Ken Levine rejected an offer to co-develop a game with a talented Hollywood film director, the BioShock Infinite creative lead has revealed.
And in a new interview with Develop, Levine explains why he’d turn the opportunity down if asked again, and why the game industry needs to grow out of being “star-struck” from the film industry.
“I was offered the chance to make a game with a film director. A very talented film director,” he said.
“[The Hollywood execs said] they really liked what I was doing and wanted to share it – that this project with creative leads from both game and film – was going to be amazing.
“My feeling is, why? Why would any game designer want to do that?
“What’s the point of having two creative leads together, and why would I want a film director to help me make a game, any more than they would want me to help out with their films?”
Levine, who in his earlier years tried and failed in pursuit of a Hollywood screenwriting career, said games shouldn’t be seen as subservient to film.
“I think there’ a sense in the entertainment fields that videogames are seen as the junior varsity,” he said.
“There’s this feeling of ‘oh one day you can come up to our league’.
“And of course film directors can jump through the game industry’s open doors. Guillermo del Toro – who by the way is an amazing film director – recently signed a deal with THQ to make videogames.
“And I’m thinking… he’s never made a videogame.
“Maybe he’s got a genius for it. But games are really, really hard to make well. In our industry there’s too many people star-struck of the movie world, jumping into deals with some big movie director just because they’re big film directors.”
In Levine’s most personal and candid interview yet – available to read here – Levine slams the game development industry’s obsession with quantifying value.
“I love it when developers say ‘in our game we have 800 lines of dialogue’. I mean, who fucking cares? That’s a standard? ‘We have 600 hours of cut-scenes’. So? As a writer, bulk is the easy part. I could have you 800 lines of dialogue tomorrow.
“Making content is easy. People got pretty great at it way before us. It’s making it work; leaving enough out, making it work as an interactive piece, that’s the designer’s real challenge.”