Bioshock has a Memorable Moment that I think is probably in my top 10 Gaming Memorable Moments. And I've got to say, it's nice after the Halos and CODs and Gears of Wars of the world to play a game where resources are somewhat scarce. I'm actually forced to conserve, which isn't always the kind of game I feel like playing but does make a nice change. And, the art direction! Wow! If you're looking for a dark underseas art deco experience, Bioshock is the place to come to!
[Which forces us to ask the question - are the masses looking for a dark underseas art deco experience? Or, are enough people looking to make Bioshock profitable, or is Bioshock like the Terry Gilliam movie - something I love but doesn't sell? It's sold .56 million according to vgchartz. Which puts it on track for selling over a million lifetime, but not much more. Assuming the publisher gets $10 a pop, that's $10m. Then, PC sales and sales over steam will add a chunk. Take 2 owns the IP, an asset in their portfolio worth...what? And how much did it cost? Although Irrational is very good at making a fairly small number of levels, enemies, and systems go a long, long way - and most of the story is told in (excellent) voice-over - there's a long list of credits and it was in development for a long time. $10M? $15M? So my back of the envelope puts it right on the edge of profitability - a place where most publishers don't really like to be - but Take 2 seems very pleased, so I've probably dropped a decimal place somewhere.]
And I could write a more in-depth essay, but instead I will indulge in the ultimate in lazy blogging:
Then. an IM conersation about Bioshock:
jdfristrom: I still haven't finished Bioshock
brett_douville: A compiler dependency seems to be busted in my .Net and it generates longer compiles than it should, which is super super super annoying
brett_douville: So I have some free time :)
brett_douville: How far are you now? I'm blogging in another mental thread about it
jdfristrom: How far am I from?
brett_douville: How far are you in BioShock?
brett_douville: (Though clearly you have your ship date on your mind...)
jdfristrom: I just saved the trees
brett_douville: Ah, right.
brett_douville: That might be the first time you see a normal human in the game, right?
jdfristrom: I'm wishing I bought the PC version - but gameflying the 360 version was free...
brett_douville: The plant lady?
brett_douville: I'd happily send you my copy -- but I Steamed it.
jdfristrom: I didn't know it was on steam. Cool.
brett_douville: I didn't even have to leave the house.
jdfristrom: Heck, I'll switch
jdfristrom: It won't take me that long to get back to where I was
brett_douville: Really? It seems like you're a good 8 hours in, if I remember correctly
brett_douville: That's roughly the halfway point, I think, though maybe it's more like 1/3rd
jdfristrom: It'll go faster the second time
brett_douville: Anyway, that's when I noticed that the faces on their people looked super strange -- it totally works for the Slicers, but for a "normal" person, it's pretty ghastly
jdfristrom: I didn't get to see her that close
brett_douville: Yeah, I used the physics to knock her around a bit
brett_douville: The ragdoll is pretty twitchy in that game -- in RC, we only had the memory and CPU budget for one ragdoll at a time, so we would turn them off once they came to rest, and I think more games should do that
jdfristrom: Their corpse ragdoll is broken - we had similar problems with Spider-Man 2 - but I guess they just left it in because who knows what's going on in a dead Splicer's nervous system
jdfristrom: funny, I was typing that before you started
brett_douville: great minds and all that
jdfristrom: I can totally see that bug lingering on the buglist for the life of the project
brett_douville: Yeah. Although, overall, I wasn't impressed with their ragdolls. Not that it matters all that much. But they seemed too springy.
jdfristrom: I can't be sure, but I think I liked SS2 more
jdfristrom: I don't think SS2 had the resurrection stations...if it did, there were fewer of them, or there was some bigger cost
brett_douville: I don't think they had them at all -- I think it was a reload situation if you died.
jdfristrom: It creates a weird economy - "I better not use my health kit, but that costs money! And resurrection is free, as long as the tube isn't too far away"
brett_douville: But SS2 could be so broken, which left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth -- I got very close to the end of that game and it was literally impossible for me to complete it.
brett_douville: Yeah, I tended to rely on the res stations for Big Daddy combats
jdfristrom: I imagine something like this happened
jdfristrom: "We need to make the game easier to bring in more casuals."
jdfristrom: "Let's have resurrection stations."
jdfristrom: "Hey, now the game is too easy."
jdfristrom: "Let's make killing a big daddy require an absolute crapload of health."
brett_douville: Yeah, I can see that exactly. But a casual user won't. He'll just be happy that he's not reloading.
jdfristrom: Ok, if you had trouble with the big daddies too, guess I'll stick it out with the xbox. I thought maybe it was because I didn't have mouse & keyboard
brett_douville: Well, it could be that I suck. But I prefer not to think that way.
brett_douville: I was going to buy an Xbox360 for it, but really, it just didn't make sense. Until Tim Schafer's game comes out for the 360 (assuming that to be the best sku for it), I probably don't need to buy a 360 at all.
jdfristrom: $300 to be able to play Schizoid is a bargain, mind you. But we'll probably port to the PC eventually also
brett_douville: But don't I really need someone else to play with to fully enjoy it?
jdfristrom: What am I, chopped liver?
brett_douville: Oh, we're going to play, with our 3 hour time difference?
jdfristrom: I'll finally have some free time...
brett_douville: I may have to give up sleep altogether. I play co-op every now and again with friends in California, but we start at 9. Their time.
