Tag Archives: Ken Levine

Ken Levine Talks Process of Developing Next Game


Ken Levine, the creator of “BioShock,” is currently developing a new game and fans are anxiously awaiting what the amazing developer has in store. Levine discussed his process in creating a game that is engrossing which focuses the importance of an interesting main character.

“The whole system that I came up with and that we’re developing is based upon the fact that to make an interesting character, you have to have a character who has a bunch of passions, wants, and needs,” Levine told Game Informer. “The player now has the ability to facilitate those wants or needs or go against those wants or needs or ignore those wants or needs.”

In his upcoming game, Levine says that his approach to developing the game is a “very organic way to look at a character.” He added, “It’s a quite systemic game. The system we’re in, the character’s feelings about you change, they go up and down.”

Levine definitely has an complex understanding of what makes a game engulf you and how important a main character to identify with can be.

“It’s not their skin color, not their religion, not their sex. It’s what they want, what they need, and what’s in their way.”

He relates this concept to “BioShock’s” Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum, saying while her religion and autism played a role in who she was, it was her wants — “her absolute adoration of science” — that ultimately defined her. “There are plenty of other Jews who would not choose to do what she did. But she chose to, because it aligned with her passion for science.”

Levine also explains that character relationships with NPC’s will be an important aspect of the game. He likened it to how players chose to deal with Little Sisters in “BioShock” led to two possible endings. This will be expanded upon, as you’ll have “very fluid relationships with the characters” throughout the game. Rather than having “seven or eight stops like your traditional branching tree structure,” Levine’s new game will have “potentially thousands of stops with hundreds of thousands of potential states you can be in with all your relationships to all the characters and wants.”

 As far as actual game development goes, Levine says the new studio does, in fact, have a name, and they’ve just begun voiceover work with the first actor.

Ken Levine Would Still Make BioShock Vita If He Could


It was long rumored that a PlayStation Vita release in the BioShock franchise would happen but then somehow it ended up in the gaming nether space. However, recently Ken Levine, revealed that he would still make the game if he could.

In a series of tweets this week, Levine stated that the fate of “BioShock” on the Vita was out of his hands. He said,

“[Publisher] 2K and Sony couldn’t put a deal together when I last checked. They seemed way more optimistic about this back in 2011.” “Wish I could do it myself,” he continued, “but lawyers and all that. I still love my Vita.”

A Twitter user went on to ask Levine what “BioShock” on the Vita would have looked like, and frankly his response was a game that I would bought the fuck out of. Levine described a game that was a “Final Fantasy Tactics style thing set in pre-fall Rapture.”

The game was teased way back in 2011 but was never even started. It has remained dead. Since Irrational Games has official closed, it seems that it will honestly never happen.

Ken Levine Talks His Future In Gaming

ken levine

Ken Levine is most famously known as the creator of the video game franchise, “BioShock” with the latest installment, “BioShock Infinite” topping best game lists all around the world. The Irrational Games’ co-founder recently spoke at GDC 2014 about the concept of building replayable narratives, a process he calls “Narrative Legos.”

This concept is in stark contrast to his famous games “System Shock” and the “BioShock” series. Levine commented on during the talk about how he didn’t want to keep doing grandiose game experiences explaining that how linear storylines puts boundaries between developers and the audience. For example, he remarked how the iconic “Would you kindly?” moment only works once.

Levine also described how systematic games don’t lend well to narrative focused games and vice versa. He explains they are expensive to make, aren’t player driven, and don’t fully embrace the unique power of video games that separate them from any other medium.

According to his talk at GDC 2014, Levine wants games where story elements are non-linear also interact with each other. He also wants events that are triggered by the player but exist transparently to the player at the same time. He doesn’t want to overwhelm the player with too many characters; thusly he wants to limit the number of “stars” in a given area. His idea of a star is an NPC with very specific passions which the player can act upon. The player should be able to see these passions and have the ability to respond to them. This game style is similar to the Bethesda created game series, “Fallout.”

He told the audience,

“With good writing, players should have to balance emotional gain with physical rewards.”

Levine’s talk came just over a month since Irrational massive layoffs and a major change in focus. Don’t forget that “Burial At Sea: Episode 2” releases next week!

BioShock Developer: Irrational Games to Close


I can safely say I am a bit shocked. Ken Levine, the creative director and co-founder of “BioShock” developer Irrational Games, announced today that the company is closing. Thank the GODS, this does not mean Levine is leaving the game creating world. In the announcement, he also revealed that he’ll be starting a new endeavor at Take-Two. Levine will now concentrate on developing digital games with a small team.

