Skip to main content

BioShock - post-mortem interview

GamesRadar: How much did the concept of the game evolve? Is it true that, while the game now takes place in an underwater city, it was once about Nazis on an island?

KL: It was the Nazi thing originally, and there was a story recently about how you were a cult deprogrammer. These ideas were never that evolved, or serious; they were sort of things we threw down to have something on paper. It wasn't until some time in 2005 that the notion of Rapture came to me and I started to really develop it. But I tend to start with game design, and my team does too, and we put the story in later. I think that's one of the keys - if people enjoy the story in BioShock, that's why. There's this dialogue between game development and story development that is constantly going back and forth. The artist would do something that would inspire me, and then I would write something that would inspire them. It's really collaborative, and I think that's why the story and the gameplay in Rapture are so integrated.

GamesRadar: Can you give us an example of that integrated collaboration between writer and designer?

KL: The artists designed that great Gatherer's Garden machine. I was doing a recording session with an actress for another part, and I was like "Hey, can you sound like a little girl? I'm going to write a song, and you're going to sing it." And then I went off and wrote that Gatherer's Garden jingle. We recorded it right there.

GamesRadar: Is there any other moment in the game where you feel like the writing and the art and the gameplay melded perfectly?

KL: There's so much of it! [Spoiler Warning] Where you first see Sander Cohen in the flesh - that amazing character model the artist did, the music that comes up and the animation of this guy, just the fact that you've been hearing him all along. You know, when you first meet Tenenbaum and Atlas and learn about the choice with the Little Sisters - that whole sequence. [End Spoiler] And of course, the opening sequence of the game. To take this vision I had in my head, and then to work with the artist to actually make it happen - and it didn't work for so long - it took so long to get that right. But then when it finally did, it was just magical. That takes time, and vision and people who are deeply enmeshed in the DNA of this project.

GamesRadar: Is there any other moment in the game where you feel like the writing and the art and the gameplay melded perfectly?

KL: There's so much of it! [Spoiler Warning] Where you first see Sander Cohen in the flesh - that amazing character model the artist did, the music that comes up and the animation of this guy, just the fact that you've been hearing him all along. You know, when you first meet Tenenbaum and Atlas and learn about the choice with the Little Sisters - that whole sequence. [End Spoiler] And of course, the opening sequence of the game. To take this vision I had in my head, and then to work with the artist to actually make it happen - and it didn't work for so long - it took so long to get that right. But then when it finally did, it was just magical. That takes time, and vision and people who are deeply enmeshed in the DNA of this project.