BioShock creative lead Ken Levine comes under heavy criticism once again, considering that his gaming studio, Ghost Story Games, hasn’t produced a single game since its founding, and its debut title seems to be in development limbo. Reportedly both the studio and its purported gaming title are plagued by shifting design goals, overambitious vision, and lack of management skills, at least on Levine’s side. It’ not an entirely new criticism of the game maker, but it strongly suggests that the waiting period for Levine’s next game isn’t coming to an end anytime soon.
Ghost Story Games, staffed with former members of Levine’s old studio responsible for BioShock, was originally supposed to release a small game back in 2017, and according to the reports of the time, the sci-fi shooter project resembled Levine’s earlier space horror titled System Shock 2. However, according to The Verge, the size of the project exceeded the 30-person team’s capabilities, as the game reportedly featured complex mechanics, such as a dialogue system that would morph based on players’ choices in-game. With that said, the project was reportedly rebooted several times and still has no name or a release date. Notably, it’s considered bad luck among gaming developers if you don’t, at the very least, codename or nickname the project.
Regardless, it’s said that the BioShock creator’s management style, or lack thereof, and perfectionism are the biggest braking forces for the project. Put simply, the studio and its head have entered a never-ending cycle in which the project would receive a complete overhaul, only to be scrapped after months of tedious work. And who funds this never-ending cycle? Well, considering that Ghost Story Games is a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, a video game holding company, the reports state that Ghost Story’s budget represents Take-Two’s rounding error. This potentially provides the studio with limitless funds and its games with indefinitely long development periods.
Limitless funding often implies the absence of any form of release date, or at least a deadline for the working beta version of the game, allowing creatives, such as BioShock’s Ken Levine, to operate free from any obligation or positive amount of pressure. In simple terms, Take-Two has given Levine free reign, a blank check, and little oversight. And as a result, the game maker has nothing to show for it. Admittedly, his desires to create procedurally generated narratives implemented into scripted and highly polished 3D experiences are next to impossible to create. Even some of the biggest AAA gaming titles have a slightly variable story.
The BioShock franchise, in the meantime, continued without Levine behind the helm. Although a new installment, potentially an open-world game, has been in development since 2019 at a new studio called Cloud Chamber. According to the latest rumors, the next installment in the BioShock franchise is set in the 1960s, featuring a narrative interconnected with the previous games. And though no specific release date was given, we suspect that the studio aims for a 2022 release as a timed-exclusive for PlayStation 5. Keep in mind that those are just rumors, so take that information with a grain of salt.