Over the course of several interviews, presentations and even job listings, we’re starting to get an – albeit vague – picture of Ken Levine’s upcoming game. In his latest interview, on NPR’s On Point, Levine talks more about the approach he’s taking with his new project.
He once again emphasises the importance of replayability. Even when Irrational had just finished BioShock Infinite, Levine wanted to make a game with a narrative that’s replayable.
"We started this experiment after we finished BioShock Infinite, which was, 'How do you make a narrative game feel like the kind of games we've made before but make it replayable and make it extend and make it react to the players?' Make it replayable by giving players different ways to approach the problems and really letting them dictate the experience.”
Levine believes that the triple-A single-player narrative is starting to disappear, because players no longer want to spend up to $60 on a game that last 10-12 hours. Back at GDC 2014, he talked about “narrative Legos,” where dialogue, relationships and mechanics can all be intertwined to create a non-linear narrative. Back then, Levine wasn’t talking about a new game, but this philosophy is now being used in the design of the new project.
A job listing appeared on Irrational’s website, looking for a designer with open-world experience, suggesting that the game would definitely be going down that root. In the NPR interview, Levine clarifies exactly what open-world means in this instance. It won’t be a traditional open-world game.
"The thing we're working on is sort of a small-scale open-world game," he says. "And the reason ours is an open-world game is because if you want to give the player the agency to drive the experience, that really fights against the linear nature of the games we made before like BioShock and BioShock Infinite. What it really means though is, 'How do you make your content so it feels like the quality of the content you've made in games before but reacts to the players' agency and then allows the player to do something in one playthrough and something very different in another playthrough?'”
Interesting stuff, but still quite vague. Irrational are still experimenting, attempting to see what sticks, so Levine’s not quite ready to make any big reveals.