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First Person Shooters (Games) Entertainment Games

The Making of Bioshock 281

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-a-man-not-entitled-etc dept.
Gamasutra is running a feature from Game Developer magazine in which Bioshock's project leader writes about what went right and what went wrong making last year's award-winning shooter, Bioshock. He talks about what the developers learned from fans and focus groups, how long it took them to firmly define what the game was supposed to be, and how they tried to reconcile their ideas with their capabilities. Quoting: "...just after the first beta, the entire design team plus a contingent of 2K producers headed off to see how a group that knew nothing about our company or BioShock would react to the first level. It was brutal. The first level, they said, was overly dense, confusing, and not particularly engaging. Players would acquire new powers but not know how to use them, so they stuck to using more traditional weapons and became frustrated. They didn't interact with the Big Daddies, and they didn't understand (or care) how to modify their characters. They were so overwhelmed by dialogue and backstory that they missed key information. A few of the players did start to see the possible depth of the game, but even they were frustrated by the difficulty of actually using the systems we had created."
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The Making of Bioshock

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  • Market research!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teh moges (875080) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:45PM (#24851757) Homepage
    Here I thought market research died with the invention of mass-advertising.

    Great to see them actually test out a product, and further, fix their product before launching it.
    • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:52PM (#24852557) Journal

      If they're actually paying attention to market research, they would've known that DRM completely kills it for a lot of (otherwise) PAYING customers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by laparel (930257)

        But which would have netted them more - losing customers who are turned off by their DRM schemes or losing customers who was able to get a copy off a torrent and never bothered to buy it even though she/he thoroughly enjoyed it?

        Has anyone ever studied that trade-off/relationship? (Oh and not those who claim that every copy of piracy is a lost sale.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by walshy007 (906710)

          or losing customers who was able to get a copy off a torrent and never bothered to buy it even though she/he thoroughly enjoyed it?

          It's not to stop the torrents, there will always be torrents as it only takes one skilled person to crack it, it only stops people copying a cd and handing it to a friend really, which in todays land is a lot less common than torrenting.

    • I think of some of the gsmes I have paid good money for, some of which I beta tested, and I couldn't get in contact with anyone on the developmenbt team to give my ideas.

      One company that just doesn't get it is Novalogic. Their Black Hawk Down franchise was groundbreaking and had some serious potential, but they just never solicited or even listened to feedback. A potentially great game with some easily-fixed flaws, but they just don't listen.

      EA is the same way. All the cheating that still goes on with
  • that's nice (Score:5, Informative)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:48PM (#24851779)
    Funny. I recently bought Bioshock on Steam (when they were running their $15 special a month or two ago). I only had a chance to play it for a few hours (not much time for games these days). However, in the past week my system's gone completely crazy. Turned out it was due to SecuROM. I found the uninstaller utility and removed it, and now my system is behaving perfectly normally again. I liked what I managed to play of Bioshock, but unfortunately I'm not going to reinstall it again. It's a shame, really, because it seemed like a good game.
    • Re:that's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:07PM (#24852027)

      I think DRM has been covered extensively enough about this game, and has little to do with the topic at hand. There's a lot more lessons here for game developers than DRM issues. Sure that seems to have killed it for this crowd, but there's no arguing that the game had a significant impact seperately from that.

      So can we get a little less whining about a well-whined about topic and focus on what they did RIGHT?

      • Re:that's nice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:10PM (#24852059)
        Sorry, I literally got control back of my system about 30 minutes ago, so it's fresh in my mind (why my post starts with 'Funny'). And sorry, but not being able to use my computer thanks to a game I paid for is a serious WRONG in my book. If they remove the protection I'll reinstall it and pick up where I left off, and then maybe I might be able to tell you what they did "right" in the game. I'm sure there're plenty of good things there.
      • So can we get a little less whining about a well-whined about topic and focus on what they did RIGHT?

        What about people such as myself that missed out on the whining the first time round, you insensitive clod?!

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        So can we get a little less whining about a well-whined about topic and focus on what they did RIGHT?

        Isn't it a pity the DRM fiasco takes center stage when talking about the game instead of.. say... the game itself? Just imagine if the DRM wasn't an issue to begin with.

