2K tells us why BioShock 2’s multiplayer exists

Way back in 2007, 2K’s Elizabeth Tobey stated that multiplayer in BioShock would compromise the story. We never forgot that statement, so it was strange to see BioShock 2 proudly pimping multiplayer as one of its core components. Naturally, we were all “WTF,” so we asked 2K Marin creative director, Jordan Thomas, why multiplayer doesn’t compromise the single-player game anymore. 

“Our first decision with Multiplayer was to recruit Digital Extremes to own the experience completely, precisely so that neither component would suffer a lack of creative focus,” explains Thomas. “I think if we had tried to do both in-house, it absolutely would have been detrimental, so I understand the concern.

“Our internal multiplayer liaisons (headed up by Melissa Miller) helped to keep both teams apprised of our shared goals, keep us playing the game and offering direction on fiction and tone when needs be. I think everyone who put their hands to MP, internal and external, have done excellent work on a very hard creative problem.”

Rather simple answer, really. They got somebody else to do it, so that they could focus on the single player mode. Still, we had yet more questions about the game’s multiplayer, and you can view that discussion after the jump. Go ahead and do it!

 

We know how the multiplayer got into BioShock 2, but we’re still a little stumped on the why? Why did 2K feel it was necessary to bolster such a story-driven game with a multiplayer mode? Naturally, we put that question to Jordan Thomas as well. 

“Well, 2K sought the opinions of players from all walks of life, who game for different reasons. And we found that a lot of people craved an extension of the experience, that to them, multiplayer was a way to keep their favorite games alive,” he answers. “And since we knew we’d be focusing on the game’s single player legacy internally, the choice to partner up naturally followed.

“I wouldn’t call the decision easy, in the sense that (just like playing a Big Daddy, say) we knew that it’d be turned into a sound bite initially, and critiqued at about that level of surface engagement, with no explanation forthcoming for a while. But we felt that if, again, we took the question seriously — “what does BioShock mean to people, and how could some of that set of sensations be expanded to involve others?” –then we could win some people over, and make others who were crying out for it very happy.”

BioShock 2‘s multiplayer is a prequel, set before the fall of Rapture. This is quite an interesting idea and, again, we wanted to know how it was concocted. Exactly why did 2K Marin decide that the multiplayer would be tied to the story?

“It wouldn’t be BioShock without narrative integration, none of us would be comfortable with that. The civil war of Rapture was the event where Utopia’s symptoms went terminal, and Dystopia sprung up in her guts like cancer.

“A lot of people are curious about that period of time — while a single player prequel set in Rapture would be a major, major departure from the interactive feel of the original (if it was at all honest about simulating a city), multiplayer mechanics actually translate the skirmishing that tore Ryan’s paradise apart quite beautifully.

“We felt that it was an opportunity to explore the Fall through the eyes of average citizens caught up in the conflict — so you get this FDR style live broadcast from a hale and hearty Andrew Ryan to kick it off. And then as you rank up, fictionally you’re moving through time between 1959 and 1960, unlocking audio diaries from the playable characters, describing each of their plunges into madness.”

That actually sounds rather tasty. I like the idea of a multiplayer game that fleshes out the overall story in that way. Progressing through matches in order to get new audio diaries and add more to Rapture’s narrative could be pretty cool indeed. Anyway, keep checking out Destructoid over the next few days for more BioShock 2 interview stories, leading up to our review!

Jim Sterling