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New BioShock Infinite developer interview

Gardimuer September 24, 2010 User blog:Gardimuer

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In a new interview with GiantBomb Ken Levine discusses the gameplay demo video and plans for BioShock Infinite. Most of the interview is just a repeat of things that have been said before, but some of it is interesting and new. Below are some interesting excerpts.

Interactive AIs

Jeff Gerstmann:
So at what point in development did it become clear that you needed to be flinging horses at the player character?
Ken Levine:
(laughs) You know in video games everything's always amped up to eleven, and you could always have them do bigger and bigger things, but sometimes, we were like, 'How do we demonstrate that this guy is just fucking bad-ass?' and the notion of grabbing a horse while it's running- and that's technologically a very, very difficult thing to do, because having a guy grabbing another guy who's moving-
Jeff Gerstmann:
And halt it and-
Ken Levine:
Yeah, that's really challenging... You know in the original BioShock when the Big Daddy'd pick up the Little Sister and put her behind him -and John [John Abercrombie; AI lead and lead programmer at Irrational Games] did all the AI on that- I gave him a challenge on the original game which was 'I really want a level of interactivity between AIs', because generally AIs don't interact with each other in any meaningful way, but we're really focused on Infinite in terms of interactions between AIs and really stepping that up so they can do really interesting things together. You don't see a lot of that in the world. It's hard to do, but you're always looking for things that people haven't really beat to death already.

BioShock fans

Jeff Gerstmann:
How does it feel to have a fan base that is willing to really dissect everything that you put out there? Does it create any challenges?
Ken Levine:
If you know about us [Irrational Games], we worked sort-of in noble obscurity for many years. We did all these things where a lot of the journalists appreciated it and a small portion of the gaming community appreciated it, and it was very safe in a lot of ways, because you wouldn't have those kind of debates. You do your game, people would appreciate it, and then they sort-of move on.

BioShock has become a bigger thing than that, and you have people with very very very strong opinions about it. And that's great. It's also kind-of scary, because you do have people who know so much about things you [Irrational Games] do, and that's incredibly flattering, but you have to also understand that you have an obligation to honor their passions about the world as well as your own passions about the worlds that you create and about Columbia and about Rapture.

So it's scary, but it's what you call -there's an expression- 'a rich man's problem.' It's a problem, but it's a problem that it's nice to have in a lot of ways, because people give a shit about what we're making, which is great.

Elizabeth

Jeff Gerstmann:
So, working with AI, one of the things that I saw being reported about the game is that you'll either be able to take cues from her [Elizabeth] or not. Does it feel very open ended? Watching the gameplay demo, it seems like she's got the idea that she's gonna form this stuff and then tells you to take it and then fling it out there. Is it a lot of situations like that, or are you ever informing her that 'hey, I'm ready to do this kind-of combo move, let's go'?
Ken Levine:
Elizabeth has a bunch of functions in the game. She has a narrative function in the game, which is really central and really important. She has a sort-of emergent function in the game... Say you're out of ammo: if she sees a piece of ammo she might grab it and actually toss it to you in the game, or say 'Hey, they're coming around here'... or identify certain threats that are coming in, or make suggestions, very Left4Dead style in that regard.
But she also has a function in the game of expanding your toolset, basically, because all those encounters you saw with her you could have ignored what she was offering you. You didn't have to pick up that ball, you didn't have to knock the bridge down. You could have just fought that guy on the bridge. She presents the opportunities; you choose to take them or not take them. I want to be very clear of that. I want to be very clear that this is not a game like an escort mission. You do not need to protect her, you do not need to escort her- I think we all know that's no fun.

What's next?

Ken Levine:
I think the thing we're focusing on next is, we want to show one take away - because, again, this is a very structured ten minute demo, we want to show so many features of the game in ten minutes- one thing we didn't really give full attention to was the Sky-Lines, and what those actually mean.
In the actual game the last thing they are is 'I get on this thing to go from point A to point B and then I can't go back'. That's the opposite of what they are... It's a very dynamic combat experience. We're now in the process of solving all the problems that creates and then being able to demonstrate to people. So no guarantees, but we think that's the next thing we're going to focus on in terms of what we show to people.

Wrench?

Jeff Gerstmann:
Is there going to be a wrench in the game? Can we confirm or deny the presence of a wrench?
Ken Levine:
We want to expand the melee toolset-
Jeff Gerstmann:
Two wrenches?
Ken Levine:
Two wrenches, yes. Dual wielding two wrenches.

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