A Message from Ken Levine

by IG.Ken on August 12 2010

179 comments

Keeping secrets is hard.

The last three years for me have been dominated by a single question: “What are you guys doing there?”

Some of you were pretty certain it was an X-COM game, which I can now safely say it is not.  It is also not part of the Freedom Force, SWAT, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, Kingdom Hearts or Yar’s Revenge franchises.  The time for discussing what Irrational Games is NOT doing is over.

Today we announce BioShock Infinite.

That’s right, this is a BioShock game.

It’s a sequel.

But it’s also not a sequel.

Let me explain.

At Irrational Games, we believe that in order to fulfill expectations, you have to defy expectations.

When we completed the original BioShock, we felt we had said all we wanted to say with Rapture, but we weren’t done with the idea that is BioShockBioShock is so much more than a story of a single place or a single time.  We had so much more we wanted to say.

There are two core principles for us that define a BioShock game. First, it has to be set in a world that is both fantastical and yet also grounded in the human experience. Second, it has to provide gamers with a large set of tools, and then set them loose in an environment that empowers them to solve problems in their own way.

It would have been easier for us to go back to the well. We could have taken the easy route.  We could have simply done more of the same, but we would not have been true to ourselves as game developers.  Making the original BioShock was hard.  We challenged ourselves every step of the way, and we tossed aside many elements and ideas simply because they weren’t good enough.

So when we started the sequel, we said to ourselves: “We want to expand on those core principles, but beyond that, there are no sacred cows.  Everything else that people know or think they know about BioShock is open for negotiation.”

You will find yourself in a completely new world.  Columbia is not an unknown secret city at the bottom of the sea.  It’s a creation of an America transforming from a regional agrarian collection of states into a world power with global reach.

You now play an actual character, and not a cypher who is unaware of his own identity.  You are Booker Dewitt, a particular character with an established history, with a voice you will hear as he talks to himself and others in the game.

You’ve come to Columbia for a reason: to find a mysterious young woman named Elizabeth and bring her safely out of the city. She will travel with you, interact with you, and react to the situations you cause to happen, and through your relationship with her, we’re able to tell the story of this new and amazing world.

This world of Columbia presents radical differences in scale from what you are used to. You’re not crawling through corridors on the ocean floor, claustrophobic with the weight of the ocean bearing down on you.  Instead you find yourself navigating through huge environments, zipping around on Sky-Lines at eighty miles per hour and getting into firefights at ranges of two thousand yards.

In fact, there is so much new and radical about BioShock Infinite that we simply can’t tell you all about it in one revelation.  What we present to the world today is merely the tip of a very large iceberg.  In the coming months we’ll begin to reveal more of what BioShock Infinite is all about and let the world know why we are so excited.

For now, we want to thank you all for your patience, and for sticking with us all these many months while we labored in silence.The time for silence is over. First up for the fans of this site is another episode of Irrational Behavior with Shawn Elliott that covers the announcement of BioShock Infinite and the work that led up to it. I’m sure you’ll dig it.

Down the road a bit, actual gameplay footage awaits. It’s something you’re going to want to watch more than once. Trust me on this one.

Avatar Image Posted this August 12 2010 03:20 pm, under Insider
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  • borrego | August 15, 2010 1:18 pm

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    I’m gonna have to just say I’m totally relieved BioShock: Infinite is coming to PS3. I know this is going to piss off some people, but I couldn’t be more disappointed with the XBox. I have purchased two of them, BOTH of them have died. One was an “Elite” model. I have never in my life seen a console that breaks like this one. Luckily the first one died within its warranty, but the second one was a few months late. Now they want a hundred more dollars to get it running again. Not to mention the weeks I’ll go without gaming.
    So, to sum it up, because of its reliability, functionality, and free online play, Sony, I salute you. Microsoft, I give you the bird.
    Thank you, Irrational, for going multi-platform.

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  • danneby | August 15, 2010 2:06 pm

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    Gameplay fottage… You sir just said the magic word!

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  • TheMadSpin | August 15, 2010 2:39 pm

    When I grow up, I want to help write a game for Irrational. Not code mind you, just awesome narrative badassery.

