Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite: Rebuilding Rapture

We sit down with Burial at Sea's producer, Don Roy, and find out more about the inspirations behind the incoming DLC.

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With the release of Bioshock Infinite's first piece of story-driven DLC just a few days away, we sat down with the Burial at Sea's producer, Don Roy, and asked him a few questions about the content coming in the two-part adventure that'll see players taken down to the depths and return to Rapture.

GR: Why return to Rapture?

DR: To see if we could do a compelling story making these two universes touch. We were very excited about taking the lessons we learnt from Infinite and seeing if could apply them to Rapture. If you look at the town centre it's a living breathing world in Infinite, it's about being able to apply that to show something new in Rapture. We wanted to show what life was like before the fall because we created a compelling world in Bio-1 where it had fallen, but showing it living and breathing and what citizens lives were like was really compelling to us.

How does Burial at Sea adhere to the multiverse you introduced in Infinite?

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I don't want to give away any spoilers, but it is a complete thought, I'll tell you that. It makes sense why Booker and Elizabeth are there, and players will find that out.

With the multiverse it seems Irrational has created a platform where they can take future Bioshock games almost anywhere, are you still considering where it could take you in future instalments?

I think it's a nice offshoot from what we created in Infinite, but honestly we're so heads down with DLC we're not really thinking about anything else at the moment.

Bioshock Infinite
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The Bioshock games have a very strong narrative. Do you think we've reached a point in gaming where story is dictating gameplay, rather than the other way around, which has been more historically traditional?

It's an interesting question. I think the trick is actually finding a balance, how can we get it so the they service each other. It can sway, you can go full narrative and then you've almost got a choose-your-own adventure, or you go strictly gameplay and dedicate time to balancing systems and gameplay. Trying to make those work together is what we strive to do. I think that is the constant goal, it's what fuels me every day, because narrative is really important, I think its a compelling way to get people invested in the game and the universe so we're creating a story to tell but ensuring it's still a game to play with systems for players is important.

Bioshock games are well known for throwing in twists and turns. Is that something you preconceive or is it something that comes organically through creating the game?

It's actually organic. The story is the most important thing in figuring out the narrative we want to tell in any slice, whether it's the main SKU slice or DLC slice. It tends to work itself out, and it's very organic.

Burial at Sea has a very Noir feel. What was thinking behind taking that approach to this instalment?

I think it made sense for the story we want to tell, and it works well in Bioshock games because there's a lot of mystery in them. Noir stories always start where the main character doesn't have all the information and somebody does, so they're being led along. It made a lot of sense for us to take that route so as we started to flesh out Liz that way it made a lot of sense. We looked at movies like Chinatown, and just thought "yes" - it's a great way to present these characters.

Liz is a different proposition than the girl we met in Infinite. She's certainly not a damsel in distress, she's got much more of a femme fatale role...

I think it's the natural evolution from where we took her in Infinite. She experienced this world of violence and it changed her. At the end of Infinite she becomes an ultimate being, so we pick up from there and she is an extension of that Elizabeth. She's strong, she's seen a lot, she has a very different view of the world from when she was in the tower.

Bioshock Infinite

For the opening hour of Burial at Sea, there's not much combat - it's more about being presented with a mystery and then exploring as you try to figure things out. How do you anticipate players reacting to a situation without any fighting, where everything's a bit of a puzzle, and a lot of the supporting characters seem to know more about what's going on than Booker does?

I really hope fans react positively. I've actually really enjoyed playing it as we've been building it, and I like that players are noticing things that show, as they're playing, that there's a story there. The characters in the world do know more than the player does and I'm hoping it will fuel them to want to know more, to keep moving forward, to figure out why that is and go through an evolutionary growth, along with Booker, of finally understanding why things are happening. I think it ties us to Booker more, I like that.

You've pretty much rebuilt Rapture. That must've thrown up some challenges in the development...

More than we thought going into it. I still remember the initial meeting when we were determined to do it and thinking, as a producer, that this is going to be more work than we think it is. But it's been great, it's built up, it's all new. The stuff from the original Bio was a great reference, but it wasn't usable. So it's fully built and realised using the technology and the lessons learnt from Infinite. It was a ton of work but really amazing and rewarding seeing our artists bring it to life again. Its reminiscient but new and we're able to introduce players to new parts of Rapture as well as pristine versions of things they've known and bringing back old allies and enemies. Resurrecting the Big Daddies and Little Sisters was a big day for me. When they came back to life and we had them mid-engine, that was a big deal.

The first Big Daddy I saw, just going about it's work in the distance, definitely put a smile on my face.

It's been super fun to create the vistas, we've been able to things with them in floating worlds that we just couldn't do in the first Bio. Being able to truly evolve that from what we've learnt is hugely rewarding.

Bioshock Infinite

With Splicers returning, the gameplay is slightly different than in Infinite. Where there many challenges in programming the AI or were you able to use a lot from the original Bioshock?

It was an interesting challenge, it was definitely a learning curve for our designers and our systems guys. A lot of our team is new, and had spent so long creating large scale, open-world combat in Infinite that going back in we had to remind ourselves of the differences. And there were differences in addition to that because most of the vigors, if not all of the vigors, have trap functionality now. We wanted to use that and leveredge that in the Bio-1 world. It ends up being an interesting hybrid of balance, we bring the player back to a bit of starvation, we introduce stealth elements and give the player agency to set up combats.

In Burial at Sea Part 2 players will get to play as Elizabeth, that must have thrown up some interesting gameplay possibilities...

We're very excited to be able to do that. It was a big a piece of feedback we got, that fans wanted to play as Elizabeth, so when we are in discussions we just said, why the hell wouldn't we do this? So in Part 2 playing as Elizabeth will be very fun. I don't want to give away any spoilers at this point, but she will be a unique player-character, there's no question.

With the new consoles just around the corner everybody is talking next-gen at the moment, does Irrational have any solid plans yet?

We're completely heads-down on DLC and making something robust for the fans.


Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea is set to be released on November 12. Expect it to hit all three platforms (PC, Xbox 360 and PS3) and cost £9.99.

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