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Ken Levine says: Trust your actors

Ken Levine says: Trust your actors

January 9, 2012 | By Staff

January 9, 2012 | By Staff
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More: Console/PC, Design

In the writing for BioShock Infinite, Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine encourages the actors for the game's main roles to ad-lib and help him figure out the game dialogue, he tells Gamasutra in a new interview.

While Levine does write the script for the game before heading into the studio, sometimes he does get stuck. "Before the session I'm at home writing our scripts... but I'm not really leveraging the best talent we have if I go in inflexibly," he says.

"So, I try to go in quite flexibly, and I usually go in and get what I know I need. I get what's on paper. And then I say 'Well, let's try something else,' or Troy or Courtney pipe up and say 'Hey, what if we did this?' I think it's foolish of me not to embrace that."

Courtnee Draper and Troy Baker play the roles of Elizabeth and Booker DeWitt, respectively, the two leads of the upcoming BioShock Infinite.

"There is one sequence in the game, where I hadn't written it at all, and I sat down with them in Seattle, and I said, 'Look, this is a scene I'm having a problem with. What do you guys think about this?' And they were very, very helpful in helping me think about that scene," Levine says.

"I had a rough outline for it, but there was an executional issue of how we'd actually do it, and I won't talk about it now because I don't want to spoil anything. But they were very, very helpful, and now I've gone off and I've written that, and they're going to come out next week for a recording session, and we're going to do some work on that scene."

"It started with me, it [was] enhanced by collaboration with them, it went back to me, and now I'll go back in the studio, do it the way that I wrote it, and then we'll play around with other things."
Levine, who has a background writing and directing stage plays, is used to trusting his actors.

"What I really took away from it is how to work with actors, and how to trust actors. You have to give them space, you have to make them partners with you, don't try to overwrite for them," says Levine, of his experiences working in theater.

The full interview, which contains many more insights into Levine's process for writing, recording, and implementing the dialogue for BioShock Infinite, is live now on Gamasutra.

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