BioShock creator Ken Levine said during a panel at GDC 2014 that his next title won’t be a linear narrative as “narratively-driven games tend to have poor replay value.”
During the panel attended by Eurogamer, Levine said linear narrative also “puts a boundary between the developer and the audience.”
“Narrative doesn’t lend itself to systems,” he said. “I’m proud of what we did with linear narrative, but I’ve personally been doing it for over 19 years.
“The problem with narrative is that you sort of have to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. That gets time consuming. That gets expensive. And you’re devoting years and years of your life to this one sort of big moment. You ship the game, and it comes out, and people play the game and it’s 12 hours long and people have a great experience and you see cosplayers and fans for years like that, but you don’t have that constant engagement with the audience.
“Linear narrative puts a boundary between the developer and the audience.”
Levine he wants to create a “narrative-driven experience where the narrative elements are non-linear and interact with each other.” In theory, he wants all narrative elements to trigger off player actions – or narratively open-ended, if you will.
While this sounds a bit convoluted, Levine doesn’t want it to get to that point.
“You’re going to have to balance these things off one another, but they’re all going to be transparent to you. We’re going to have to have a limited number of them so you can track them all and it doesn’t become a giant spreadsheet that overwhelms you,” he said.
Levine announced in February he was closing down Irrational Games and 2K would retain the BioShock property.