        • by Culture20 (968837)
          If it didn't use Steam, I'd have bought it; same with HL2, HL2Ep1/2, and Portal. Stupid DRM makes them _lose_ sales, and not just from me.
      • Re:that's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:31PM (#24852345) Journal

        I think DRM has been covered extensively enough about this game,

        Has it been removed?

        No? Then it hasn't been covered extensively enough.

        focus on what they did RIGHT?

        Unfortunately, because of the DRM, at least one customer won't be able to see what they did right. I know I would have loved to play the game, but I flat refuse to buy it because of that DRM -- so that's another potential customer, ready to pay full price ($60 even), but I don't know what they did right, because of the DRM.

        Hear that, developers? It doesn't matter how hard you work, or how many long hours and weekends you put in. It doesn't matter how much you love your project, or how much of a piece of art it is. None of that matters if people actually avoid playing your game because of the DRM on it.

        Life is too short, and there are too many games that don't treat me like a criminal for me to waste my time on yours.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Z34107 (925136)

          None of that matters if people actually avoid playing your game because of the DRM on it.

          Thought experiment: What if the DRM was "perfect?" That is, somehow, through magic, completely unobtrusive. The only thing it did (again, through magic) was keep you from installing the game on computers you didn't own.

          Would the situation be the same? That is, if this (non-existing), magic type of DRM existed that hindered only pirates and torrent leeches, would people still be against it? If one really has no pr

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Thought experiment: What if the DRM was "perfect?" That is, somehow, through magic, completely unobtrusive. The only thing it did (again, through magic) was keep you from installing the game on computers you didn't own.

            ...and thus, not completely unobtrusive.

            You see, growing up, I shared a computer with my brother. I would think "perfect" DRM would allow him to buy his own games, and install them on this computer, even though the computer was actually mine. Why shouldn't that be allowed?

            And, while using this computer, we only ever bought one copy of any given game, since, after all, only one of us could play it at a time. If the "perfect" DRM were able to magically distinguish which user was using the game, whoever bought

          • Even if a DRM was magically unobtrusive, you'll still have lots of complex corner cases.

            What if two different persons own the same computer (the family's computer) should they both be allowed to play (DRM restricts per computer) or should only the owner of the game ? But then how should it function for people with several computers (laptops on the move, desktop at home) ? And what about two kids who pool money to be able to buy together an otherwise too expensive game ? (I've actually done it when I was you

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        So can we get a little less whining about a well-whined about topic and focus on what they did RIGHT?

        And how exactly is someone who only played a few hours of the game because the DRM fscked their system up so badly they had to uninstall supposed to do that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jesterboy (106813)

        I wish I could take credit for this, but it comes from this post [2kgames.com] on the 2K Froums in the thread about removing the install limits, but not the DRM [2kgames.com], and I think it's pretty applicable here:

        Is a man not entitled to the game he purchased?
        No says the man at 2K, he may be a thief.
        No says the man at Sony, he may be a pirate.
        No says the pirate, I'll give it to you free...
        I rejected all those answers and did what many should do.... .... I ...purchased..... a XBOX 360, and never worried again.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by philspear (1142299)

          Predition: jesterboy is going to be modded down for a post that PC gamer fanboys and anti-MS uh... whatever you would call them, dislike. If "-1: advocates use of MS products" were an option, that would be the one.

          I sympathize with PC gamers to some degree. I don't think you should have to choose a gaming platform based on what's available or technical problems faced. It should be about the balance of features, power, and price. I realize that's the description for an ideal world of consoles that will n

          • by billcopc (196330)

            PC gamers are so arrogant about their graphics on the handful of games and get violent if you suggest that mouse and keyboard is not the solution to the world's problems

            Well that's kind of the whole point, no ? I've got this beefy media workstation with gobs of ram, disk and CPUs. I can add a graphics card to it, that costs less than the average console, and reap superior graphics. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Of course, nothing's preventing the console makers from selling/supporting keyboards and mice, for those people who do not need nor want a high-end PC.

            Me, I have the consoles, but I still prefer PC games. That's partly because the wife hogs the TV with her gaz

        • Re:that's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Adambomb (118938) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:46PM (#24853095) Journal

          What everyone seems to forget is that consoles are the ultimate in DRM. In fact, controlling both the hardware AND the software is the only time that one can actually consider it to be doing the job DRM is claimed to do.

