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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » Polls & Comments » Playing Bioshock?

View Poll Results - Will you be playing Bioshock?

PC version, asap! 124 36.05%
Xbox360 version, asap! 11 3.20%
On PC eventually 79 22.97%
On X360 sometime 5 1.45%
Maybe…I'll see 41 11.92%
Not really interested 29 8.43%
No. And it shouldn't be on RPGWatch 55 15.99%
Voters: 344. You may not vote on this poll

Default Playing Bioshock?

September 25th, 2007, 12:48
The point is, the game was designed like this from the beginning. "Watered down" makes it sound like it was supposed to be this real awesome hardcore PC experience, but they took that out because they "had to" release it on console, too. That's just reverse thinking. This is the game they wanted to make and no one forced them to do it.

I agree that were it a PC-only title, things would probably have been done slightly differently, because of course there's another market to be had there. I don't think it'd be that crucially different, though. I like playing on both platforms, but I liked the quest arrow, actually. I don't see how aimlessly wandering around constitutes any form of fun in this type of game (like one would have to do in some of the older FPS games). This isn't an RPG, after all. There's no real sense of exploration in the game other than finding out more of the events leading up to Rapture's fall.

I do see how modern games (on all platforms, PC-only titles included) hold hands more than classic titles. This is most noticeable with adventure games and role-playing games. I don't see that as game developers catering to a console crowd at all, but a necessary result of an explosive gaming market. Games are mainstream now and cost a bundle to make. That's going to affect how games are being designed. At the same time I think that the niche of gamers that will put up with (or prefer) the more hardcore and more reasonably priced games has shrunk. So it's bad business to do retro on a big budget today.

"Balanced for 7-year-olds" is a bit harsh. It may just be figure-of-speech, but more importantly I think that the casual gamers just outnumber the hardcore by a large margin, with the (for the gamers that long for less simpler times) unfortunate effect that gamers get… to invoke this inverse thinking mode again, watered down games.
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September 25th, 2007, 14:02
It may or may not be reverse thinking.

The making of a game is not a simple process where you necessarily start out with "we want a casual game, where we nurture the player". I believe the game was much more a concept and less tangible in the early stages, and I don't think they thought about baby level difficulty back then. When I said 7-year old balance, I meant it. You can't die, you can't run out of resources (unless you REALLY REALLY want to), the game is linear enough to be called on-rails, there is no mental challenge anywhere in the game that you need to solve, and the map reveals everything secret should you miss it, and if that isn't enough the hint system will explicitly tell you to melt ice with fire. Anyone could complete it, and I'm pretty confident that a 7-year old could do it comfortably if you changed the horror setting to a My Little Pony wonder research lab.

I've followed development of Bioshock since way before it was announced, and since it was merely called "the spiritual successor to System Shock 2". It wasn't all that long after System Shock 2 was released, actually.

I'm sad to say I can't find the earliest articles anymore, but there are some from 2004 or so (IGN / Gamespot) where Levine's talking about what the game will be like. Now, it can't be proven that the original vision was different, but I personally believe the game was changed along the way to make it more accessible, and I actually believe they overstepped the mark even for the average console gamer. Not that such a person would notice anyway, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have a problem with a more meaningful death system, for instance.

In any case, what I got from Levine early on changed radically from inception to release, but it might have been my own wishful thinking. Maybe I'll never know, and I don't care at this point.

The fact of the matter is that Bioshock, in my opinion, is a good-to-great shooter but it's MILES behind what it could have been - and it's devastatingly lacking in challenge. I'm not saying they made bad financial decisions, but I tend to believe developers and publishers generally underestimate their audience, and in this case they could have made Bioshock better without hurting sales in a significant way. That said, I would have bitched about something else all the same, because the core concept of what it ended up being, is too far removed from what I would have done that I wouldn't have been happy anyway.

They basically took System Shock 2, reduced complexity and depth, and enhanced the cinematic qualities, making it so easy as to basically play like an uninterrupted interactive movie with an average story. That sort of thing obviously has an audience, but it definitely isn't what I want from a computer game. If I want a good movie, I'll go watch one.
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September 25th, 2007, 18:56
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
The point is, the game was designed like this from the beginning. "Watered down" makes it sound like it was supposed to be this real awesome hardcore PC experience, but they took that out because they "had to" release it on console, too. That's just reverse thinking. This is the game they wanted to make and no one forced them to do it.
As far as I'm concerned, self-censorship, proactive censorship or whatever you want to call it is still censorship, it's just a little subtle in comparison. Likewise, "watered down" can be proactive too. You know you are targeting a console audience too (or even mainly) - you make concessions.

