Ken Levine explains the birth of Bioshock Infinite
Speaking to PlayStation Access Ken Levine has been talking about what makes Bioshock, well, Bioshock. Levine says the decision to leave the sea and move to the floating sky city of Colombia came once he and Irrational Studios had decided they’d ”said what we wanted to say about Rapture”. Despite the shift into the clouds, though, the series’ creative director thinks it doesn’t matter where the game’s set, as long as it adheres to two core principles.
The World's Columbian Exposition, Bioshocks Infinite's original 1893 inspiration
Levine explains the main tenets behind a Bioshock experience, “For us these have always been two things: [Firstly] a very improvisational way of doing combat. You have weapons in one hand, powers in the other hand and character growth in your body.” The latter referring to the game’s Nostrums – passive effects that add or boost character abilities, much like Rapture’s old Gene Tonics.
The second thing is apparently the environment around you, “There’s a lot of improvisational elements in the world as well” mentions Levine, explaining that a Bioshock game is also about “having a very detailed, rich environment that are both fantastical but also very grounded in reality.” Something which Colombia’s 1893′s Chicago World’s Fair origins fits perfectly.
Levine says that aside from those two core elements the game that would eventually become Bioshock Infinite started with a blank slate. “We felt if we kept those elements it would very much be a Bioshock game, but everything else was up for grabs at that point. The first thing we said was what if we go to a different time period? The turn of the century was very attractive to us.”