BioShock 2's Big Sister Was a Disaster

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BioShock 2's Big Sister Was a Disaster

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According to 2K Marin's Kent Hudson, there are a few core qualities an enemy character should embody in order for playing a game to be fun. Most important among these is predictability. An enemy can be difficult to beat, but the player needs to be able to learn its movements and adapt to its strategies. Otherwise, attacks are coming out of nowhere and there's no way for the player to anticipate and adapt.

Makes sense. If only the team at 2K Marin had realized this before creating the Big Sister.

"We painted ourselves into a corner," says Hudson. "We made an error of innocence."

According to Hudson, it wasn't until after the Big Sister character had been announced in January of 2009, and was featured on the cover of Game Informer magazine, that they had even begun addressing the problems with the character and had any idea whather or not she would ultimately make the game. He says the late stages of the games design were a time of "panic" as they scrambled to fix the "awful" Big Sister.

"She was terrible to play against. She was a jumbled mess of behaviors. ... You never knew how she was making decisions and how to react to them. She wasn't fun."

Worse, he wasn't sure how they'd be able to fix her and still ship the game on time and without going wildly over budget.

"We had put so much work on her to that point that we wern't in a good place to iterate on her problems," he says.

Salvation came in the form of lessons learned in building one of the game's other feature enemies, The Brute. Hudson says that the design process for the Brute character was completely different from the ground up. The Brute team was comprised of members from multiple departments - animation, design, production - and that they worked iteratively, each contributing ideas to what would be the final design.

More importantly, the time spent concepting and documenting the Brute was much less than with the Big Sister. Hudson's team, instead of working feverishly on a design document then rushing into production, like with the Big Sister, worked out a bare bones, high-level design doc and then rushed the character into a prototype stage where they could observe it's actions and reactions in the game. According to Hudson, this was the critical difference that allowed the team to work more efficiently and produce a better result the first time.

"You ship a game, not a design document," Hudson says, emphasizing the importance of prototyping and testing.

Having succeeded with the Brute, Hudson's team then revisited Big Sister, tweaking her behaviors and animation to make her a more fun enemy to fight. By increasing the time it took for her to begin her charge, refining the behavior of her plasmid power attacks and making her behavior overall more predictable, she became a more fun enemy to fight. The result was a lot of wasted work, as animation and programming created for the first design of Big Sister had to be scrapped, but the result was a character that would actually work and be fun.

"We went from random behavior to consistent behaviors," Hudson says, "[and] we realized ... this was a success and she's cool and players like her."

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So, she was almost a disaster? I have to say, the Big daddies did seem somewhat more iconic of the game.

Really?

I still think she's the weakest part of the game.

"SKKEEEEEEEEEE!"

*20 seconds later*

Well that was easy.

Well... The Big Sister could have been improved still... like say... being a little bit easier? They took down everybody easily!

Calumon: Henry has a little sister... I'm scared of her... always making her partner wear strange clothes.

I think an enemy with random behavior sounds fun. Keeps you on your toes at full alert, never knowing what could happen.

I liked the idea of just one Big Sister, that you fought over and over...and finally killed at the end.

I dunno, i though the fact she was so unpredictable made her an enjoyable enemy.

The only problem I had with the Big Sister was when she bugged out and froze mid fight with the dramatic music remaining, it was kind of a game breaker bug as it happened twice to me.

sadly, the big sister's predictability was what made me hate her. Two charged level two winter blast plasmids and a face full of slugs from the shotgun ended every fight before it should of gotten started.

after the first big sister fight I got the unbreakable achievement where you cant die while fighting her.

Onyx Oblivion:
I liked the idea of just one Big Sister, that you fought over and over...and finally killed at the end.

That's what I assumed was the system, one single abomination, rather than a whole new breed. Oh well.

When playing bioshock I thought the big sister was gonna turn out to be the girl you need to rescue, I was really dissappointed the first time I killed one :(

I looked forward to Big Sister fights, not only because I find the Big Sister very attractive...

I havent played it, but surely her not being predictable makes it better given she pops up quite alot? Other wise it'd just get tedious, no?

Onyx Oblivion:
I liked the idea of just one Big Sister, that you fought over and over...and finally killed at the end.

or deppending on how many little sisters you saved, marry her!! O_o

The random behavior would have made her more fun.

You know, so it didn't feel like the same damn fight over and over.

Y'know, big name studios never seem to realize how big an impact the small characters leave on the game. We have Portal, who's main protagonist is a mute, and who's main antagonist is a crazy homicidal robot, and who do the players love the most? A piece of cake and an inanimate cube.

Yes.

So why keep on making these big enemies that have to be hyped up all game? They'll either have to live up to their name and be very very tough to defeat [I.E General RAAM, Gears of War] or piss easy and a disappointment [I.E Praetorian, Aliens Vs Predator].

Just build up on the little guy!

Stoic raptor:
I think an enemy with random behavior sounds fun. Keeps you on your toes at full alert, never knowing what could happen.

I agree. Using something thats unpredicable and could strike at any moment was a good thing. It meant you were always listening out for them and it didnt feel like it was all scripted

Russ Pitts:
According to Hudson, it wasn't until after the Big Sister character had been announced in January of 2009, and was featured on the cover of Game Informer magazine, that they had even begun addressing the problems with the character and had any idea whather or not she would ultimately make the game.

Am I the only one who finds this hilarious?

"The Brute team was comprised of members from multiple departments - animation, design, production - and that they worked iteratively, each contributing ideas to what would be the final design."

Anyone seeing a pattern here?

Onyx Oblivion:
I liked the idea of just one Big Sister, that you fought over and over...and finally killed at the end.

