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How Infinite Fixes BioShock's Key Problem

The upcoming third BioShock game intends to fix an oft-made criticism of the Rapture-set original games, according to Timothy Gerritsen, Director of Development at Irrational Games.

The Executive Producer on Bioshock Infinite admitted to RPS in an interview published today that, in the first Bioshock, "we failed in giving you a sense of that city underwater."

Unlike the oceanic ghost town that was Rapture, Infinite's Columbia is a populated place, with two factions struggling for control of the floating city. "It was a conscious choice to create a sense of this city and push it as far as I can," claimed Gerritsen. "To see what's going on, to see the society at work, and, again Bioshock was very claustrophobic, whereas this makes you go 'wow, this is really a city'."

He felt Columbia being populated, as demonstrated in last year's demo, where you walked into a bar and everyone stopped to stare at you, would make all the difference:

"Bioshock was a very lonely experience, that was intentional. This time the experience you get by seeing these human beings who are living their lives, that's something that's also intentional."

Irrational decided not to pursue more games in Rapture both because of this and because "it would have been disappointing to us as a team, it would have been disappointing to just have had the same type of experience. We felt like we had done what we wanted to do... The publisher could have made us carry on; but to their benefit and ours they allowed us to experiment."

Gerritsen also claimed that the game likely contains too much to see in a single playthrough, which the combat-centric demos so far don't fully reflect. "We have a theory we have in the studio called “Player RAM”; it’s the amount of material you can absorb visually before you blow Player RAM. With all our demos, we ride the line so closely, we blow Player RAM. There’s certain things we showed in the last demo, you didn’t see in this one; that doesn’t mean they’re gone; we just didn’t want to completely blow Player RAM. You might want to go back and play it a few times there is so much.

"Keep in mind, when you play it, you play it the way you want to; if you want to stand in the street, lovingly looking, so that Elizabeth says “time’s a ticking, let’s get going”; you can do that. In a 15-minute demo we can only show you so much, and we had to focus on the idea of fluidity in the skyline combat."

For the full interview with Gerritsen, which also discusses the inter-NPC conflict in Columbia and Irrational's cultural and philosophical influences when creating Infinite, please click here.

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Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about video games.