    There are only about a dozen places that really capture my imagination from a lore standpoint and this is one of them.

    Can’t wait.

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  • TheMadSpin | August 15, 2010 2:42 pm

    That “can’t wait” is for the game and for the moment when I trick you guys into hiring me.

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  • tarhiel | August 15, 2010 4:03 pm

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    Oh my goodness – as the others siad, I can´t wait! You just made my day, sir :)

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  • andrewrocha | August 15, 2010 5:41 pm

    Ken,

    These are great words to read as a(n) avid gaming enthusiast, consumer and member of the interactive entertainment industry. The original BioShock was a fine work of art and I am truly inspired by your commitment to work from the ground up in order to give us a fresh take on the franchise. Can I ask a favor of you? This may seem out of place… but I am constantly imploring developers to focus on the off-line multiplayer market (a small segment, but still significant enough). Four-player split-screen, System-Link… Now, granted, much of BioShock’s charm will come from its narrative and gameplay mechanics but lest us not forget the team also allots a significant portion of time to online multiplayer components. I’m no programmer, but would that really take much time?

    Just tossing it out there. I need to make it known — there is an emerging industry out there that virtually thrives on games with offline multiplayer components. If you can do 4-player split-screen, you can do 16-player system-link over 4 consoles a la Halo –don’t cop out like Infinity and Treyarch with Call of Duty (one player per console on system-link when the game can do 4-player splitscreen).

    If you’ve read through this entire message, I thank you.
    Continue the great work, I look forward to picking up Infinity upon release.

    Best Wishes!

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  • ozzyrocks804 | August 15, 2010 8:35 pm

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    I like this alot………. some people on the 2k forum are upset about the fact that it sounds like he’s brushing bioshock 2 off. I’m a member of the forum ,but I’m not gonna lie bioshock 2 was terrible and I’m not deluding myself anymore! This is the real second Bioshock game!

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  • ruthven | August 16, 2010 9:42 am

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    I was very unsure at first but having read some of the interviews and previews, I am VERY excited to enter the world of Columbia!

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  • carbondioxide | August 16, 2010 11:34 am

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    This new game immediately brought to mind Hayao Miyazaki’s fantastic film Castle in the Sky (Laputa). A literal castle in the sky with steampunkesque aircraft and buildings. This game looks like its going to be another masterpiece. I’ve long wondered if anyone would make a game based on that film (also Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind). Not to say Bioshock will be based on the movie, just the setting of a secret city in the sky reminds me of that film. Anyways, looking forward to playing this.

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  • bigdadiesftw | August 16, 2010 7:07 pm

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    well,here are a few tips. it would be a serious turn off if Rapture was an alternate world, i would not buy another game in the series. second, have the morality system with the rejected babies. save or harvest, all the way. third, have little, i dont know, flash forwards to when rapture starts going to Hell, so we aren’t done with rapture just like that. like a side story almost. and include audio diaries. thats about it.

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  • zacharydoan | August 17, 2010 2:22 am

    All I can say is I got goosebumps when I saw the trailer for the first time I am so excited about this game!!! Can’t wait to see more!

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  • jarec | August 17, 2010 4:52 am

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    Oh, hey, is it OK if I reference this game by the name SteamShock from this point on whenever I talk about it? Oh, you don’t care, OK, then I will.
    I can’t imagine this game to be in the “same world” that BioShock was. It’s just too fantastical.

    First thing to come my mind from “Infinite” is; We just made EVERY sequel to BioShock, so you guys don’t need to bother anymore.

    - Your most biggest turbo-fan of all.

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  • perfectdarkling | August 17, 2010 11:57 am

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    Wow. The day the game was announced, I watched the trailer and just about crapped my pants. I can’t wait to see what you guys do with Bioshock Infinite. Here’s hoping the rest of the development process goes well (challenges and all). I know we all look forward to seeing your creativity in motion again.

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  • rybow73 | August 18, 2010 2:16 am

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    I can’t wait until the gameplay footage. I’ll probably rewatch it 10 times, haha.