Same. It would've added an element of 'oh god, not you again *cowers in corner*'.

Even better, it could have been used as a plot device, maybe by the end you could've reached an understanding with her and walk off into the sunset for some sweet deep-sea diving suited love.

I thought about this game a lot before it was released....

I dunno, the Big Sister still feels like a bit of a Disaster to me

I went through the game dealing with Every Little Sister and only 1 Big Sister was able to kill me (And that was because I had barely any health, Splicers gunning at me, a Big Daddy that I had accidentally Electro Bolted firing Missiles at me, and no First Aid kits)

They should of kept it to 1 Big Sister with tons of power, less predictable Encounters, and maybe make it less easy to kill with the Drill

The way the made them, Fighting a Big Sister was only fun the first time, the rest of them were just plain "Meh"

Sounds like the studio needs to get its act together more than anything else.

All the way through I wanted the Big Sister to be more unpredictable. They dropped the ball there.

Yes, the Big Sister was a fairly easy fight, but worse for me is how the big daddies had absolutely no answer once you got rocket spears.
I ended up doing what I did on Assassin's Creed, restricting myself.

Bioshock 2 was a disaster.

HEYOO!!

Ok, maybe not. But I didn't appreciate the game that much.

Big Sisters were fairly fun fights. They were the toughest enemy to figure out followed closely by Rumbler Big Daddies. But, once figured out (which is to say, just keep an object between you and pop out after her plasmids) it wasn't too bad. Still died on a few of them till the very end of the game when I was all powerful. But the first encounter of a Big Sis killed me at least 4 or 5 times and I almost wound up punching her to death for lack of ammo.

Note that I played on Hard first time through so it was indeed a tough fight. I don't understand why everyone complains about how easy it was if you weren't playing on Hard... maybe you're a super godlike entity and found Hard to be easy even during the first few levels... but I doubt it!

She still isn't fun. Pretty annoying fights.

Wolfram01:
Big Sisters were fairly fun fights. They were the toughest enemy to figure out followed closely by Rumbler Big Daddies.

Rumblers tough?! All you need is the Telekinesis plasmid, and you can just stand there and throw everything back he throws at you, grenades and mini-turrets. He's the easiest enemy of the whole game, even regular Leadhead Splicers damaged me more than Rumblers did, especially on Hard.

Big Sisters though were pretty challenging, although way too random. I mean, why would she pop up when you save a Little Sister? It makes no sense, it felt very arbitrary.

I watched my roommate play through the game, and the entire time we were waiting for the Big Sister fight (one of the more highly-touted parts of the game, at least in GI) to blow us away, or at least wow us somewhat.

Then the game ended.

We were pretty bummed out.

Catkid906:
Well... The Big Sister could have been improved still... like say... being a little bit easier? They took down everybody easily!

Calumon: Henry has a little sister... I'm scared of her... always making her partner wear strange clothes.

It was funny - I only managed to get my "Unbreakable" achievement (on Hard no less) because a Big Sister walked into the LOS of one of my hacked cameras, and slapped a Rosie with her rock toss. I had to shoot her like twice with Heavy Rivots after see finally killed the Drones and Rosie.

Also, I'm going to feed Calumon to a SkullGreymon.

Stoic raptor:
I think an enemy with random behavior sounds fun. Keeps you on your toes at full alert, never knowing what could happen.

You think that right up until the point you've just lost the same fight 12 times in a row and want to smash the design team's faces in.

Cowabungaa:

Wolfram01:
Big Sisters were fairly fun fights. They were the toughest enemy to figure out followed closely by Rumbler Big Daddies.

Rumblers tough?! All you need is the Telekinesis plasmid, and you can just stand there and throw everything back he throws at you, grenades and mini-turrets. He's the easiest enemy of the whole game, even regular Leadhead Splicers damaged me more than Rumblers did, especially on Hard.

Big Sisters though were pretty challenging, although way too random. I mean, why would she pop up when you save a Little Sister? It makes no sense, it felt very arbitrary.

I said 2nd toughtest to figure out. One of his turrets can easily drop you on Hard when you first meet a Rumbler if you aren't careful. That first Rumbler wiped the floor with me several times before I just gave up and came back later. And btw the way I killed them is with the Security Command plasmid as it turns the turrets back on him, and then he tries to kill them instead of you.

Disaster Button:
The only problem I had with the Big Sister was when she bugged out and froze mid fight with the dramatic music remaining, it was kind of a game breaker bug as it happened twice to me.

That happened to me a few times. I started off firing the spear gun + a charged incinerate followed up by bees then a drill rush which froze my game multiple times -_-

Cowabungaa:

Wolfram01:
Big Sisters were fairly fun fights. They were the toughest enemy to figure out followed closely by Rumbler Big Daddies.

Rumblers tough?! All you need is the Telekinesis plasmid, and you can just stand there and throw everything back he throws at you, grenades and mini-turrets. He's the easiest enemy of the whole game, even regular Leadhead Splicers damaged me more than Rumblers did, especially on Hard.

Big Sisters though were pretty challenging, although way too random. I mean, why would she pop up when you save a Little Sister? It makes no sense, it felt very arbitrary.

she shows up when sisters are missing from there rounds to deal with whatever it was that "dealt" with them.

bioshock 2 in general was a disappointment to me because of the fact that when you get the ice drill gene tonic just lying on the ground free and buy the drill specialist gene tonic you become the unstoppable lightning wielding behemoth you'll find that you can mow through enemies like blades of grass through a honda lawnmower.

even on hard.
damn spiders.
like a ninja.
wow you read.

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