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BioShock Infinite: Multiplayer features axed amid core team departures

Creative director Ken Levine calls for calm; Studio hires top Epic Games dev to help finish delayed project

An eye-opening report on the condition of the BioShock Infinite project has revealed that many core development staff have quit, multiplayer modes have been axed entirely, and a senior developer at Epic Games has joined the studio to help finish the delayed game.

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Alleged insiders told games site Kotaku that the Irrational team "has struggled to craft a full game that meets the promise of its early demos".

The article claimed that two multiplayer modes, which had been worked on for several months, have been axed entirely. It also speculates that the BioShock successor could ship as a single-player title only.

In other developments:

  • It was revealed on Thursday that many of the core BioShock Infinite team no longer work at the studio. Departures include design director Jeff McGann, producer Joe Faulstick, principal systems designer Ken Strickland, senior level designer Steve Gaynor, and systems designer Tynan Sylvester, among others.
  • Director of production at Epic Games, Rod Fergusson, is rumored to have been hired by Irrational to help finish the project.
  • Scott Sinclair, the art director on the first BioShock, has returned to Irrational to wrap up development on Infinite.
  • The studio's creative director, Ken Levine, has called for calm and maintains faith that the project will ship in February 2013.
  • Jordan Thomas, who works at Irrational's sister studio 2K Marin, has been brought "on loan" to help finish the project. He is scheduled to return to 2K Marin when the project is finished.

Addressing the rumours and facts, Levine told Kotaku that "in a company of 200 people you're going to have turnover".

He confirmed that Tim Gerritsen, director of product development, and art director Nate Wells have both left the studio.

"We never like to see a guy like Nate leave because he's been here for a long time but it's been 13 years and I think sometimes people want to spread their wings," Levine said.

Levine also insisted that the BioShock core team is still intact.

"As far as the team itself, the lead artist, the art director, the creative director, the lead effects artist, the senior sound guy, the lead programmer and the lead AI programmer from BioShock 1 are all on BioShock Infinite.

"I don't think there's a single senior BioShock team member that isn't here, which I think is amazing and a testament to their commitment to the studio," he said.

Several insiders claim that the BioShock Infinite project "lacked focus", with teams dedicating months on doomed to multiplayer projects.

The Kotaku report reads: "Irrational placed a large internal emphasis on multiplayer. The studio went through two potential multiplayer modes for Infinite, both of which were eventually cancelled. We're unclear on whether any multiplayer modes remain."

Levine declined to comment on these suggestions specifically. He added, however, that Irrational is "experimenting with things, and only if they are good enough will we put them in the game".

Back in May, publisher Take-Two delayed the BioShock Infinite release date from October to February, 2013. The subsequent decision not to show Infinite at the E3 in June, nor the upcoming Gamescom event, sparked debate about the state of the project.

"It's always challenging when you're trying to make a game that does a lot of different things," Levine said.

"When you are trying to innovate the path is not always clear and these things take time. But I guarantee this: The next time we show you guys the game the judge will be you, not me."

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