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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Nathan Grayson)
For the first time in ages, Deus Ex director Warren Spector is unemployed. The man who created what’s regarded by many as the greatest game of all time isn’t cracking any whips, cooking up cyber conspiracies, or teaching cartoon mice to sing. Instead, he’s taking some time to both teach and learn, which is what brought him to UC Santa Cruz’s recent Interactive Storytelling Symposium. There, he echoed the refrain that’s recently become his calling card: take games to new, interesting places, and don’t just lean on crutches from film, TV, and the like to do it. It was a call to action – a plea for tomorrow’s burgeoning brains to break outside the box and then burn the remains. Do not, however, mistake that for an admission of inaction on Spector’s part. Unemployed or not, his gears are churning again, and he’s starting to think about his next big move. After his session, Spector and I discussed why he can’t simply make another Deus-Ex-esque game, why he really wants to put a “no weapons restriction” on his next project, Kickstarter’s popularity among his pioneering peers, Epic Mickey in retrospect, and more.
May 14, 2013
It's financial bragging time, when the industry's big publishers wave around their massive accounts, trying to outdo each other with displays of fiscal acuity. Or not, as the case has increasingly been this year. Still, thanks to Bioshock Infinite, Take-Two saw a strong fourth quarter, shipping 3.7 million units of the Irrational sequel, and enjoying first month sales which they say "significantly" outperformed any previous Bioshock game.
The company also reported "solid demand" for the BioShock Infinite Season Pass. This is despite the fact that none of the three DLC packs it supplies even exist yet.
The result of these collected successes? A fourth quarter profit of $21.2 million, but a net loss of $29.5 million over the full year. Which, while not a readily apparent cause for celebration, is much better than the $108.8 million loss of the year before.
For the year as a whole, Borderlands 2, NBA 2K13, BioShock Infinite, Max Payne 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Red Dead Redemption were the publisher's top performers. They also saw big gains in the digital market, which grew 148% year-over-year, with key successes from Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite, Civ V and XCOM.
We created a wishlist of things we'd like to see in BioShock Infinite's three, planned story DLCs. Among them was the opportunity to play as someone other than Booker. While we have no confirmation of whether or not that will be the case, a LinkedIn posting spotted by CvgWorld suggests that we'll be meeting an alternate partner in crime, at the least.
The posting is from 2K animator Michael Shahan, and says that he's working on "animation and R&D for a new AI companion character" in "BioShock Infinite DLC 1." So it seems Elizabeth won't reprise her role as our revival specialist and money/ammo dispenser in the upcoming DLC. Or, perhaps, we'll travel with her again, but with a third character joining our reality-bending band.
We still don't have a release date or any plot details about these DLCs, but we're looking forward to seeing how Irrational can expand on Infinite's infinite story possibilities, and we've already laid out some reasonable suggestions about what we'd like to see next.
Apr 22, 2013
Are mute heroes better than verbose heroes? Does a voice-acted player character infringe on your ability to put yourself into the story? In this week's debate, Logan says "Yes," while his character says nothing. He wants to be the character he’s playing, not merely control him, and that’s easier to do when the character is silent. T.J. had a professional voice actor say "No." He thinks giving verbalized emotions and mannerisms to your in-universe avatar makes him or her feel more real.
Read the debate below, continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Logan, you have the floor:
Logan: BioShock’s Jack. Isaac Clarke from Dead Space. The little boy from Limbo. Portal’s Chell. Gordon Freeman. These are some of the most unforgettable characters I’ve ever played, and they all made their indelible impressions on me without speaking a single word. In fact, they made such an impression because they didn’t say a word. By remaining silent throughout, they gave me room to take over the role, to project myself into the game.
