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Irrational Releases Original BioShock Pitch Document

Irrational Releases Original BioShock Pitch Document

May 21, 2010 | By Chris Remo

May 21, 2010 | By Chris Remo
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In an unusual move, developer Irrational Games has released a significant portion of the original 2002 pitch document for its 2007 hit BioShock, highlighting significant development changes but an underlying core consistent with the game's final form.

Published on the Take-Two-owned studio's official site, the nine-page excerpt describes BioShock's setting and premise, gameplay systems, and extensive feature set.

The document explicitly names BioShock "the spiritual successor to System Shock 2," also developed by Irrational. That comparison was frequently made externally up to and after BioShock's release. And the document claims the Unreal-powered game "will redefine the first person shooter on console and PC by immersing the player in a reactive and modifiable world," a marketing angle retained by Irrational and 2K throughout the game's development.

But the document also reveals that BioShock once had a multiplayer component in the form of "story-based deathmatch." Multiplayer did not end up shipping with BioShock, and did not become part of the franchise until Digital Extremes created it for 2K Marin's BioShock 2.

As described in the 2002 pitch, BioShock's story centered around a "deprogrammer" sent to investigate an island cult, and was centered around the "terrifying nexus between religious fanaticism and unbounded science," rather than the shipping game's focus on an extreme free-market ideal gone awry. Despite the differences, BioShock players will recognize numerous shared thematic elements between the game as it was first proposed and as it shipped.

BioShock notoriously went through significant change as it was developed, as described by creative director Ken Levine and other Irrational Staffers over the years, but this document is the most concrete piece of evidence as to how much the game evolved.

Irrational Games has been working on a new game since BioShock shipped in 2007, but has not yet given any details on the project.


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