          Sell the hardware for the games, sometimes at a loss,instead of selling the games for the hardware. Getting a console may not be a bad thing in and of itself, but keep in mind that thats where the games publishers want you. Less possible spec differences, less piracy, less risk of some draconian control feature screwing up something third party (IE: the OS or some other applications you're running).

          Sure that can be a solution, but in the end who is that a solution for? Granted this isn't saying owning a console is horrible and evil, it's just a good point to keep in mind if you're purchasing a console to play a game that is already available for a platform you have.

          • by billcopc (196330)

            What everyone seems to forget is that consoles are the ultimate in DRM

            Yes, but a console doesn't have the annoying habit of mangling your OS and making your work PC slow and unstable.

            And I'm pretty damned sure no current console harbors this mindless "10-day activation" scheme. Consoles just check to see if your game disc is legitimate, so you need that disc in the drive. Well I'd much rather put up with needing the disc, than having some slop-fest of a kernel hack phone home every other week to ensure I still have the right to play a stupid game.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So you bought an expensive dongle?

    • by 77Punker (673758)

      Perhaps the company needs an e-mail reminder to remove the SecuROM.

      I thought part of the point of Steam was that Steam itself is the copy protection. Steam happens to be DRM that I can live with.

    • Re:that's nice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:14PM (#24852105) Homepage

      I just pirated the damned thing.

      Spent the money I was going to spend on it on STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl instead. Bioshock deserved the money more, but I won't pay to fuck up my machine, ESPECIALLY when the game's already on Steam. I also won't miss an opportunity to play a (reputedly) great game over principles, and paying money for a legit copy while having to pirate it anyway just to make it usable is retarded.. *shrug*

      • by mjwx (966435)

        I just pirated the damned thing.

        Well. I bought the damn thing.

        for A$2 in a Bangkok market last October. I've installed it more than 5 times since then and I've never had trouble with DRM. I too was going to buy bioshock on its release date no less but after I found out about the overly restrictive DRM I bought a different game instead. I will not download the EXE just to play the game, I should be able to install it straight off the disk and then not see that disk again until I need to re-install.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheLink (130905)
          Say someone sets up a genuine and easy to use no bullshit donation site for you to donate to the bioshock team, how much would you really pay for it? A$0? A$5? A$10? What would be a fair cut for the people running the site? 5%?

          My brother had a pirate copy of GTA3 before, and he liked it so much that he wanted to buy it, but he couldn't get an original copy - nobody sold it, he even went to a neighbouring country. I think it was banned in both countries - but naturally the "unauthorized distributors" didn't
      • The proper thing to do in this case: buy the game legally to give the developers their due, but install the better pirate version. Something is wrong when Pirate Bay offers a superior experience to Steam.
    • by Narpak (961733)
      Yeah SecuROM pretty much makes me buy games then find cracks and stuff so I can play without being bothered by intrusive shit. I like my computer working as intended thank you very much. Nothing is worse than the laughable copy protection that were hooked into Mass Effect. If you had several users on the same computer it would lock the game permanently if more than two of them played the game. I don't know what definition of piracy includes family members sharing one copy/computer.
  • What I found odd... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by polyomninym (648843) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:54PM (#24851845)
    I have almost beaten this game on the PC, and I must say that I truly love it. It's creepy, weird and under the ocean, so I've gotta give 2K some props for the concept. Those Big Daddies are horrifying tankers, loved'em to bits! The thing that I find most odd about this game is the text during loading screens. they were supposed to be quotes of various citizens talking about how things of gone down the tubes. I know that they were trying to capture some old-style slangy ways of talkin' , but damn the quoted text was so riddled with bad English that it sort of undermined the whole creepy feel of the game. I didn't let it get to me, but wow, it sure feels nice to share that with ya'll ;) Please reply if you felt the same way about those quotes. Great game IMHO!
    • you have to keep in mind that the game is horror with a strong satirical theme (primarily directed towards Randian Objectivism)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I think you haven't been paying attention. The bad English is likely from the Asian scientist (Dr. Suchong), whose English (as heard from the diary recordings) is pretty bad...
    • by tylernt (581794) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:06PM (#24854373)

      It's creepy, weird and under the ocean, so I've gotta give 2K some props for the concept. Those Big Daddies are horrifying tankers, loved'em to bits!

