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Thread: Levine defines accessibilty as it pertains to BioShock

  1. #1
    Irrational Games
    Registered: Oct 2004

    Levine defines accessibilty as it pertains to BioShock

    Let me get this out of the way first:

    "F*ck Levine and F*ck Irrational! What do they think we are, idiots?! How dare they try to make BioShock accessible!!!!"

    As I said in another thread, we're going to be getting into information on this site in a deeper way than you might find a on generalist gaming site. Why? Because we've been posting here for about 100 years and we don't have to worry about losing anybody when we get deep in the weeds on BioShock.

    When I say accessible an interview, here are some things some of you might think I mean:

    No ammo types.
    No character growth.
    No hacking.
    No logs.
    No open-ended level layouts.
    No difficulty.
    No weapon mods.
    No research system.
    No limited resources.
    No ghosts.
    No dozens and dozens of plasmids.
    No radically different play styles.

    This is, of course, a filthy, filthy lie.

    Here's what Irrational is doing to make BioShock accessible.

    1) Dynamic Training. This is the big investment we're making, and we believe it's a key element to bringing deeper games to non-core gamers. And for the rest of you, it's our stake to the heart to tutorial-itis. It's a system that watches how you play and dynamically genereates advice to point you towards game play options you might be missing ("hey, ever thought of hacking?"), systems you might be using wrong ("hey, how about some armor piercing rounds on that bot!", or even game systems you just don't get ("hey that's 12 security cameras you've been spotted by in a row. want to learn more about the security system?"). You can, of course, turn this system off if you don't like it.

    2) It's going to be pretty! Guess what: Shock 2 having ugly character models and no translucency in our sprites was not a design choice!

    3) People who play the game guns blazing will have a AAA experience as well. In Shock 2, we don't think we really were fair to the guns guys. Without compromising all of the systems I described above (hacking, crafting, research, etc), we're going to make things blow up nice.

    4) Performance. I think a big barrier of entry on Shock 2 (for the mass market, not TTLGers) was the long load times and mediocre performance. One of our core goals with BioShock was making sure frame rates and load times were competitive.

    If anything, BioShock is the deepest game we've ever made. Having real time and money to make it also means it will be the most accessible.

    (edited to add "No limited resources.")
    Last edited by Irrationallevine; 19th Sep 2006 at 00:51.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Las Vegas
    Thanks for the awesome post Ken! It makes me all warm and squishy inside to see you posting here and clearing the air for us.

  3. #3
    Now, when I read about this "Dynamic Training", the main example that comes to mind is the way Battlefield 2 did it...which is to say whenever you encountered something, a window popped up explaining what you were encountering and that guy with the slight drawl would talk to you about it. Is that sort of going to be the idea? For example, when that person is spotted by 12 security cameras in a row, will a little dialogue literally pop up explaining more about avoiding cameras?

    I've always kind of liked tutorials; I thought SS2's was a great way of doing it, having it within the game's environment so as not to detract from the immersiveness.

    Being able to turn off the dynamic training is a very good feature, but I guess I'm wondering that if by doing this, would there be no other form of instruction on the different aspects of gameplay?

  4. #4
    Previously Important
    Registered: Nov 1999
    Location: Caer Weasel, Uelekevu
    I never really did work out what the "accessible" argument was in that other thread.

    But then, I'm still playing Hitman 2 and getting my ass handed to me on a regular basis, so maybe I'm not one of these "getting it" people in general.

    I do like the sound of the dynamic tutorial stuff. It'll make it easier for me to discover new ways to play after I've given it my patented "OH GOD HOW DID THAT GET THERE I AM NOT GOOD WITH PLASMIDS" run-through.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: The Doldrums

    Quote Originally Posted by Irrationallevine View Post

    1) Dynamic Training ... You can, of course, turn this system off if you don't like it.
    THANK YOU

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2005
    Location: Among the many
    Quote Originally Posted by Irrationallevine View Post
    F*ck Levine
    I smell schizophrenia.

    I'm with Fygee.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I'm pleased to see some real involvement here. Well, excited in fact.

    But what about some of the other things we've been on about?

    Variety of enemies and AIs? Or is there only the 3 - splicer mentalist baddy people, protector, collecter. You don't have to give away specifics, but I'm just wondering how complex the ecology is.
    [refusing to call them brother and sister, I have no time for sympathy or giving them human traits at the end of the world]

    Changing the environment? Pressure/water/gases?

    Dynamically changing water?

    Can you reveal anything about that?

  8. #8
    evolve pr
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by bobarctor View Post
    I'm pleased to see some real involvement here. Well, excited in fact.

    But what about some of the other things we've been on about?

