Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Link Round-Up: BioShock Anniversary

BioShock film could have been made today, director says
"Verbinski said his team was eight weeks into working on the film, which is based on Irrational Games’ dystopian first person shooter of the same name, when the studio pulled the plug on the project. Verbinski said the studio wanted to give the film a more accessible rating (like a PG-13), and he didn’t want to make the movie if it wasn’t going to be rated R."
BioShock is Still Great, 10 Years Later. Here's Why.
“The game holds up reasonably well today, played especially with an eye for its immersive sim DNA and less as a straight shooter. It's especially fun to hack machines and make them do the work, or let your wacky environmental powers wreak havoc on the ecosystem—bait splicers out to a shallow pool and electrocute them, or enrage a big daddy and lure them into a circle of death. It's nowhere near as deep an immersive sim as its cousins in the Dishonored or Deus Ex series, but those elements are still fun to play with, and add needed variety to subsequent playthroughs. I still enjoy its grand, theatrical style—Sander Cohen descending the staircase at Fort Frolic, the pivotal "A Man Obeys" scene, and the statues and banners and signage about the world that are the opposite of subtle, but they sure make their mark. This is a grand, jazz-hands flailing vision, and where it can be accused of being corny, it was never ashamed to go all the way.”
BioShock Proved That Video Games Could Be Art
“It seems like such a simple choice: It’s a character in a video game — why wouldn’t you harvest her and reap the rewards? Cute as she may be, the Little Sister doesn’t exist; your choice doesn’t have any actual consequence in the real world. Yet, there’s something undeniably visceral that takes over when you’re sitting there, controller in hand, staring up at the face of a whimpering, scared little girl. By requiring you to make the decision — harvest or rescue — the game has made you think about her as something more than just another NPC. She all of a sudden becomes unmistakably real. And — if you’re like me — you can’t bring yourself to click harvest without triggering an existential crisis of epic proportions. The emotional impact of moments like these within BioShock are reminiscent of the sort of feelings that arise when watching a good film, or reading a book. It stands out against the sea of other casual, rational choices that exist in the majority of other games.”
Designing the Opening Level of Bioshock with Bill Gardner
“While we were in Boston filming our second documentary covering the Story of the Deep End Games and Perception, we took some extra time to speak with Bill Gardner about his time working on the Bioshock series. The opening level to Bioshock is arguably one of the most iconic game openings of all-time, and we spent over half an hour speaking to Bill Gardner on how Irrational designed it.”
Did BioShock Define the Last 10 Years of Video Games?
“Ten years ago today, Irrational Games’ sci-fi first-person shooter BioShock was released, and its story of a ruined undersea city and the brutal objectivist that led it to its doom was instantly canonized as one of the medium’s strongest artistic statements. The art-deco-adorned city of Rapture was realized with a depth and vision few games had ever approached and populated with some unforgettable characters, like the twisted artist Sander Cohen and the city’s power-hungry founder Andrew Ryan. Its grappling with Randian philosophy gave the dialogue a high-minded and dramatic flair, all of which culminated in its iconic twist and commentary on the futility of choice in video games. In the years since, BioShock’s shine has waned. So many of its most foundational elements found their way into games of all genres and scopes, and its flaws practically became more talked about than its merits.”
Does BioShock Still Matter 10 Years Later?
“Today's games have borrowed more than a few things from the original BioShock, and Irrational's closing flooded the market with indie games "from the makers of BioShock." More than that, a generation of game critics have risen from the depths of BioShock's influence, forcing writers, traditional media, and video essayists to consider whether or not video games are art (the new discussion seems to be whether or not that matters). The reaction to BioShock at the time of its release feels particularly interesting since despite sharing a release year with games like Portal, Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Assassin's Creed, and Super Mario Galaxy, BioShock feels singled out. Any one of those games could be cited for contributing to video game history in some way, whether it's the economic significance of games like Modern Warfare and Halo, Portal's place in the history of Valve or women game designers, or Uncharted's cinematic approach to gaming. But BioShock asked the big one—about whether video games could be a legitimate artform, a question that seems so shallow now a decade later.”
From the Seas to the Skies: A Look Back at BioShock 10 Years Later
“The concept of utopia, despite its near universal appeal, is one that, upon closer examination, may ultimately be no more than a fantasy. Time and again, humans have proven to be too fundamentally different from each other to agree upon what a perfect society would look like, to say nothing of the corrupting influences of greed and power. When one man says “No Gods or Kings, Only Man,” another might say “I am a divine Prophet; follow me to this New Eden.” This ultimate flaw forms the backbone of the BioShock series’ story; a story that has been hailed as exceptional and worthy of commemoration, even if the gameplay itself wasn’t particularly revolutionary. After all, it’s not often that within 15 minutes of starting a game that you are greeted by a plane crash followed by a mildly thought-provoking video that explains the logic behind the pure capitalistic society of one of the most unique video game environments at the time, perhaps even of all time, an underwater utopia ominously called Rapture. As you progress through BioShock, you meet a wild assortment of characters, each of whom are rather representative of some of humankind’s greatest qualities if they were unshackled by morality and laws. Naturally, a number of them turn out to be rather insane, but there are plenty of ways that you can get a glimpse of their past life, provided that you pay attention to the story and your surroundings, and run into a few Audio Diaries along the way.”
From the sea to the skies, let’s take a look at the legacy Bioshock has left behind.
"The beauty of Bioshock is that in all reality, the gameplay mechanics and combat aren’t necessarily groundbreaking. It’s a somewhat linear FPS, with the addition of powers that can be shot from your hands in the form of Plasmids. The story is what makes Bioshock the incredible game that it is. The BioShock series demonstrates that people value a good story in games, even if the story is told mostly through the environment."
How Environmental Storytelling Shaped Bioshock
“Speaking to Gameumentary recently, Gardner explained how the creation of Rapture was a highly-iterative experience, beginning as a tropical island before moving underwater for an industrialised cityscape and finally settling on the art-deco aesthetic that permeates the final game. Throughout this process, environmental storytelling became a key factor in many design decisions with Gardner saying that the team leaned on the strengths of the concept, which were “the storytelling, and the narrative and the immersion level that the game had.” These elements helped Bioshock to stand out in a crowded market because “most shooters were… just run down a hall, blast a bunch of demons, or monsters, or aliens, or whatever, and then you move on. You don’t care about it.” Irrational Games considered the ‘corridor shooter’ design philosophy “a waste” because it failed to make use of the unique ability of games to convey considerable amounts of information through the setting. Early builds of Bioshock contained sections that were “rip[ped] to shreds” by playtesters, with the developers realising that poor guidance and pacing were among the most notable issues. As a result, the development team “took a step back and really focused on how to sell” the fiction.”

