I'm starting to really like the youthful tradition of developer Ask Me Anything threads on Reddit. The latest example is from Irrational Games kingpin Ken Levine, and as you'd expect from the man behind Bioshock Infinite, it's a rather interesting jumble of sense-making words and sentences.
The below is a pick-and-mix of personal highlights - you should definitely read the full thing. To start off, here's Levine on the controversial subject of endings. "The BioShock Infinite ending is the thing I'm most proud of that I've ever worked on. Your mileage may vary. I make no promises as to how much people will like it. But I can promise you the real story keeps going until the last frame." Good news for those of us who thought Fontaine outstayed his welcome...
Excerpt number two: thoughts on the question of length. "I'd say it's very much like BioShock 1 in terms of length and replay. Perhaps a bit more, because we have this very large selection of gear and vigor and weapon upgrades. There's another kind of replay value which is more story oriented, but I can't really talk about that without spoiling shit SO DON'T ASK."
Now for more abstract, intellectual fare. Say Ken - just how much of Bioshock Infinite's plot are you responsible for? "12.73 percent. Who the hell knows? Games are a soup. Whoever has the initial idea has that filtered through the creative input of a zillion brilliant people, and whoever puts the thing in the game is standing on the shoulders of giants. The collaboration is everything. In terms of the story, even though I wrote a majority of the text, the story was broken down by a team of us through many, many long hours, screaming and hair-pulling."
While we're talking story, is it really fair to refer the player to lumps of backstory that aren't actually present in the game (as with, say, Mass Effect and Gears)? "The key thing is to never forget that if you're story doesn't impact the viewer via sound or pixels, it doesn't exist. That's why we don't keep a story bible or anything like that.
"On Infinite, I had to remember there were a couple of things I had said about Booker that actually weren't in the game a few months later, and I had a holy shit moment because in my head it was there because I had talked about so much in interviews.
"When I was working on Thief with Doug Church, we used to joke that if people didn't understand the game, we'd ship a video of us explaining why it was fun. That's a very dangerous trap one can fall into."
Finally, and rather coarsely, here's Levine discussing his writerly influences. "At the risk of sounding like a pretentious f**k, here goes: Sophocles Thorton Wilder Arthur Miller George Orwell Stan Lee."
Read Log's hands-on look at Bioshock Infinite for more on this brilliant, baffling game. Alternatively, hit that "play" button below to sample the first five minutes.