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Page 1 of 2Of those that played it, few RPG fans would dispute that Irrational Games' System Shock 2 is among the finest role-playing games ever developed. While Electronic Arts currently holds the license to the System Shock franchise, that hasn't stopped the team at Irrational Games from creating their own FPS/RPG hybrid and attaching a "Shock" to its title. To find out where BioShock currently stands in development and what we can expect upon its release, we fired over a set of questions to Irrational Games technical art director Nate Wells:
GB: First of all, how is development of BioShock coming along? Are you still on track for an August release?
Nate: Well, we're just wrapping-up now. Also, we're polishing-off the PC version and getting the non-english versions of the game ready to go. It's a hectic time, but all indications are that we are right on track for August.
GB: BioShock has been labeled as the "spiritual successor" to System Shock 2. Obviously the storyline will be completely different, but what similarities should SS2 fans expect to find in BioShock?
Nate: SS2 and BioShock are two very different games. But I think what they really share is a focus on player-choice and emergent gameplay. System Shock 2 was the first game we ever made as a company and of course we are all still very fond of it. But, like all first-efforts the greatest value we got from System Shock 2 was a learning experience. Much of what defined SS2 was a great deal of depth that was often hidden from the player. With BioShock we had the resources and the time to bring all that depth out from (under-the-hood) and give the player a deep experience that plays-out right in front of their eyes. The sheer number of powers and weapons and environmental interactions is staggering. BioShock is without a doubt the most ambitious game I have ever been involved with.
GB: It seems as though BioShock is evolving into more of a FPS than a FPS/RPG hybrid. Does the game still have a role-playing emphasis? If so, can you tell us about some of the RPG elements you're implementing into the game?
Nate: One problem with genre definitions when it comes to games is that they bring with them a lot of preconceived notions about what constitutes a certain game. To us, the real heart of RPG is not numerical-stats and limited inventories but rather the simple principle of allowing the player to experience a game world as they see fit. It's different for each player.
We give the player the ability to define a gameplay style and be free to experiment and modify their role in Rapture.
GB: Can you give us a full overview of plasmids? How many are you implementing, how will they be categorized, and how will players gain access to them? Any plasmid examples you can share with us?
Nate: The plasmid-system itself is really divided into two components: The (Plasmids) which are about twenty (including upgrades) distinct, active powers that the player can equip and the over 50 (including upgrades) (Gene Tonics) which the player equips to get a whole host of different passive benefits. Some of the plasmids include (Security Bullseye) which allows the player to tag AIs to appear hostile to Rapture's security system, and thus get attacked by it. Also, (Cyclone Trap) which deploys a trap that launches enemies into the air, temporarily disabling them and causing damage as they careen of the walls and ceiling. Also plasmids like (Winter Blast) and (Incinerate) can freeze or burn enemies in a direct attack.
GB: Tell us about the game's weaponry. Will we only be using ranged weapons or are you implementing melee weapons as well? Will we have the option to upgrade our weapons with attachments, improved ammunition, etc?
Nate: The player will be able to choose, in addition to their plasmids, 8 different weapons which are fully-customizable and upgradeable. Each ranged weapon also has three distinctive ammo types: Two which the player finds or purchases in the world; and one (invented) ammo-type that the player must construct from component materials found in the world. Each ammo has its own distinct advantages against the many AI-types found in the world of Rapture.