Update New game footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5yUcQIaDkE
Better quality http://xboxyde.com/stream_3911_en.html
New thread as the old one
went a bit weird.
So on 2ks official Cult of Rapture
podcast Ken Levine clarified some of the aspects of the game that we had spent a long time arguing over. In short, you can't go around killing little sisters. Your weapons have no effect (I assume this'll be more of a can't fire whilst pointing at them, rather than bullets bouncing off them all the time) and you can't set them on fire or use your bio-psionic-whatever powers on them.
Basically you only have one interaction with them, and it's a binary choice.
All we allow the players to do is to make the moral choice of harvesting the Adam from them, a process they will not survive, that’s true, or to save them, to turn them back into what appears to be normal little children. And that choice is not graphically shown in any way. It is really sort of suggested. It just shows the player enough so they know the consequences on his choice. We went back and forth a lot on this choice to make sure we were handling it with the respect and seriousness necessary for a game that takes on these issues.
So giving how vehement the arguement was, how do people now feel about it? I'm pretty satisfied this is a good way of sidestepping what was the troubling aspect of the game, whilst leaving the core of the gameplay in tact.
You have talked a lot about the choice to either Harvest or Rescue the Little Sisters, but from your description are you concerned about allowing a player to Harvest, and thusly harm, a Little Sister? Do you think that’s appropriate for a video game?
I think it’s like asking someone, “you have this character in this movie that does this horrible thing.” I believe that movies are vicarious experiences. If you never have ever been excited by an action film or brought to tears by a drama or had your heart beat because of a romance, you know there is a certain amount of projection that happens in movies. And if you asked a filmmaker, why do you have characters doing terrible things in your movies? Any time that a person does a morally unsavory act in a movie, you understand it’s part of the story and you have a vicarious relationship with it. Games just take that vicarious relationship and take it a little more literally with the player actually making those choices rather than experiencing the emotion of those choices. I think what will be striking to the player is that they have to live with those choices. They are not predetermined like they are in a movie. Now, I think we have a responsibility to do it tastefully, to not exploit the elements of the moral choice that don’t matter. For example, in BioShock, you cannot harm the little Sister in any way… you cannot use your weapons against a Little sister, or set her on fire, or send your swarm of insects after her like you can the other AIs in the world. All we allow the players to do is to make the moral choice of harvesting the Adam from them, a process they will not survive, that’s true, or to save them, to turn them back into what appears to be normal little children. And that choice is not graphically shown in any way. It is really sort of suggested. It just shows the player enough so they know the consequences on his choice. We went back and forth a lot on this choice to make sure we were handling it with the respect and seriousness necessary for a game that takes on these issues.
This is the first time you have really talked in-depth about the choice the player has with the Little Sisters. There has been some speculation among media and on forums that you can just go around shooting Little Sisters indiscriminately. Are you worried that people will dismiss this game as “that FPS where you can kill Little Sisters” or on the flip side, that people will be disappointed in how you actually interact with Little Sisters in the game?
Well, you can only negatively impact the Little Sister with the Harvest choice. You can’t shoot them, you cannot harm them in any way outside of the Harvest choice. To us, we weren’t interested in exploring those other elements because it wouldn't further the moral choice we wanted the player to have to make. And anything that would provide a prurient experience to the Little Sisters we thought was inappropriate and not what we were interested in doing, because that’s not what this game is about. We spent a lot of time soul searching on this to make sure we were presenting things responsibly. That’s the key to me. Not that a game maker should not present these choices, but that they should present it in an informed and sensitive manner and mostly important, that enough of the challenging material should be told in a way that supports the story and the moral choices we are talking about and nothing beyond that. In terms of people being disappointed, I don’t think it’s disappointed not to have those things. I'm interested in shooting monsters, and I'm not sure why someone would be interested in [shooting Little Sisters]. . It’s not about pointing a gun at something that appears to be a child, it’s about a larger moral choice, and asking that question. All that other stuff had no part in that question.
Couple of posts from the cult of rapture forums
i've been thinking about your discussion about immersion in the game, and i wanted to give you my two cents. the Little Sister is a comprehensive character and has lived in rapture long enough to know the darkness of the place. she is scared of you. she isn't just out in the open for anyone to take a shot at. and the Big Daddy is her father-figure, and protector. he will do his damnedest to not let you touch a hair on her head. often, when i encounter her, he is a hulking beast of metal blocking my way, and doing harm to her, without going through him first, would be a very difficult chore to pull off.
another point, as a realist. in today's society, if you had been allowed to shoot Little Sisters in the game, it would have CERTAINLY been rated AO. then there would have been no BioShock, and nothing to play.
however, that point is moot, since harming the Little Sisters by torture, fire, gun, or otherwise was never the point of their role in BioShock in the first place.