      Indeed. The first time I had a Big Daddy come after me, something happened that I had never before experienced by playing a mere computer game: I ran and hid (in the game) not to avoid the annoyance of having my character get killed and having to respawn or reload, but just out of simple raw terror.

      I also found it pretty difficult to "game" the AI. You know how you can exploit the computer's tendency to do dumb things so you can wipe out your enemies effortlessly? I didn't find many weaknesses in this game's AI. About the best I could do was set them on fire from afar and then hide until the fire went out, then repeat or do a normal frontal assault after they were weakened enough. Any other cheap tactics were pretty much intended by the game designers, like zap'n'whack or hacking security systems. And the Big Daddy AI was pretty tenacious; even if you ran through multiple doors, no matter where you tried to hide, they would pursue you relentlessly. This actually worked to your advantage if you set traps for them, but otherwise made them pretty tough to beat without lots of med kits and big weapons.

      I should also mention that I appreciated the fact that the beginning weapon, the pipe wrench, remained a viable weapon (with upgrades) right up to the final boss.

      Exploring was fun too. If you went through each level completing only the necessary objectives, you'd miss about half of the map. Lots of hidey holes with powerups, and many of them nonobvious. I liked the subtlety -- it was refreshing not to have the game designers hit me over the head to show off everything they did, instead I had to go looking.

      Aside from the DRM, it's hard to point out where Bioshock went wrong. Yes, the supposed "choices" (rescue or harvest the Little Sisters) were somewhat limited, but the other complexities like gathering scrap for the U-Invent, the variety of widely disparate Plasmids, and the variety of methods for dispatching enemies (brute force, hacking, or sneaky tactics) still made it interesting.

      • by johannesg (664142) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @04:55AM (#24856199)

        Bioshock was beautiful, but in the end it left me unsatisfied. I was hoping for less linearity (yes, you _can_ travel between levels at will, but why would you want to?), and more distinct levels. Not graphically, that was fine; but every level had the same set of enemies, the same set of power ups, vending machines, etc.

        Compare this to System Shock 2 (hey, the developers did!): in SS2 you _have_ to backtrack to earlier levels (and doing so isn't a chore at all thanks to some brilliant level design), and each area has its own level of threat: some are swarming with enemies, some are eerily quiet, some have lots of useful goodies, and in some you have to carefully hoard your possessions.

        To me it made a lot of difference: the Von Braun was a real place, but Rapture eventually just blurred out. Yes, it is pretty, but there is no emotion associated with any of the locations. It is all just some place you run past while killing baddies. If you need health, it is always less than a hundred meters away. If you need to change your skills, you can do it at any time - no need to carefully think about what you want before you start.

        This is the uncanny valley all over again: the various Bioshock levels are so much alike in terms of what you can do, that in the end they all look the same, and wrong.

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:57PM (#24851887) Journal

    SecureROM.

    I really want this game. I've wanted it since before release, I've played the demo on an old machine, and it reminds me enough of System Shock (I and II both) that I really really want it!

    However, it uses SecureROM. I contacted the company to see if this bug had been fixed yet, and they confirmed that no, it hadn't. As such, they're not getting my money. I can live without this game, if they're going to infect my computer in order to let me play it.

    It's very simple:
    If you're going to harm my computer, you don't get my money.
    If you're going to require internet access/activation for a standalone game, you don't get my money.
    If you're going to treat me like a criminal, you don't get my money.

    Developers, it really is that simple.

    • by gilgongo (57446)

      SecureROM

      Agreed - there's no way I'm going to buy this game.

    • by The End Of Days (1243248) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:01PM (#24851953)

      Too bad you aren't as important as you think you are.

      • by swordgeek (112599)

        Sure I am! I don't have nearly as high of an opinion of myself as you seem to think I do.

        Incidentally, your .sig actually speaks volumes about my stance.

      • Actually, the OP is important to me... I've just been discouraged from purchasing Bioshock. It's a shame because it sounded like an interesting game, from what I've read.

      • If more people did the same, he would be.
      • by Petrushka (815171)
        Even if he is not important (in your eyes, at least), his money is.
    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:02PM (#24851981)
      I thought the horror stories about SecuROM were overblown, like most things online are. Now that I've actually been through them myself (see my post above), I'm sad to say that they're not. I'm fully joining the boycott of any game or game company that utilizes this "protection scheme". The only thing it's protecting them from is my money. Sorry game developers and publishers, but it's the truth.
      • by Toonol (1057698) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:08PM (#24852045)
        I think the DRM is the major factor that is killing PC gaming. I know, PC gaming has been predicted to die every year for the last ten; but the difference now is that it really seems to be happening.

