BioShock Creator's Next Game is Reportedly in "Development Hell"

BioShock Creator's Next Game is Reportedly in "Development Hell"

Matt Lorrigan

The debut game from Ghost Story Games, the studio set up by BioShock and BioShock Infinite director Ken Levine, is in “development hell” according to a report from Bloomberg.

The project, which began work in 2014, doesn't yet have a name, and could still be at least two years away from releasing, says one source at the studio. Development on the project has been tumultuous, according to several former and current employees, which is reportedly exacerbated by Ken Levine's flawed management style. 

Levine reportedly “struggles to communicate his vision” and frequently discards months of work, much to the dismay of his employees, with Levine's tastes and decisions frequently changing as he played new releases. Indie titles such as Dead Cells and Void Bastards were some of the titles that have reportedly influenced large overhauls to the game's design.

Ghost Story Games set out with the target of creating a “narrative Lego” game, a concept which would result in each player having a unique narrative experience with the game. Early builds involved Bioshock-style sci-fi shooting on a space station, with different factions to align with, although this style of game doesn't mesh well with Levine's cinematic approach to game creation, according to employees. “The type of game being explored does not match well with the creative process being used,” says former Ghost Story Games founding member Andres Gonzalez. 

Development on the unnamed title has apparently been allowed to continue for these eight years thanks to a large amount of slack given to Levine by publisher Take-Two Interactive. Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two is betting on Levine creating a new and successful IP, and Ghost Story Games' low staff head count means that the cost of development over the years is little more than a “rounding error” for Take-Two's financials.

While it may not be financially taxing, Levine's management style has reportedly had a negative impact on many staff, with his constant changes deemed demoralising. Additionally, some staff who clashed with Levine were reportedly let go, while others have left, such as the studio's top producer in 2017.

“The ideas and ambitions were great,” says former employee Giovanni Pasteris. “But the scope just grew and grew without concern for the team’s ability to get it done by our [original] fall 2017 deadline. Ken wanted to make a triple-A game with a ‘budget’ team size. It was never going to happen.”

  • Good. Fuck Ken Levine.
  • even his failures should still be better than 60% of what's out there.
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