Newly-released docs explain the BioShock that nearly was

"Things grow inside you.
We’re part of you now, you think you hear them say.
You step away from the med bench. The diagnostics screen presents a revolting before and after. On the left side, the before side, you see yourself. What you were. Human.
And on the right side... what you are. What you’ve become. The only way you’ll survive. The only way you’ll-"

Thus begins the 2002 pitch document for Irrational Games' original vision for BioShock, the first 10 pages of which the company has just released on its blog. How different is it from the BioShock we eventually got? Quite a lot. There's a different protagonist, a different story, a different setting, extra gameplay mechanics, and although the splicing remains, it sounds absolurly bloody horrific. Want to know more about the BioShock you could have played? Read on.

Above: This guy = Not in it

  • BioShock was originally set in 2007 rather than 1960. And instead of Jack, you would have played Carlos Cuello, a 'deprogrammer' tasked with rescuing a rich heiress from an island-based religious cult. The cult, naturally, had access to extreme bioengineering technology throughout its vast underground - and undersea - base.
  • The original BioShock's genetic upgrades came not from Adam, but from splicing the DNA of sealife. Different creatures would give you different abilities, and several of BioShock's eventual plasmid properties can be traced back to these original designs. For example, jellyfish DNA would have turned your flesh gelatinous and made you able to hide transparently in the shadows, as well as giving you a poisonous touch. Electric Eel DNA would provide biological lightning attacks.
  • The splicing process sounded far more horrific and dehumanising. Check out the opening text from the pitch doc:

    You tense and feel unfamiliar chemicals moving within you, unfamiliar muscles tightening, unfamiliar organs working. Your new body comes to life without your consent. Chitinous plates slide over your torso, your groin. Bulbous stalks breach your forehead like knitting needles, releasing a salty green liquid that stings what were once your eyes.

Above: Things were originally a whole lot less deco

  • Weapon modding was way more complex, and could be performed on the fly. With base bodies for each main gun lying around amongst a stack of different barrels, sights and ammo types, as well as modifiers for range, recoil, clip size, reload time and reliability, any parts could be switched in and out as the situation or enemy required, but over-modded weapons would become unstable. Sounds a lot like Borderlands spliced with ModNation Racers to us.
  • Controlling hacked security systems was more in-depth. It would have been possible to set off diversionary false alarms and even hack security robots, controlling them manually in first-person. By doing this though, you would leave yourself vulnerable to attack back in the security office.
  • As well as security, you could also hack the environment itself. Environmental controls could be messed around with to manipulate all kinds of atmopheric properties for different effects in combat. For example, increasing the oxygen content would cause bigger explosions, ionizing the air would increase the power of electrical weapons, and increasing the temperature would make you invisible to thermal scanning, but also make cold-blooded creatures faster. Decreases would have the inverse effects, and it would also have been possible to play around with magnetism, gravity, electrified floors and flooding.
  • Originally there was multiplayer, with a plan for 'Story Based Deathmatch' mentioned.

Irrational is going to release more insights into the early BioShock's development as time rolls on, so keep checking back at its blog. In the meantime, let know us what you think about the original vision. Would you have preferred it? Would you still like to see Irrational make it under a different name? Opinionise in the comments, or on our incandescant social areas on Facebook and Twitter. 

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  • Cyberninja - May 23, 2010 6:37 p.m.

    i want that game today
  • waffledragon33 - May 22, 2010 5:44 p.m.

    it sounds like it would have been cool
  • philipshaw - May 22, 2010 11:20 a.m.

    This does sound good but it seems like all the best ideas ended up in Bioshock anyway
  • marioman50 - May 22, 2010 6:05 a.m.

    I don't want to say that the Bioshock we know today shouldn't exist, but this actually sounds pretty interesting. I wonder what inspired the change.
  • SenatorPepper - May 22, 2010 4:36 a.m.

    I wish I could have played that. Don't get me wrong, any game that could potentially cause an Objectivist to think is okay in my book.
  • michaelmcc827 - May 21, 2010 11:58 p.m.

    Actually doesn't sound bad! recaptcha: Bangkok journey
  • Vitoruss1 - May 21, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    I'm glad that Bioshock is the way that it is, but I would have loved to see some of these features in it. I hope them into a different game. I really like the idea of customizing the environment to suit your plasmids and weapons, though... it sort of reminds me of how you could "customize" those two zombies in the horror level of "Timesplitters: Future Perfect"-- resizing parts of them, stretching them, lighting them on fire or shooting electricity through them from the comfort of your terminal. Similar things.
  • nemesisuprising - May 21, 2010 6:59 p.m.

    release it under the name of atom shock or tech shock or something...any thing with shock just like bio shock was based of system shock!
  • oryandymackie - May 21, 2010 6:45 p.m.

    This is similar to the fascinating feature you ran on the origins of BioShock: I was surprised at the sheer amount of change BioShock actually went through in the design stage.
  • Amnesiac - May 21, 2010 5:26 p.m.

    I'd like to see some of these ideas in a new Shock game. They're really cool.
  • GamesRadarJoeMcNeilly - May 21, 2010 4:05 p.m.

    Loads of very cool ideas, too good to just let drop. Don't be surprised if some of this stuff works its way into Ken Levine's upcoming work!
  • db1331 - May 21, 2010 2:59 p.m.

    This sudden avalanche of BioShock-related posts seems odd to me. I'm not hating on it, I own and loved both games. I just don't know why all this is coming out now.
  • foxbowser42 - May 21, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    Wow, that sounds amazing! I liked Bioshock, but this game would stand in its own right, I'd like to see them make this game.
  • frmonth - May 21, 2010 2:34 p.m.

    The changable enviroment stuff sounded quite ambitious to me especially back in 2002 before even Half Life 2 was released, especially where it mentions magnetism I wonder how that would have worked out.
  • BlueCroup - May 21, 2010 2:04 p.m.

    The environment altering mechanic was going to be in Bioshock 2, but they had issues coding it in so left it out in the end. Does sound like it could be a decent game, maybe it will appear as part of the Shock series"
  • nitefall04 - May 21, 2010 1:46 p.m.

    It sounds like they could do a semi-sequel to BioShock and BioShock 2 out of this. Maybe like Resident Evil: Code Veronica or something. Have it take place in the BioShock universe, but in 2007 like they said and the cult would be the people of Rapture.
  • bluscorp - May 21, 2010 12:29 p.m.

    I agree with you all. I didn't like BioShock, but this sounds fun.
  • JayLin22 - May 21, 2010 12:12 p.m.

    That sounds amazing! I'd definitely play that if it was released - it's practically a different game which appears way more in-depth than the Bioshock we got (I am a great fan BTW, and wouldn't change a thing) - so a new IP makes sense...
  • oufour - May 21, 2010 12:08 p.m.

    it actually sounds...better.
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - May 21, 2010 11:43 a.m.

    The original also looks like a ton of fun