T.J.: All of the games you mentioned were unforgettable narratives. But everything memorable about them came from the environments, situations, and supporting casts. Gordon Freeman is a great example. What can you really say about him, as a person? I find Shepard’s inspirational speeches to the crew in the Mass Effect games far more stirring and memorable than almost anything I’ve experienced in a silent protagonist game. I was Shepard, just as much as I was Gordon. But I didn’t have the alienating element of not having a voice making me feel less like a grounded part of the setting.
Logan: Ooh, Shepard. That was cold. I’ll happily agree that some games are better off with fully written and voiced protagonists—and Shepard’s a perfect example. But it’s a different matter, I think, with first-person games in particular, where your thought processes animate the narrative: “OK, if I jump into a portal here, I’ll shoot out of the wall there and land over yonder.” In this way I’m woven into the story, as a product of my own imagination. If the character is talking, I’m listening to his or her thoughts—and they sort of overwrite my own. It can be great fun, but it’s a more passive experience.
T.J.: First-person shooters are probably one of the best venues for silent protagonists, but lets look at BioShock and BioShock Infinite. I definitely felt more engaged by Booker, who responded verbally to the action, the story twists, and the potent emotions expressed by Elizabeth... than I did by Jack, who didn’t so much as cough at the chaos and insanity around him.
Logan: But was the result that BioShock Infinite was a better game, or just that it delivered a traditional main character?
T.J.: Booker? Traditional? Did we play the same game? I mean, it’s a tough call to say which was out-and-out better, as there are a lot of factors to consider. But zooming in on the protagonist’s vocals (or lack thereof) as an added brushstroke on a complex canvas, Infinite displays a more vibrant palette.
Logan: Do you think that Half-Life 2, in retrospect, is an inferior game as a result of its silent protagonist?
T.J.: Half-Life 2 was great. Great enough that we gave it a 98. But imagine what it could have been like if Gordon had been given the opportunity to project himself onto his surroundings, with reactive astrophysics quips and emotional back-and-forth to play off of the memorable cast around him? We relate to characters in fiction that behave like people we know in the real world. So yeah, I’ll take that plunge: I think I would have bonded with Freeman more, and therefore had a superior experience, if he hadn't kept his lips sewn shut the whole way.
Logan: A scripted and voiced Gordon Freeman may or may not have been a memorable character, just like a scripted and voiced Chell from Portal might have been. But in a sense, that’s the problem! Because some of my best memories from games with silent protagonists are the memories of my own thoughts and actions. I remember staring at the foot of a splicer in BioShock and realizing that the flesh of her foot was molded into a heel. I was so grossed out that I made this unmanly noise, partway between a squeal and a scream. I remember getting orders shouted at me in FEAR and thinking, "No, why don’t you take point.” I’m glad these moments weren't preempted by scripted elements.
T.J.: You were staring at the Splicers’ feet? Man, in a real underwater, objectivist dystopia ruined by rampant genetic modification, you’d totally be “that one guy” who just stands there dumbfounded and gets sliced into 14 pieces.
Logan: No, I’d be the guy at Pinkberry with his mouth under the chocolate hazelnut nozzle going “Would you kindly pull the lever?” But my point is, I remember what I did and thought at moments throughout all of my favorite games, and those are experiences that are totally unique to me. And that’s at least part of why I love games so much—because of unique experiences like that.
T.J.: I see what you’re getting at. Likewise, a lot of my love for games is driven by their ability to tell the kinds of stories other media just aren’t equipped for. Silent protagonists take us further beyond the bounds of traditional narratives, accentuating the uniqueness of interactive storytelling. That being said, really good voiced protagonists—your Shepards, your Bookers, your Lee Everetts—never feel like a distraction from the mutated flesh pumps you come across. When the execution is right, they serve to enhance all of those things, and lend them insight and believability.
There’s nothing like being pulled out of the moment in Dragon Age: Origins when the flow of an intense conversation stops so the camera can cut to the speechless, distant expression of your seemingly-oblivious Grey Warden.