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  • adesilva | August 18, 2010 1:52 pm

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    I cant wait to see some gameplay footage. It will be interesting to see how different it is from the original Bioshock and how much the environment changes things

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  • kevinvilleneuve | August 18, 2010 3:25 pm

    At first I was cautious, even with the amazement I felt while watching the trailer…
    Then I was excited after reading the info everywhere…
    And now I’m mad because I won’t play this for another 2 years.

    Thanks Irrational >:(

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  • nodscene | August 18, 2010 6:14 pm

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    I’m stocked. It’s gonna be a long wait until release day though. I loved Rapture and I hope Colombia will meet my expectations. As I said… I’m stocked.

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  • wyattwilliamson | August 18, 2010 6:40 pm

    all i can say is i will not be exploring Columbia with the title of Bioshock it must be rapture if not then im not interested

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  • wyattwilliamson | August 18, 2010 6:40 pm

    i couldnt be more disappointed. the original Bioshock created a whole new realm of fiction i dont know if it had a name but i consider it decopunk and to me this new one is a betrayal…not just to me as a fan….but to the game. you can get steampunk all over the place but a world like my Rapture…well its rare and discouraging that they would throw it aside sop easily i can say i wont be buying this or any future installments in the Bioshock franchise until the do my city justice…and return to RAPTURE

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  • rybow73 | August 18, 2010 8:38 pm

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    @Wyatt – Well, just wait for 2K Games to do another BioShock set in Rapture. I’m sure they’ll do it.

    But why not try out Infinite? Just because it doesn’t take place in Rapture doesn’t mean it won’t be good. Wait before you criticize.

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  • mrhate | August 18, 2010 9:02 pm

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    i am from costa rica ain even in this side of the world we know your work, and let me told you something: keep the good work guys

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  • chaosbeing | August 20, 2010 2:47 am

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    Hmmm…. The word ’skeptical’ doesn’t quite fit what I’m feeling, but it’s the closest thing coming to mind. I initially agreed with some of the previous posters sentiments.

    “Gasp! This isn’t in Rapture!? ZOMG How could they do it!?”

    I then noticed that this game is not, in fact, titled BioShock 3. So, I have to ask the question; Is it? Is this the sequel to the near-cliffhanger ending of BioShock 2, where it explicitly states that Eleanor’s adventure had only just begun? Or is this a spin-off of the classic BioShock series we all love?

    I can tell you right now that if this is a spin-off, it will probably be a smashing success. Cash is tight, but I’d probably buy it.
    However, if this is supposed to be the third installment, I see only instant death for the series. It’d be such a shame.

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    • chaosbeing | August 20, 2010 7:24 pm

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      Ok, I’m simply going to expand on what I’ve posted above, and try to say it in a different way.

      Ultimately, what I think my biggest fears are is this: Continuity. For one reason or another, many people seem to dislike the second BioShock. I thought the story was actually very good. It expands on the history of Rapture, gave us a few characters with a great dynamic between them, but lets forget that for a moment. When BioShock 2 left off, Eleanor was standing on a lifeboat, ready to face the world. BioShock 3, in this continuity, would not be in Rapture. I have absolutely NO problems with that. I just don’t want to lose a story like that when it’s really only at it’s beginning.

      Also, taking place before the 1920’s, it will take place far before Rapture, so I understand it won’t have anything to do with it. That’s perfectly fine. As said, I didn’t expect to really be seeing much more of it anyway. But a flying city really stretches my faith in the believability department. The thing about Rapture is that while fantastic, it feels like it really COULD have happened. It was secretive, kept from the world, made for the purpose of severing their ties with the ‘parasites’. An Americana flying village, on the other hand, will be far harder to pull off. Not impossible, but to difficult.

      One last parting comment: Do you guys, the devs, see all the strong reactions to the change? It’s because we’re all completely in love with the series. Nearly as much as you all must be. We’re all trusting you know best, and we’re hoping we’ll love this as well. But like I said, we are scared of losing what we know. Just keep up the stupendous work, guys. And I’ll cross my fingers that Infinite will win me over.

