BioShock 2’s creative director, Jordan Thomas, has revealed that the game may “foster much more dissent than the first”, in terms of the “nostalgia to novelty” ratio; thus, the team is preparing itself for such criticism, along with backlash from fans over the much-hyped return to Rapture.
Because 2K’s returning to a much lauded game with a sequel, the development team was prepped from the start for some fan backlash, despite the respect it has shown the subject matter.
“Well, since the early days, I’ve been candid with the team about the fact that no matter what we finally produced, we had to be comfy with the idea that a lot of people would disagree with our core creative choices — internally and externally,” he explained to D’toid. “For a lot of people, the idea of a sequel to BioShock will always be an abstract ideal, against which any physical experience (with realistic limits) must pale. It’s the nature of fan enthusiasm, I think, to hold a special place in our hearts for things that are novel, and originality certainly drove the first game’s success.
“Candidly, I think BioShock 2 will foster much more dissent than the first by its very nature — we’re going to see some critics and fans who adore the particular ratio of nostalgia to novelty that we happened to choose, and that’s grand. But there will be others who wanted Something Else so badly that they’ll crack open the backyard shed, gaze longingly at their favorite torches and pitchforks, and march on Novato. We had to make our peace with that over two years ago, scary as it is.
“Now that isn’t to say our game is perfect and we’re these misunderstood creative martyrs — even if we weren’t being compared against that First Love effect, we’d have strengths and weaknesses like anybody.
“Generally speaking, the argument that a sequel to X is doomed can only settled by a group of people who, themselves, were excited enough to return to that mythos that their passion is self-evident in the work itself,” offers Thomas. “You can’t please everyone, but I’ve found that at the end of the day, if you take the problem of familiarity seriously — and try to empathize with the audience — you can offer a compelling experience in any setting.
“Personally, I found Rapture to be an extremely fertile setting for a new adventure — along the lines of something like Silent Hill, subjectively different takes on the same town — provided that the story had a different focus. In this case, a more intimate family struggle against the backdrop of an ideological war interested the team emotionally, and we threw our hearts into it.
“But we were honest with ourselves that our target was a meaningfully weighty new story within the world of Rapture — a fresh perspective to follow Irrational’s epic, but not a reboot. In some ways, that choice was about respect.”