Logan: Oh yeah, there’s no question that voiced protagonists have their moments. But they’re not my moments, and those are the ones I enjoy the most in games. Valve seems to understand this intuitively, and that’s why it’s given us two of the most memorable characters in videogame history: because I think the developers deliberately build into their games moments that they all understand will be uniquely owned by the players; “a-ha!” moments when the solution to a puzzle suddenly snaps into focus, or narrative revelations like watching horseplay between Alyx and Dog that instantly tell you a lot about how she grew up. Voiced protagonists can give us wonderful characters; silent ones let me build my own.
That’s the debate! As always, these debates are exercises meant to reveal alternate viewpoints—sometimes including perspectives we wouldn’t normally explore—and cultivate discussion, so continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for more opinions from the community.
@pcgamer it really depends on the writing. Some voiced characters are amazing, and some are whiny and annoying.— Ryan H (@kancer) April 19, 2013
@pcgamer In many cases, yes. I am forced to substitute the absence of a developed personality with my own words and thoughts. I like that.— Rocko (@Rockoman100) April 19, 2013
@pcgamer The volume of the protag doesn't matter, only the skill of the writer: hero voice is just one tool of many in a master writer's box— Jacob Dieffenbach (@dieffenbachj) April 19, 2013
@pcgamer The most interesting characters are the ones with a history, with regrets. Blank characters don't have that.— Devin White (@D_A_White) April 19, 2013
@pcgamer Most voiced characters seem to disappoint. I think silent ones express the storyline better through visuals which I prefer.— Casey Bavier (@clbavier) April 19, 2013
@pcgamer Definitely voiced. Having an NPC talk to you directly, then act as if your lack of response is totally normal feels eerily wrong.— Kirt Goodfellow (@_Kenomica) April 19, 2013
@pcgamer Silent! #YOLO— Michael Nader (@MNader92) April 19, 2013
Apr 20, 2013
“Let’s Reboot” takes a look back at a classic in need of a new outing or a beloved series gone stale and asks how it might be best redesigned or given a kick up the backside for today’s gaming audience. The Rules: Assume a free hand, and a decent budget, but realistic technology and expectations. This week’s sacred cow – the cyberpunk adventure from 1994 that sparked the 'Shock series.
Ken Levine. Kenny Lovin’. Kenbo Baggins. The Manly Jowelbeast. I recall an interview with King Divine, in which he said that System Shock 2 was not, contrary to all common sense, a perfectly-realised vision of the authors’ intent. That the monotonous corridors of System Shock 2’s Von Braun were as much a product of technical limitations, as the thundering powerhouse of the creativity behind it. Learning this, I had a brief teenage response. I felt like a Belieber trying to process Justin tweeting, “Did I say I love my fans? Naw. They’re dicks, and that includes hypothetical ones like Anne Frank. #worldwarPOOmorelike”
I wanted to defend SS2 against one of the guys who made it.
That’s an argument I’d probably lose, so let’s just reboot the bugger. Commence spoiler warning klaxon for System Shock 1, 2 and BioShock Infinite: AROOGA AROOGA AROOGA etc.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A ROGUE AI LIKE SHODAN?
"What can we do with Shodan that hasn’t already been pre-empted by GLaDOS?"
You can hear Shodan’s tame, morality-restricted voice during the optional intro to System Shock 1. And at the risk of spoiling a 14-year-old game, at the end of System Shock 2, she collapses cyber and meat-spaces to occupy the body of Rebecca, turning her into a kind of hard-wired fusion of Tron’s MCP and Bonnie Tyler. One of the best moment of going back to SS1 is watching that optional intro, and hearing her voice change as she narrates the story of the hacker removing her morals.
But what can we do with Shodan that hasn’t already been pre-empted by GLaDOS’ tale of unexpected humanity, humility, and anti-redemption?
