Gamasutra interviews Steve Gaynor about the Minerva's Den DLC in BioShock 2, discussing the challenges of adding an independently story-driven DLC in a narratively heavy franchise.
The main concept, then, for Minerva's Den came from extrapolating on what already existed in Rapture's world, something Gaynor says is key to approaching this type of add-on content. "So much of BioShock was about ADAM [the world's power currency], and using the genetic technology to change people," he says. But, he reasoned, for every successful attempt at genetic enhancement that succeeded, there must have been several other approaches that never panned out, that lost steam midway or encountered problems.
Thus McClendon Robotics, the DLC's central location, was born: "We were interested in looking at other approaches that people were taking [to human advancement] that dead-ended, or maybe at the time of the fall of the city they were using other approaches to get ahead," Gaynor suggests. So it was easy to envision a heretofore unseen part of Rapture, where automation, robotics and technology had been pursued with fervor.
It's how the studio wants its designers to think, Gaynor says. As part of his interview process at the time he joined 2K Marin, he says candidates were tasked with a whiteboard test, challenged to come up with a level for BioShock from scratch: "As part of that brainstorming, I thought about what parts of Rapture haven't been seen before," he says. "There's always the computer stuff, and that was something we were just kicking around... but when it was time for DLC, I remembered my idea and thought that maybe Rapture's computer core could point to a larger story," he says.