The home of BioShock has gotten a new name to suit its new direction: Irrational Games is now Ghost Story Games. The studio shared the news in an update to its official website where it also dropped a few new teases about its first project. I put together those new details with some previous revelations from studio head Ken Levine for a quick look at everything we know about Ghost Story's first project(s)
BioShock fans should like it
Ghost Story says its new games should have "strong appeal" for fans of the BioShock games. Read into that what you will - it doesn't mean we're looking at another first-person game with detailed environments and combat that augments shooting with powerful abilities, but it's a distinct possibility. Levine said the "current thinking" was first-person back in 2015.
It's built from "narrative Legos"
After Irrational Games laid off most of its employees but before it turned into Ghost Story, Levine got super-into a new concept for bridging the gap between narrative-driven games like BioShock and more system-driven games like Civilization. He called it "narrative Legos": "building replayable narrative out of lots of tiny pieces". By making narrative systems out of little bricks like individual character motivations, Levine theorized that you could create memorable stories that don't hinge on the one-and-done nature of big moments like BioShock's "would you kindly" revelation. In other words, the player's actions are much more important and everything is super replayable. Check out Levine's hour-long talk from GDC 2014 for more insight.
It's filled with 'intriguing characters'
The studio that put excruciating effort into making Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite the official Disney Princess of Video Games is still into making good characters, big surprise. But if you were worried that all the characters would feel a bit "Cookie Cutter Template Folk Just Here To Hand Out Quests" because of that narrative Lego premise, don't be.
It will be hard
Maybe "challenge" isn't the first thing you think of when you look at the former Irrational Games' output, but it's going to be an area of focus for Ghost Story. The studio's introduction says it wants to "craft experiences where the gameplay is as challenging as the stories" and senior animator Seth Kendall notes that it has a "real focus on making core games for core gamers". Many games that emphasize story either give players the option to significantly reduce gameplay challenge or eschew it entirely, but Ghost Story isn't putting much stock in that so far.
It will be sci-fi (or sci-fi-ish)
Levine said in 2015 that his studio's first new game would be "sci-fi or sci-fi ish" and wouldn't tie into any existing franchises. So no, it's not going to be part of the BioShock multiverse (or whatever you want to call it). The talk of "wonder and nostalgia" in the new studio description may mean it has an older way of looking at sci-fi. Ken Levine wrote an early screenplay for a remake of Logan's Run, the sci-fi cult classic film; how cool would it be if this new game goes for a similar '70s era sci-fi feel? That's just a guess, of course, but the answer is very cool.
You may not have to wait long to play it
The later years of Irrational were marked by extended development cycles and intense secrecy. After all, if BioShock Infinite's big twist was spoiled ahead of time, it would have really mucked things up. But Levine said one of the benefits of his narrative Lego idea is that - since every game can play out differently - there's no worry about spoiling one big moment. If Ghost Story is pursuing that idea, it may mean it can get the idea out to the public for early access testing much sooner.
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