How not to do Shodan:
1. Law Of The West-style conversation simulator, in which Shodan and minor SS2 character Tommy share awkward chats as the AI discovers her new sexual urges;
2. Multiple body-swap comedy in which she learns how difficult it is to be a Californian teenager, a rock star, and a single mum;
3. Endlessly looping animated GIF of Shodan's face slowly appearing and disappearing from Anton Corbijn’s iconic 1981 photo of Kate Bush.
I'll bust more than your clouds mate
Look: it’s fine, but it’s not a video game.
So, why not make Shodan the playable character? She’s totemic enough to step around that pervasive bullshit about gamers not wanting to play women, in case we all start spontaneously trans-identifying, or something.
Plus, in the body of Rebecca, she’s a total unaugmented newcomer to meatspace, a perfect way to put her at the bottom of the skill tree. Stranded in her new body, her only access to computers would be hacking - a process that would be disgusting to her. Imagine having to use arthritic bones, where once was a sheer force of will.
"Potato-GLaDOS was sympathetic. Shodan's tale could be a study in psychopathy."
This might seem like I’m trying to turn System Shock into a comedy. Insane, ambitious evil is innately comical when it’s powerless - but that’s forgetting her sinister history with comedy. She was powerless in SS2. She needed you, and it actually was pretty funny that even then, she couldn't hold back the insults.
Besides, even Portal 2 didn't plunder the comedy mine of malevolent impotence too deeply. For potato-GLaDOS, it was a chance for sympathy. Shodan's tale could be a study in human psychopathy: there are real people who think like Shodan. The bastards run the world. And being a psychopath would reduce the sense of disconnect, when the inevitable “snap their spines, slashing blood across the screen” moment comes, as it probably must.
You’d need a mutual cause to give Shodan an air of possible redemption - and as the player, we’d need to believe there’s genuine conflict between the megalomaniac AI, and the new unaccustomed waves of hormones and humanity.
(Again, GLaDOS has taken the best line, with “Caroline deleted”. Note to self: ask Valve if System Shock can be part of the Half-Life multiverse. Half-Life 3, maybe. Cool? Cool.)
BUILD A GRAND UNIFYING THEORY OF *SHOCK
Bioshock Infinite’s Sea of Doors was a massive pull-back-to-reveal that can’t ever be matched in the Bioshock universe. You really get the feeling it was a final defiant piss on the franchise that was Irrational’s way of saying, “Oh, you just try another Bioshock 2.”
Is there room for another, crashing, pull back? Can we fold System Shock into the world of lighthouses, men, and doors? “There’s always a sentient thing, there's always a location. And space. That’s just how it works in this, even more generalised, multiverse.” Shodan collapses meat and cyber in the same way Elizabeth collapses branching universes - they could be distant relatives.
OK. Maybe not. In that case, I've got another idea:
OH MY GOD GUYS WHAT ABOUT A MINI-SERIES
Bioshock Infinite didn’t feel to me to be quite as important as it wanted to be. I’m aware that there are dozens of people more intelligent, sexy and taller than me who feel otherwise. But taken on plot alone, it felt like a Doctor Who season finale. This similarity includes the fact that my family still look at me like a demented adult baby because I tell them to shut up on Christmas day while we all watch a kid’s TV show. Only, you know, with this it's my choice of career.
Moving on - I would love the same prolonged sense of “what’s going on?” that Doctor Who gives. I loved the post-ending discussions of Bioshock Infinite more than I liked the actual ending. Imagine three months of constant System Shock speculation, forum chat, talking to strangers in ATM queues. I know the episodic thing is tough, and nowhere more so in the world of shooters. Half-Life, Sin, s'up. So why not stuff shooting - shall we just give System Shock to TellTale?
You want a real 1999 mode? In 1999, LucasArts had just made Grim Fandango.
"Cyberspace is a location with unrealised potential, a place where imagination is tangible."
WHERE IS IT SET?
