BioShock Infinite creator Ken Levine has revealed the often exciting and terrifying experience of crafting companion AI for Elizabeth, the supernatural target of agent Booker DeWitt. Levine has stressed that Half-Life 2’s Alyx Vance is the last great game companion, and that he hopes Elizabeth will be able to match her. Get the quotes below.
Speaking with Eurogamer, Levine stated that he was well aware of the trials that come with companion AI when conceptualising Elizabeth’s character.
“We knew that was going to be incredibly challenging, but the more we thought about it, either the more excited or the more terrified we got,” said Levine.
He continued, “There’s not a lot of great AI companions. I really think Alyx was the last one. It’s okay. People are generally okay with it – Skyrim is a great game, but their expectations are fairly low. We knew if we were going to have the player have a voice like we wanted to because we had done so many cyphers, we wanted somebody for him to interact with.
On the problems with companion AI in other games, Levine said, “One thing AIs generally don’t do is react to what’s around them. They don’t observe what’s around them. They have no interest in what’s around them.
“So we spent a lot of time making Elizabeth notice the world and react to the world and engage with the world. That was heightened by the fact she’s been locked up. But even so, people are always looking at stuff. When you walk down the street you don’t walk down the street like a robot, which is generally what companion AIs do.
“So we had to seed the world with things she was interested in and things she could interact with. We had to seed her with various emotional states that are primarily an overlay on the animation she does. And she has sounds to go along with all of those things. Making her present in the world was one of the most difficult things and one of the most important things.”
Stace Harman recently played BioShock Infinite’s opening hours and had nothing but praise of Irrational’s effort. Get his musings right here.
BioShock Infinite launches across Europe on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 from March 26th.