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Minerva's Den Tidbits from the 2K Forums

Gardimuer September 2, 2010 User blog:Gardimuer

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Steve Gaynor, the Lead Designer of Minerva's Den, recently posted on the 2K Forums answering questions about Minerva's Den and other topics. His replies contain many interesting facts that you wont find on news sites.

I've collected some of his responses here for your viewing pleasure. I promise, all of these are spoiler free!

Inspirations for Minerva's Den

Well, Minerva's Den has kind of an odd genesis: when I FIRST interviewed at 2K Marin in 2008, part of the process was a "whiteboard test" where you make up an idea for a BioShock level off the top of your head and sketch it out on the whiteboard. Rapture Central Computing (or some early glimmer of it) was the level idea that I pitched to Jordan that day.
Around the end of developing BioShock 2 we started thinking about DLC for real, and RCC came back up. I basically rolled straight off BioShock 2 onto Minerva's Den (as well as helping with the super-early phases of the Protector Trials.)

—Steve Gaynor

I would say that one film that we drew from was Pi, by Darren Aronofsky. If you know the film, I'm sure you can see how more than a few aspects of it might apply.
As far as the general look and feel go, we looked at the amazing pneumatic technology and art deco aesthetic of The Hudsucker Proxy by the Cohen Brothers a lot (you'll notice a few signature references if you watch the movie and play the DLC.) We generally love old film noirs with their dramatic use of light and shadow, so we relied on those touchstones a lot.

—Steve Gaynor

Yeah, the idea for Minerva's Den started with "there is computerized stuff in Rapture, there must be a giant steampunk mainframe computer somewhere in the city..." And then of course giant computer plus Rapture's superscience led to the idea of some sort of primitive artificial intelligence...
There are some obvious points of reference, like HAL from 2001, or SHODAN from System Shock. But then I also thought about Gertie from the recent movie Moon. I liked how the whole movie you were kind of anticipating that he'd be an evil AI (based on everyone having seen 2001,) but they put a twist on that by the end and didn't go where you'd expect.
So yeah. Hopefully Minerva's Den will be a take on the trope that will be interesting in its own right.

—Steve Gaynor

We just picked an appearance that we felt fit the character. The name is inspired by our IT guy at 2K.. you know, the one who takes care of our computers?
...
Just the name, let's be clear! ... and the fact that they're both computer guys. That's it.

—Steve Gaynor

I think it was some collaboration between our lead artist, Devin St. Clair, and myself. We were inspired by the office with the huge window clock in the movie The Hudsucker Proxy.

—Steve Gaynor

Other Minerva's Den Odd-Facts

I don't know if a cohesive map of Rapture's layout has ever been constructed. I know that at some point one of our artists did a sketch of how he thought the sections of Rapture you visit in BioShock 2 might be laid out (was that sketch ever released? It was pretty cool) but even that wasn't official/canon at all.
Minerva's Den was accessible to the public, but the inner-workings of Rapture Central Computing continued further down into the depths. It's the home of Rapture's high technology, so I would think it might not be far from Fontaine Futuristics and Point Prometheus, though the district itself is completely self-contained.

—Steve Gaynor

Ryan Industries was one of Rapture Central Computing's main clients. But, this being Rapture, he imposed no official regulations upon The Thinker's creation or use.

—Steve Gaynor

How Sigma uses the Vita Chambers is never stated outright in the DLC. I think it's something along the lines of Tenenbaum used The Thinker's computing power to reverse-engineer Sigma's genetic code, and then reprogrammed the Vita Chambers in Minerva's Den to reconstitute him upon death.

—Steve Gaynor

They are, in a way, one in the same. The golden version you saw in BioShock 2 was the "ideal, perfect" version of a Big Daddy that the Little Sisters envision; the version that you'll meet in Minerva's Den is how they appeared in actuality: grimy and dangerous, like the rest of Rapture.

—Steve Gaynor

The paintings of Reed Wahl and CM Porter were initially done by our former concept artist, Colin Fix, then finished by my assistant director, Karla Zimonja (who also did a ton of the AMAZING posters in BioShock 2 and Minerva's Den, including the owl poster.) Their stuff blows me away.

—Steve Gaynor

"Easter Eggs" in Minerva's Den

(Replying to a question about the Sea Slugs in jars in the DLC.)
Yeah, the idea is that the sciencey types in the Den would keep ADAM slugs in specimen jars and name them. The names were in fact 9 of the main developers of the DLC. You'll also find "KARLA" vacuum tube boxes all over the place, named after our 10th core teammember.

—Steve Gaynor

(Replying to a comment about a cat in the DLC named "Babbage.")
There's one named cat in each of the levels of Minerva's Den.
We just like hiding things around the levels. Named cats, named slugs, vacuum bots...

—Steve Gaynor

General Tid-bits

Yep, it's the last DLC for BioShock 2. We're trying to go out with a bang, though... hopefully Minerva's Den won't disappoint!

—Steve Gaynor

Well, in the "What's This?" text for Tate Merlot, it references Dan Tate, the founder of Tate Wineries. Coincidence, or brother of the fabled Ava Tate? Unknown!
And yes, Tate is a reference to Dean Tate, the venerable level designer of Neptune's Bounty from BioShock and Fontaine Futuristics from BioShock 2. A stand-up individual.

—Steve Gaynor

Hmm, I think it just came down to logistics. We wanted the first Big Daddy you fight to be a Bouncer since he's iconic and he gets right up in your face which makes for an exciting encounter. So that was Ryan Amusements. Then the Rosie was in Pauper's Drop. Didn't want to repeat ourselves and wanted to roll out the new Big Daddy, so the Rumbler went in Siren Alley... we felt like the Bouncer was a good fit for Dionysus Park... and then Fontaine Futuristics was the last level with Big Daddies in it, so we went with Rumblers again, otherwise the new Big Daddy in the game only would've appeared in one level!
So then we kind of had to pick between either Rosie or the Bouncer only appearing in one level, and if it'd been the Bouncer (in Ryan Amusements) there literally would have been only one Bouncer in the entire game. So we went with four Bouncers and three Rosies throughout the entire game instead of one Bouncer and six Rosies. I guess you can see what our thinking was there.
Game design!

—Steve Gaynor

It was in fact "secretly" fixed. The reason it's not publicized is that buying the DLC (Protector Trials or the upcoming Minerva's Den) is required to get the fixed hacking. This is due to a technical constraint meaning that we couldn't put the fix in a free title update (we would've had to re-distribute all of the levels, basically, because of how our data structure is set up, and I don't think that title updates can contain content at all, only code.)
But, we figured better to fix it for some people than no one, so there you have it.

—Steve Gaynor

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