Irrational have built a fantastical rod for their back with locations. But we've already got a location with unrealised potential, here. Cyberspace. A revamped Cyberspace could go further than the aesthetics of Monolith's Tron 2.0. It could be a place where imagination is tangible. And god knows, you could seed endless stuff in the environment when it's all conjured by the perception of an unreliable narrator. In fact, this could be the solution to the another annoying problem:
FIND THAT ALTERNATIVE TO AUDIOLOGS
I really don't like audiologs. I don't like the acting in them, because there's something about pretending to record their thoughts in this way that always rings hollow. And I don't like the fact that finding one creates an artificial zone of in-game safety, because you know the writers will get snippy if combat happens over their precious story.
(Either that, or they make it so the audiologs fade out as you walk away, and that can sod off twice as hard.)
OK: so I've been all over the place, here. But I've settled on this - a serialised TellTale adventure, in the vein of Walking Dead, that flips between the perspectives of a disempowered Shodan and a Rebecca finding her feet in Cyberspace. They're racing to Earth - Shodan to become a god, Rebecca to get her body back. Of course, many exciting things will happen on the way, but I'm not the details man. Someone start the Kickstarter and send me ten million when it’s the most popular game in the world. I'm off to eat a bunch of grapes.
Per the cool cats at Eurogamer, Danish studio Full Control has announced that the company has signed a licensing agreement with bitComposer Games to develop and publish a new (hooray), turn-based (hooray), multiplatform (hmm) game in the Jagged Alliance franchise.
"Jagged Alliance fits perfectly into our company strategy and portfolio as the game to do after we ship Space Hulk," Full Control boss Thomas Hentschel Lund said. "It is one of the three games besides X-Com and Fallout that really defined the entire genre and is part of our DNA."
Jagged Alliance first emerged in 1994, the franchise peaking with Jagged Alliance 2 in 1999, which was considered one of the best turn-based games of its time. Last year's reboot from Coreplay GmbH, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, received mixed reviews.
Apr 11, 2013
This week’s debate asks whether or not a film adaptation of BioShock Infinite could work, or if it misses the point. "No," says the man from Michigan: Evan thinks that BioShock's themes and intricate plot don't suit a Hollywood reproduction. On the other side, Tyler doesn’t see why Infinite’s great story couldn’t become a great film, if all else goes well.
Read the debate below, continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Evan, you have the floor:
Evan: I enjoy the wave of discussion that BioShock games inspire whenever they release. A lot of the comment threads and chatter about Infinite have circled around storytelling—whether Infinite’s intricate ending was a hit or a miss; whether Elizabeth was effective as a companion character; and whether Infinite would make a good film.
It’s an interesting idea, but I’m skeptical that BioShock Infinite: The Movie wouldn’t do anything other than soil our existing, pretty-darn-great opinion of the fiction.
Tyler: It might do that. It’s a very entertaining story told in a very entertaining way—interactively—and a movie can’t replicate that. But I’m devil’s advocate in this debate, and I say it might actually be a good movie.
Film is a different medium, so we’re talking about an adaptation. We’re talking about stripping away the game to see what’s left, and using that to build something new. And what is left? An intricate, fascinating story with characters I still want to know more about. That’s a fantastic place for a script to start, and with the right vision behind it, we’d get to experience something we love in a different way.
Evan: What would that film look like? I know it’s unfair to ask you spontaneously become a screenwriter, but what would a BioShock movie be about?
Tyler: I think we’d most likely see a new story in the “BioShock universe,” and that’s probably the best choice, but for the sake of argument I’ll test the idea of seeing Booker’s story, as we played it.
Obviously, the film would spend more time establishing Booker’s relationship with Elizabeth than showing him shooting dudes in the head. Actually, it might do a better job of that. The game’s cutscenes were fine, but Elizabeth was a very confused character when dynamically reacting to Booker’s violence. A film wouldn’t need to make that story concession, because it wouldn’t have to support gameplay.
