Ken Levine is always has something interesting to say - anyone who has listened to the Irrational podcasts can testify to that - but when he has an interesting interviewer, Kieron Gillen, things get... interesting. Here Levine talks BiosShock Infinite, and his approach to 'semi-emergent' gameplay.
The way in which BioShock Infinite uses the secondary character, Elizabeth, is shaping up to be very interesting indeed.
"Okay, so, because we have these very specific moments," says Levine, "we know you’re going to go through that door and Elizabeth and that’s a scripted moment – then when you’re just walking around the city, we don’t know what the player is going to be doing. So the rest of the stuff in the store’s demo is not intended to be scripted in the same way – like the part where she puts on a Lincoln mask. She’s just goofing around. She’s using her own systems to do that. We build in these little moments, like the Lincoln head moment, and we build them where they can happen in a variety of play-throughs, and we have to have some redundancy, and we didn’t want them to repeat, or to stack up. So we had to build this system where the game is watching: Has Elizabeth done anything interesting for a while? Is there anything interesting that she could do here? Ah, there’s this Lincoln head, let’s do this. It’s walking an interesting line between scripting and emergence. Because you can’t just have pure emergence, you have a semi-emergent system where things like the Lincoln head can happen, if the situation is right."
I haven't had the chance to check out BioShock Infinite's award winning E3 demo yet - apparently it will be spread across the internet tonight at some point - but it has already rocketed itself upwards into my 'most anticipated' list of game coming out in 2012.