In 2002, the first demo of what became Bioshock ran on the first Xbox using Unreal Engine 2 and was set in a space station overrun with genetic mutants, not in the underwater city of Rapture.
It’s just one of many interesting tidbits about Bioshock's development and life at Irrational Games told in Simon Parkin’s long feature on Eurogamer. Parkin talked to several former Irrational members, including co-founder Ken Levine, and uncovered both troubling and hilarious stories.
For example, programmer John Abercrombie said that at one point he replaced the grenades of the grenadier enemy with a 3D model of a cat that would explode on contact and called the mode “cat-astrophe.” When management found out, they made him promise not to secretly include it in the game. "I guess they were concerned about the ASPCA or someone getting wind of it and it causing all sorts of media troubles,” he said. “So I just made a video locally and then went on, fixing bugs."
Abercrombie did this to amuse himself during a brutal development crunch, with many late nights and seven-day workweeks that lasted for months.
"The pressure was on to create something that would impress, and our deadline was looming," one of Bioshock’s level designers Jean Paul LeBreton said. "In a level review, there was some discussion of how an AI should be presented in the short demo. Someone mentioned System Shock 2's evasive cyborg ninjas as a reference point. Ken threw his glasses down and yelled: 'I don't want to hear anything about any f***ing cyborg ninjas!'"
Apparently this was just one out of many such incidents that occurred at what was a high pressure environment, but the team comes off as unanimously grateful for their time with Irrational and Levine.
“Ken can be a tough guy to work for sometimes, but he is driven to make his games great and drives his team towards that same goal,” former level designer Paul Hellquist said. “I always aspire to that goal in my work and probably learned that from him."
The full piece, which you can find at Eurogamer, has a lot more interesting stories and offers great insight at the history of Irrational Games, which in February Levine confirmed was shutting down.
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Social and mobile games company Zynga has launched FarmVille 2: Country Escape last week, a new FarmVille game designed especially for mobile devices.
Unlike Zynga’s previous attempts to bring FarmVille to mobile devices simply as an extension of the PC game, FarmVille 2: Country Escape was designed based on mobile players’ feedback. It has an offline mode, which allows you to play wherever and then connect to the internet to save progress, and also an Anonymous Mode, which allows you to complete quests, sell goods, and expand your farm without the social features the series is known for.
Of course, FarmVille 2: Country Escape is free-to-play with in-app purchases, and still has all the social features that can accelerate progress.
The game had a solid debut on the iTunes App Store, coming in as the third top free game in the Top Free Apps chart, and number 42 on the Top Grossing chart. It broke into the top 100 free games on Google Play, but didn’t make as big of a splash there.
FarmVille 2: Country Escape is also the most notable game Zynga has launched since former Xbox executive Don Matrick left Microsoft to join Zynga as its Chief Executive Officer in July 2013.
"I joined Zynga because I believe that [Mark Pincus'] pioneering vision and mission to connect the world through games is just getting started," Matrick said at the time. "Zynga is a great business that has yet to realize its full potential."
Octodad: Dadliest Catch will launch on the Playstation 4 on Wednesday, April 23, according to a post on the PlayStation Blog.
The game, which is already available on PC, was expected to land on PS4 some time in March, but developer Young Horses announced in February that it was delaying the PS4 version for an "early April" release. April 23 isn’t that early, but at least it’s finally here.
Last we heard, Young Horses said that it was also mulling over an Xbox One version, and that it had no plans for a Wii U release. "Our word on the Xbox One version is, 'We’re thinking about it.'"
In the game, you play as an octopus pretending to be just a normal dad. You go about your day, trying to perform simple tasks, which become hilariously difficult because you control each of your tentacles independently.
GameSpot awarded the PC version of Octodad: Dadliest Catch a score of 6 in its review.