Spare Words: Bioshock 2

Happy change of two calendar digits, younglings! While I attempt to warm up my brain farm, let me distract you by throwing my aforementioned leftovers from my recent interview with Bioshock 2’s Jordan Thomas and Melissa Miller at you. They’ll only go to waste otherwise, which would prolong my inevitable torment in Writer Hell. Read on for their thoughts on heading up a new studio and why they don’t think the game’s divisive multiplayer is throwaway…

On being suddenly promoted to celebrity designer status

Thomas: Well, after the third Thief game, I was craving something I could wrap my hands around. Something about level design scratches an itch I’ve got that is about immediate and concrete results. I had this opportunity to work on Fort Frolic for the first game as a level designer.

So coming out of that, I was ready to return to leadership, I very much wanted to build a studio from scratch, and 2K made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Both to take this IP that I love so much and to make sure that the sequel was worthy of the name, and also to hand-pick the talent from all over the world to generate this new internal team.

On the multiplayer

Thomas: And also the sense of earning the later tonics and Plasmids that you get from participating in the sort of DIY consumer rewards program that is the fictional wrapper around multiplayer, and which are small refinements. As you get to know the multiplayer and get better and better, you might want a small tweak to this function or that, because you’re starting to become a very specialised creature – and so you can pick a loadout that requires that you’re later in the ranking structure, but is better suited to your particular style.

Melissa Miller, Senior Producer:
and it offers the opportunity to co-operate with other players, to layer your plasmids and choices with them. So if Jordan and I are on a team and I hit you on the other team with a Geyser Trap, you’d be a wet state – and maybe I don’t have Electro-bolt, but Jordan does. So once you’re in that wet state, he zaps you and that does more damage. And as Jordan was saying about the civil war setting, we weren’t just “hey, we’ve got multiplayer! Who cares!” It’s Bioshock – it needs to fit within the universe.

So in addition to just the setting, there’s actually a narrative backbone in terms of the ranking progress. You’re in this pyramid scheme scam run by Sinclair Solutions [Sinclair’s also a boss fight in the singleplayer], so you’ll get to see what a shady character he is by seeing what his company did. They take these innocent people in Rapture who are just civilians, and preying on their fear and getting to be basically human guinea pigs for plasmids and weapons that hadn’t made it to market yet. So he’s contributing to creating the Splicer population.

Thomas: Most exhaustive answer ever.


  1. terry says:

    My concern with the multiplayer is that there’s a favoured plasmid combo that makes all the others irrelevant – certainly in the original game the potency of the wrench and lightning combo removed a lot of the attraction of experimenting with different types. But from this it seems more like they’re aiming for Bioshock-TF2 which could be interesting tactically (trap bolts, telekinetic goobie traps).

    Or it could be horrible. Fate, eh?

  2. DJ Phantoon says:

    Brain farm…?

    Alec was the monster all along!

  3. nabeel says:

    Thanks for posting the ‘leftovers’ Alec. I hadn’t even considered the complementary powers aspect playing out in the multiplayer, could make for some interesting team-ups. Not that I’m really going to play much multiplayer anyway.

  4. Baris says:

    I’m not really sure where I’m getting this from, but it just doesn’t seem like Bioshock multi-player will ever get popular with it’s intended audience.

    Then there are also the insane amount of shooters that come out solely for the multi-player, I can’t really see a game where things have to be balanced between the solo gameplay and arena shootery being able to bring out something of similar quality to TF2, MW2 or whatever else you want to name.

  5. SirKicksalot says:

    The multiplayer bit reminded me of the hilarious Steam Store Bioshock stuff:

    BioShock is a shooter unlike any you’ve ever played, loaded with weapons and tactics never seen.

    No encounter ever plays out the same, and no two gamers will play the game the same way.

    • blah says:

      I missed that, I was too busy laughing at all the 100/100 scores plastered everywhere!

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the multiplayer sounds good and everything, but it’s not really the direction i wanted bioshock taken, i doubt i’ll be very enthusiastic about this hopefully Jordan Thomas gets more freedom with his next project, i’m eager to see what he does with a fresh pallete, not that i’m not looking forward to Bioshock 2 singleplayer! doubt i’ll touch the multiplayer no matter how good it is tbh, sorry guys, i’ve already got my handfull of multiplayer games that i play.

  7. UK_John says:

    To me story is king. This new Bioshock story just doesn’t ring true. Rapture was on the verge of collapse in the last game, certainly in it’s last ‘weeks’. The story was based around a few, very dangerous survivors, with the vast majority (as shown by the recordings) already dead.

    Now we’re 5 years later in Bioshock 2, and there are MORE inhabitants! And these inhabitants, despite being mad as haters, have researched, developed and built new machines!

    Well, I am sorry, but i’d rather not spoil future plays of Bioshock by being disappointed by the hammering together of disjointed, unbelievable story elements into a follow-up, done just to make money.

  8. Dominic White says:

    Ow. I actually think I hurt myself rolling my eyes so far that they started pointing back into my head. Bioshock comment threads really are the best – a mixture of how the first game was actually terrible and that everyone who liked it (even those who aren’t paid anything) were bought out, how there’s no reason anyone should want more of it, and general incoherent internet griping.

    It’s like L4D2 threads, only without a machine to rage against, and more passive-agressive smugness.

  9. yabon says:

    “this IP that I love so much”

    Still none of the Bioshock dudes acknowledging “City of the lost children” ? Well, grmbl.

  10. FunkyLlama says:

    ‘I was craving something I could wrap my hands around. ‘
    Fnarr fnarr?

  11. Choca says:

    I have a bad feeling about this.

  12. Tei says:

    I imagine Bioshock 2 as a crossover of Walt Disney “The Little Mermaid”, Unreal Tournament 2003 and Half-Life: Opposing Front.

    Now, we can have deathmatch, or we can have TeamFortres-ish deathmach, with full levels underwater. But something like that could be a bit to taxing on consoles, so forget it.

    • Mo says:

      Consoles could probably support full underwater levels just fine. It just wouldn’t be fun. It would basically be a normal deathmatch with slow-mo movement, jumping, and combat.

  13. Mark A says:

    I really can’t wait for BioShock 2, i guess looking at the trailers, it looks like Game of the Year 2010. 2K games rule. FTW