During the GDC event in Paris the lead programmer said that for all the many setbacks to the project, BioShock should never have managed the success it achieved.
Kline admits that the projects "very first failure was that we wanted to base this whole thing on System Shock 2." Labelling it an action shooter changed everything.
"What’s interesting is that even though it was the same game," Kline said, "when we presented it as a shooter people started getting more excited about it. Even the team."
Carrying the name Irrational at the time, the team decided that this 'new' System Shock 2 would need to have both its narrative and AI overhauled if they wanted success. An environment where the AI wasn't solely focused on attacking the player was priority but then the project froze for two years - luckily some creative PR manoeuvres got things sailing again.
"The design team’s core assumption was that Shock 2 was a near-perfect game design. And we could just fix a few flaws. So what did we keep? Resource scarcity, the customization of the character through different systems, and we wanted the player to be cautious about moving through the world," Kline explained.
Shifting focus from monsters to the underwater city of Rapture helped shape BioShock but wasn't the end of their troubles. He wrapped up his presentation by saying delays and date push-backs from studios aren't an entirely bad thing, pointing to the successes of heavyweights Blizzard and Valve.
"Some people think that constantly messing up, and pushing dates isn't a good way to make a game, but as far as I'm concerned it's the only way to make a good game."
2K Boston's Chris Kline says that "BioShock should've failed"
24 June 2008 | By Jamie Davey