I want to ask you about Elizabeth, but first I want to ask you about something specific in the game. What's up with that part where the enemies who are shooting at you just stand down when Comstock tells them to and kneel there and let you kill them?
So those guys I think—you know, that's the first introduction to Comstock. What's that doing is presenting the player, you know, with what the founders' philosophy is. They're fully devoted to Comstock, right? And they will do whatever he says. And I think what's interesting, you know, is coming up on that moment, right, guys have stopped attacking you. You jump off the skyline. They're not attacking you, right? And you chose to kill them.
I think it's really interesting because I think, you know, we talk about the sort of moral ambiguity of the game, you know, sort of the moral grey areas, that—what we constantly want to do is present scenarios to the player where you're going to be thinking, like, is what I'm doing right? You know, same thing with the raffle moment [when the theme of racism is introduced in the game]. There's a clear—you're presented—it's one thing to have that moment at the raffle, and just watch everything play out. I think the moment that you're then presented with a choice, right, you immediately start to think about the world that you find yourself in, and who these characters are and what their beliefs are, right? And the fact that you have to make a decision on what to do—the fact that you're forced to think about, even for a split second, are you going to throw that ball at the couple or are you going to throw it at the announcer? That immediately puts you in the sense that you know what, there are things in this world that are going to be unexpected, right? And I think you immediately know that you're going to be intellectually challenged as you play this game.
I chose to not be racist, and later on that interracial couple came back and helped me out. Is that going to happen a lot? Consequences?
You know, there will be choices, like that raffle moment. But that's—I think it's not all about the binary "what do I want to do?" I think in BioShock 1, the choice that you had in terms of saving the Little Sister or harvesting the Little Sister, was incredibly powerful—the first time it happened. The second time, a little less and less. And by the time you're at the end of the game, you're not even thinking about the choice that you're presented with anymore, because by then it just becomes a button.
Do I want more now, or more later.
Right. This time around, we want to constantly be throwing curveballs at the player to force them to sort of re-evaluate where they find themselves, right? It's much more about thinking about this place that you find yourself in, thinking about the characters that you're interacting with. Who's right? Who's wrong? So that you're never—you never sort of check out and disengage yourself from the experience. It's always about, you know, what would you do in these situations?
So Elizabeth is a big focus, and she really shines because of the writing.
I think she has been the biggest challenge in the game, certainly from a narrative standpoint, because she's so—she really is the protagonist, in a lot of ways, of the story. Getting her to a state where she is a living, breathing character, who's charming, and funny, and endearing, and you want to spend time with her, was sort of the goal. We wanted to create a character who had really never been tackled before in a video game. You've seen companion characters a lot in the past, but none that are really your partner for the game, you know? And that don't act like just this AI that's here to do things for you, right? She has an opinion on the world. She has a viewpoint. She's been locked in this tower her whole life. Now that she's out, she's getting to experience the world for the first time, and she goes through this very complex character arc that, you know, by the time the game is over, you're going to have a very deep appreciation for who she is and what she means for the game.
Was it challenging to make sure that she never got annoying?
Yeah, absolutely, and it actually, you know, for quite a while, I think we went too far in the naivety direction. She was very like, [effeminately] "What's this? I've never seen this before," right? And it became really grating on people, because it was just like, you're just walking around with the dumb girl who's never seen sand before. So we played around with that and immediately saw that like, okay, this is—if we're going to want someone to spend, you know, hours and hours and hours with this girl, we're going to have to make her likable.
So you gave her books in her tower so she would know what sand is.
Well, yeah. We gave her books. We made her much more mature. She has knowledge of the world, but she doesn't have that experience, which I think actually makes her more endearing, because you're getting to see her interact with the world for the first time. And yeah, I think her—Courtnee Draper, who voices her, just did an absolutely phenomenal job. She and Troy [Baker] both—Troy does the voice of Booker—they really committed to these characters, and, in a lot of ways, know them better than the writing team, I think. And they've been great in all the recordings, you know, just saying like, "We've got a paragraph here," and they're just like, "You know what? I think we can do it with this sentence." And trusting them to get that emotion across without having to have—no one ever wants to listen to a speech on how a character feels. If you can get it across in one sentence, and you've got actors good enough to do that, stay the hell out of their way and just let it happen.
Well you all did a great job.