Likewise, Comstock could be more intimidating, and all the foreshadowing could be better paced and less heavy-handed. Film is a one-sitting, two-or-so hour medium. It wouldn’t have to repeat itself to remain understandable and communicate its themes.
And when it comes to shooting dudes, imagine a choreographed skyline battle. Oh man, Evan, how cool would that be? Acrobatic ultraviolence is fun to play, but it’s also a helluva lot of fun to watch.
Evan: I think you’re underestimating how well BioShock’s good things would migrate onto film. So much of what happens hinges on a first-person perspective, on having control given and taken away during different moments. The Voxophones—being able to get on-demand exposition, essentially. Exploration. Think about the elegant way Infinite introduces Vigors with contextual, interactive carnival games. I feel like a film’s only solution to explaining something like Vigors—and they’d have to, right?—would be clumsy dialogue.
Tyler: It’s true that interactivity helps with exposition, but why couldn’t the film Booker play those same carnival games? And in this version, we could actually see his astonishment. In the game, he takes it all very matter of factly, I thought.
Regarding Voxophones—OK, you got me. Films are much shorter, and no one would accept watching Booker listen to audio logs. Every medium has limitations, strengths and weaknesses. I think the story could still be told, but we’d lose a portion of the backstory, the sense of being in a place at a point in time that you get from examining your surroundings in the game. The film medium would make up for that with the things it’s better suited for.
Evan: The idea of Film Booker just miming what you did as a player sounds awful. It undermines the meaning of those first impressions you have as a player. It gives me two slightly-different versions of the same events. And worst of all, it indicates to me that an Infinite movie at its best would just be a series of references.
The Watchmen film adaptation demonstrated that not every respected work of fiction should be forced onto film. The graphic novel was too long to make into a movie, and separating some of its thematic heart into a direct-to-DVD extra (Tales of the Black Freighter) was a clumsy solution that meant you were left to judge the movie itself based on how well its creators converted the frames and speech bubbles (it’s word for word, in some scenes) into moving pictures.
That’s not storytelling. It’s a paint-by-numbers exercise that lacks its own purpose, and it arises from film creators—understandably, to some extent—consecrating an original text that’s really, really good. And the alternative to rigid reproduction in instances like BioShock and Infinite isn’t any better, I think. You’d be deviating and telling a secondary story within a place like Columbia. I don’t think that’d be any more interesting, considering how integral Comstock, Booker and Elizabeth are to the setting and its downfall.
Tyler: I liked Watchmen, actually, but I was just giving an example of how interactivity isn’t wholly intertwined with Infinite’s story or the telling of it—of course I wouldn’t expect or want a film to mimic the game exactly. It should have its own purpose, and adaptations generally do.
We’re constantly telling and retelling the same stories in different ways. Are we bored of seeing adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing? Should Joss Whedon not have bothered with his new film?
Evan: I don’t buy it. An unusual amount of BioShock’s themes are contingent on interaction. Booker’s redemption and absolution are intertwined with your agency as a player, just as BioShock’s twist on free will depends on the creating the illusion of it.
I’m sorry that you liked Watchmen, but surely not every excellent work of fiction should be put into production as films, right? Game movies have an awful track record—what would you say is the best adaptation of a game?
Tyler: Uhh. I guess Prince of Persia wasn’t a total disaster? No, I can’t defend game adaptations. They’re mostly just awful.
But why is that? Is it that games can’t be adapted well, or is it that they haven’t been adapted well? There are tons of horrible book adaptations, but they’re attempted way more often than games, so we have a bigger sampling, and there are good ones in there.
A BioShock Infinite film could be terrible, but if we’re asking whether or not its story is well-suited for film, I think it is. It has a visually impressive setting, interesting characters, a fast-moving plot which takes sharp turns. Yes, its thematic connection to gaming would be lost, but it could turn the camera around on film in similar ways. I’d be interested to find out how it does that.
