BioShock Lead Programmer Chris Kline has claimed that the wildly successful title “should have failed.”
Speaking at the Paris GDC conference, Kline disclosed that a series of design mistakes and delays could’ve killed the project.
Beginning with the idea to make a big-budget System Shock 2, a game that was critically acclaimed but failed financially, Kline commented, “The design team’s core assumption was that Shock 2 was a near-perfect game design. And we could just fix a few flaws. So what did we keep? Resource scarcity, the customization of the character through different systems, and we wanted the player to be cautious about moving through the world.”
Artistically, the team spent its early resources creating character concepts. Irrational Games soon realized that they “didn’t know what the main focus of the visuals was. What we now know is that it’s not the monsters, but the city of Rapture.”
Following BioShock‘s E3 2006 showing, 2K’s decision to repackage the game as a first-person shooter garnered attention from gamers. “What’s interesting is that even though it was the same game,” Kline revealed, “when we presented it as a shooter people started getting more excited about it. Even the team.”
Kline concluded that all the redirecting and slipped ship dates improved the product. “Some people think that constantly messing up, and pushing dates isn’t a good way to make a game,” he said, “but as far as I’m concerned it’s the only way to make a good game.”