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Ken Levine: BioShock Rescued the Shooter

2K Boston's Ken Levine is quoted on Eurogamer expressing his opinion that if BioShock had not been successful, it may have ruined the first-person shooter genre, at least in its high-end story-driven form. He adds that many of the publishers to whom they pitched the underwater shooter shared the opinion that it would not be a big seller, and they repeatedly met with a response that was essentially: "sounds like a great idea, you'll sell 150,000 units - next." If Ken's opinion on the topic is correct, then shooter fans should be glad those publishers were wrong, because he thinks a BioShock flop would have crippled the first-person shooter genre: "I can pretty much guarantee to you that if BioShock wasn't successful, there never would have been another game like this."

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52. Re: BioShock Aug 11, 2008, 10:48 manic half
 
Now I enjoyed Bioshock, but it was no Deus Ex.

i found bioshock to be superior to deus ex in every way.

 
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51. Re: Wow Aug 11, 2008, 06:26 Beaner
 
Everything has to be dumbed down or made console-friendly.

Wow I'm impressed he said that.

 
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50. Wow Aug 8, 2008, 10:02 Verno
 
Developers have become enamored with the premise that gamers don't like to think anymore. Sadly, we're proving them right. Everything has to be dumbed down or made console-friendly. I made a similar point about WoW. Not how the game itself is bad...but the fact that because of its success, developers and publishers think that ALL MMOs have to be amusement park rides with no effort or thought from the player. So in a sense, its success is helping to kill innovation in the MMO space(if it wasn't close to being dead already).

I couldn't agree with this more, especially your statement on MMO games. I was a huge Ultima Online guy about 10 years ago. What made the game so intriguing is that there was little backstory beyond the series lore and the players drove the economy/gameplay. There were few rules, no levels and you were always at risk when outside of a town(in fact, inside of it too sometimes). I don't know where we went off the rails in the MMO world, I suspect Everquest was the start of things to come.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "LOL U CAREBEARS" or anything but the latest MMO games literally feed you the story. They have very stringent rulesets and far too many mechanisms in place to protect the player from harm. It removes all tension from the product, you're never really at risk in any convincing way.

Shooter's seem to have dumbed down so much that it's almost nauseating. I'm relegated to replaying Deus Ex twice a year to pass some leisure time because there just isn't anything interesting on the horizon. If I see another crappy FPS/Island Sim with CRY in the name I might throw up.

RPG's have simplified as well to reach a bigger audience. I don't know when or if we'll see another Baldur's Gate. Dragon Age maybe? Who knows at this point, theres so little news that it's depressing.

 
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49. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 13:10 Ecthelion
 
I'm pretty sure the Aliens RPG will be an action RPG designed for the consoles. In fact, I'm willing to bet money on it.
I think it may have been announced as a multiplatform release (I can't confirm it, because I'm having trouble accessing Sega's website where the press release was posted). If so, it will probably be an action RPG.

Still, the upcoming NWN2 expansion is a traditional cRPG. It shouldn't be dismissed for not being a full game. Obviously Atari was pleased enough with the sales of NWN2 and the first expansion to approve a new expansion.

It's speculation whether the new expansion will eventually lead to NWN3 or some other traditional cRPG by Obsidian, but it's certainly possible. The fact remains that Obsidian hasn't totally given up on traditional RPGs yet, or they wouldn't be working on the new NWN2 expansion. You said they weren't doing cRPGs anymore, and they are. They just happen to be doing action RPGs as well.

This comment was edited on Aug 5, 13:11.
 
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48. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 12:06 Jerykk
 
In addition, they're working on the Aliens RPG. Of their 3 current projects, only one of them is an action RPG (although we don't know much about the Aliens one). I'd say they're still devoted to cRPGs.

I'm pretty sure the Aliens RPG will be an action RPG designed for the consoles. In fact, I'm willing to bet money on it.

 
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47. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 10:19 Brainp0wa
 
I read it twice to make sure I didn't miss it, but Ken never said "BioShock Rescued the Shooter".

"I can pretty much guarantee to you that if BioShock wasn't successful, there never would have been another game like this,"

Well of course not. If the game had flopped then they would have ripped it apart and said things like they "learned" from it and changed all "these" things and that's why this next game is so different and that's why we should all buy it. C'mon, this is nothing more than Marketing 101.

Now I enjoyed Bioshock, but it was no Deus Ex.

And the usual glut of "its all the fault of the consoles" comments still make me laugh.