jdfristrom: How old are Luc & Jordan again?
brett_douville: 9 and 7, respectively
jdfristrom: Luc'll play it with you.
brett_douville: They'd want to play together
jdfristrom: On a different note, I wonder how long it would take to kill a big daddy with just the wrench
brett_douville: Ugh. I can't imagine trying.
brett_douville: I can remember some great times in the original Doom (or perhaps Doom II) where you'd get the quad damage and invincibility and be punching out cacodemons and stuff
jdfristrom: Yeah, those "You're temporarily incredibly awesome" moments always work - the Scorpion in Halo was another good one
jdfristrom: the final level of Half-Life 2...
brett_douville: You need to finish BioShock so I can discuss one thing they did with you
jdfristrom: It may take a while, because I've decided I'm going to only use the wrench
brett_douville: Ha! That would invalidate what I was going to talk about anyway :)
jdfristrom: What was your preferred method for killing grunt-level enemies?
brett_douville: I tended to just pistol to the head
jdfristrom: how many shots did that take?
brett_douville: But I never felt too light on ammo in the game, so I didn't worry about it too much
jdfristrom: did you play normal difficulty?
jdfristrom: I can get off one headshot on an unsuspecting one but never the second one - and it seems like it takes about half-a-dozen body shots to take one down
brett_douville: The shock + wrench works very well
brett_douville: If you can shock before you shoot, that's usually pretty quick too
jdfristrom: I always feel strapped for ammo - I feel like ammo's for big daddies - yeah, I've been using shock + wrench + wrench jockey + stealth wrench
jdfristrom: But they always get one hit on me
brett_douville: I rarely felt strapped for ammo -- lots of weapons, you can buy more whenever you need to, etc.
jdfristrom: Which is okay, since the resurrection tubes make health practically free, but I'd rather spend 2 bullets
brett_douville: I wonder if they are balanced differently PC vs 360 -- you'd think they'd have to be
jdfristrom: 360 easier, to account for tougher controls, or 360 harder, because audience more hardcore?
brett_douville: Late in the game I was always leaving ammo behind
brett_douville: Um, I'd say 360 easier, because 360 less hardcore?
jdfristrom: Or, yeah, could be that
brett_douville: I'm sure the game sold more copies to mainstream players on the 360
jdfristrom: Which means I extra suck
brett_douville: No, no, no, no, no. Well, yes.
brett_douville: I wonder -- I'd love to know what they did for difficulty. I always preferred the simplest possible solution (i.e. you do more damage in easy, less in hard).
jdfristrom: if I were them I'd have a mode - maybe uber-hard - where the tubes are turned off completely
jdfristrom: other than that, yeah
brett_douville: Wow, yeah, that'd be pretty nuts
jdfristrom: eh, you could still beat it with quicksaving
jdfristrom: and, if you're good enough to kill someone with 2 or 3 bullets, you'll never run out of resources
brett_douville: I think I would mostly die not because I was out of health packs (which are really cheap), but because I wasn't paying attention to my health meter
jdfristrom: does it pop up the reminder on the PC version?
brett_douville: Yeah, actually, but sometimes I would be so focused on the gunplay that I would ignore it
brett_douville: Which is a sign of good gunplay
jdfristrom: it pops up a little late, so two quick hits will kill me
jdfristrom: often I press the button just out of reflex and then say, "I should have saved my packs, there was a tube right there"
brett_douville: I tended to mostly get killed by the daddies -- I'd be so focused on dodging their rush attacks that I'd miss the health warning and then miss a dodge at some point
jdfristrom: they haven't been rushing me lately. they take me out with their rivet guns
brett_douville: Ah yeah, the Rosies. I tended not to die from those -- just the chargers.
jdfristrom: how much health would a Rosie suck you down?
brett_douville: Probably 4 or 5 bars.
jdfristrom: That's $60-$75...yeah, that's worth it, a lot cheaper than the ammo
brett_douville: Yeah, health is super cheap
brett_douville: All wrench for you now :)
jdfristrom: It just occurred to me - I've been playing kind of quake-like, trying to circle & dodge while firing - but since health is cheap & ammo's expensive, it might be better to just suck up the damage and make absolutely sure my shots hit
brett_douville: Ah. Yeah, well, I've never been much of a quake player. I definitely played the game more like a tank.
jdfristrom: Can I just cut-and-paste the bioshock parts of this conversation into my blog? I was going to do a "Notes on Bioshock" but I think we already covered everything in here
brett_douville: Sure, have at it. I've been blogging during compiles today with my own BioShock stuff, should be ready to go by tomorrow. :)
brett_douville: You won't be able to read it though.
jdfristrom: Oh, spoiler?
brett_douville: Yeah; I've decided not to worry about spoilers any more. I'm just going to go ahead and write whatever. I may add "caveat lector" to the stuff at the top.
Actually, one more thing. And this is a bit of a spoiler:
There's a bit in Bioshock where you lose control of your powers - you can no longer choose which power you have armed - the game picks it randomly for you and changes on a regular basis. This is awesome, and genius, and great fun. Because all the spells are powered by the same resource, I (and most people, I'm sure) quickly settle on a favorite and don't even experience the other powers in the game, but this bit forces you to. I didn't want this segment to end - it suddenly became a game of "How can I make this power that I'm stuck with work for me?" I'd love to see a whole game built around this...the amateur magician who can't control which spell he's casting...