That said, hand-holding seems to be a general trend in games these days.. cf. the thread Older games = harder games? It may be just the way it is…

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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September 26th, 2007, 09:37
Concessions— not necessarily. I like what Greg Zeschuk of Bioware said about it in a recent interview:

The market for gaming has expanded so much in the last couple of years. What impact, if any, do trends like the Wii and casual gaming have on your development process?

We do agonise over this a bit. We (Bioware) know who we are and what we do. Sonic RPG has a different audience as does our other title Dragon Age. I mean people say WoW is a mainstream game, but is it? It's clearly a phenomenon but 9-million people playing it out of the full potential population total is still small percentage. I mean how many people are playing Hearts online? It is very difficult though, it's like we are speaking different languages. We never want to dumb down our games though. You can still have a complex core, but the way you touch that has to be done right. I'd love to see a really complex game on the Wii with the ease of use that their controller gives. I don't want to play party games; I want something that makes me go wow. Maybe Mario Galaxy could be the one. We'll see.

(Emphasis mine)
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September 26th, 2007, 10:46
I'm sure developers tell themselves all kinds of things to make it appear otherwise than what it is. Denial is one of the most common human reactions, and I see no reason it wouldn't apply to developers as well.

The fact of the matter is that making games has become a huge industry, and I have no problem understanding why they're changing their games to match as large an audience as possible. What I have a problem with is that cop-out "it can be deep without being complex", because that can be used for any game, at any time. I've heard developers claim that for ages now, and it's no more convincing today than it was when Warren Spector straightfaced claimed that Deus Ex 2 was not really less complex than Deus Ex, and that gameplay was more advanced in many ways. You can't prove this one way of the other, because anything can be anything given "a certain point of view."

I don't know why people think that what developers claim must be true, simply because they're in the industry. They're human beings, and they don't like compromising their vision any more than the next person, and as such they will do what they can to deny that - to themselves and to the public.

Look at Oblivion. It's the exact same thing. They go out of their way to avoid confusing the casual gamer, and they remove all those "complex" things because they were really no use to anyone, and in the end the game is just as deep and meaningful, right? Of course it is.

Then we have Dungeon Siege, where Chris Taylor was utterly convinced that removing any kind of burden from the player was undeniably the right choice for the game, because why would a game ever need to require work. That's his overall design philosophy. It didn't matter to him that the game largely played itself. Why have skill trees? That's not necessary, let's just have 1 skill for each "class" called "Melee, Archery…..". Much more efficient.

I could go on, but you take my point.

In the end, all I really want from developers is the truth. PLEASE don't give us that tired old song "it's just as deep, but more accessible", because it's bullshit. Just tell us you compromised the game to make it sell, because that's truth and I can accept truth.

Oh, and note:

Yes, I DO believe it's possible to streamline a game without losing depth. Yes, I HAVE seen examples of that, but they are few and far between. Yes, SOMETIMES, reducing complexity is good. What I'm talking about here is a general trend of fitting the LARGEST audience, not removing annoyances for the sake of progress. There is a BIG difference.
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September 26th, 2007, 12:27
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yes, I DO believe it's possible to streamline a game without losing depth. Yes, I HAVE seen examples of that, but they are few and far between. Yes, SOMETIMES, reducing complexity is good. What I'm talking about here is a general trend of fitting the LARGEST audience, not removing annoyances for the sake of progress. There is a BIG difference.
Can you provide examples of this? I think of Civilization IV, which is a game that I could have my kids play a few years ago when they were very little , still play now with greater challenge, and that I can get all levels of challenge out of.

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September 26th, 2007, 13:49
Can you provide examples of this? I think of Civilization IV, which is a game that I could have my kids play a few years ago when they were very little , still play now with greater challenge, and that I can get all levels of challenge out of.
Yes, I think Civilization is a good example of reasonable evolution.