Minerva’s Den is the best way to experience BioShock’s iconic Rapture
“Minerva’s Den is named after the location it’s set in - Rapture’s high-tech sector, home to the city’s central computer, known as The Thinker, as well as various other bleeding-edge - for 1968, anyway - businesses. The player is cast as Subject Sigma, an experimental Big Daddy similar to the protagonist of BioShock 2 proper, Subject Delta - indeed, the story of Minerva’s Den takes place at the same time as its parent release’s narrative is unfolding elsewhere in Rapture. There is little explicit crossover between these stories. However - and this is a minor spoiler - key character Brigid Tenenbaum, the peerless geneticist and the discoverer of ADAM who stars in the stories of both BioShock and its follow-up, briefly appears in person at the end of Minerva’s Den. We won’t reveal anything else here. If you’ve never played this DLC before but are aware of the first game’s famous twist, you’re in for a treat. There’s a fairly big revelation in Minerva’s Den, and it is - for our money, at least - more impactful than the BioShock twist game critics will probably still be discussing in another ten years.”
We Don’t Need a BIOSHOCK Movie, Thanks to WESTWORLD
"Much has been written about how the creators of Westworld went to Bioshock’s creator Ken Levine for advice about creating a video game world — including how to manage NPC’s on such a large scale — but in the final few episodes of the series, it becomes obvious that they borrowed much more than that."
What BioShock: Remastered Says About the Original Game
"What made BioShock truly interesting was that while it allowed players to exercise their ethical judgment, it also cleverly acknowledged the larger reality of gaming: that players actually don’t have much choice at all (spoilers for the first game’s ending follow). As BioShock’s protagonist wanders through Rapture’s surreal underwater world, battling the crazed survivors of mass human experimentation, he’s guided by a helpful voice calling himself “Atlas.” Atlas is a supposed rebel that’s looking to bring down Andrew Ryan, the tyrannical leader of Rapture, an Art Deco nightmare that he founded based on the principles of objectivism and the philosophies of Ayn Rand."
What secrets does the original BioShock still hold?
BioShock’s not a game that’s easily forgotten, yet there’s more buried beneath its gorgeously moody seas than you know. And never mind nostalgia: if you didn’t play it at the time, it’s just as intriguing, thrilling and relevant now as ever. Politically, perhaps more so. Still waters run deep, and in BioShock, you’re in very deep water…
Why Bioshock still has, and will always have, something to say
""No Gods or Kings, Only Man." No higher authority than that of reason and rationality. A place where "the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small." As videogame intros go, few are as ambitious, or as forthright, as the protagonist's descent into the murky depths that envelop Bioshock's underwater city of Rapture. Fewer still are as effective nearly a decade on."
Why It's Time To Make That Bioshock Movie, Hollywood
"Without spoiling A Cure For Wellness, the film's resemblance to the story of Rapture's fall is pretty uncanny, without being a total ripoff. The new film centers its story around a health spa that isolates its patients from the outside world, getting them away from the rush and boom of the modern era. This is extremely similar to Andrew Ryan's creed of "No Gods. No Kings. Only Men" occupying the halls of Rapture. And, of course, the recurring theme of splicing and surgical / medical augmentation are a natural analog to the Cure for Wellness character Dr. Volmer's obsession with the "treatment" that he administers to all of his patients at his eponymous institute."

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