Game Developer Q&A: BioShock Infinite
On 11 March 2013, BAFTA welcomed the creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games Ken Levine to discuss his company’s latest game, BioShock Infinite. The Princess Anne Theatre at 195 Piccadilly was jam-packed with people eager to hear Levine’s thoughts on storytelling, character development and taking risks in games.
In the first half of the evening, Levine gave a presentation outlining his main aims for BioShock Infinite. He stressed the importance of “emotionally connecting gamers with the characters”, something he sees as a hallmark of the BioShock series. Levine then showed the complex process of creating the range of emotions for the AI Elizabeth; from voice actress Courtnee Draper taking her role to new emotional extremes (watch the video here), to footage showing motion-capture actress Heather Gordon getting Elizabeth’s dance movements exactly right.
In the second part, The Guardian’s Simon Parkin interviewed Levine on how his career in gaming developed, and what advice he could offer to those trying to stand out in the industry. Levine was keen to emphasise the good fortune he has had in his career. First, his discovery that he had a gift for writing, “a feeling like finding out you could surf for the first time”. Secondly, the opportunity he got to work on Thief: The Dark Project having never written for games before.
However, he also underlined that new developers must be willing to work incredibly hard: “an important part of a developing game designer is a desire to learn the un-fun stuff, to love every process of creating a game”. Responding to a question on writing from an audience member, he suggested that it’s very rare that “you get a great idea out of nowhere. It took us four months of talking before I wrote BioShock Infinite over two drafts”.
As the evening drew to close, Levine began to speak more generally about Irrational Games’ main aims to never compromise on ideas, themes and storytelling. It is clear that their latest game BioShock Infinite will be taking his company’s mission to its most ambitious point to date.
You can find out more about the BioShock Q&A by reading our Twitter reel of the event over on Storify.
A podcast of this event is available to listen to on BAFTA Guru.