While people prepare themselves to either dive into the waters of Rapture or take to the skies to explore the streets of Columbia, the gaming public hasn’t heard much from Bioshock director Ken Levine about the release of Bioshock: The Collection. In a brutally honest interview with Glixel, Ken talks about many of the trials and tribulations of developing Bioshock such as dealing with their publisher about multiple endings, the development struggle of creating Infinite between two teams on different continents, and that dreadful final boss in the original.
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“You have this great game, and then you end up fighting this giant nude dude. We didn't have a better idea,” Levine says when discussing the Fontaine showdown. He also laments the harvesting mechanic from the original Bioshock, saying that making the game harder by not harvesting Little Sisters was considered “sort of anathema to game design” by the publisher.
“Conventional wisdom was on the [publisher]’s side” when trying to balance the harvesting mechanic, as adding “a path for the player that [was] just harder” was something that did not sit well with 2K. There was the concern that players would look at harvesting Little Sisters “from a numerical standpoint” and not consider the moral implication. In reality, Ken reckons that more players “approach[ed] harvesting and saving almost entirely from an emotional standpoint,” rather than worrying about how much ADAM they needed for that cool plasmid.
He also touches on the smaller team that created Infinite compared to the massive groups of designers that create the current big blockbusters like The Division. Whereas the team at Irrational Games had “30 or 40 people where you know everybody's name”, current development teams have “ teams of people, working around the globe, who are making street signs.” When Irrational did split up for Infinite, across the US and Australian studios, the “culture got so shattered [and] it was never properly rebuilt.”
The whole interview is worth a read, as Ken does delve into the murkier political aspects of both the original Bioshock and Infinite, along with the physical and psychological effects of creating a game as massive as Bioshock. It’s a candid look at an influential developer and shows how mentally taxing the game creation process can be. Bioshock: The Collection goes live today at 3pm PST/6pm EST/11pm BST - and, according to Ken, 2K “didn't ask” for his help in remastering the original trilogy.