• Bioshock – Game Design Anti-Patterns

    Bioshock is a 2007 game created by Irrational Studios, and is considered to be a spiritual successor to System Shock 2 (1999).


    Despite its unique setting and atmosphere, the game contains a number of major design flaws that are worth investigating as game design anti-patterns (anti-patterns are the study of a “wrong” solution to a problem, to understand why it’s wrong and how the problem could be solved in a better way.)

    In this article, I am going to specifically talk about two areas of Bioshock’s design;

    • Interface – the interfaces that the game uses to allow the player to control its various aspects, such as genetic powers and items.
    • Balance – the way that the various elements of the game are balanced against each other, and the way the game provides difficulty to the player.

    Before I begin, I would like to mention a “pitch document” from early in Bioshock’s development, which set out the developers’ aims and design goals for the game.
    This document is available as a set of images on Irrational’s Website.  I will be referring to and quoting sections of this document throughout the article, as I describe the various problems that the developers were looking to solve.

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