Evan: In the case of the original BioShock: if it was easy, it would’ve happened by now. What does it say that Ken Levine “killed” the most recent attempt at a BioShock film?
Tyler: It isn’t easy. Levine wanted Gore Verbinski’s direction and a bigger budget. He cares about how his creative work is adapted. He wants it meet certain standards, to respect his vision and introduce the vision of people he trusts. That makes total sense, and doesn’t suggest he hates the whole idea.
On that line of reasoning, what does it say that Gabe Newell is interested in collaborating with J.J. Abrams? I don’t love Abrams, personally, but is Newell known for bad creative decisions or being blasé about the official treatment of Valve’s characters and stories? It’s the opposite—he previously turned down Hollywood’s attempts to court Valve. Now he must see something he likes.
Evan: I think Valve’s fiercely protective approach to adaptations of its games is a great starting point. But yeah, part of my objection is based on the assumption that Hollywood People and focus testing would mutate BioShock into something that it isn’t. If Ken Levine thinks that a BioShock movie needs a $200 million budget, wouldn’t it by necessity need to make creative compromises to appeal to a large enough audience to be profitable? It’s an impossible situation: if $80 million isn’t enough to do it properly according to Irrational’s creative director, I can’t imagine they’d be able to retain full creative freedom and avoid making something that wasn’t watered-down at that level of fiscal risk.
Tyler: It would definitely mutate—it’s an adaptation and the script has to work for the medium—but I don’t see why it would necessarily mutate in a negative “watered-down by Hollywood” way. What’s to water down? It’s already a Hollywood-style story!
I don’t mean that in a bad way. What I mean is that as much as we might want to think we’re somehow above “mainstream entertainment,” Infinite is a gory, action-packed thriller. Yes, it has a complex plot and interesting themes, and so do some big-budget movies. I’m not talking about the latest Die Hard, obviously—I’m looking to Christopher Nolan as a good example. Can you tell me you wouldn’t be just a little excited if he were directing a BioShock film?
Evan: I’d be curious and concerned. The proposition of “two things I love... together!” is such a peanut-butter-and-chocolate way of thinking about creative projects, and I’d like to see gamers cut that s#*& out.
Tyler: Yeah, "this and this are good, so let's put them together" is not a viable creative or business strategy 99.9 percent of the time, but I didn't make Nolan my example just because I like him—he has experience with adaptations, and the kind of tone we might see in a BioShock film. I think Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) would also be a great choice of director.
Evan: I’m still skeptical that someone as talented as Bird or Nolan could overcome the inherent challenges of adapting something like BioShock. I think it’s important to remember that BioShock Infinite is distinct from successful movies like The Avengers or Batman—it isn’t a spacious, decades-old body of work that a writer could pick and choose what characters and story arcs to include.
But more fundamentally, I want to prompt you and our readers to really examine why they want a BioShock movie. Are we just curious about the act of judging a movie studio’s copy-paste job? Are we just crudely lobbying “I want more of something I liked!” and not thinking critically about how being a video game contributed to why we liked BioShock to begin with?
When Watchmen creator Alan Moore was asked how he felt about the graphic novel’s movie adaptation, he very cynically responded: “I find modern form to be quite bullying. It spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination. It is as if we are freshly hatched birds looking up with our mouths open waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms.”
Tyler: Alan Moore is a convenient figurehead for your argument, but I think that’s hyperbolic and cynical (which I guess is what I’d expect from Alan Moore, and I’ll enjoy the film he so despises despite him). You do make good points, though. A bit of the desire is curiosity, as seeing someone else’s interpretation of something we know intimately, like a game we’ve played multiple times, is inherently interesting. And I think we also want to see BioShock succeed in other media because we want to see something we care about attract a wider audience.
But there’s a purer desire, too: we want a film because the game was entertaining and thought-provoking, and we want more entertaining and thought-provoking things. And to get back to the original question, I think BioShock Infinite is plenty rich enough to make this hypothetical film good, or even great.