        On my pc now I play emulators, old games (thank you dosbox) and small, independent games. It's sad, but I'm probably going to play only the console version of Fallout III.
        • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:42PM (#24852445)

          EA's sales numbers for the last year show PC gaming as their largest market. The same is true at a lot of other publishers. Things are looking up, financially, for PC gaming. The memes are looking down, though.

        • by Miseph (979059)

          "PC gaming has been predicted to die every year for the last ten"

          And every year for the last ten, somebody has predicted the release of Duke Nukem Forever and Chinese Democracy. The only people who really believed that also think that adding up sales of all console titles and comparing them against PC title sales is a reasonable idea.

      • by antdude (79039)

        Yes, mine did too with C&C3: Kane's Wraith in its last patch! See here [ea.com] for the fix. It took me a few weeks to figure out what was causing. I didn't think a game patch would cause this mess.

    • by thermian (1267986)

      I agree. I really wanted to play Bioshock, but the DRM prevented me from making the purchase. I was gutted when I learned of the DRM they'd employed, because I enjoyed system shock, and I was really keen to play its successor.

      If they relent and release a patch that kills the DRM, or someone releases a crack that kills it, then I'll buy the game in a hot second. If not then forget it, I don't want that secureRom crap on my computer as a 'reward' for paying for the game.

      • There are cracked copies out there. If you really must pay them money, just buy one and then download a cracked one anyway.

        I, for one, refuse to pay for a product when I'm going to be risking harassment for pirating it anyway. Thanks, I'll still play it, but the money will go to another developer who hasn't put viruses in their software.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kell Bengal (711123)
      Damn straight.

      I'm friends with a designer from the Australian office and I talked with him about the development of Bioshock since it was made public (at least about the bits he could tell me before release). Believe me when I say I wanted this game - I wanted it bad, 'cus it looked cool, I'd followed it since the beginning and I wanted to support my friend's hard work.

      However, the moment I heard it had activation/Securerom/crap I refused to touch it. it's a matter of principle.

      I used to pay for game

      • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:40PM (#24852419) Journal

        In the interest of fairness, as my designer friend told me, it's not the developers who want DRM and activation (most hate it) it's the publishers.

        Given that Valve has gone independent, Steam is quite obviously a development shop's idea of what DRM should be.

        I actually don't have a problem with Steam, since at least it seems to work, and after playing through single-player, I'm going to mostly want it for Internet-enabled games, like Counter-Strike.

        And then there's things like playgreenhouse.com, which seems to need single-activation. I really could care less, then -- I'm going to be online at least once to patch it, adding an activation step is pretty harmless.

        No, where I draw the line is adding a layer on top of Steam -- and having that layer actually damage your OS.

        I would say, don't boycott all DRM. Instead, boycott the truly damaging DRM in favor of stuff you can live with.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by swordgeek (112599)

          "I would say, don't boycott all DRM. Instead, boycott the truly damaging DRM in favor of stuff you can live with."

          Y'know, there was a time when I would have agreed with this statement. But I'm old and bitter, and tired of this crap.

          DRM hurts sales. DRM annoys people. DRM treats customers like criminals. DRM usually does NOT prevent anyone from pirating your game, but even if it does, it's only the people who wouldn't have paid for it in the first place.

          I remember reading matte red codes on glossy red paper,

          • by v1 (525388)

            I remember reading matte red codes on glossy red paper, and entering a random one each time I started a game.

            It was actually grey text on dark red paper. Bleach my friend, bleach. Strips the color out of paper dyes but not ink dyes. Leaves you with a creame colored sheet of paper with clearly legible (as in, no insta-migrane) codes to click in.

          • That's a great line.

            Every time I hear about one of these deals, I start to think that they should makethe DRM *a whole separate game*!

            "If you want to play this game at the Advanced level, Hack the Mainframe DRM. If you want to play it at Standard, just put the little CD in nice and easy..."

            Pay for two hours of Bruce Schneier's consulting time and come up with something truly hideous, like self modifying code living inside a SchrodingerCatBox with a live feed from the NSA's Algorithm Beta Testing program.

