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Fifteen Lessons I learned from Bioshock Infinite

by Mattia Beffa on 03/08/21 10:47:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This is both a stand-alone article and the end of my series analyzing Bioshock Infinite's progression.

We'll take a look at all the charts collected and all the conclusions drawn from those charts,
if you are interested in the detail of each part, you can check out the previous episodes.

Let's get started!

Duration

Figure 1

Conclusion Number One: The possibilities in most locations are wider than just the completion of each area's mission, and it's up to the player to choose what to do.

Conclusion Number Two: The game provides the core of the  story, allowing players interested in the action to endure few narration and get back to their gameplay, while those interested in the story will be curious to know more, bringing them to explore and look for details, giving a deeper understanding of the whole plot.

Items

Restoring

Figure 2

Conclusion Number Three: A task internally developed by the player can lead to an immersive experience from the start, if felt as his own and part of his freedom in the game world.

Conclusion Number Four: You can't predict the dynamics of the game, but you can push a player's behavior on your track in direct ("Remember to use vigors" pop-ups) or indirect (provide different resources to make him adjust his playstyle) ways.

Lockpicks

Figure 3

Silver Wings

Figure 4

Conclusion Number Five: Using both short (collecting coins) and long (buying a desired upgrade/item) term rewards helps keeping the player in the flow, and giving him a sense of constant progression, secret of a long and immersive gameplay.

Conclusion Number Six:  Having one currency for multiple uses, and being this currency limited, increases the currency's perceived value by the player, engaging him in a loop: "Money has multiple uses so i need it -> I need to find it -> i need to explore -> I find money -> I spend it -> I need it again for something else".

Gears, Weapons, Vigors

Figure 5

Conclusion Number Seven: To avoid overwhelmingness, provide new features (Vigors) with a pattern of discovering something new, and time/space to test/understand it.

Vigors & Upgrades

Figure 6

Conclusion Number Eight:  The player is provided with what the designers wanted, in order to bring him their ideal experience, by stressing the importance of certain elements (Vigors/Upgrades), and giving a wider choice later in the game, when he will supposedly have a better understanding of those elements and, doing so, reducing the risk of "overwhelmingness".

Conclusion Number Nine: The money provided to the player isn’t enough to buy all the upgrades, leading him into choosing carefully what to stick with, creating higher awareness and thoughts in his mind, increasing his immersion in the game.

Weapons & Upgrades

Figure 7

Conclusion Number Ten:  A variation of something already present is not something new, therefore it will not drag as much player’s attention and energy as the first time he encountered the original element.

Enemies

Figure 8

Difficulty

Figure 8.5 

Figure 9

Difficulty VS Infusions & Vigors

Figure 10

Difficulty VS Items & Ammos

Figure 11

Conclusion Number Eleven: With the same enemies, in order to avoid loss of challenge to the player, combining them provides a different experience than fighting them individually.

Tears

Figure 12

Conclusion Number Twelve: NPCsutility helps bounding with the player, but to avoid their misperception high and lows are needed, sustained by story expedients.

Conclusion Number Thirteen: A resource, but provided by an NPC, has a higher intrinsic value than the same resource provided by the game world, as well as simulating a human relation to support the socializer type.

Game VS Tears Resources

Figure 13

Conclusion Number Fourteen:  The right balance between player interfacing with the world and NPC means a higher immersion, therefore a higher perception of the NPC itself.

Figure 14

Collectables

Figure 15

Conclusion Number Fifteen: Collectibles with an untold relation to the story bring the player to consider them part of the core story, therefore finding them is part of game’s core.

Vending Machines

Figure 16

Conclusion

Why

This analysis goal was made to understand how Bioshock Infinite engages with the player and understand how the curves behave and relate to each other, leading to the experience we perceive as the game itself.

It is also a goal to reach as many people as possible, both to allow them to understand details they might have missed and to hear others thoughts, so I can see details I am sure I missed.

When

The data collection took more than 30 hours of gameplay in order to achieve 100%, and other hours to analyze the speedrun’s duration in every area, other than wiki-related research.

The processing of the data was the most time consuming activity, understanding which data to use and how it related/by which other elements it was affected without overpicking or, as opposite, avoid-picking:

Picking the wrong data would have meant invalidating the analysis, while not picking an important one would have led to a superficial analysis. I’m sure there is other information I couldn’t see, and that is one of the reasons for the publication of this: sharing means having more points of view and thoughts.

How

The development of this analysis was one of the most both challenging and satisfying experiences I had, it needed continuous asking of different questions, seeing the same data and charts from different angles to understand as many meanings as possible.

On the other hand, it was important not to read meanings where there were none, understanding when events were a coincidence and when they were not.

Lastly, it took many rounds of revision, feedback and adjustments, to see conclusion I could have missed the first time or to correct statements after gaining more information, keeping a clear vision at all times.

About Me

As for now, March 2021, I am a Game Design and Level Design student at Italian Videogames Academy, other than a huge fan of the Bioshock Saga. I joined the game design field to fully understand how games work, thus this analysis, and engage with the audience, in order to (hopefully) share emotions and experiences with the players.

Contacts

I appreciate your reading, I’m glad if anything helpful to you came out of these list of charts and text.

Feel free to contact me for any reason, being a feedback\question on this analysis, or anything else.

You can find me on LinkedIn, here on Gamasutra, or via email at [email protected] .

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my professor and, in a way, mentor Diego Ricchiuti, for teaching me everything I know about game design and for following me in the development of this analysis. This includes lectures, tips, advices and (especially) the answers to my many questions in the middle of the night. You always told us hard work pays off, and now I can really see why.

A big thanks also goes to Mattias Giovagnoli, for following me in the adaptation of the analysis to a blog format and for all the tips to bring out the quality of this work.

Thanks to the Gamasutra staff, who featured my previous articles marking an amazing achievement.

Last but not least, I want to thank all of you who read this or my previous publications; It's been an amazing journey: I'm glad you followed along, and I hope to see you around.

You can find the complete analysis here in PDF. Thank you all again, see you soon!


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