    Variety of enemies and AIs? Or is there only the 3 - splicer mentalist baddy people, protector, collecter. You don't have to give away specifics, but I'm just wondering how complex the ecology is.
    [refusing to call them brother and sister, I have no time for sympathy or giving them human traits at the end of the world]

    Changing the environment? Pressure/water/gases?

    Dynamically changing water?

    Can you reveal anything about that?
    Oh jeeez! Ken comes in here and shares his soul with you, and you repay him by asking for MORE INFO?!?! It'll come. We've still got plenty of time.

  9. #9
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I was expecting info about stuff like that would make for good buzz as things got closer. I'm in no rush, anyway. I love what we're getting for now.

    Anyhoo, dynamic training is interesting. It could be somewhat immersion breaking if you're not expecting it, but even that isn't bad if it's near the beginning and the cost seems far undershawdowed by the gain in how much it opens up the game later on (immersion building), if you really aren't understanding something. And whatever advantage there is by a training.mis viz. in-game immersion is probably outweighted because it's such a bloody chore.

    Probably what I like most about it, though, is whenever I replay DX or SS2 after a long hiatus, I learned the controls before but just need a little refresher to get the nuances, dynamic training seems much preferable because I don't want to do a whole bloody training.mis just to remember to push "~" or whatever to draw my psi-orb. This argument probably also applies to the fact that FPS controls are so overlapped. Anyway, on balance I think I'm on board with this option. My intuition is that it's good as long as it's not chastising or so outrageously worded to make me feel a little embarrassed in getting it (like I did something 'wrong')... just a simple, directly worded note would probably be much appreciated and I'd just feel appreciative for getting the info.

    Making performance a core goal is probably going to get you fans. Poor performance just something that makes itself felt throughout a game so once you notice it it sticks.

    Thanks for the post!

  10. #10
    is Best Pony
    Registered: Nov 2002
    Location: The magical land of Equestria

    "It looks like you're trying to hack a computer. Would you like help ?

    * Get help hacking the computer
    * Just hack the computer without help"

    Just as long as there's no paperclip.

  11. #11
    Irrational Games
    Registered: Oct 2004
    There will be plenty of enemies, there are simply several meta enemy classes:

    Splicers (dozens)
    Big Daddies (3)
    Little Sisters (?)
    Security (cameras, turrets, bots)
    Several bosses

  12. #12
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2006

    Cool

    "Performance. I think a big barrier of entry on Shock 2 (for the mass market, not TTLGers) was the long load times and mediocre performance. One of our core goals with BioShock was making sure frame rates and load times were competitive."

    today people are more exited about a game that won't run on their computers than the ones that will ^^. They just love buying lol. NO but seriously, it's cool you make sure that performance is good.

    Hey Ken, you're an amazing artist . Thanks for sharing your time here with us.
    I live in Chile (southamerica) and I've already spread the word about Bioshock ^^

    The acting and all the sound in System Shock 2 was wonderful and I believe it was a KEY element to the awesome inmersion every player felt. What about the sound in Bioshock? Will it be the same team? I haven't read anything about the sound cause IGN, Gamespot and all those places always seem to ignore it in their interviews as it wasn't important at all. What's up with that? The sound is not to be overlooked! It's like 50% of the inmersion a game makes if you ask me.
    Well... just sharing my thoughts I'm not asking for a response ^^ I hope the SS2 sound team remains in Bioshock.

    :P

  13. #13
    is Best Pony
    Registered: Nov 2002
    Location: The magical land of Equestria
    Welcome to the forums. There has, in fact, been some discussion of the sound team in and around here, most notably that Eric Brosius is not directly involved but has been consulting. Instead, Emily Ridgway is the Audio Director, and Ken appears very excited about the sound.

  14. #14
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Oh, thanks about that link

    I was just reading the thread "The reasons why I dind't like System Shock 2" and I remembered a famous coute that has to do with it and with Irrational desire to make the game more accesible: Nietszche said "The books that are for everybody always smell bad". I was just thinking that it's good that the game is more accesible to more people with the gun thing and the tutorial system and all, but I hope it's just that because if they try to satisfy everybody then things are gonna start to smell bad ^^ . Some people just can't appreciate art, and play games to feel powerful shooting at guys or doing stuff cause they suck at real life, and others just want the same stuff over and over again because no more fits into their minds. Let's face that xD. So I wouldn't be afraid that the game doesn't reach to that kind of people, they are a bunch of **sholes... I know they also have money and that they can make the game more succesful... so I am confident that Irrational is making a game in which the Big guns and the cool visuals are a PLUS to the real masterpiece behind all that... cause most games are only Big guns, visuals, blood, boobs and explosions and believe me, they are succesful in terms that they make 50 times the money they spent. I'm looking forward to this game cause I'm sure it will be a masterful work of art, with great inspiration behind.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Location: (Kauhajoki) Turku!, Finland
    Quote Originally Posted by Irrationallevine View Post
    ...
    ...
    Several bosses
    Sooo..? I was in the impression that *EA* wanted a mindless FPS with an end boss (god annoying last level of Half-Life comes to mind)