 
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46. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 09:35 Ecthelion
 
Obsidian isn't doing cRPGs anymore. In fact, the only cRPG they've made is NWN2. KotoR2 was a console game first, PC port second. Alpha Protocol looks to be more of an action game than an RPG and I'm pretty sure that's the future of all RPGs as the console blight taints the landscape of gaming.
They also made an expansion for NWN2, and they're currently working on a second expansion. In addition, they're working on the Aliens RPG. Of their 3 current projects, only one of them is an action RPG (although we don't know much about the Aliens one). I'd say they're still devoted to cRPGs.

 
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45. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 04:55 Jerykk
 
You already mentioned Obsidian. I'd also mention The Witcher. And the gameplay footage of Dragon Age seemed pretty traditionally party-based to me.

Obsidian isn't doing cRPGs anymore. In fact, the only cRPG they've made is NWN2. KotoR2 was a console game first, PC port second. Alpha Protocol looks to be more of an action game than an RPG and I'm pretty sure that's the future of all RPGs as the console blight taints the landscape of gaming.

Edit : A few posts down it talks about something called Dark Horizon which is due to be released soon. Not exactly dead, this genre, I think?

When American developers won't even touch it and the space sims that do get released out of Europe are almost always underwhelming, it's safe to say the genre is dead.

Crysis. Crysis Warcry. Project Origin. Far Cry 2.

Negative. Project Origin is being designed for the 360. PC is just a port. Far Cry 2 was originally designed for the PC but in recent demonstrations, they've been using the 360 version which leads me to believe they've switched focus.

The point is that the vast majority of shooters are now being designed for consoles and it shows. Huge hitboxes, slow movement, aim assist, regenerating health, third-person cover systems, grenade indicators, projectile trajectory indicators, quick time events, etc, now plague shooters.

 
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44. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 00:54 Creston
 
b)British a la X2 and X3

What? How exactly are X2 and X3 "British?" Even if we ignore that the developer, Egosoft, is German?

Creston

 
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43. Re: BioShock Aug 5, 2008, 00:51 Creston
 
Traditional RPGs in the mold of Baldur's Gate and Fallout.

You already mentioned Obsidian. I'd also mention The Witcher. And the gameplay footage of Dragon Age seemed pretty traditionally party-based to me.

Space Combat games like Freespace 2

I think they release quite a few of those, but they all turn out to be either crap or have absolutely no publicity, but okay.

Edit : A few posts down it talks about something called Dark Horizon which is due to be released soon. Not exactly dead, this genre, I think?

Turn Based Squad games

Okay, also true.

Last one I can remember, other than the Half-Life episodes, is F.E.A.R, which was three years ago

Crysis. Crysis Warcry. Project Origin. Far Cry 2.

That's what I could think of off the top of my head.

The one I thought of myself is mech games. As those have completely gone.

Whatever, you never buy my arguments anyway.

That's because you're always wrong

I'll agree that some genres have come and gone, but it's not really a whole lot. Imo.

Creston

This comment was edited on Aug 5, 00:58.
 
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42. I don't know... Aug 5, 2008, 00:15 Umbragen
 
If viewed only from the wasteland that is console gaming and console shooters in particular, Levine's comments make perfect sense - even if they are blatantly self-aggrandizing. Since PC gamers are left with the table scraps of the console crowd, anything that raises their standard fare can only be a good thing.

 
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41. Re: BioShock Aug 4, 2008, 23:50 Jerykk
 
That's YOU Starlancer and Freelancer.

I liked Freelancer. Sure, the combat was simplistic and the NPC conversations were incredibly stilted but the ambiance of the game was great and I really enjoyed the exploration. If they had just added some more depth to the combat, in addition to Newtonian physics, the game would have been great.

 
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40. Re: BioShock Aug 4, 2008, 23:24 Slashman
 
Space Combat games like Freespace 2 -- I can't even remember the last time a GOOD space combat game was released that wasn't a mod. Was it that online one from Microsoft that came out around 2000? I think it was called Alliance or something?

Allegiance!! Very promising game. And as to good space combat shooters? I'd really love something that wasn't a)Russian b)British a la X2 and X3 c)Something someone designed in a basement on his/her free time.

Turn Based Squad games like XCOM or Jagged Alliance 2. Last one of these I remember playing was Silent Storm in 2003, and that had only come after a several year drought.

There are a couple. but none that stand out like X-Com did. That's for sure.

What ever happened to games like SHOGO, Unreal 1, Soldier of Fortune, Star Trek: Elite Force, Jedi Knight, No One Lives Forever, etc.?

