Void Bastards Developer Talks About Lessons Learned from BioShock and System Shock 2

Void Bastards developer Blue Manchu talked to DualShockers about the lessons learned from Jonathan Chey's previous work on BioShock and System Shock 2.

In an interview with DualShockers, Void Bastards creators Blue Manchu talked about the workings, thoughts, and actions behind the creation and development of the game. In one of our questions, we asked Jonathan Chey (original co-founder of Irrational Games and lead programmer/designer on Void Bastards) about inspiration and lessons he took from the development of BioShock and System Shock 2 when creating Void Bastards.

According to Chey, there were “more [lessons] than I can possibly count”; however. he gave us a few examples that include some interesting takes and a nice insight into the differences of indie game development and AAA game development. Chey talked about how he learned that on a lower budget he needs to “spend those resources on things that matter. If you don’t have the time to build a complex simulation use RPG-like numerical systems to support player growth. If you don’t have the budget for great character models, use sprites instead.”

It’s exciting to see the clear contrast between Chey’s approach to Void Bastards as opposed to a large studio project such as BioShock. After talking about resources, he segues onto world building and how “although there’s a good amount of humor in our world (perhaps unlike in System Shock 2 or BioShock), that doesn’t mean that we as developers don’t take it seriously.”

“If you respect your world, players are more likely to find it interesting and immersive… Where do the crew of all the spaceships live? Where do they eat? What do they do on these ships? It’s all important to forming a game world that doesn’t feel like just another video game level.”

We touched more upon gameplay, some in regards to stealth, in our full interview, which will be going up in the coming days. Chey pointed out to us that “If you build enough interesting systems and make sure that they overlap, you will get emergent gameplay that you never thought of. For example, our enemies don’t ‘cheat’ and magically know where the player is.”

There is a recurring theme in video games where NPCs can see you through walls and don’t have a sense of depth or intelligence. Where Void Bastards is concerned, lessons learned from System Shock 2 and BioShock is that the best gameplay mechanics are those which one could call happy accidents. In Blue Manchu’s case, they created “stealth-like gameplay where you kind hide from” enemies; however, bi-products of that include “all kinds of other emergent stuff – like deliberately making a noise to lure enemies into rooms where you can trap them. ”

For those who didn’t know, the game follows a rag-tag group of prisoners throughout their voyage in space. As the game progresses, players must learn to plan their routes, use strategies to successfully complete missions, and make important choices to protect the lives of your fellow prisoners. When one dies, another steps forward to carry on the fight. Chey revealed to us though that you can actually play the entire game without dying at all – if you’re skilled enough.

Void Bastards launches for PC and Xbox One in early 2019. Our full interview with Blue Manchu will be coming to DualShockers in the coming days, so make sure to stay tuned.

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Ben Walker

Ben is a Staff Writer for DualShockers. He never spells anything wron. Ever.

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