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Ken Levine On The Background of Bioshock

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the please-keep-ayn-rand-in-non-zombie-format dept.

XBox (Games) 23

GameSpy has up an interview with Ken Levine of Irrational Games. While Levine has spoken previously about Bioshock's ideology, this piece discusses a number of the elements that went into creating the game. He touches again on objectivism, but expands on the title's connection to its spiritual predecessor System Shock 2 and the process of actual developing the game. "Sterling: Segueing away from storyline a little, what sorts of hardware limits did the team encounter from pre-production leading up to this point of near-completion? Ken Levine: As a credit to my programming team, honestly, I didn't hear much about them. There was some hesitation on the part of some of programming team in pushing a level of physical simulation in the world, in part because they knew how much work that was. To their credit, I'll say, not only did they do it, they knocked it out of the park, because I've never seen this level of simulation ever in a shooter."

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Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (2, Interesting)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651875)

Despite the years of Halo 3 hype, is anyone else more excited about the (hopefully soon) release of Bioshock? The gameplay footage so far has looked amazing, especially the clips demonstrating the use of telekinesis.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

bobo mahoney (1098593) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651899)

Bioshock looks great, but very different from Halo. In my brain even though they are both FPS they are really too different to compare. That said I have pre-ordered both.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652071)

What to say.... There are a LOT of games coming out for the 360 that just seem must have to me. The one I'm looking forward to most is probably Too Human. The DiRT demo was pretty amazing. BioShock looks impressive for sure. I suppose rather than the telekinesis though, I'd point to the open endedness of the fights where you ambush the A.I. choose the deadly ground as it were.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652117)

Despite the years of Halo 3 hype, is anyone else more excited about the (hopefully soon) release of Bioshock?
Fear not, you aren't the only person left with a brain.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652141)

I've always found that I didn't get much of an idea of how good a game was from watching gameplay footage. When comparing one FPS to the other, or one RTS to another, just looking at the graphics won't tell you a whole lot about how good the game is. I find I actually have to play it if I want to get a feel for whether or not I like it.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652229)

Yeah, after Halo 2 I lost interest in the franchise. I want something more original... also killing replicant children.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652271)

I found that several of the gameplay segments released actually gave me the chills, and I can't wait for this to be released. I cannot recall the last time a 5 minute piece of gameplay footage drew me into the same atmosphere as a complete cinematic experience. While watching, my 9 year old son (veteran of FPS's and horror movies) got so scared he asked me to turn it off.

Jonah HEX

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19660625)

Hehe, down with the Nanny State!

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652287)

I enjoyed Halo 1 until about the halfway point, where they stopped giving you AIs to fight along-side.

Halo 2 was boring.

Prey was a good game because it had plot.

So yeah, I'm much more excited about BioShock than Halo 3. They've spent a -lot- of time talking about how the game will play, instead of how you will play the game. That is, they put a lot of detail into the environment and story, instead of giving Halo 2 a new UI and some extra guns, and some random new enemy to face in boring square corridors. (I've read nothing on Halo 3, so I could be off the mark here.)

Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I'm hoping for a -experience- with this game, and not just another shooter.

Bioshock vs. Halo 3-First Person Movies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652829)

"Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I'm hoping for a -experience- with this game, and not just another shooter."

Deus Ex.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652339)

I'm not sure if it's fair to compare the two, given that most of Halo's lore and hype seems to be bundled up in the associated ARGs, rather than the Halo games themselves, and the broad differences between Halos and Shocks within the larger first-person shooter genre.

But yeah, I'm much more interested in Bioshock. Deco art style? Weird, quasi-Gernsbackian setting? Character customization? Spiritual relative to the System Shock games? Yes. Please. Oh god, please.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652349)

Yes, I am pretty damn stoked! I played System Shock 2 and LOVED it. I haven't been this excited for a game since Myth: The Fallen Lords [wikipedia.org] came out (that was in 1997)! Here's hoping it's every bit as great as I'm anticipating, and then some! ;)

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (2, Insightful)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652547)

Yes, I am pretty damn stoked! I played System Shock 2 and LOVED it. I haven't been this excited for a game since Myth: The Fallen Lords [wikipedia.org] came out (that was in 1997)! Here's hoping it's every bit as great as I'm anticipating, and then some! ;)
Concur, although I have to say that I'm absolutely terrified that having a console version will screw up the UI/control scheme. I know, I know, consoles are great and I'm a PC fanboi, but the travesty that was Oblivion (in terms of the UI) has really made me headshy. Hope springs eternal, however, so with luck the PC version of Bioshock will have an appropriately tight control scheme and solid UI.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (2, Insightful)

Wicko (977078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653695)

Definitely Bioshock. All this marketing for Halo 3 is making me NOT want to get it. They aren't doing a very good job of grabbing my attention with their viral marketing attempt. They did a MUCH better job with the Nine Inch Nails album that just came out. Perhaps that's because they actually have something good to work with, unlike this Halo 3 "storyline". They market it too openly for all ages that it just turns me off. Bioshock is giving me exactly what I want: a mature themed game with unique environments and story, not to mention a sweet evolution of the psionic attacks in SS2. And from the sounds of it, choice. Something you probably will find scarce in Halo 3.

