277: Shooting for the Sky

Shooting for the Sky

Ken Levine is frequently held up as a grand auteur of videogames, but his goal for BioShock Infinite is to just make a really good shooter.

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I think that if gaming really is developing and growing as a medium we shouldn't be surprised by great stories/ political commentary/ charaters surrounding some great game mechanics. Infact i hope as time goes on people just build those things into games as a matter of fact; it should be the rule not the exception if we are doing our jobs right.

Guys like this restore my faith in humanity. Thanks for having your head on straight, Mr. Levine.

Class act. No wonder he's one of the best.

Dennis Scimeca:
If Ken Levine were the auteur artist that he's been made out to be, he might be happy only with groundbreaking aesthetics, but he's a gamer first.

Funny, I think that precisely because he is the great auteur people make him out to be he values gameplay over simple aesthetics.

Dennis Scimeca:
"You can make a shooter with great gameplay and a mediocre story and still be somewhat successful," he said. "You can't make a shooter with a great story and terrible gameplay."

Interesting he feels that way, personally, I thought the gameplay in BioShock was kind of mediocre, the AI wasn't too bright, and the splicers main tactic was running around in circles, making them difficult to hit. The story and atmosphere however, more than made up for that flaw, and was what kept me going through the game.

Wait, did he say that challenge in a game was important? Didn't he work on Bioshock? The game where you can't, you know, lose?

Loved the first Bioshock despite requiring only simple tactics, but the second felt like the story was jerry-rigged into the universe solely to provide a counter balance to the themes of the first (I need to pick it up again and finish it, actually), but seeing as how the masses respond to fun action more than good atmosphere and narrative, Levine's just going to combine some cracker-jack gameplay with a bluntly tea-party-trashing message and hope some of it sticks to the CoD-fed crowd.

I for one can't bring myself to care for a game if it's no deeper than a PETA pamphlet no matter how finely tweaked the gameplay is, otherwise I'd just sit around and play "Call of Duty What-Ever" all day. Enjoy the soapbox shooter, I'll hold out hope that the series won't become just another mindless now-with-dual-BFG-wielding FPS franchise.

I saw the first BI trailer, and at a point I was like, 'wait... is this a metaphor?' I still don't know if the things that happen on the first trailer, in game, are an allusion to something I haven't figured out yet. The way it's set up, the framing and so, looks like it, but from what I can tell it might as well be aping a cinematic trope without fully grasping its meaning.

The other day I was thinking about how Bioshock is good because it criticizes a liberal viewpoint. Games, and most art forms I guess, as well as those who enjoy them, are usually liberal, as far as they're willing to articulate their political beliefs anyway. If Bioshock had based its gameplay on a conservative scenario it would be essentially preaching to the core. Of course Rand's Objectivism of 'if I'm paying for these roads I don't want those poor freeloading bastards to use it' is essentially the strawman of the left wing, but it's still more appealing than if it had just echoed the 'following tradition and limiting freedoms is bad bad bad!' the genre as a whole already has.

I still think it's hilarious the way Americans profess their love for their country, it looks hilarious for those of us outside. As far as the concept of BI goes I love it already.

Always love Levine's stuff, interviews just provide a lot more insight into him as a person. I think Hideo Kojima could learn a bit from him. Not that I am knocking Hideo but his gameplay/story balance was way off.

Galduke:
Loved the first Bioshock despite requiring only simple tactics, but the second felt like the story was jerry-rigged into the universe solely to provide a counter balance to the themes of the first (I need to pick it up again and finish it, actually), but seeing as how the masses respond to fun action more than good atmosphere and narrative, Levine's just going to combine some cracker-jack gameplay with a bluntly tea-party-trashing message and hope some of it sticks to the CoD-fed crowd.

To be fair Bioshock 2 wasn't Levine's team.

The Random One:
I saw the first BI trailer, and at a point I was like, 'wait... is this a metaphor?' I still don't know if the things that happen on the first trailer, in game, are an allusion to something I haven't figured out yet. The way it's set up, the framing and so, looks like it, but from what I can tell it might as well be aping a cinematic trope without fully grasping its meaning.

The other day I was thinking about how Bioshock is good because it criticizes a liberal viewpoint. Games, and most art forms I guess, as well as those who enjoy them, are usually liberal, as far as they're willing to articulate their political beliefs anyway. If Bioshock had based its gameplay on a conservative scenario it would be essentially preaching to the core. Of course Rand's Objectivism of 'if I'm paying for these roads I don't want those poor freeloading bastards to use it' is essentially the strawman of the left wing, but it's still more appealing than if it had just echoed the 'following tradition and limiting freedoms is bad bad bad!' the genre as a whole already has.

I still think it's hilarious the way Americans profess their love for their country, it looks hilarious for those of us outside. As far as the concept of BI goes I love it already.

