Ken Levine Interview, Part One has published the first installment of a new multi-part interview with System Shock 2 and BioShock creator Ken Levine. In it, Ken discusses the high cost of game development, giving players a sense of immersion, what the team’s goals are for their next project, and more.

Q: Does immersion in a game necessarily mean high costs? How do you go about putting that in?

Ken Levine: It’s sort of the price of entry. In BioShock we basically spent the budget to make our art assets and the technology to render a lot of art assets at once to make a believable world – not “Is this the shiniest texture?” but “Do you buy into Rapture, is Rapture a character in the game?”

So I think we burned our polygons basically on selling that. And I think we burned them well. For us we really wanted to spend those resources to make the world feel real and populated, both the runtime resources of rendering polygons and the real art resources making all those polygons.

Without that, would it be immersive? I think System Shock 2 is a good example of the previous generation of that. As immersive as System Shock 2 is, just because of the keeping up with the Joneses, if you released it now it wouldn’t be particularly immersive because of the simplicity of the graphics. I’m sure I’ll have a million people on the Internet tell me that System Shock 2 is immersive, more immersive that BioShock…and that’s cool, but I promise you that if we released that game today to a new audience, they’d have trouble getting past the graphics.

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