You can read his full press release below:

A Message From Ken Levine

When Jon Chey, Rob Fermier and I founded Irrational Games seventeen years ago, our mission was to make visually unique worlds and populate them with singular characters.
We built Rapture and Columbia, the Von Braun and The Rickenbacker, the Freedom Fortress and some of the nastiest basements a SWAT team ever set foot into. We created Booker and Elizabeth, the Big Daddy and the Little Sister, MidWives and ManBot. In that time, Irrational has grown larger and more successful than we could have conceived when we began our three-person studio in a living room in Cambridge, MA. It’s been the defining project of my professional life.

Now Irrational Games is about to roll out the last DLC for BioShock Infinite and people are understandably asking: What’s next?

Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one. And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job I’ve ever had. While I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience. 

I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. I’ll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two. That is going to mean parting ways with all but about fifteen members of the Irrational team. There’s no great way to lay people off, and our first concern is to make sure that the people who are leaving have as much support as we can give them during this transition. 

Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios. Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and we’ll be hosting a recruiting day where we’ll be giving 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.*

What’s next?

In time we will announce a new endeavor with a new goal: To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable. To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally.

When I first contemplated what I wanted to do, it became very clear to me that we were going to need a long period of design. Initially, I thought the only way to build this venture was with a classical startup model, a risk I was prepared to take. But when I talked to Take-Two about the idea, they convinced me that there was no better place to pursue this new chapter than within their walls. After all, they’re the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place.

Thanks to Irrational and 2K’s passion in developing the games, and the fans who believe in it, BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars and secured an iconic place in gaming. I’m handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative. If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock.

-Ken Levine

Ken Levine Talks BioShock Infinite’s Explicit Violence


While “BioShock Infinite” most definitely is one of the best games of 2013, many have criticized the game for its use of excessive violence in the otherwise richly gorgeous world.

During a recent interview with Boston Magazine, Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine spoke about the critics who berate the studio for the violent tendencies. Levine has said that art (in this instance, video games) has a “responsibility” to represent truth not glossing over things that are serious or disturbing.

“One of the responsibilities of art is to actually show this is what it looks like when someone gets shot, because it’s really obfuscated” in news reports of war and violence, Levine told the magazine. “War is about sending pieces of metal very fast at people and tearing them to bits on the most primal level.”

However some critics continue to argue that the violence in the BioShock franchise undermines the sophisticated storytelling achievements.

Now, would you kindly keep letting Ken Levine make awesomeness?

BioShock: Burial At Sea To Be Released November 12


The highly anticipated BioShock Infinite DLC, “Burial At Sea: Episode 1” will be finally releasing on November 12th. (Currently episode 2 is still in development with no release date yet to be announced.) The DLC will be available to download on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC for $14.99 (or as part of the season pass).

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1 was developed by Irrational Games, the studio behind the original BioShock and BioShock Infinite. Players get to return to Rapture as you’ve never seen it before: a shining jewel at the bottom of the ocean, built almost entirely from scratch in the BioShock Infinite game engine. Join Booker and Elizabeth in a film noir-style story that places them in a shining, pristine Rapture on the eve of its fall from grace. Explore the underwater city, try your hand at a grift or two, and even encounter some old “friends” from the original BioShock.

According to the press release, the combat experience has been rebalanced and reworked with a greater emphasis on stealth and resource management that merges the best parts of BioShock and BioShock Infinite. It includes a new weapon, an old favorite weapon from the original BioShock, the return of the weapon wheel, a new Plasmid, new Gear, and Tears.

The Season Pass, which is currently available for purchase,contains $35 of playable content for $19.99, including both Burial at Sea episodes, the previously released Clash in the Clouds add-on pack, as well as the Early Bird Special Pack that has powerful weapon upgrades, exclusive gold weapon skins, and infusion bottles to upgrade player abilities.

“This is a love letter to the fans, but it’s also the beginning of a story that will give gamers a new perspective on the BioShock universe,” said Ken Levine, creative director of Irrational Games. “With Burial at Sea, we built a Rapture not from BioShock and BioShock Infinite scraps and pieces, but with environments almost entirely crafted from scratch.”

BioShock’s “Burial At Sea” DLC To Release This Holiday Season


Bioshock Infinite” players will be able to leave Columbia behind and return to Rapture this holiday season with the release of the “Burial at Sea: Episode 1” DLC. Studio head of Irrational Games, Ken Levine confirmed that episode 1 will be available before the holiday. Continue reading BioShock’s “Burial At Sea” DLC To Release This Holiday Season