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  • NomarDll769 | August 20, 2010 3:01 pm

    So now I’ve finally read this post. This is what I like about Irrational; they bend the rules, or as Ken put it, “defy expectations.”

    This game will be so incredibly different from all others, it will be insane! Irrational Games, in my opinion, has, and will continue to raise the bar of standards in the gaming industry.

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  • hoboking006 | September 9, 2010 1:42 am

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    Sounds awesome, sort of like Bioshock meets H.G. Wells the War in the Air

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  • justinkean | September 22, 2010 12:24 pm

    Holy Crap!

    I just saw the game play trailer for the new Bioshock Infinite and I read the developers blog. When I had first heard that they were doing a Bioshock Infinite I was pretty much groaning internally. To me the story of Rapture has been done. I envisioned the game devolving from this strong nuanced story to what was, in my mind, pretty much just another first person shooter platform. I was very happy to see that the dev team agreed with me..

    Although they have kept some game play feel, which I’m fine with since you don’t necessarily need to toss the baby out with the bathwater, the overall look and feel of the game seems very different. This is one that I’ll be seriously looking forward to and I really hope that it lives up to the awesomeness that was the first Bioshock game.

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  • rolanthunder | September 25, 2010 11:23 am

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    Thank you Ken!!! I’ve always appreciated you and your team’s work on the original BioShock and cannot wait to get into BioShock Infinite!!! I’m very impressed and blown away by what Infinite is and would like to say WELL DONE:)

    I’ll always love BioShock and everything about it because it’s special to me and so many others – BioShock 1, 2, Infinite and beyond I’ve embraced in equal measure:D Really looking forward to “Infinite”.

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  • henriquesalesbrito | November 19, 2010 5:17 pm

    … I hope it is VERY GOOD!

    … More confess that STOU COMPLETAMNTE DISAPPOINTED with the aim of the Saga of RAPTURE. Not because its over, but rather it had final pleo, or rather did not, MINERVA EDEN is a complement to, but just that. And in no way ends the story of RAPTURE was little, small, estremamente incomplete.

    … I still have that BIOSHOCK3 for hope: A Sea of Dreams happen, if only because that is what the end of ELENAOR suggests ELENAOR saving the world in a new world order, the disclosure of RAPTURE pair to the world, an arms war with ADAM the world powers of that time, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Cold War in full, perhaps even JACK back with TENNEBAUM, all united to …

    … SAVE THE WORLD!

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  • ethan526 | January 12, 2011 1:27 pm

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    O.o I think bioshock was great but the only downer about it was there was no diary’s about you, but in this one it looks like you all outdone yourselves. to be honest i thought a game this good wouldn’t come out to the public until a hundred years in the future.

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  • thethinker | February 11, 2011 1:31 am

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    Leave Bioshock out of the PS3 and keep it only for XBOX 360. As The Xbox comminuty is largley the biggest Bioshock Fans

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  • tryptech | February 17, 2011 8:02 pm

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    Bioshock has my vote for one of the best games ever created, I have spent hundreds of hours playing between the first and second game as well as multiplayer. Congrats, I’ll be the first one to get a copy of Infinite in my hands

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  • magicmaker | March 22, 2011 11:51 pm

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    “Keeping secrets is hard.” is definitely an understatement. Just be thankful you’re not a magician.

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  • booker13 | July 9, 2011 11:40 pm

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    game of 2012? i think so

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  • joelotoole | August 3, 2011 5:01 am

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    wow…….

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  • loyalharry007 | August 6, 2011 9:29 pm

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    ooo wow!!! vrm ken levine t la personne la plus super de tout mon existence! pourquoi… hé bien tu a réussi a crée un jeu que jadore et personnellement je suis difficile bravo!!!

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  • lildeviant | September 1, 2011 7:54 pm

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    Far Cry 3 and Bioshock Infinite 2012 bring It on.

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  • tracepaper | October 12, 2011 6:50 pm

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    It can not come soon enough for me. Make a Christmas Miracle, and release at the end of this year.

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  • joshimarston | August 12, 2013 5:32 pm

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    What a magnificent day it was..

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