Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
HomeNews Watch 15 Minutes of Bioshock Infinite with Me
Privileged few got to see Bioshock Infinite's E3 2011 demo behind closed doors. It was packed every day of the conference, standing room-only type stuff which was a shame because the couches in there were really, really comfy. Irrational Games showed off quite a chunk of their "f*** numbers" Bioshock-universe sequel, and now you can see it all for yourself.
You know, the ending of that demo got me thinking about an interview Ken Levine did the other day with Rock Paper Shotgun. In it he said:
Our goal with Elizabeth was to get players to feel like there was a connection. There’s obviously a connection between Booker, the character, and Elizabeth, but we want the player to feel a connection between themselves and Elizabeth.
I started thinking about how a very sick patient often rapidly feels an intense bond with their doctor, because they’re in danger. The same is true of people in combat. This tuned us to the nature of sacrifice, and to what a character wants and will sacrifice to get it. Elizabeth wants to control her own destiny and she’d rather die than not control her own destiny. We thought that this was something people could empathize with, but we also thought that sacrifice rapidly builds connections between people. People sacrificing for one another creates strong bonds quickly, and the demo is a microcosm of the whole game in that sense. It’s about what the characters sacrifice for each other.
Then of course she has to be nice and funny and charming, she can’t be a bore. So there’s levels of macro and micro decision making to make this stuff work. She’s there to help you throughout the game. She makes your life better. She can toss you ammo, point out enemies, to bring in the tears, and she’s a very you-centered AI. You are not obligated to take care of her in the way that you are in an escort mission.
Thank. God. Seriously, one gigantic escort mission does not a good game make. Interesting to see Irrational Games giving up the "sacrificial connection" in a trailer before their game is released, but maybe there's more to Bioshock Infinite than we're seeing in these 15 minutes. Theater billboards and inter-dimensional tears anyone?