informa
7 min read
article

What if Bioshock Infinite was an Open World?

How would Bioshock Infinite work in an Open World context? What would the world rules be? How could designer drive the player? Let's find out

The following is a design concept I recently made after the announcement of the new Bioshock being an Open World game. The design follows a style suitable for the original game release in 2013.

Introduction

The world would be a narrative driven, modular open world, divided in regions player frees to progress and obtain Vox's support. Vox populi are an in-game faction opposed to the main villain's army.

Each area is first occupied by Comstock, presenting an obstacle for the player to loot and find quests.

Game World

Traversal Vehicles / Structures

There are 3 main ways to travel across the map:

Sky-Line

Available since the start of the open world phase, allowing free exploration;

Can be used after Booker obtains the Sky-Hook in Town Center.

AirShip

Used to travel from an air pier to another once the relative area has been liberated;

Allows fast travel processed with a cinematic or a loading screen.

Zeppelin

Roams around the map following a specific route visible to the players on the map;

If not freed, enemies attack the player while the Zeppelin keeps going on route

 

None of the vehicles is actually "drivable" by the player, they either follow a path or have a loading:
Columbia is characterized by the floating structures, so while the game can adapt the connection between regions, the player may not, resulting in unclear world rules or feeling lost.

Grammar Map Design

 
Outpost
First occupied by Comstock, then Vox once free
Floating structure reachable with Sky-Lines
Safes the Siphon connection in Monument Tower
Contains a power supplier for the siphon in MT
Destroying the supplier allows tears in the area
Freed when enemies and supplier eliminated
Protected By
4 squads off 4 enemies each, 2 Heavy Hitters
2 Roaming airships and 2 specific squads

 

Zeppelin
Floating around the map with a specific route
To be conquered actively by the player
First occupied by Comstock's troops
Occupied by Vox Populi once freed by  player
Can be used to move around the map
Freed when enemies and alarms are eliminated
Enemies airships backups come if alarm is rang
Player can break all alarms to stop backups
If nearby outpost is freed, Vox backup the player
Vox can't break the alarms, only the player can

 

Region
Defined location first occupied by Comstock
Freed progressing with quests and outposts
When freed become occupied by Vox
Can be occupied partly by Comstock's and Vox
Factions fight in the streets / air calling backups
After freed, few enemies troops still present

 

Airship
Airship sailed to an air pier in a specific location
Can be used to travel to other freed piers
Fast travel to other areas, loading / cinematic
Area needs to be freed to use / reach location

 

We saw what occupies the game world, but what happens in it? Let's take a look:

Points Of Interest

Monument Tower: Center of the map
Surveilled by squads and heavy hitters outside
Enemies troops and one handyman inside
Enemies airships roam outside the tower
Accessed twice in main story quests:
Rescue Elizabeth after the town sequence
Near ending to obtain Song

 

Finkton Tower: Left area of the map
Troops and barrage automatons outside the gate
Enemies airships roaming around the top
Accessed once for the main story quest
Accessible anytime after the story quest
Characterized by the luxurious look
In contrast with the rest of Finkton area

 

First Lady Zeppelin: Roaming around the map
Different from other zeppelin for the rich look
Romas between the two docks in the map
Accessible twice for story main story quests
Accessible anytime after the quests
After soldier's field
After Finkton Tower

 

Hand of the Prophet: Upper area of the map, Final Area
Surveilled by enemies' airships and troops
Enemies troops and handyman inside
Alarms for enemies to call for backups inside
Accessible once: Final quest

 

Live World Elements

Airship Fights
Comstock's troops and Vox airships meet
An air fight starts between ships
Each faction can call for backups
Amount of backups based on area domain
Heavy hitters can be called as last backup
The fight is over when one faction is dead

 

Road Fights
Each faction has troops roaming in each area
Two opposite troops meet and the fight starts
Each faction can call for backups
Amount of backups based on area domain
Heavy hitters can be called as last backup
The fight is over when one faction is dead

 

We talked a lot about the open world elements, now let's take a look at how players are spending their time in this world: What's the purpose of a world if nobody populates it? Warning, spoilers!

