Ken Levine might not be on top of everyone’s best friend list, especially after he and 2K shut down Irrational Studios seemingly out of the blue last year. Levine has since stayed with the publisher, and is currently toying around with new game ideas with some of the remnants of the BioShock and System Shock team. And so far, it’s all sounding very much like what he’s been trying to achieve for years.
In an interview with Game Informer, Levine spilt the beans on what his next project is going to really focus on. His past endeavours, looking especially at BioShock in particular, have really tried to epitomise character and player agency. The Little Sisters in the BioShock are a good example of how Levine tried to shape player emotion and choice into tangible gameplay mechanics, and it’s what his next game is really all about.
“In the new game, you have very fluid relationships with the characters. They have a spectrum of feeling about you based upon what you do and if you help them or go against them. That changes dynamically, and you can end the game with a character absolutely despising you or somewhere in the middle. The path to getting there doesn’t have seven or eight stops like your traditional branching tree structure. It has 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.”
That’s essentially a very high-brow way to look at RPG structures – and inevitably tear them apart to create a new, dynamic character structure. Levine wants character arcs to be created organically as you play, and attributes this to a well-built system that is able to facilitate just that.
“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. The reason I think the system is going to work is because it’s a very organic way to look at a character.”
It does, of course, mean that he and his team need to build a system that creates interesting characters as you play – which means removing narration from the equation entirely. It sounds extremely theoretical and experimental at this point, and I find myself questioning how much of it is actually based in reality. In a word: it’s something Molyneux would promise.
It’s also the only thing we know about the game at this stage, other than the fact that it’ll be built using Unreal Engine 4. Still, it’s high time that Levine broke the silence, and I hope to see more on this ambitious title soon.
Last Updated: April 10, 2015