This is a summary of BioShock news from the month of November. As always, I've only collected the pieces that reveal something new. For other news from November, see the BioShock Wiki's news blog.
2K Australia returns to the BioShock series
Before the release of BioShock, Irrational Games was actually two studios: one in Boston, Massachusetts and one in Canberra, Australia. When Irrational Games was bought out, the two studios were renamed as 2K Boston and 2K Australia, and they worked together to produce the first BioShock.
Then came the confusing split off of a few Irrational team members to form 2K Marin in Novato, California. 2K Australia began working with the new 2K Marin team to create BioShock 2. After that came the development of XCOM, and the 2K Australia studio was paradoxically absorbed under the 2K Marin name, despite the fact that it was located on an entirely separate continent.
2K Boston regained its well respected Irrational name in January of 2010, and now things have come full circle. 2K Australia has stopped collaborating with 2K Marin and has joined Irrational Games in development of BioShock Infinite.
Ken Levine, Creative Director of Irrational Games, had this to say about the switch:
|“||We had a number of open positions on BioShock Infinite. When we found out our former sister studio 2K Australia was becoming available, we thought they would perfectly fill those roles.||”|
Upcoming VGA Hype
As mentioned in D.Ryan's post, BioShock Infinite is a contender for "Most Anticipated Game" in Spike TV's Video Game Awards. Regardless of whether Infinite wins, the VGA ceremony will be an important moment, since Geoff Keighley of Spike TV has announced on Twitter that the first new footage of BioShock Infinite since E3 will be shown at that time.
PlayStation Move Confusion
There was some confusion in November about whether or not BioShock Infinite would have a special PlayStation Move controller to go with the game. The official UK Playstation site initially announced that there would be a unique peripheral for Infinite, but this was quickly debunked by 2K Games.
Vigors and Nostrums
|“||So we have Vigors (the new power-ups) that have different 'charges', dictating the amount of times you can use them. You can only take a certain number of Vigors into battle, so you have to choose carefully. A more powerful Vigor could be useful, but it will have less chances to use it. But also, the first game did not have permanent character growth. If you did not like something with the Plasmids, you could just swap it out. But now we have Nostrums, which are permanent changes to the player character. They come in stable and unstable varieties, with the unstable ones costing less due to the potluck factor. You get to choose one Nostrum, but you are stuck with it. So in your permanent character you are making these microcosmic choices in a more role playing game-based system. It's more personal, in that you made the choice and you have to live with that specialization.||”|
Occupy Wall Street Influences
The mainstream media has really latched onto Ken Levine's mention that the Occupy Wall Street movement helped him in the process of writing the Vox Populi. In an interview with The Washington Post on that subject, he let drop a few more tidbits about the backstory of the Vox Populi and Columbia.
|“||Leftist groups tend not to like authority; nobody in them tends to listen to it. So Occupy Wall Street has been helping me because I’ve been struggling to figure out how the Vox Populi get to the point in the demo. Throughout the game, you’re actually watching them — you see in the beginning of the game that they’re a dead movement and a movement that really fails, and it picks up steam based upon your actions.||”|
|“||Comstock had a more extreme movement: When he came to power, he had [Columbia] secede from the Union. He had a more extreme vision of America than the government of the time... It’s interesting that two people who read the same document, founding document, will come up with two entirely different meanings. Both factions say that they know the intention of the founders, which is how I got the name. Comstock had one view, the previous powers had a different point of view, and Comstock’s view won out.||”|
Timothy Gerritsen, Director of Development/Executive Producer at Irrational Games, also revealed a bit more about the Founders and Vox Populi in an interview with The Electric Playground.
|“||Well, definitely there is a difference between the factions that have emerged, but I would say it’s much deeper. You have the Founders, who are a xenophobic group. They start out with Jeffersonian ideals. Individualism, expressing yourself and building a whole new world order around the idea that one person could be whoever they wanted to be and take themselves to the limit. Unfettered, they created a world of open industrialism, but they exploit the people around them. So this counter-group starts up, the Vox Populi. The Vox Populi start out as a worker’s group. Worker’s rights. As they start to grow and gather more followers, they go to the extreme on their end. Things get a little violent. They think that they need to have power, that they can tell the world what they need to do. So these two groups come into conflict and start tearing up the city.||”|
|“||An ex-agent. You used to be a Pinkerton agent, but you did some things that weren’t above board even for the Pinkertons, who were a bit of a rough group. You were too much for them, so you got kicked out. You’re kinda down on your luck when you meet a guy who says, “Hey, I want you to rescue a girl. She’s being held in a city. Get to her and bring her back to her family, she’s been gone 15 years.” This is something you’re used to, a snatch n’ grab, So you say, “Sure.”||”|
Ken Levine's Hitchcock Moment
In an interview with The Guardian, Ken Levine revealed, among other things, an amusing tidbit about the voice acting in the BioShock Infinite demo.
|“||There's also a moment where one guy squares up to you and threatens Elizabeth [in the same level] and you put your gun on him and he gives you the finger and walks off. Brilliant voice actor, by the way, who plays that part. It was me!||”|
- Ken Levine revealed in a tweet that advertisements for the El Ammo Bandito machines in BioShock were voiced by Mauricio Tejerina, one of Irrational Games' artists. Some of you may recall Tejerina's name appeared on scattered calendars within Rapture.
- The Irrational Games twitter channel hinted that Murder of Crows bottles may eventually be up for sale.
- The Playstation blog posted a great interview with Ken Levine about his life growing up as a geek in a time when geek culture didn't have the internet as a connecting platform: "Developer Origins: Irrational Games’ Ken Levine"
- Irrational Games announced the winners of their BioShock themed Halloween costume contest on November 15."Halloween Costume Contest Winners"
- IGN, 1Up and Gamespy have all conspired to host contests where the lucky winner gets a signed BioShock Infinite poster."Win a Signed BioShock Infinite Poster!"
- The December issue of Edge magazine features Elizabeth on its cover."New issue of Edge out now"
- Check out this reddit post for a BioShock crowning moment of heartwarming: "My grandpa asked for some video games for his birthday..." I wish my grandparent was that cool.
- Steve Gaynor, Lead Designer on the Minerva's Den DLC, has uploaded a transcript of a presentation he gave about "progression gating" as tools in game development. In the presentation, he discusses the methods of "gating" that were used in BioShock and the reason for the hub/spokes layout of Minerva's Den. Check it out if you are interested in the thought process of designing the DLC: "Helping Players Find Their Own Way - talk from NYU Practice 2011"