    • by Samah (729132)

      Developers, it really is that simple.

      I think you'll find it's the publishers that push the DRM more than the actual developers of the game. Game developers are usually gamers themselves, so I can't see how they'd have any special love for DRM.
      Speaking of publishers, EA and Ubisoft are the scum of the Earth to be honest. I'll never forgive EA for destroying Origin and forcing Ultima 9 to be released in a buggy, incomplete state, and I'll never forgive Ubisoft for their lack of support for Dark Messiah.

  • I think I found it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by soupforare (542403) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:13PM (#24852097)

    ...what went wrong...focus groups...

    Ah, nothing like developing for the lowest common denominator to screw potential!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Console FPSers will always be around now that the systems are strong enough to handle it, all we can do is try to ignore them.

    • by Spatial (1235392) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @09:01PM (#24853239)
      It's really evident if you've played System Shock 2 beforehand. Bioshock is basically SS2: Simple Underwater Edition With Shit-Hot Graphics.

      Every feature they didn't remove is taken straight from it, except easier and with more limited options. The hacking, research, vending machines, character customisation, one-time upgrade points, upgradeable weapons, psychic powers, the ghosts, the logs, the plot... It's all basically the same, but simpler. Even the big plot revelation is the same.

      The whole thing stood to gain a lot from a little more sophistication in the gameplay; I think SS2 is the better game despite its dated graphics. I know what you're thinking - I'm some old fogey gamer with rose-tinted glasses - but I only got SS2 about six months before Bioshock.
    • THANK YOU (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RyoShin (610051)

      This is probably what went wrong with it. The fact that they went to a group with 0 knowledge about them probably meant they also had 0 interest in games. They didn't even develop for LCD, they made up a whole new denomination to develop for!

      This is becoming an increasing problem for games and movies. Early 90s when it just cost a few hundred grand to put out a game (if that), you could stick to how you liked it, shoot it through Q&A, and have at it. They didn't put games in front of large groups and a

  • One of the few I played and then immediately went back and replayed it again. The "good ending" was quite rewarding after fighting so hard to save all of those girls. It capped the game off nicely. The whole Atlas vs Ryan story was well done and it was rewarding to explore every inch of the game. Graphics, gameplay, atmosphere, weapons, etc were all top notch and this is definitely one of the best FPSers to date. Pick it up if you haven't already.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hmm... Game with a lot of back story, depth and complex mechanics, tested poorly with the focus group so they toned it right down to the more or less hand holding game that it was.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved the game, and found it really accessible, however I would be interested to find out what got cut for the frustrated test group

  • by pumpkinempanada (522760) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:36PM (#24852377)
    I just finished it last week. It looked cool but even that was overrated. After you've seen the basic lighting/color scheme and art-deco look they're going to use, it doesn't vary a whole lot. All those mods and junk you could do to yourself was just boring, there was never a compelling reason to mess with any of it. Beyond that it was just the same game mechanic over and over again until it's over -- not even a good ending to the story they seemed so proud of! just my opinion, but overall in the year I've had an XBox, gears of war and portal have been the best games.
    • I think it was overrated. I *liked* it, and the drm didn't cause me any problems, althought I oppose it in principle. The problem was just what you said - the same game mechanic over and over. I had NO desire to replay. Don't think I ever got to the end - it just wasn't interesting enough. Shame because it really was a game with a lot of promise.

      • Yes, it was overrated, but being overrated is highly underrated these days. With all of negativity of all of the game review sites out there now a days, its tough to be highly rated from whence to be dubbed overrated. It really makes being a contraririan hipster tough these days. Now, we just have to get by with nogistalia over the dream cast, and hoping they've fallen out of memory and possession fast enough to burnish our cred.
      • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:58PM (#24854313)

        I think it was overrated. I *liked* it and the drm didn't cause me any problems, althought I oppose it in principle. The problem was just what you said - the same game mechanic over and over. I had NO desire to replay. Don't think I ever got to the end - it just wasn't interesting enough. Shame because it really was a game with a lot of promise.

        I'll avoid DRM for this post (seeing as I bought the game in a Bangkok market and avoided DRM completely) and just focus on the game.

