2K Lead Programmer: 'BioShock Should've Failed,' Marketing as a Shooter Key to Game's Success

During a presentation today at Paris GDC, 2K Boston lead programmer Chris Kline said that, after considering the project's many setbacks, his company's successful shooter BioShock (PC, 360) should not have been the hit that it was.

"The very first failure was that we wanted to base this whole thing on System Shock 2," said Kline, according to Gamasutra.

"Here was our idea: Let's just make System Shock 2. This was easy because we'd already made System Shock 2. We knew it was a critical success, and we thought we knew all the things that kept it from being financially successful."

Kline noted that the project would require far more work than a simple iteration of System Shock 2. After a two year halt in development, the team carried over several elements from Shock 2, but found that much of the BioShock's basic systems--including the important monster AI--needed fundamental changes.

In fact, even after the game's intriguing 2006 E3 demo, BioShock wasn't building much interest amongst gamers. It wasn't until the companybegan selling it as an exciting action game that the project really gained steam.

"What's interesting is that even though it was the same game, when we presented it as a shooter people started getting more excited about it. Even the team."

Once the team began focusing on the world of Rapture, and how that world would revolve around the player, the game began to fall into place. Of course, incorporating minor systems, balancing the gameplay, and smoothing out BioShock's ambitious story still presented plenty of problems for the team. "We were actually so focused on the big details that we actually forgot how important the little details are," he added.

Kline ended the presentation by reiterating a common theme of successful developers such as Valve and Blizzard: pushing back release dates can, and often does, translate to a successful project.

"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."