    Well... I quite liked the end bosses in SS2 (and SS1) so thumbs up

  16. #16
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Quote Originally Posted by Irrationallevine View Post
    Big Daddies (3)
    Little Sisters (?)
    I'd just like to throw in here, I hope the game isn't 100% consistent in this usage. Big Daddies/Little Sisters feels like highly colloquial language, while the previous Gatherers/Protectors nomenclature feels more clinical. Realistically, both sets of terminology would be in use amongst Rapture's inhabitants, and the colloquial set would likely vary from person to person as well.

    And I noticed there aren't any animal-based creatures. In an entire city -- even one on the ocean floor -- there would certainly be a significant animal population. People do love their pets. If there are no animal AIs, I hope there's at least some mention given to what happened to them.

    Of course, I wouldn't complain if there happened to be psychic monkeys...

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by ZylonBane View Post
    Of course, I wouldn't complain if there happened to be psychic monkeys...
    note taken. it's always good to know things that ZB explicitly stated to not complain about.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Scoville
    I had a discussion recently (somewhere else) on how complex it is to come up with an adaptive difficulty system for a game that offers multiple ways of solving problems. Making the AI tougher and more aware only gets you so far, and there's also the problem on getting the game to know what the player is thinking - is he challenged enough, or is he already frustrated?

    It seems with the dynamic training functionality you guys already have a good idea what/how the player is doing. Will a similar system be used for dynamic difficulty as well?

    Sorry if that's been answered elsewhere - I'm just interested in the topic, and would love to hear how pros tackle this problem.

  19. #19
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    The difference is, failure is generally much easier to quantify then success. It's trivial for a game to detect that you've, say, stepped on a land mine. On the other hand, detecting that you've skillfully avoided a land mine is significantly more complex, and even requires embedding into the code someone's opinion regarding what constitutes "avoiding".

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Scoville
    Quote Originally Posted by ZylonBane View Post
    The difference is, failure is generally much easier to quantify then success. It's trivial for a game to detect that you've, say, stepped on a land mine. On the other hand, detecting that you've skillfully avoided a land mine is significantly more complex, and even requires embedding into the code someone's opinion regarding what constitutes "avoiding".
    Exactly, good example. That's what I'm on about here.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2005
    Location: Spain
    Hi.

    I would like to know something about the multiplatform (Deus Ex 2 or Thief 3 issue) and if there is posible to see some kind of multiplayer in BioShock, specially cooperative, like System Shock 2. May be a patch, expansion set or something.

    Regards.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Presumably these splicers have their own AIs, and can co-operate/interact/fight with the other splicers and other types (gatherers etc).

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by bobarctor View Post
    [refusing to call them brother and sister, I have no time for sympathy or giving them human traits at the end of the world]
    Uh, plenty of lifeforms on earth (every lifeform on earth?) are capable of having more than one offspring... brotherhood and sisterhood are obviously not exclusively human traits.

    Brother and sister are also used in industry and sciences to refer to anything that matches the other to preform a task (ie brother and sister chromatids in genetics)
    Quote Originally Posted by ZylonBane View Post
    And I noticed there aren't any animal-based creatures. In an entire city -- even one on the ocean floor -- there would certainly be a significant animal population. People do love their pets. If there are no animal AIs, I hope there's at least some mention given to what happened to them.
    Excellent point, and to that I would add the much more important protein factor. While its possible that some genetic modifications allowed the humans to digest cellulose (things like grass and much more common and simple foods) or give plants more animal like properties I highly doubt an entire society could be sustained with no meat at all. If a society doesnt have all 20 amino acids its a wrap for that society - game over. In fact its very likely that a utopia based on genetic perfection would also likely breed animals for "perfect cuisine." I noticed many advertisements for diners and lounges. The dynamics of protein distribution alone could lead to a civil war in and of itself (the athletic classes need it for muscles give it all to us! No the fish hunter classes work for it so we deserve it! No we really do etc.) and also give an explanation for why things like rifles, tranquilizer darts, and offensive psi powers might develop.
    Last edited by Silkworm; 20th Sep 2006 at 11:51.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: The Doldrums

    And that's exactly why we need more SHARKS itg.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2003
    Animations and gestures are going to be used between classes to show a complex relationship between them , i.e. Little Sisters and Protectors.Any plans on using gestures and sounds to create that between your character and say the Little Sisters ? If you take on the role of a Protector will animations and sounds be used to demonstrate a closer bond thus a higher emotional investment with same? It would magnify the impact of your choices and actions toward the AI.

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