BioShock Interview

Gamasutra has an interview with 2K Boston technical director Christopher Kline about a variety of subjects, such as the state of the hardcore market and producing a BioShock-like game for the Wii.

It seems to me, in terms of the packaged PC market, the hardcore-oriented stuff is going to have to not be as big budget as it used to be; you can’t really make Crysis and expect people to play it. Did you see Ben Cousins’ Battlefield Heroes talk? That’s definitely a direction that PC gaming is going to get bigger, but I think the hardcore is going to have to shrink or change.

CK: I don’t see the hardcore going away… I think there is still going to be a market for that audience, ’til the end of time. What we tried to do on BioShock was say that, “OK, here’s this kind of game, that we love playing…” We know gamers are intelligent, we know that they want a game that’s complex, with a mature story, and complicated gameplay that’s very empowering.

We said to ourselves, “OK, well that’s the kind of game that we made, with System Shock 2, and critics loved it, so why didn’t it sell well?” And we don’t think it was because the gameplay was very deep; we thought it was, really, just that it wasn’t presented very well.

And so I think that’s what you’re seeing with stuff like Battlefield Heroes, is that people are trying to say — this is fun gameplay, right? And there’s a huge market for it on the hardcore side, but there must be an even bigger market, if you can take that kind of fun and bring it to a more casual audience.

And it’s really all in presentation; that’s something that we spent a lot of time on in BioShock, to try and present these very complicated ideas to the player in the right way, so that they understood it, and they enjoyed it. It’s all about presentation.
Do you think the Wii crowd has an appetite for a BioShock-like game?

CK: I think yeah; I think there is an appetite out there; it’s just a matter of finding the right way to bring it to them.

It seems like, on the Wii, there’s some education necessary for a large part of that demographic, in terms of, like, “Here’s why you should want to play this game, instead of Wii Fit.”

CK: Well, you know, I don’t think that those aren’t real games. What Nintendo has figured out is that it’s all about accessibility, and finding ways to get people to enjoy your game without having to jump through fifty-million hoops, you know?

Even me, as a gamer, every time I pick up a new game, I’m like, “Oh my god, they’ve changed the controller mappings again,” and now I’ve got to, you know, reconfigure my head, just so I can start to enjoy this game. And with something like the Wii? You just pick it up, and it’s natural. I don’t think there’s anything preventing the game complexity of BioShock from being on the Wii.

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