We’ve all spent countless hours discovering Rapture and the floating city of Columbia, and now game developer Ken Levine is seeking a new way we game. While the creator of the BioShock series doesn’t divulge too many details about it, Levine does give a lot of insight into where he found his inspiration and what to expect.
Last February, when Levine made the announcement of Irrational Games’ closing its doors, he hinted at another project in the works. He had mentioned that this new game would have “narrative elements that are non-linear and interact with each other” and “all narrative elements to trigger off player action.”
While this is not an entirely new concept (the same theme can be found in Mass Effect and other games), the degree in which player actions and decisions affect gameplay has become more popular and advanced over the years. For instance, Telltale Games is releasing a Game of Thrones series in which player decisions will have a significant effect on the outcomes within the game. This is not dissimilar from Telltale’s other popular title: The Walking Dead, based on another television series.
However, Levine seems to be particular in his pursuit to make the perfect “player-driven narrative” game as he criticizes Dragon Age for not allowing more different dialogue options and branches. This is what he wrote in a recent article for Matter Magazine:
“So two years ago, I started thinking about how to build a system to let story be as variable as gameplay and still be awesome in the way story can be awesome. Could you have characters, conflicts, and dialogue that could end not in 100 states, not in 1,000, but in X to the Y states? Goodbye linear, hello geometric! And that’s the new big thing that my colleagues and I have been working on at our yet-unnamed new studio. In March, I gave a talk at the Game Developers Conference about some of our ideas. We called it “Narrative Legos.” The goal is to make a flexible narrative that is broadly replayable and strongly adaptive to player choice.”
Levine credits much of his inspiration to the RPG game, Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor and describes the game as, “…[Batman:] Arkham City meets Tolkien;” equating Shadows of Mordor to the combat mechanics of Batman: Arkham City in a Tolkien-based environment. Arkham City-like combat mechanics, player-driven narratives, replay value: all being developed by the creator of BioShock? I think we can expect great things from this upcoming game.
Much is still unknown about Ken Levine’s latest endeavor, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted as we learn more.