Ken Levine Talks BioShock Infinite, Elizabeth, And 'Semi-Emergent' Gameplay

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.

Bioshock Infinite: Gillen vs Levine [RPS]


    Really excited for this.. Always had faith in their games, ever since I went and picked up system shock 2 because I saw the ad on tieback page of some PC magazine. I feel old.

    A friend and I spent a weekend just barrelling through the original System Shock, playing in shifts, every new level of the ship was a revelation, I can still hear the creepy elevator music in my head.

      I played it for the first time last year with the mouselook mod. I enjoyed it a lot more than the 2 Bioshock games.

    Levine is brilliant. His genius is why Bioshock 2 was lacklustre when viewed in the radiance of the original. More really bright developer interviews, please~

    Also, Mark, see if you can speak to this man directly :3

    I wonder if she'll be romanceable.

      Screw that, I'm wondering if Ken Levine is romanceable.

        Well, it looks like Elizabeth and Ken Levine are both spoken for.

        I wonder if that Lincoln head is romanceable?

          Lincoln's head was married, when I last saw him in Telltale's Sam and Max series.

        I would tap both of those.

        ...not both at once, though. Jeeze. Even I have standards.

    "apparently it will be spread across the internet tonight at some point "

    As in playable or video?

      The e3 demo is being shown on GameTrailers at some point today, the whole 12 minute version.

      yeah that kinda made it sound like an STI.

      (Which we should call them instead of STD's, because they're usually infections not diseases, that's thing I learned today from my social worker wife).

    I'd love to know what he thinks of the Valve love letter to System Shock with GLaDOS...

    What a load of crap talking about emergent gameplay when Bioshock infinite looks like one of the heavily scripted games I've ever seen (I really hope it's just for the preview but otherwise it's not a great impression). Bioshock 1 was also scripted crap until the twist came in and semi justified it, but Bioshock infinite can't pull the same thing or else it'll just prove Ken Levine is a one trick pony.

    In short, he comes off as talking out of his ass way too much when his games are just interactive films.

    I wonder if infinite is a prequel to the bioshock series??? If from the way things seem from all ive read, which is alot, if columbia is destroyed in the end, and sank to the ocean flool, could that be rapture???

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