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Ken Levine does best to clear the storytelling air


As is becoming more and more common these days, a developer heard about the internet debacle that their comments or actions sparked, AND responded with relative quickness. This time it's BioShock's very own Ken Levine and his comments about dumbing down the stories in video games to be understandable for the lowest common denominator. His response was posted over at VE3D, and in it he goes deeper into his side comment about the medium of games having potential through player choice.

In fact he can say it better than us, so we'll just let him do it: "(Players) can, IF THEY CHOOSE, go deeper. That's where in BioShock all the other storytelling devices kick in: the diaries, the public service announcements, the posters, the thousands of little scenes in the world of Rapture that tell the story of what happened there. But I like to assume there's going to be some part of the audience that doesn't care about that, and those people can opt out of it. But for the people who do care, they can choose to opt in and get a fairly complex story (and a VERY complex story relative to other console first person shooters)."

The second part of Ken's response can be found after the break.

"However, it's also a question of training the audience. (System) Shock 2 sold 200k units. Deus Ex maybe sold a couple hundred thousand more than that. So there's simply not a lot of people out there who have experience with narrative oriented shooters. The broad shooter audience is just not that accustomed to complicated story. However, I think BioShock (and other games this year such as Portal) demonstrates that audience is ready for more. Just like FPS added more gameplay elements over time (the move to full 3d, vehicles, objective based stuff like in Battlefield) the story telling space can become more complex as the audience gets comfortable receiving story in game rather than in pre-rendered cutscenes. In short, the next game we do can be more complex, and the one after that can be more complex still."

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