I also think that the developments in UI design are often for the best, especially if you compare something like System Shock with its sequel. Popular genres like RTS games have many good developments involving streamlining the experience, like multiple waypoints, gatherer automation etc. But it's always a fine line to walk, and sometimes you take away too much for the sake of simplicity. But the main issue is really what motivates the change. Is it a change for the better game, or is it a change for the larger audience. When I look at Oblivion, Bioshock, Deus Ex 2, and many other "big titles" I see changes for the sake of sales, not for the sake of the game (as in the art). I don't blame developers/publishers for those changes, because it means they're simply interested in money/popularity and that's understandable, but I loathe the fact that they can't be straight about it.
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September 26th, 2007, 15:21
In a way, they are straight about it; they want to make it more accessibly so that more people can enjoy it, hence sell more units. Gothic's controls come to mind. A niche (compared to the larger group of gamers at large) really enjoyed those controls and think it was a step down to make them more "accessible" in Gothic 3. While I don't question their good intentions, it's still a consequence of growing too big to please everyone. Can there actually be a successful mainstream release today that manages to do it all right? I would like to suggest that some genres like strategy and RTS games might be easier to pull off than action games or RPG's.
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September 26th, 2007, 15:32
Well, I never had a problem with Gothic controls (ok, maybe the first 5 minutes I was a bit confused), but then I found the game as a whole amazingly well done, so I was willing to learn the UI. Of course, I've been gaming for 25 years, so I've been through a couple of UIs here and there. However, I found that the control system in Gothic 3 was better and more acccessible without hurting the game in any way whatsoever. Gothic 3 had many issues, but the basic control system was definitely not one of them (combat system was another story, though), as far as I'm concerned. That's another example of what I would consider a legitimate evolution.

In a way, they are straight about it; they want to make it more accessibly so that more people can enjoy it, hence sell more units.
Yes, they are. But that's not the core of what I'm saying. They're constantly dancing around the fundamental issue of what the changes mean for the GAME itself. Not the accessibility, not the popularity, but the game itself as an artform. Is the game better for it, because more people can enjoy it?

Is the typical blockbuster Hollywood movie better than it could have been without the sappy ending or the comic sidekick?

Would Lord of the Rings movies be better without the stupid Legolas skateboarding, or the reduction of Gimli to a fart-joke dwarf?

They can easily say "we made it more accessible, and how can that be bad thing". Of course they can, but they never go in-depth about what consequences that accessibility might have in reality, and what the game itself must suffer for being popular.

Can there actually be a successful mainstream release today that manages to do it all right? I would like to suggest that some genres like strategy and RTS games might be easier to pull off than action games or RPG's.
It's hard to say really. But that's not necessarily what I'm asking for, I'm just asking for honesty (primarily towards themselves). Be honest about what you're doing, and don't think you're making great art by appealing to the masses, because true art must originate from the individual, and hence become objective only through having started subjectively.

That is what they must trust, that their own vision is enough to sell. That being true to the vision and being competent about it CAN sell. System Shock was a revolution (if you ask me) but it didn't sell. But why didn't it sell? Was it too complex or was it too "good"? No, I don't think so. It suffered from an overly complex UI and a confused audience expecting another FPS ala Doom. That doesn't mean that System Shock couldn't have sold well if done differently, and maybe (just maybe) it's possible to have a largely uncompromised game be a hit.
Last edited by DArtagnan; September 26th, 2007 at 15:44.
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October 7th, 2007, 05:05
I decided to wait till I actually play it but finally got to play and I can certainly see why many say it's a shooter and I can certainly agree it's at the most very borderline.

txa1265
I wasn't of the opinion that the game shouldn't be covered here. I was merely stating that folks who thought that had some amount of reasonable defense in the fact that the game is a shooter and that the focus of the site is RPG
True enough, like I mentioned at least to that point I had not seen an example of why, it wasn't an RPG.
Admittedly I avoided at least 5 reviews due to them containing spoilers, so I could have missed some reasonable explanations.

If someone where to ask me, I would have to say the weakest RPG element is you don't have a choice on how to do quest, which is why I don't consider hack & slash like diablo style games RPGs.
Everyone whom plays the game has to do the same things the only difference seems to be how you kill and there is only one guy you Don't have to kill, afaik.

DArtagnan
Ken Levine has said, VERY clearly, that Bioshock is a shooter and not an action/RPG like System Shock 2.
I'm not saying the guy is a genius or anything, but he should know the genre of his own game.
OF course he would, but I have never heard him say that, only "they are focusing on the Shooter aspects, because at it's base it's a shooter", but obviously that doesn't mean it can't have RPG elements.

Thaurin
How is it so difficult to just classify Bioshock as a shooter? It doesn't make it a lesser game. It's not an RPG because the core gameplay is a FPS. You point and shoot. Stuff dies. No dialogue options
I don't recall reading or anyone here saying there were no dialog options, that's why.

Nor is it "watered down" because it was developed for PC and console. It's as watered down as Half-Life 2 was for PC.
I would disagree, it's clearly water down, many aspects many you just listed, like no inventory.