Now, do I think it would be good, and do I really want my version of events redacted or rephrased on a movie screen? For the sake of this debate, I plead the fifth.
That’s the debate! As always, these debates are exercises meant to reveal alternate viewpoints—sometimes including perspectives we wouldn't normally explore—and cultivate discussion, so continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for more opinions from the community.
@pcgamer Would be the best movie ever! If created correctly anyway :)— James King (@iKingyx) April 10, 2013
@pcgamer I haven't finished it, but I would like to see a movie made of Rapture pre-Bioshock 1. I want to watch how the people get consumed.— Peter Nguyen (@AZNguyen) April 10, 2013
@pcgamer If you think it could you've missed the entire point of the game. The entire premise only works if it's a game.— Alan Royle (@adroyle) April 10, 2013
@pcgamer Booker vs. Gordon, even better— cdomega (@cdomega) April 10, 2013
@pcgamer Yes and no. It'd probably be a mediocre movie with an interesting premise. They'd have to develop the character cast a bit more.— Zach (@ZahaianGhost) April 10, 2013
PC Gamer - PC Gamer
We've waited a little while to record our discussion of Bioshock Infinite: but now that we've all finished it, it's time to go to town. Flying town.
In this podcast special, Chris, Tom Francis, Marsh and Graham discuss the game in detail, from the ups and downs of the plot to the combat, characters, and ending. It goes without saying that we spoil absolutely everything. Don't listen to this until you've played the game all the way through.
Find the rest of the PC Gamer UK podcast here, and subscribe on iTunes to have each new episode delivered directly into your life, as if from another dimension. Here's a link if you'd like to download the MP3 directly, and here's the podcast on YouTube. Don't forget to follow PC Gamer UK on Twitter, and your Biopod Infinicasters today were:
Tom Francis - @Pentadact
Chris Thursten - @CThursten
Marsh Davies - @marshdavies
Graham Smith - @gonnas
You could also read Tom's review of Bioshock Infinite, if you like.
Given that Minecraft's engine has kept everything except sand and gravel suspended at a fixed height with Lutece fields since long before we knew what they were, it has served as a natural and inevitable stage for one fan's re-creation of BioShock Infinite's moralist anti-utopia. The artist goes by Tiresh on Planet Minecraft, and has already painstakingly replicated some of the game's most detailed and iconic areas. The project page includes a video walkthrough of the map.
Above, you can see the especially impressive Battleship Bay. Especially impressive, that is, considering Minecraft water doesn't behave like our Earth water, and yet the depiction in this blocky alternate universe almost looks ripped from a screenshot. We've included a couple more examples to tease you with below. You can check out the full gallery on imgur to see what is done so far. We're trying to get a hold of a downloadable version of the map, and will update this post if we do.
One of the sillier controversies of last year centred around the content of Bioshock Infinite's cover. It was more a mild consternation than white-hot internet outrage, but fans were still disappointed to find that one of the year's most anticipated games was choosing to display itself to the public using the same man and a gun design used by every game ever released. Probably.
In response, Irrational opened voting for a reversible cover - with a beautifully muted sketching of Songbird winning voters' blessing. And now they've also released a series of hi-res covers online, available for printing.
The new covers offer two different Elizabeth designs, three containing Booker and Elizabeth, and a further three featuring concept art for Handyman, Songbird and Murder of Crows. Which means, even with 10 possible cover variants available, there are still none which accurately display the true Bioshock Infinite experience: snaffling up ice creams from bins and corpses.
A bigger problem is figuring out how to apply them. Having downloaded the fetching Falling Art cover, I've yet to find a way to wrap it around my Bioshock Infinite box, also known as "Steam". I've tried dragging it, pasting it, everything! Maybe I need to print it out and staple it to my monitor. Yeah, I'll give that a go next.