Objectives and Rewards

Story Objectives
Find Elizabeth
Bring Elizabeth to New York
Reach Elizabeth after her escape in Finkton
Find Comstock to stop him
Reach Comstock's House
Enter Comstock's House
Reach the Hand of the Prophet
Destroy the Syphon
Stop Comstock before everything begins

 

Story Objectives
Conquer Outposts
Conquer Zeppelins
Access Monument Tower
Free all the areas
Access the Hand of the Prophet

 

Rewards
Spatial Reward
Free areas to explore and loot with Vox's support and less enemy troops
Loot
Gears to upgrade and customize playstyle, Money to purchase upgrades / gears
Quest Reward
Specific loot, equipment, loot or areas for successfully completing a quest
Loadout
Weapons, Vigors and upgrades to upgrade and customize playstyle

 

Progression
Spatial (Free and safe areas and zeppelins)
Equipment (Gears, weapons, Vigors, upgrades)
Money (Allowing to buy needed items)
Support (Vox backup for objectives / quests)

 

If you are interested in Bioshock Infinite's progression, you can take a look at my previous articles.

Now let's talk about quests: What guides the player during the whole game?

Quests

Main Quests
Lutece's Questline:
Fitzroy Questline:
Elizabeth's and Comstock's related quests
Comstock's and Vox populi's related quests
Luteces Rewards:
Fitzroy Rewards:
Elizabeth story progression / past
Daisy Fitzroy story progression / past
Booker story progression / past
Vox populi story progression / past
Comstock story progression / past
Alternate Booker story past

 

Side Quests
Lutece's Researches:
Vox Populi requests:
Find specific equipment around the map
Free specific Comstock's areas
Travel across realities
Support specific fights against Comstock's troops
Luteces Rewards:
Vox Populi Rewards:
Research-developed Equipment
Vox's support during fights
World narrative details / story
Money

 

Core Aesthetics

Dynamics
Player Type
Player will explore the world based on his / her will and needs
Explorer
Player will go back to previous areas to look for details and items missed before
Achiever
Player will visit specific locations he / she wants to see / stay in
Socializer
Player will free outposts / zeppelins before receiving the quest
Explorer
Player will chose the quest of the person he / she is most interested in
Socializer
Player will complete all the quests to obtain all the rewards
Achiever
Player will complete all the quests to gain story information
Socializer
Player will explore and complete the quests to discover the story
Socializer
Player will chose which quest to accept in order to progress
Achiever

 

These are only the main generated aesthetics, an MDA analysis would provide further information.

Opportunity

Vox Populi's troops around the map will ask the player to help them defeat Comstock's troops:

Fights
Help Vox fighting enemies troops on airships / zeppelins or on the ground
Enemies squads are made of soldiers, snipers, heavy hitters and mosquitoes
Backups can be called by both factions up to heavy hitters
Eliminate all enemies troops to get a reward (money, gear, narrative details)

 

Items Recover
Reach an area surveilled by Comstock's troops and recover a specific item
The approach is decided by the player: stealth, by air, from the ground, and so on
If the player is spotted, backups can be called from Comstock's troops
Bring te item back to get a reward (money, gear, narrative details)

 

That's it! This was my design concept for an Open World. This could of course be expanded to talk about each element in detail, but being just a concept I don't think it would be the case.

I really hope you liked it, if you have any feedback, suggestion or thoughts let me know, I'd love to hear your opinion!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it. See you soon!

Latest Jobs

Disbelief

Chicago, Illinois
05.10.22
Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
05.12.22
Lead Animation Programmer

Windwalk Games

Austin, Texas
05.16.22
Game Designer

Sucker Punch Productions

Bellevue, Washington
05.10.22
Campaign Director
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Register
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more