September 4th, 2008
It was not a good day to be an arachnophobe in Liverpool. As part of the city's Capital of Culture celebrations, this scary 50ft mechanical spider was suspended from a building near Lime Street station. Even worse, La Princess, as the creature is known, is to move around the city at speeds of up to 2mph before it escapes down the Mersey Tunnel on Sunday. The steel and wood spider has sophisticated hydraulics which allow the dozen engineers strapped to its frame to operate its eyes, legs and abdomen.
You saunter along wilderness trails; head-up, light of breath and foot, humming sweet melodies. Life is good. Occasionally, a sparrow chirps, and you smile. Aaah. You're not sweating; you feel no pain. You walk 25-30 miles each day, but what of it? The human body was designed for traveling the wilderness, and you've harnessed its power. Your backpack weighs just 15 pounds. Your movements are unhindered by straps or heavy boots. You wake by the sun and you sleep by the stars.
Occasionally, strange frantic people pass you on the trail, laboring under Herculean loads and chanting obscenities--you smile knowingly. These are the well-meaning but misguided "traditional" backpackers, shouldering the weight of the preposterous equipment that "experts" (high schoolers) advised them to buy (on commission) at the local Sports Authority. Several minutes later, you tend to pass these misguided souls; they are usually panting, sweating, frowning, leaning against stumps.
One of the true successes of BioShock's development was our ability to identify and react when the game was not shaping up to become what it needed to be. For example, the first vertical slice prototype we built was an non-navigable linear corridor shooter that looked like it took place in an abandoned box factory.
It didn't provide a compelling experience as either an RPG or a shooter. In response, we threw away that prototype and started again from scratch with the goal of building a single room that felt like the ruined underwater utopia we were trying to build.
First we did concept art passes. Once we got a concept that worked, we built it. Then we used it as a demo space. We used that single room (now Kashmir Restaurant in the first level of the game) as an artistic reference that guided us in creating an aesthetic unlike any other game on the market. (For more about the artistic style of BioShock, see the free art book download here.)