Bioshock criticizes a libertarian viewpoint, not a liberal one. Even if it were, I still don't see how something is good because it does something. Libertarianism is a load of childish shit and I still think BioShock is a mediocre game. The gameplay isn't based around an ideology, just the monologues. The setting isn't a failed libertarian paradise, it's the sewer level. There aren't characters to interact with, there are voices in your ear telling you why you're doing things. If you think that the overall design and it's conventional failures are some sort of over-arching indictment of video-gaming as a medium, that it enslaves gamers, you could have a point to argue from. As it were, BioShock doesn't say much about anything.

And yes, some Americans love professing their love for America--although the other day, I saw a bumpersticker that said "America: Like it or Leave it" --maybe some of them are learning.

I respect what he tries to do but I despise BioShock.

People seem to have mistaken backstory and themes for an actual story.

He does certainly make some deep and innovative games. Now if he'd just stop forgetting to make them fun.

I found BioShock almost aggressively uninteresting, with bland writing, unbalanced gameplay and an art style which only redeeming quality was all the stuff it shamelessly stole from Fallout - mediocre across the board. And yet, it was made by the same guy who was behind System Shock 2, one of my all-time favourite games.

To me, it seems as though the same people who liked Fallout 3 are the ones who liked BioShock - those who missed out on the infinitely better titles that these two games blatantly fail at superseding.

If Ken Levine really wants to show his skill then he should be making a new, original title instead of extending BioShock's story in the same way that BioShock 2 tried to do it. But alas, he's only interested in the money.

Good old Ken Levine, combining complex philosophical and ethical questions with gameplay, and a lot of literature and art mixed in. I guess more game designers should go to liberal arts school?

EDIT: Double post, my bad.

The Random One:

The other day I was thinking about how Bioshock is good because it criticizes a liberal viewpoint. Games, and most art forms I guess, as well as those who enjoy them, are usually liberal, as far as they're willing to articulate their political beliefs anyway. If Bioshock had based its gameplay on a conservative scenario it would be essentially preaching to the core. Of course Rand's Objectivism of 'if I'm paying for these roads I don't want those poor freeloading bastards to use it' is essentially the strawman of the left wing, but it's still more appealing than if it had just echoed the 'following tradition and limiting freedoms is bad bad bad!' the genre as a whole already has.

Well the thing is that if you look in-depth into Bioshock's overarching themes, it actually comes across as supporting elements of Objectivist philosophy. Rapture only really goes to hell once Ryan starts to surrender his principles and slowly go mad. Ryan's final cries of "A MAN CHOOSES, A SLAVE OBEYS" is pretty much a founding principle of Randian logic. Although early on, Ryan's philosophy is seen negatively, the second half of the game pretty much reflects this concept. Fontaine controlled you, forced you to obey, and now, you have a choice in what you will do. The second half of the game doesn't really have anyone ordering you around like Atlas did, more just telling you what to do. If anything this seems to be based off of Objectivist liberty, where you control your destiny and no one else does.

At least that's what I got from Bioshock, I noticed a really big tonal change after Fontaine reveals himself.

Im playing Bioshock right now, and i was about to ask people about that. Blast and then shoot, anything else?

People really need to follow this guys advice. Ive said the same thing. If youre the best archer in the world, you dont need to keep TELLING people that, try to hype it up. You simply just need to keep hitting the targets like nothing else matters, and everything else will follow suit.

This has no relevance at all but the title on this forum made me want to say " YOUR DRILL IS THE DRILL THAT WILL PIERCE THE HEAVENS!!!!" That is all.

Woodsey:
I respect what he tries to do but I despise BioShock.

People seem to have mistaken backstory and themes for an actual story.

I get that but with a voiced protagonist and other character(s) to work off of I am hopeful we will have a more expanded story this time.

Bioshock took very little creative talent or originality; it is a straight re-imagining of System Shock.

Chatney:
I found BioShock almost aggressively uninteresting, with bland writing, unbalanced gameplay and an art style which only redeeming quality was all the stuff it shamelessly stole from Fallout - mediocre across the board. And yet, it was made by the same guy who was behind System Shock 2, one of my all-time favourite games.

To me, it seems as though the same people who liked Fallout 3 are the ones who liked BioShock - those who missed out on the infinitely better titles that these two games blatantly fail at superseding.

If Ken Levine really wants to show his skill then he should be making a new, original title instead of extending BioShock's story in the same way that BioShock 2 tried to do it. But alas, he's only interested in the money.

BioShock 2 was not created by Levine and his team, it was an entirely different developer. And you're complaining about him making a sequel when you're favorite game of his is a sequel...

And I would say you're looking through some nifty rose-tinted glasses, but I'll be fair and say that I havn't played System Shock or whatever to really base that. But from what I can tell, SS just looks as old and dated as any other shooter back in the day.

Woodsey:
I respect what he tries to do but I despise BioShock.