        Yes Bioshock was overrated, seriously overrated. It was extremely linear and scripted compared to its "spiritual predecessor" System Shock. Bioshock made Half-life look like an open world. Playing Bioshock was like walking through a movie, albeit a very well directed movie with excellent sets and a great story but there was absoluely no deviation from the path set by the developers. They may as well have made a rail shooter.

        Also my favourite parts of System Shock were removed, Inventory management. The game didn't force you to make choices about what weapons and equipment you were going to keep and what to leave behind because you didn't have room for it. This add's an imperial buttload of variety and re-playability into the game. Even the acute linear-ness of the game would have been offset if you needed to make a choice about how you were going to play, so the number of weapons and inventory items was limited, ammo was plentiful, all weapons were available all the time, plasmids were useless (you would either use lightning or freeze unless the story required telekinesis or fire) and above all else you couldn't die. What were they thinking when they made it impossible to die (I know that System Shock had a reincarnation system too but it needed to be activated before use meaning that you had that window of complete vulnerability).

        The "choice" to kill or save the little sisters that the game was based around was no real choice what so ever and contributed nothing to the story except for a different cut scene at the end. SPOILERS FOLLOW but if you're worried about that get over it, the game has been out for a almost year now. Even if you brutally murdered every little girl you came across "Tennenbaum" would still help you even if you kept on killing them. The much vaunted "choice" did not contribute to the gameplay one iota as every 3 little sisters you saved you would get 200 extra Adam anyway plus an item (which you couldn't sell/recycle if you didn't want it).

        Why did all of this happen, for 1 reason gentlemen, Consolization. Typically First Person Shooters have been limited to Half Life style romps and rainbow 6 style tactical shooters that have been made a bit easier and have a generous aim bot. Most of the advanced features from System Shock like inventory management would be frustrating to use with a consoles controller. Also to ensure that it was never too difficult to beat the game they completely removed the previous SS1 and 2 reincarnation system and replaced it with the "you will never die no matter how stupid or crap you are" chambers. The point of consolization is to make the game available to the widest possible audience, the method of consolization is to dumb down the game to its lowest common denominators so that every single console will have no trouble using it. Consolization not only kills the potential for new and interesting ideas in games it also kills the existing features that PC gamers have been enjoying since 1992 (SS1's release). Now some games are born to be consolized, precisely because they are not new or inventive and dont require complex control scheemes, these games are not inherently bad but they are never revolutionary and that is the impression I received from Bioshock which left me somewhat disappointed as I had expected, from various reviews and interviews with Ken Levine that bioshock would be at the least, a worthy successor to System Shock.

        Finally I'll say what I did like about it. Artistry, the game was very

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by thepotoo (829391)

          Hit the nail on the head with that post. Bioshock came across (to me) as a simplified version of SS2. If you wanted a real spiritual successor to SS2, try Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Once you've fought the werewolf (almost final boss), nothing in computer games will ever scare you again.

          Bioshock had an incredibly cool opening movie, but if choosing whether or not to kill someone makes a game "art", RPGs were art more than a decade ago.

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      I bought Bioshock about a week after it was first released (largely because I found a $10 off sale on it at a local Circuit City, and figured all the hype plus the discount made it worth grabbing).

      I have to agree that it could have been more compelling. To this day, I've never finished the game. I enjoyed it for a few hours, but ultimately, I felt like the mechanics made it too similar to many other 3D shooter type games I've played before. The graphics and sound f/x are outstanding. The concepts in the

  • The Tommy Gun (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mike610544 (578872)
    It's pedantic, but their labeling this [wikipedia.org] as "Machine Gun" kind of bummed me out. It gave me the Hollywood vibe of "any fully automatic weapon is a machine gun."

    Machine Gun [wikipedia.org]
    Assault Rifle [wikipedia.org]
    Submachine Gun [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:The Tommy Gun (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kozz (7764) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:24PM (#24854009)

      eh? wtf? Yeah, the name is "Thompson Submachine Gun". And if you look at your own link, submachine guns (full auto, pistol cartridge ammo) are a subset of all machine guns (fully automatic). What are you complaining about?

      If you were carping about the differences between "Assault Rifle" and "Assault Weapon", I could have backed you. But you're not makin' sense, boy.

  • They talked about how they used the Australia team initially for technology and later for more tasks, but what about the Shanghai team mentioned at the end in the data section? I know it's unlikely that anyone here will know, but I'd love to find out how they coordinated with the artists and designers in that studio, and what they worked on.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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