And you do a really good job of setting up these mythical-seeming characters, and they're basically straw men, they're like the Wizard of Oz—you know you'll get to meet them eventually and they're not going to be what they seemed.
Yeah, I think that's what makes for the most interesting characters, are people that are multi-dimensional. You know, like, I think the best villains are always villains that never view themselves as the villain. They always have a point of view that they are trying to achieve. No one ever views themselves as purely evil. I think that's what makes great villains. It's what makes, you know, our hero's journey that much more rewarding: if there is a complex villain that you're up against. That's what we want. We want players to be thinking about this world that they're in, and deciding for themselves who's right and who's wrong.
So where did the city come from?
I think it came from a wish to, you know, not repeat ourselves. I think that by, certainly, looking at the time frame that the game was going to be set, looking at: what were sort of the broad themes of the time, with American exceptionalism—it was, you know, right around the time of the World's Fair in Chicago. And that sort of belief that America can do anything, right? I think you sort of just take that, and you—because it's a video game—you sort of take that and you start to push the boundaries of what you could get away with, right? What really is the most fantastical thing for the time period, right? And the floating city is one of them. And I think what's great about a BioShock game's unique setting, having it now be Columbia, having it be up in the air, it's also about, you know, pushing gameplay boundaries.
Whereas in BioShock 1, in the underwater Rapture, it looked amazing, right, but you never got to really get a sense of it, because it's just a corridor shooter. Which worked really well for the game that it was. But I think, you know, we always want to try to push and innovate and try to, you know, do things that no one's ever really tackled before. And so by setting it in the sky, immediately you can go, "Now we have a new—we can play around with a concept like the skylines," or something, where now it's not just a corridor. You're walking around in the city, now, if you see a skyline overhead, at a moment's notice you can hop on that skyline, and you can zip all over the place and discover, you know, new spots in the world. Hidden places. Use it in combat to, you know, get out of the enemy's range or find a sniper position. It's about—I think BioShock games in particular are all about giving the players this broad tool set to sort of, you know, customize their gameplay experience and allow them to make lots of different choices to really feel like they are owning their gameplay experience.
And it does a great job of starting out small and building to the point where there's a huge environment to explore and experiment in.
Yeah, exactly, and I think, you know, the game does start off at a pretty slow burn, because we want to make sure that, you know—these systems are so complex, and so new to players that before you really toss them into the deep end, you've got to make sure that people understand how these things interact. So you start off and we'll give you your vigors so you sort of understand that system. And then we'll let you play around with the skylines; okay, so now I understand and know how the skylines can work with the vigors and work with my weapons, and that's cool. And then we introduce Liz. And then Liz will start tossing you stuff in combat, right, and making sure you're well stocked on supplies. And then we start to introduce tears. And so it's this slow little trickle effect that you're learning these systems over the course of the game, so that by the time we get to something like we saw in [the later level] Emporia, in the demo at the start, you know, you understand how all of those systems interact with each other, and you're able to make those snap decisions.
I'm like, you know, I want to jump on the skyline, have Liz open this tear, use a Devil's Kiss vigor on the oil slick that she opened up, and then, you know, jump over some place else so I can grab a sniper rifle, and then Liz is going to toss me some salts so I can send a Murder of Crows—and you know, you're constantly making these moment-to-moment decisions [snaps fingers] that I think really, you know, give players—you're always thinking two steps ahead, I think, because there are so many options available to you. It just feels like there's no scripted way to go about these combats. It's however you can think of trying to tackle an obstacle, you're going to be able to do it.
The first BioShock game was written so that people who had never heard of Ayn Rand or objectivism could still pick up on that aspect a little bit but just enjoy the game as a shooter, whereas players who were familiar with that philosophy could really sink their teeth into it and understand the game on a deeper level. Is that the same in Infinite?
Yeah, absolutely. I think you always want to, you know, approach telling a story like this—the people that want to sort of dive into the deeper meaning, right, it's there for them, and people who really sort of understand the sort of religious themes that we're tackling, or the American exceptionalism, or this sort of the populous movement of the Vox Populi, will have this sort of broader understanding of the world as a whole. But at the same time, you know, it's still at its core a kick-ass first-person shooter, right? With Liz's complex story and journey right at the forefront. And so I think the core of the story really is Booker and Liz and their journey through Columbia.
And then the backdrop, really, and the deeper appreciation comes from exploring the world and sort of diving into the religious themes and all this background, much like BioShock 1, right? Like you said, I think there are certainly players who could play that game never having heard of Ayn Rand, right, and still have an appreciation for the story because of the front story that was being told. It's just, you know, we respect the people that want to pick up a BioShock game and play. We respect our audience to, you know, come to the table with—you know, we're not going to talk down to them at all. If people want to sort of delve into what the deeper meaning of the game is, it's certainly there, right? We're going to invite that. We want to raise, I think, the level of debate in video games.