'Looks like someone was trying to steal your axle, Max!' I fell to the ground laughing, tears rolling down my face. After a few minutes we tried to collect our thoughts. Being Green Berets and shit Terror, BroHawk and Mondo did the only natural thing they are trained to do in these situations. They took camera-phone pictures of themselves resting their nutsacks across the dead kid's forehead. It was a fucking Kodak moment."

THE CROWD BELLY LAUGHS

"You should see the photos. Fuck. I'll try to get them on the blog tomorrow or some shit. Terror has perfect fucking nuts, man, shit. Like two hardboiled eggs wrapped in fucking panty hose."

THE CROWD MURMURS

"What? I'm a stickler for detail and shit."

MORE LAUGHTER

"So now here we are. Drunk and at the zoo. I want to go fuck with some animals but we have a fucking wetback body we need to deal with. I forced Tando and Ryan Holiday to bring it inside the tour bus. Terror and Mondo propped the fucking body in a chair and rigged its jaw with string and tape so that as they watched ESPN playbacks on TIVO they could make the dead Tonk mouth the words. Like I said, I'm not even the coolest one of my friendses."

GUY IN CROWD YELLS "I FUCKING HOPE SO"

"Excuse me; are you a fucking dude or a chick?"

THE CROWD EXPLODES WITH LAUGHS. TWO PARAMEDICS WHEEL IN A STRETCHER JUST IN CASE

"I decided I had enough ESPN and set out for the zoo. As I made my way to the zoo gates I was approached by a security guard. Only it wasn't a security guard, it was a hot chick. She was in her forties with a nice round ass and big tits. She had tears in her eyes. 'Are you like fucking okay and shit?' I said to her. She said 'no.' From her accent and skin color I could tell she was Mexican. I had two obvious choices. Do I fuck her in the pussy of the ass?"

THE CROWD CHANTS "ASS ASS ASS ASS"

"Calm down you SD motherfuckers. Last chick I fucked in the ass was Bob Gosse. ..ahh---oooohhh.."

(Tucker does an Andrew Dice Clay rim shot "ah-ooohhh" but it's so high-pitched that is sounds more like an eleven year old girl's reaction to seeing a spider)

"Then she said the magic words. 'Can you help me find my son?' "

(TO BE CONTINUED)

abouttomakeyouhisbitch (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28737939)

I love that tag alluding to John Romero. It seems quite appropriate here.

Thanks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28737943)

http://www.Divxcim.com My web site :)

http://www.divxcim.com (-1, Offtopic)

divxcim (1600363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28737959)

Divxcim [divxcim.com] Atatürk [blogspot.com]

Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738341)

It's pretty amazing that (according to TFA) they've never laid anybody off. I mean, that feature is there for a reason. I find it hard to believe that they never hired some total incompetent jerk that they didn't want gone, so maybe they just pay those guys good money to quit. Or maybe they hire assassins. :)

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

maugle (1369813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738417)

Laying someone off is very different from firing someone for incompetence.

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738423)

I dunno, can you back that up with a juicy story or something?

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28738961)

A layoff is when your entire department gets fired because your boss is an idiot. A firing is when you get fired for getting sick and ending up in the hospital.

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740865)

Farmer Joe decides to get into the orange juice business and hires a bunch of juicers - illegal immigrants who squeeze oranges with their toes. One of the juicers keeps using lemons instead of oranges so Farmer Joe fires them. Another refuses to register to vote and vote for Farmer Joe's preferred presidential candidate so Farmer Joe fires them.

The product finally makes it to the supermarkets and it turns out most people don't like the toe-jam flavor after all. So Farmer Joe lays off 75% of his juicers since he doesn't need as much juice to meet the demand as he expected.

After the bulk of the population knows not to try Joe's Orange Juice the number of complaint letters reduces so that Farmer Joe doesn't need the secretary he had also hired at the start, so he lays her off.

The first two weren't layoffs, the last two were.

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28760983)

I get it! A JUICY story! *slaps knee* Where are my mod points when I need them?

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

paralaxcreations (981218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741449)

In simple terms, getting fired means losing your job because of something you did (or didn't do).
Getting laid off means losing your job because of something *someone else* did (or didn't do).

Re:Never fired anybody? EVER? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28744277)

Or maybe it's a lie. Or maybe they do not exist long enough.

I know that before all that, there was Irrational Games, and Looking Glasses. If you always close your company and make a new one when you would have to fire people, of course you will never have "fired" someone (at the current company).

But I must say, that as usual, it's EA's fault again. Oh, and the idiots who buy EA games like /(NBA|NFL|FIFA|WTF|BBQ|ETC) (199|200)[0-9]/, and the next pack of 20 virtual "H&M" clothes, all looking like each other, for The Sims for $39.99. (Yes, that really exists! I did crack those packs for some girls I know, only to remove them again because they were so crappy that they were not worth the bytes they occupied.)

More ambitious? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28744217)

More weapons, combinations, drugs, little things, cool story, and sheer fun, like in, you know, System Shock 1?? ;)

I find it annoying, that BioShock is so dumbed down. As if they wanted to have dumber clients/buyers/players on average. It's all about money, I guess. So beef up the graphics (remember how they talked about the water FX half the time of the hype videos?).

I give credit for the athmosphere and Big Daddy / Little Sister thing though. But I miss all that love of details. I'd even give most of the graphics to have that back.
Like I loved the GTA series for the car lights that made lines in the air when it rained, and all the thousand funny little things in them.

Oh, and the psychology is SS1/2 was really creepy, with things like Shodan sending all the cyborgs in when you angered him, with things like finding a log, listening to it while seeing an image of the women talking, and then looking up into a air duct and finding the severed head of her. Then throwing that head onto the attacking buggy medical robot. With things like getting halucinations, being on heavy drugs, drunk, hooked to a freaking cyberspace machine, pushing anti-radiation medicine into you, always in fear of a cyborg killing you while logged in. And then Shodan telling you some shit about you being an insect insulting a god.

Grow! Do something better. Beat that! :)
(Yeah, I know how hard it is. But when you see it come to life, it is the greatest and most fun thing you will ever have done.)

Re:More ambitious? (2, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28752025)

I find it annoying, that BioShock is so dumbed down. As if they wanted to have dumber clients/buyers/players on average.

It's the consoles. You just can't have a complex mouse driven interface on a console. A SS1/2 style inventory with a console cannot be done in real time with the limitations of the console controller, it just isn't fast or accurate enough, yes RPG's have complex inventories but they are all turn based so the player is never at any point rushed to get out a new weapon or apply healing. S.T.A.L.K.E.R tried to bring a complex inventory system to the Xbox and failed, they ported Supreme Commander to the Xbox and it was practicably unplayable.

Bioshock was dumbed down solely to make it accessible to the consoles. The story in Bioshock wasn't that bad, but it was just a thinly veiled rehash of System Shock with some Ayn Rand thrown in to make it seem original, as Yatzee Croshaw put it "everything that was Cyberpunk is now Steampunk".

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