Ken Levine Reveals AI Secrets At BAFTA Presentation
Irrational Games' co-founder talks System Shock, BioShock and more.
"Nobody was buying Maseratis after System Shock 2," Ken Levine admits, as he tells you why there never was a System Shock 3. The second in the series won a lot of critical acclaim, and put plenty of work Levine's way, but there just wasn't enough there to tempt the publisher, Electronic Arts, into going forward. Levine did have a System Shock 3 design document, once upon a time, but as to where it is now - if it even exists - Levine plays coy, in his BAFTA presentation: From Shodan, to Big Daddy, to Elizabeth: The Evolution of AI Companions.
This exchange comes about 56 minutes into the hour-45's worth of Levine's BAFTA talk. If you have the time to spend, it's well worth a view, but if you just want to skip to the Q&A, that's about an hour and 4 minutes in. It's a wide-ranging topic, and the Q&A covers everything from ideology in BioShock Infinte - "polemics are boring," says Levine, "I'd rather ask questions than answer them" - to the delicate balance between characterization and player agency, why Booker has a voice, draining the swamp, why ideas are "fucking worthless", and beyond.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) charity hosts an annual awards show, intended to reward excellence in - among many other things - video games; the original BioShock took the Best Game Award, back in 2007.
"We don't have a mission to elevate gaming," Levine concludes. "We have a mission to make stuff that we think is cool." Levine's next cool project, BioShock Infinite, is due March 26th, for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360; you haven't much longer to wait.
Source: 2K Games YouTube
Phenomenal. This video, while longer than most movies nowadays, kept my interest throughout. The Q&A, as well as Levine's anecdotal musings, were far more interesting to me than the actual presentation. That's not to say the presentation was bad, it's just great to hear an insider (and also a writer), be honest about the decisions that led him to where he is today.
I really enjoyed this! It's refreshing to see business people talk about things as they are. Also makes me want to conduct box art experiments :D
"Oh well, today I really want to elevate the industry."