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Zombie Bioshock: The Game That Never Got Made

Video game developer 2K Boston, makers of “System Shock 2” and “Bioshock,” recently changed their name back to Irrational Games. In celebration they have made a new website, with incredible insight in their company. One of these insights is the addition of their podcast, ”Irrational Behavior.” In it, host Shawn Elliott interviews varied groups of development and it in they discuss the game they were making right before “Bioshock” …Zombie SWAT. Read on for the game that could have been…

Vivendi Universal wanted Irrational Games to make “Swat 5,” yet they were pretty unexcited about making another sequel. Art Director Nate Wells talked about the development, “We were bored so we basically treated the art like as though we were making survival horror, that was a straight up tactical shooter.” Creative Director Ken Levine really enjoyed the way the game was taking shape and they ended making a prototype, Levine stated “ It had elements of fear visually and audibly that we didn’t have before.” Here’s some details about the game, called “Division 9.”

Lead Artist Shawn Robertson on designing. “I wrote up design pitch that I called Infection, but it was like a super design nerdy rpg.”

Art Director Nate Wells on the gameplay. “It had a lot of base building. You would be working from a base and going out into the zombie area and meet people and bring them back. They would be engineers and develop weapons for you. It was very old school, it was almost “X-com” in a way.

Lead Artist Shawn Robertson on scenarios. “If you wanted a machine gun, you would have to rescue a guy that had a machine gun, and you had to figure out where he lived…And we had this idea of zombie scent. Where you could rub dead zombies all over you, which would give you the ability to walk amongst the zombies as long as you didn’t use a weapon for scouting out areas. Strategic goals were if you got the power plant running in the city, then you could go out at night because all the lights were on. It just snowballed into this huge epic undertaking.”

Lead Designer Bill Gardner on the ending. “I remember I wanted it to be like the last level where you’re basically walking down the street and you shoot past a zombie and a window goes out and you look in and it’s actually a lab and the whole city was a just test bed to see if people could live and survive a zombie attack and therefore they could use this weapon to turn people into zombies.”

Creative Designer Ken Levine on the game mechanic. “The question was, what sort of game mechanic was it going to be. I remember thinking about “Robotron,” a game you clearly couldn’t win, but it was a trade off of of doing strategic things, like do I stop and nail the door shut, do I stop and heal my friend who is with me or do I move forward because the monsters would never stop, it was about holding back the horde versus trying to gain strategic advantage. Tactical versus strategic.”

Art Director Nate Wells on emotional game play. “The coolest thing was that if your teamate got infected and you didn’t get to him in time with your antidote, he would change right in front of you, and it would be a unique zombie, and the whole thing was wereally wanted to pull your heart strings..”

Creative Designer Ken Levine on why make Division 9. “What we were frustrated by was, we loved “Resident Evil,” but it didn’t really capture the apocalyptic nature of the “Dawn of the Dead” movies. “Dawn of the dead,” they were barricading themselves and there was a whole “We need to get food, we need to get all these things,” that weren’t in those games that we wanted that survival nature.”

Creative Designer Ken Levine on selling the game. “Actually a publisher did bite, Vivendi wasn’t interested at first, but we actually sold it them…We were just about to sell the company at the same time (to Take 2,) and obviously we couldn’t do both. The only game we ever sold and never did”

To check out more great insightful stuff (including a bunch of deleted characters in Bioshock) check out their podcast. Would you have wanted to play Division 9?

UPDATE: Apparently Game Informer has a trailer up for Division 9 and a little more insight, check out their story and the trailer HERE.



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