Re:Bioshock vs. Halo 3 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19656141)

They aren't doing a very good job of grabbing my attention with their viral marketing attempt. They did a MUCH better job with the Nine Inch Nails album that just came out.

Nine Inch Nails has a new album?

Segueing away from storyline a little (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651965)

How far from a storyline can you get on a segway?

What I hope for from Bioshock (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652479)

I'm encouraged by Ken Levine's response to the "indictment of objectivist ideology" question. It's good for a game to invoke matters of belief and opinion, but in a complex way. It's far better to be provocative and open-ended at the same time than to just come down on one side in some simple, idealistic way.

That kind of complexity is one of the things I really loved about Thief: The Dark Project. [Spoilers follow.] In Thief TDP, the Hammerites are a bunch of oppressive fundamentalist assholes. The main character hates them, and rightfully so. But, as the plot progresses, it turns out that at least one of the Hammers' wackier beliefs is in fact quite real, and that they are quite essential in protecting the people of the City from a rather nasty fate.

Deus Ex was also, of course, quite good with this stuff. You've got layer upon layer of conspiracies, whether true or false, deliberate hoaxes, elaborate cover-ups, etc., leading up to opposing ideals of world government vs. anarchy; humanism vs. trans-humanism; open society vs. secret rule; none of which is presented in a wholly good light.

I liked System Shock 2, but not for those reasons. It's pretty hard to sympathize with Shodan or The Many... or those freaky monkeys, for that matter. What was great about System Shock 2 was the off-balancing level design and the set-piece hallucination. There were some real classic moments there, like the apparition in the Bon Chance lounge (should've been "Bonne Chance", but that's Tri-Optimum for you...) and the tunnels in the Garden. I hope that Bioshock is able to provide some of those elements... but even if it doesn't, I'm still definitely going to get it.

Re:What I hope for from Bioshock (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653537)

Levine sez:

I like that sort of opaqueness in storytelling, because I don't think there are black and whites.

And then the parent admires his new clothes:

I'm encouraged by Ken Levine's response to the "indictment of objectivist ideology" question. It's good for a game to invoke matters of belief and opinion, but in a complex way. It's far better to be provocative and open-ended at the same time than to just come down on one side in some simple, idealistic way.

That only works if you still have something to say. Being ambiguous or "opaque" (and equating ambiguity/opacity as somehow "sophisticated") usually means you don't, but want to be seen as though you do. It's about right; no one who actually read *all* of Rand would ever posit, as Bioshock does, that zero-sum is laissez-faire's Achilles heel.

So ultimately, the storyline behind Bioshock is just like that of most FPS games; substanceless. No big shocka there. It's Levine's pretensions to substance and having something "deep" to say, that set this one apart. As such, Bioshock may therefore be the first truly modern-art FPS.

(OMFG, the captcha for this post is "nihilism". That's rather perceptive as captchas go...)

Re:What I hope for from Bioshock (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19659957)

So ultimately, the storyline behind Bioshock is just like that of most FPS games; substanceless.

How the hell do you know, you haven't played it. You are just throwing a tantrum over the fact that someone might have said something bad about saint Rand.

Re:What I hope for from Bioshock (2, Informative)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19659999)

What was great about System Shock 2 was the off-balancing level design and the set-piece hallucination. There were some real classic moments there, like the apparition in the Bon Chance lounge (should've been "Bonne Chance", but that's Tri-Optimum for you...) and the tunnels in the Garden.

I LOVED the storytelling aspect of System Shock 2, that intead of lazily cutting to a cinematic whenever something needed explaining as in other games, you had to figure stuff out for yourself from clues in the environment, log entries and so on.

However, the ghost sequences, while very scare, broke some of the immersion for me. It was a bit too obvious that they just came up with an excuse - "Partially erased security holograms" to include some sort of cut scene again. It seems there is a similar explanation that doesn't hold up very well in Bioshock - memories that come over with the genes of previous users from the booster stuff, as if memories were recorded in genes. But perhaps they use the same cop out as in Aliens 4. You see, it is special alien contaminated dna, so it records memories.

Anyway. Minor complaint about one of my favourite games ever (SSH2).

Re:What I hope for from Bioshock (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19663999)

"You might witness some strange phenomena. Your R-grade cyber rig has an experimental perception enhancement that can theoretically detect residual psychic emanations. These emanations traditionally come from the recently dead. Literature might call them ghosts. I call them self-hypnotic defects in the R-grade unit. Don't let it distract you from the job at hand."
The genetic stuff might be based on old school concept of memory RNA [wikipedia.org] which made its way into science fiction of the 1960s era.

Re:What I hope for from Bioshock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19686921)

Where did the "Partially erased security recordings" come from? The game said it was ghosts, or "psychic imprints", which added a lot to the creepyness of the game. Unless you mean the log recordings, which were never holograms.

previewshock (1)

Tol Dantom (1114605) | more than 7 years ago | (#19672141)

More than any other game recently, Bioshock has preloaded me with all the talking points to convince my friends to buy the game. Now all that remains to be seen is if I end up gushing over this stuff or complaining about it when I actually get to play it.
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