Developers have become enamored with the premise that gamers don't like to think anymore. Sadly, we're proving them right. Everything has to be dumbed down or made console-friendly. I made a similar point about WoW. Not how the game itself is bad...but the fact that because of its success, developers and publishers think that ALL MMOs have to be amusement park rides with no effort or thought from the player. So in a sense, its success is helping to kill innovation in the MMO space(if it wasn't close to being dead already).

In the case of space shooters for example. Developers thought that people weren't buying them because no one wanted to have to purchase a joystick to play them. It couldn't possibly be due to the fact if you make crappy and/or mediocre games, then they won't sell as well. That's YOU Starlancer and Freelancer.

 
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39. Re: No subject Aug 4, 2008, 22:43 Jerykk
 
Still, despite him being full of it, his team did produce a great 'spiritual sequel'. Even if it was a watered down form of the gameplay we all love.

I don't consider it a great spiritual sequel unless it actually improves upon the gameplay of the original. Dumbing down != improvement. SS2 left a lot of room for improvement: Crappy interface, clunky combat, stupid AI, lousy graphics, etc. All you have to do to make a good successor is improve all these things and expand upon them. Instead, they decided to just dumb the game down but make it pretty. Don't get me wrong, Bioshock is still a decent game but it definitely isn't a great spiritual successor.

 
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38. Re: No subject Aug 4, 2008, 22:36 PHJF
 
Right, the "Keyser Soze" moment in SS2 was tons better than BS's.  
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37. Re: No subject Aug 4, 2008, 22:09 Fion
 
System Shock 2, as great as it is, is certainly not flawless by any measure either. I think I do like it more than Bioshock, mainly because it is "harder" sci-fi

That and SHODAN beats the pants off Ryan as a villain.

 
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36. No subject Aug 4, 2008, 22:03 dryden555
 
Levine has said too many dumb things to the press after the "success" of Bioshock. Time to disregard him.

 
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35. Re: BioShock Aug 4, 2008, 21:56 Scottish Martial Arts
 
Really? "So many?" Care to list that humongous group of dead genres?

Traditional RPGs in the mold of Baldur's Gate and Fallout. Obsidian seems to be the only developer actively making these anymore, but even they seem to branching out into console action-rpgs.

Space Combat games like Freespace 2 -- I can't even remember the last time a GOOD space combat game was released that wasn't a mod. Was it that online one from Microsoft that came out around 2000? I think it was called Alliance or something?

Turn Based Squad games like XCOM or Jagged Alliance 2. Last one of these I remember playing was Silent Storm in 2003, and that had only come after a several year drought.

Even single player first person shooters designed specifically for the PC are a rare commodity these days. Last one I can remember, other than the Half-Life episodes, is F.E.A.R, which was three years ago. Everything else is just a console port which tends to have a pretty big impact on the gameplay. What ever happened to games like SHOGO, Unreal 1, Soldier of Fortune, Star Trek: Elite Force, Jedi Knight, No One Lives Forever, etc.?

That's what I could think of off the top of my head. Whatever, you never buy my arguments anyway.

 
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34. No subject Aug 4, 2008, 21:55 Tanto Edge
 
What a crock of shit.
BioShock was good, granted.
It wasn't revolutionary.

What it did do was introduce another generation to a gameplay that us old salts have known for decades.
I mean, Deus Ex is recent compared to System Shock 2, or even System Shock 1, but BioShock was a 360 title which meant a lot more exposure than SS2 (or even DX) ever got.

The sadness here is that as a result of this exposure, BioShock is known to some as the prime example of this gameplay, when it's not. We're not going to see the hosts of G4 ever address this sort of misinformation.

Still, despite him being full of it, his team did produce a great 'spiritual sequel'. Even if it was a watered down form of the gameplay we all love.
 
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33. No subject Aug 4, 2008, 21:22 swaaye
 
Bioshock was pretty decent for what it was and for what other choices we have in games these days. It is basically a refinement/streamlining/refocusing of the System Shock 2 gameplay. Yeah, there were questionable decisions made, but the game certainly does present a rather original universe with excellent production values. I can see why the various changes were made even if I would've done it a bit differently.

System Shock 2, as great as it is, is certainly not flawless by any measure either. I think I do like it more than Bioshock, mainly because it is "harder" sci-fi but also for its extra RPG aspects that make you feel like you have some extra choices. Really though, the games are definitely not all that dissimilar.

If the success of Bioshock causes a resurgence in interest in this kind of shooter, what is there really to complain about?

This comment was edited on Aug 4, 21:23.
 
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