Ken Levine, creator of BioShock, has discussed his view of ditching writing he deems not to have worked – and described it as a “luxury”.
This week, Levine appeared on a fresh podcast to discuss his career and ongoing work at Ghost Story Games – Levine’s current studio which was focus of a critical report earlier in the month.
In that earlier report, published by Bloomberg, former colleagues of Levine described the studio head as a “perfectionist” who had scrapped vast amounts of work, leading to staff having nothing to show for years of their lives, and causing many to leave.
Speaking of his earlier work on Thief, Levine told the Arcade Attack podcast (thanks, VGC) that it was then he learned “the most important lesson in games, which I think a lot of developers struggle with, which is you’ve got to throw out your work”.
“As a writer, there’s a saying: writing is rewriting. And it’s a luxury in the games industry to be able to do that,” he added. “I have been fortunate enough to be able to have that luxury and I think most of the reason that if the work I do is good, it’s because I’ve been able to say no, this isn’t working and move on and throw it out.
“And that can come across as indecisiveness and I can definitely see why people feel that way, but for me, I don’t know another way to get there, but it also requires you to be willing to pick up that pen again and start over, and I think it’s critical, so I view it as a luxury.”
Ghost Story Games’ debut project is still thought to be several years away, after almost eight years of development so far.
Levine concluded by saying that he was aware fans had been waiting a long time for news, but that he hadn’t wanted to show anything too early that wasn’t included in the final game (which was a criticism of BioShock Infinite).
“I think a lot of people are like, ‘what are they doing there, are they just sitting around doing nothing?’ And I understand that, but we are taking on a very challenging product,” Levine said. “But I can promise you it’s being worked on every single day and we’re very excited about it.”