People seem to have mistaken backstory and themes for an actual story.

You don't need cutscenes or things explicitly told to you to have a story. Don't make me whip out my Shadow of the Collosus rant O_O

Anyway, I respect Levine for what he's doing, though to be honest I've only really truly heard about him after Infinite was announced, before I had no idea who he was.

Quite frankly, we need someone who knows exactly what they're doing and to look at it from more of an "artist's" perspective. While it's great that he's thinking of his games from a gamers perspective and whatnot, video games can't really evolve if we're going to look exclusively from that viewpoint.

Why not just make a game and view it from a person's perspective? Pointless philosophical pandering, I know, but if we really want a game that will trancend media and be the "Citizen Kane" of gaming, we're going to need an Orson Wells first to think outside of "just a game".

Fumito Ueda, coughcough, okay I'll stop jerking off to him...

Woodsey:
I respect what he tries to do but I despise BioShock.

People seem to have mistaken backstory and themes for an actual story.

Agreed. Plus tacking 5 hours of standard FPS-gameplay do do something that makes no sense to kill someone that is very, very underwhelming especially after the big climax of the game... its just silly, pointless, and should never have been there. Plus it being billed as a System Shock successor which is another topic entirely that I don't want to get into.

OT: Glad to see the man has some sense about him. Although I'm still trying to find the rationale behind the last four or so hours of Bioshock.

Jumplion:

Chatney:
I found BioShock almost aggressively uninteresting, with bland writing, unbalanced gameplay and an art style which only redeeming quality was all the stuff it shamelessly stole from Fallout - mediocre across the board. And yet, it was made by the same guy who was behind System Shock 2, one of my all-time favourite games.

To me, it seems as though the same people who liked Fallout 3 are the ones who liked BioShock - those who missed out on the infinitely better titles that these two games blatantly fail at superseding.

If Ken Levine really wants to show his skill then he should be making a new, original title instead of extending BioShock's story in the same way that BioShock 2 tried to do it. But alas, he's only interested in the money.

BioShock 2 was not created by Levine and his team, it was an entirely different developer.

And I would say you're looking through some nifty rose-tinted glasses, but I'll be fair and say that I havn't played System Shock or whatever to really base that. But from what I can tell, SS just looks as old and dated as any other shooter back in the day.

Woodsey:
I respect what he tries to do but I despise BioShock.

People seem to have mistaken backstory and themes for an actual story.

You don't need cutscenes or things explicitly told to you to have a story. Don't make me whip out my Shadow of the Collosus rant O_O

I know, I break out the same argument when people complain about HL2's story - but then it actually has one.

Whereas HL2 has visual clues to the backstory - like BioShock - and a story that you follow that develops the characters, BioShock seems to exist for the sole purpose of giving a twist.

Let's not forget that the only real event in BioShock's story is actually a cutscene too.

Woodsey:
I know, I break out the same argument when people complain about HL2's story - but then it actually has one.

Whereas HL2 has visual clues to the backstory - like BioShock - and a story that you follow that develops the characters, BioShock seems to exist for the sole purpose of giving a twist.

Let's not forget that the only real event in BioShock's story is actually a cutscene too.

You bring up an interesting point that I hadn't thought of about BioShock, but I haven't played it in such a long time, and I played it after I had known about all the spoilers (Ps3 version came a year late), so I probably didn't have the same awe and stuff as most first timers did.

Though the setting was funk-ay.

Great interview. It's guys like this that give me continued hope and excitement for the future of games. Bioshock was good by not AMAZING, still it was a sight better than most of its peers. I am Looking forward to Infinite. Hopefully the longer dev time Irrational has spent on it (having forgone Bioshock 2 to work on Infinite) will lead to something fantastic.

Galduke:
Loved the first Bioshock despite requiring only simple tactics, but the second felt like the story was jerry-rigged into the universe solely to provide a counter balance to the themes of the first (I need to pick it up again and finish it, actually), but seeing as how the masses respond to fun action more than good atmosphere and narrative, Levine's just going to combine some cracker-jack gameplay with a bluntly tea-party-trashing message and hope some of it sticks to the CoD-fed crowd.

Bioshock 2 wasn't developed by Irrational or Levine. Which is why I didn't play it.

Shellsh0cker:
Guys like this restore my faith in humanity. Thanks for having your head on straight, Mr. Levine.

I honestly think he's just telling you (the public) what he thinks will be good PR.

I'm not saying he's evil or Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, I'm just saying that he's a boring as hell interview. He's playing it safe and why not? He has no reason to shake anything up, he's got the good will of his customers and a highly anticipated title.

This article might as well have been a commercial for BioShock: Infinite - which isn't really Levine's fault and maybe not even the interviewers fault, but at the end of the day, that's why I think game reporting is a joke, and the editorials and discussion boards are where it's at...

 

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