Ever since BioShock creator Ken Levine shuttered Irrational Games, fans have been waiting patiently to see what the critically-acclaimed game developer would do next. Levine is still being secretive when it comes to his upcoming narrative-driven gaming project, but the BioShock creator let a few details slip during the EGX Rezzed event in London, like the fact that the game is inspired by Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor‘s Nemesis system.
For the uninitiated, the Nemesis system is a feature in Shadow of Mordor that allows characters in the game to remember the actions of the player character. So, for example, if the player character in Shadow of Mordor attacks an enemy Uruk but doesn’t kill him, that Uruk could rise through the ranks and actively seek revenge for being attacked. According to Levine, his new game will employ an even more advanced take on this idea.
“The game that inspired me most […] was Shadow of Mordor with the Nemesis System. That was a very limited, rudimentary approach to it. It’s more of a metanarrative, and there’s not a lot of dialogue support for that stuff, so our thing is much more ambitious. That sort of gave us, like, ‘OK, maybe we’re not completely crazy in what we’re trying to do.'”
Levine calls his take on the Nemesis system “Radical Recognition.” Levine’s goal with Radical Recognition is to have the game constantly react to what the player is doing and be able to recognize the value of what any given player did in the game in order to shape the narrative. This will partly be accomplished through dynamic relationships players will have with the game’s characters, as the actions players take can make the NPCs “feel” a number of different emotions, which they will then act on. Levine hopes Radical Recognition will allow him to present a game that seems as though it has a linear narrative like BioShock, when in reality, the characters and events are being influenced by what the player is doing.
It’s safe to say that Levine and his team at Ghost Story Games have their work cut out for them. What Ghost Story Games is trying to accomplish is ambitious to say the least, but if it’s a success, it could result in one of the biggest innovations in video game storytelling to date. In the meantime, fans should keep their fingers crossed that Levine reveals more substantial information about the game sooner rather than later, especially since it has now been in development for nearly three years.
BioShock creator Ken Levine’s next project has yet to be officially announced.