Afaik, they had so many false starts and finally had to sell out to 2K to get the game made, I am sure 2K had some effect on certain aspects, especially made for console.
I think they had to cut things like Inventory out and other RPG aspects out as they would have never had time to get them implemented and tested, so the game is extremely streamlined (watered down or what ever you want to call it).

RPGs are the hardest game to make and they needed a hit and this was the quickest way to achieve those goals.

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October 7th, 2007, 10:13
How could anyone say Half-Life 2 was watered down??


….Or was that sarcasm?
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October 7th, 2007, 10:53
http://video.google.com/videoplay?do…64361400518462

If you have the time and the inclination, there's an in-depth and lengthy video of a Bioshock developer (programmer), going through the actual development of the game, from inception to release.

I noted, late in the video during the Q/A session, that he kinda slipped up (my personal perception) and said something to this effect (paraphrasing a bit):

"RPG elements are kinda nerdy things, and if you want to make a game that many people like, you're going to have to make some compromises."

Yes, he really says that, and I doubt it's the official line. Levine has talked about it being just as deep and bla bla, just more accessible. Which doesn't exactly jive with calling the removal of RPG elements a compromise. Why would it be a compromise if it is just as deep, only better?

It tells me what I already suspected all along, that the game WAS, at least semi-consciously, compromised to make it sell. Of course, it's not a huge surprise to many, but to actually hear the developers say it makes me feel better when I criticise the otherwise good game.
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October 7th, 2007, 13:34
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
How is it so difficult to just classify Bioshock as a shooter? It doesn't make it a lesser game. It's not an RPG because the core gameplay is a FPS. You point and shoot. Stuff dies. No dialogue options. No inventory management. No mapping. No stats to determine initiative/hit/miss/crit/etc. To put it more clearly, Bioshock was designed as a shooter, as per developer's choice. It is not an RPG.

Nor is it "watered down" because it was developed for PC and console. It's as watered down as Half-Life 2 was for PC.
Have you read some comments at major game sites and amazon? Some pure FPS fans seem to be unhappy with the game-play finding the guns are not as effective as using plasmids. Talking of game-play only, as I agree with Dartagnan that the designers could have been more bold in leaving RPG elements, though. For hacking mini-game does seem to be unpopular among both RPG and FPS players. If I'd like to play mini-games, then, I buy them. I'd rather like to put points on hacking skill and save my time. Plasmids offer magical abilities and I wonder whey the designers refrained themselves from hacking ability.

The game being too easy is, I think the legitimate criticism but, seeing the plenty of bugs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Gothic III, I cannot but admit that they made a right choice by reducing the possibility for the players to be screwed (Of course, the copy protection issue is another story, though). Overall, I have an impression that the designers placed their ambition in terms of the story over that in terms of the game-play. Whether console or PC, FPS or RPG players, the majority seem to be happy with the story (except it's rather linear nature), which I find great, personally.
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October 7th, 2007, 21:03
Originally Posted by Dusk View Post
Some pure FPS fans seem to be unhappy with the game-play finding the guns are not as effective as using plasmids.
.
Of course they're not, Plasmids are your secondary(special) weapon in Bioshock. That's why they drain ammo(Eve) so much faster then regular weapons.
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October 8th, 2007, 03:54
It was not mentioning the balance issue but about the game-play. Plasmids are special abilities to deal with environments and the main game-play of Bioshock is focused on working with changing environments rather than shooting precisely and quickly, which put off some purist FTP fans. HL series are not a pure FTP, too. The main game play is to let the players play with physics engine rather than shooting. Valve's Portal seems to be expanding the aspect.

The simulationist tendency is not unfamiliar with RPG at all. In fact, one of Doom designers is Sandy Peterson, who is one of the founders of Chaosium, especially known as a designer of Call of Cthulhu and trolls in Glorantha setting (I was surprised by the details…he used his knowledge of zoology effectively here). Peterson worked in various genres in computer games including Quake, Age of Empires and Sid Meier's Pirates! RPG has various aspects and conventional CRPG reflects only a part of them. I think a broader sense of RPG elements can be used to expand game-play of computer games. I am still interested in rule sets and looking forward to new Basic Role-Playing from Chaosium but it's still just a part of RPG.
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October 8th, 2007, 06:13
Ftp??

……….
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October 8th, 2007, 06:31
Ops…they should have been FPS, of course. It is so obvious that I was tweaking my firewall setting.
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September 3rd, 2011, 08:04
Played it in XBOX 360, thanks to the collector's edition. I never knew that tere was the PC Collector's Edition earlier.
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February 22nd, 2013, 04:41
I haven't heard much about that game. let's see…
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