Thinking BioShock: From Tech to Philosophy
August 8, 2008 Page 5 of 5
The HUD was pretty well integrated. Somehow, I think it was the graphic design of it, really, that made it feel like it was part of things. Like it was part of that world. It didn't wind up being, like, "It's me! The Game! Hello!"
CK: Yeah, yeah. We spent a lot of time on the HUD. Jake Etgeton was our UI programmer, and he was on the entire project. I think we went through, probably... oh man, there had to be upwards of eight different versions of the HUD.
And it's one of those things that you just absolutely have to get right. And it seems so simple, like when you start out, we'll put a health bar there, and put some text here... But it's always much more complicated than you think.
The Emotional Experience... Elsewhere
In terms of these "emotional experience" type games, are you going to continue being large scale? Or are you also looking at small scale stuff, like downloadable or anything?
CK: We're looking at everything right now. I think we do like the freedom of a large-scale experience, because our visions are big, and in order to convey them, we need the space to develop freely around them.
But I also think there's a huge opportunity there to provide much smaller experiences, especially with downloadable content. I'm sure a lot of people would like to come back to BioShock, and maybe have an extra hour of content on that. I certainly would. And I think it's cool that it seems like the industry is moving in that direction -- not only for economics, but for the player experience.
I was wondering if you think that with a large-scale title, you can make it more mass-market in a way, but it's still for five hundred thousand to a million people. Do you have the desire to go bigger than that? Because, obviously, games like what Ben Cousins was talking about, with Battlefield Heroes' potential, if it goes the route of these free MMOs, it could reach the tens of millions. Is that something that is meaningful for you?
CK: Are you asking if we prefer to sell our games to fewer people? (laughs)
I'm saying, do you prefer to have a targeted, "These are the kind of players that we want," or do you want it to be truly, truly, "everyone can pick that up" type of game?
CK: Well, we want to sell our game to as many people as possible, because we don't believe that the game has to be brought down to any particular group of people; we believe that all gamers are intelligent, and all gamers want an exciting, mature, intellectual, and deep gaming experience.
The big question is, you've got to figure out how you are going to present that to them, and bring them. You have to lift your audience up to that level, and that's often just a matter of presentation. So that's what we're focusing on.
Do you feel that that can really be done in the console space? Because that does limit who is picking up the game to begin with, and then you get a fraction of that audience that's picked up the console.
CK: I think it has been a limitation in the past, but I think you're seeing console audiences really growing; not only because you're having different demographics entering that market, especially with stuff like the Wii, but also, you know, gamers are aging, and they have less time to muck around.
You know, I just threw away my desktop at home, because I was tired of trying to get my hard drive to work, or figuring out my power supply... It's nice to come home and just have a console, power it on, and enjoy gaming. I don't think you need to limit your audience or your style of game, based on what you're developing for.
Do you think the Wii crowd has an appetite for a BioShock-like game?
CK: I think yeah; I think there is an appetite out there; it's just a matter of finding the right way to bring it to them.
It seems like, on the Wii, there's some education necessary for a large part of that demographic, in terms of, like, "Here's why you should want to play this game, instead of Wii Fit."
CK: Well, you know, I don't think that those aren't real games. What Nintendo has figured out is that it's all about accessibility, and finding ways to get people to enjoy your game without having to jump through fifty-million hoops, you know?
Even me, as a gamer, every time I pick up a new game, I'm like, "Oh my god, they've changed the controller mappings again," and now I've got to, you know, reconfigure my head, just so I can start to enjoy this game. And with something like the Wii? You just pick it up, and it's natural. I don't think there's anything preventing the game complexity of BioShock from being on the Wii.
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