BioShock Infinite multiplayer 'experiment' cut due to resources

Irrational head Ken Levine elaborates on why the studio nixed the multiplayer modes in BioShock Infinite.

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BioShock Infinite's multiplayer mode has become a casualty of the game development process. But to hear Irrational head Ken Levine describe it, the mode was always a risky "experiment" that serves as an example of how the developer iterates and tosses concepts that don't work or can't be finished.

"We look at this way: we play around with a ton of things," Levine told IGN. "So much of it is experimental that you really have no idea... In a game like this, where we start this thing and we’re like 'okay, it’s in a flying city in 1912 and you're this guy and there's this girl who can change the nature of reality,' you don’t quite have a lot of guidelines to go with. We probably tried 40 different versions of [Songbird] before we found the right one."

This iterative process led to toying around with multiplayer, which Levine called an "experiment" from the get-go.

"So, like everything, you try certain things, and the multiplayer, we got to a point where we said 'okay, this is the you-know-what or get off the pot moment,' and we decided to get off the pot because it wasn't there yet. But that makes it sound like I'm dissing on what the guys did. No. Actually, I think they did some really extraordinary stuff, but we felt we didn't have the resources and time to finish the experiment to the level we wanted to. And we weren't going to ship something that was not consistent with the overall package."

That makes the modes sound pretty mysterious, but Levine isn't talking about what exactly set them apart from the average multiplayer shooter. He declined to elaborate, saying that "you never know when we'll go back and revisit something. There was some really cool stuff there, but it just wasn't ready for what we were doing."

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  • reply
    December 12, 2012 10:15 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, BioShock Infinite multiplayer 'experiment' cut due to resources.

    Irrational head Ken Levine elaborates on why the studio nixed the multiplayer modes in BioShock Infinite.

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      December 12, 2012 10:25 AM

      Well damn isn't an epic single player adventure set in a freaken cloud city with rollercoasters in 1080p enough?

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        December 12, 2012 10:28 AM

        Says the man who sucks at multiplayer.

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          December 12, 2012 4:45 PM

          your the reason MP sucks. I rather play with myself. Pun intended. LOL.

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            December 12, 2012 8:03 PM

            Says the man who can't type proper English.

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              December 12, 2012 8:54 PM

              Says the man who will reply to this post with a post that starts with "says the man who..."

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        December 12, 2012 6:18 PM

        1080p is weak

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        December 18, 2012 2:47 PM

        Sucking at mp has nothing to do with my comment (though I do own at cod, tribes and quake), this is simply a matter of resources. All games don't need mp fool.

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      December 12, 2012 11:18 AM

      Good this game doesn't need MP

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      December 12, 2012 11:21 AM

      I'd love to be referred to as an irrational head

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      December 12, 2012 11:29 AM

      He obviously needs Dahanese to set him straight on why multiplayer is essential to this franchise.

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        December 12, 2012 2:48 PM

        What is your issue? Did I accidentally shit on your face and forget?

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          December 12, 2012 3:00 PM

          If you haven't I think you've earned the right to.

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          December 12, 2012 5:09 PM

          Just that you defended the lackluster multiplayer in Bioshlock 2 and told everyone who was critical of it that they were clearly wrong.

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            December 12, 2012 5:17 PM

            i liked BioShock 2's multiplayer and spent months playtesting and helping with its creation. not sure about the clearly wrong part. i suppose that's where i accidentally shat in your face but liking something you don't and being proud of my work when you don't like it is okay. it will happen in life. i don't hold it personally against you and you might want to let it go because i'm not that important and you are fixating.

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              December 12, 2012 7:51 PM

              Same here. It was actually really fun and surprised me.

              Can't please them all.

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                December 12, 2012 8:47 PM

                It was fun, but the match making service sucked the fun out of it.

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            December 12, 2012 6:11 PM

            Bioshock 2 multiplayer was actually kind of fun for the time I put into it.

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          December 12, 2012 5:30 PM

          That sounds hot, go on

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      December 12, 2012 2:39 PM

      I wish more crappy multiplayer was scrapped to give good coop.
      and 99% of upcoming mmos changed to coop/singleplayer

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      December 12, 2012 3:27 PM

      Good. Not every game needs MP and if it takes resources from making a better SP game rip that shit out.

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      December 12, 2012 5:19 PM

      Levine has never been an advocate for multiplayer, so I was more surprised to see that they were considering it in the first place. Then again, I have no doubt that the multiplayer was mandated by the publisher.

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        December 12, 2012 5:20 PM

        if it was mandated by the publisher the mandate would still be in place also the publisher and the developer are the same company

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        December 12, 2012 5:54 PM

        If you were to talk to Irrational in 2011, they would've been gung-ho about multiplayer in Bioshock Infinite. From a job posting in March 2011:

        "Forget leaderboards. Forget DLC. Forget Web 2.0, social networking, and online chit-chat. We live in a world of constant, ubiquitous online connectivity that opens up far more dramatic options in triple-A console and PC gaming. The team that created the BioShock franchise is currently building systems to help us better understand how people play our games and use that information to improve our game experiences not just in the future, but in real-time.

        "Irrational Games is looking for exceptional individuals to expand our Online Infrastructure team, where our mandate is to leverage online connectivity to deliver added value and groundbreaking experiences to gamers worldwide, both at launch and over time. If you have a passion for gaming and significant experience in areas such as high-volume server software development, online infrastructure design, NoSQL solutions and backend services, then we encourage you to apply."


        ...and they also had a job listing as late as May 2012: http://www.shacknews.com/article/73726/bioshock-infinite-team-seeking-network-engineer

        They must've been driven hard by something (probably many factors, much of it Take Two corporate, but probably also the desire to create a new kind of multiplayer console FPS experience), but then it ran out of steam this summer.

        Was this multplayer effort a major reason why Bioshock Infinite was delayed? http://www.shacknews.com/article/73716/bioshock-infinite-delayed-to-2013

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          December 12, 2012 6:09 PM

          Neither of those necessarily mean multiplayer. The first part even kind of indicates that multiplayer was never a definite thing. They were looking to learn "how people play our games and use that information to improve our game experiences". That seems more like creating some adaptable game engine analytics to determine what they should build, because they weren't even sure if people wanted multiplayer.

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          December 12, 2012 6:23 PM

          Here's the 2010 interview I was thinking of:
          http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/103183-Ken-Levine-Not-Convinced-About-BioShock-Infinite-Multiplayer

          At that time, Ken made it pretty clear that he was apathetic about multiplayer...which is a complete 180 from all the stories in the last few weeks. Suddenly they're lamenting the loss of multiplayer...which they never promised to begin with?

          Someday I think it would be really interesting to read an honest post-mortem on Bioshock: Infinite and Irrational Games as a company. I'm curious if internal disagreements over this multiplayer had anything to do with all the high profile turnovers and delays.

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          December 12, 2012 9:19 PM

          All that sounds like is they want Valve-style player metrics

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      December 12, 2012 7:13 PM

      THIS IS A GOOD THING

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      December 12, 2012 9:38 PM

      I would love to hear about more of the cool ideas that some studios try and then drop.

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