Sept 17, 2007
BioShock caught most everyone by surprise. Who would have guessed that a first person shooter could also work as a dark and psychologically complex morality play? Who knew a failed underwater utopia would end up everyone's favorite setting since Halo's ring? Who knew a game about gene splicing, homicidal diving suits and zombie children was destined for not only critical, but commercial success?
One man probably did. Ken Levine, Creative Director and President of 2K Boston, is the creative genius behind BioShock's unique story, characters, world and gameplay. In a revealing and extensive interview, we ask him to reminisce about the evolution of the "franchise" (his word) and imagine its possible future.
GamesRadar: First, congratulations on the success of your game.
Ken Levine, Creative Director: Thank you. It's very gratifying not just for BioShock, but also for this type of game. People were wondering if this kind of game had a future commercially, so I'm really happy not just for our franchise but for other games like this.
GamesRadar: What is it that makes BioShock different? When you say "this type of game," what does that mean to you?
KL: As a shooter, the level of detail in story, detail in world simulation, and detail in terms of the tools and choice that the player has. I picked up a recent shooter that just came out, and you run around the world and you shoot things. That's what you do in shooters. In BioShock, the amount of choices we give you with how you can interact with the environment, the AIs, the security system and the moral choices - the amount of narrative depth and detail in the space - I think that's what is really surprising people. I mean, there's so much there. And I don't think people realized you could put that much there. It takes a lot of work. I think people usually say, "Oh, you've got a corridor, here are your windows and your doors and that's your corridor, go for it." We really try to make every moment in BioShock feel unique.