So some thoughts on the situation. First of all, this approach was entirely directed by me, not by any corporate marketing department or the ESRB. I’m going to use the word “I” in this post a lot, instead of “We” not because I did the wonderful Little Sister animation (that was Shawn Roberston and team) or I implemented their AI (that was John Abercrombie and team). I just want to be clear that I called the shots on this, and if people have issues with this, they should direct their issues at me and not marketing or members of the team. 2k has stood by us on this morally challenging and very, very intense game.
My goal has always been to make the game impactful and disturbing but not exploitative. BioShock is the thematically darkest game I’ve ever made. It might be the thematically darkest game I’ve ever played. (SOME SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS IN THE REST OF THE PARAGRAPH) Insurgents hang from street lamps. Entire families are found in obscene, undying portraits, a bottle of poison sitting on their coffee table. The streets of Rapture are filled with a thousand individual scenes, of lives and dreams obliterated in a brutal civil war at the bottom of the ocean. Even the woman advising you not to harm the Little Sister in the game is a scientist, a survivor of the the concentration camps who once experimented on her own people.
At the end of the day, you are indeed choosing to either rescue or take the life of one of these little sisters. However, given the nature of the subject matter and the gameplay impacts of this choice, we took a very particular course of action regarding the Little Sisters for the following reasons:
As another member posted, Little Sisters and the Adam they carry are indeed a limited commodity in the game. In our original testing, we found people were unintentionally having violent interactions with the little sisters all the time. This really pissed off players who were intent on rescuing them.
Well, you might say, how could this happen? BioShock is a game with a huge amount of player expression and, well, controlled and uncontrolled chaos. Setting a trip wire trap for a Big Daddy and having a Little Sister stumble frankly sucked from a gameplay perspective. A gunshot goes wild, fire spreads throughout the world and ignites passersby, a grenade takes a bad bounce…
For the player really pushing down the character growth path of Little Sister rescuing, the insults of potentially dozens of unintentional attacks on Little Sisters
2) Impact. Remember the original E3 demo video? There was a bug there and a Little Sister got caught in the crossfire. From where I’m sitting. It wasn’t impactful. It wasn’t shocking. It wasn’t anything. The action was unintentional, at a distance, and made an emotional impression of zero. (on me at least, I can’t speak for others out there). In contrast, the sequences now where you save or harvest the little sister is pretty intense. When you’re fighting the Big Daddy, she’s pretty vocal:
“UNZIP HIM MR B!”
She shouts, referring to Mr. Bubbles, the nickname she has for the Big Daddy.
"TEAR HIM INTO LITTLE BITS!"
-she cries, until the Big Daddy goes down. After you kill a big daddy, the little sister is found literally mourning over the corpse of her former protector. She’s crying, and you can hear her lamentations over the loss of her friend. It’s kind of awful.
“…what am I going to do now…” she cries, or pathetically intones “Muh-muh-muh Mr. Bub-bub-bles…”
And there she is, defenseless. And you’re left with a choice. And this isn’t a choice you make at a distance. It isn’t a choice you make when her protector is breathing down your throat, that you can later make excuses for. This is a choice you have to make when she’s standing right in front of you, weeping because the closest thing she knows as a parent is lying dead in front of her.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not making a game that has anything to do with the joy of hunting down a childlike creature with a gun. My goal was to distill the choice down to what it’s really about. There’s something that may or may not be a child in front of you. If you want to survive, if you want to save the wife and family of the man who’s been helping you survive Rapture, you must harvest the Adam from these Little Sisters.
The Little Sister is defenseless in front of you. Gone are the tools of the first person shooter, the tools that you use so often and after years of gaming, without thinking. What you now have in your hand are the almost surgical tools of Adam extraction.
Rescue or Harvest. Rescue or Harvest.
It’s up to you.
(note: for those worried about the fictional justification for the Little Sisters resistance to damage from sources other than the Adam extraction tools, they are indeed in the game. If people want to know more about this, I can post on the topic.)
I think the things that allayed my fears the most were, paraphrased: "we tried that already, it didn't work"
Did we *ever*. LSs became invulnerable as part of a gradual process, that had as much to do with gameplay as any other factor. As long as they had *any* vulnerabilities left, we kept finding ways for clever players to get their ADAM without having to deal with the Big Daddy, thus negating one of our core gameplay elements. We tried tons of different solutions, before settling on what we finally did. As Ken said, emotion and intention had a lot to do with it -- but there was also a healthy dose of 'exploit avoidance'.
Alexx Kay, Designer, Irrational Games