BioShock 2 creative director quits to form indie studio

Jordan Thomas has departed 2K Marin to create his own games and open an independent game studio; The Bureau: XCOM Declassified unaffected by departure.

The creative director of BioShock 2, Jordan Thomas, has left 2K Marin after more than five years with the developer.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International, Jordan Thomas revealed that a few key moments during the development of BioShock Infinite inspired him to branch out on his own.

A designer on the original BioShock and creative director on BioShock 2, Thomas realised his true calling whilst working on Infinite, saying, "It cemented for me that while BioShock spoke to me, it'll never be for me what it is for Ken [Levine]. I've expanded that legacy here and there, but I could never have created it from scratch."

"I need to build something that is, to me, what BioShock is to Ken. No matter how long it takes, I have to start now."

Thomas has plans to start up a two-person independent game studio with an unrevealed partner, and work on a project that draws upon immersive simulation games such as Thief. The former creative director did not share specific details about his immediate plans.

2K Marin is currently working on the upcoming tactical third-person shooter The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. The game's development should not be impacted by the departure of Thomas, who left the project in early 2012.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified was first announced in 2010 as an untitled first-person shooter set in the XCOM universe. The game underwent an overhaul and was revealed in its current state in April this year. It is currently scheduled for release on August 20 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time Australian competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

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Discussion

43 comments
Icepick_Trotter
Icepick_Trotter

"How are we going to replace him now? Where are we going to find someone available that worked on a game that had a Metacritic score of 9.5 or higher?"

Ken Levine

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

Wow, gamers are idiots.....

Bioshock 2 and Minerva's Den is the best in the series. Why?

HEART

The problem with Ken Levine is that he just writes from the head. There is no real emotion to his games, while philosophically heavy, they lack heart. Bioshock 2 had far more heart, far more emotion, more morally grey and complex characters, and manages to connect the heart with the head.

Bioshock 2 manages to be the only game in the series to connect the political ideas the game has, with the personal story.

Bioshock 2 knew how to end, Bioshock 1 and Infinite did not.

And Minerva's Den is the PINNACLE of storytelling in the Bioshock series.

Gary_Stanton
Gary_Stanton

Imo, just because Bioshock 2 isn't a good as Bioshock 1 doesn't mean that it's a Bad game >_>. I see B1 as 9.5 and B2 an 8, but some players would think B2 is garbage Just because it's not as good as B1. There are WAY shittier games out there (and you could do a whole lot worse) than Bioshock 2.

hermes200
hermes200

Ok good luck to you. I am not a fan of his work in Bioshock 2, but he did a pretty decent job with the unpleasant task he was given.

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

Hopefully this guy cranks out the good indie stuff and not knock off NES games.  That style got played out like 3 years back.  It's the brown and gray military shooter of the indie world.

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

Jordan Thomas was absolutely the worst thing that ever happen to XCOM and games itself! He literally wasted, at least, 3 years on the FPS xcom, with stupid ideas and things that added *nothing* to the name or game that is XCOM.

The *Only* thing he wanted to do with XCOM is to use it as a political commentary/ social period piece, like that of Bioshock Infinite or South Park. He didn't care to remake a 16 year old game, or even a fun gameplay-- he just wanted to talk about the civil-rights movement.

In fact, this is what he said in an interview:
Interviewer: I commented that it sounded like XCOM was really more of a 60's period piece that happened to use aliens as a catalyst to bring out the social climate.
Jordan Thomas:  "As a narrative guy, absolutely. To both mutate and express the inner conflicts of the period." [....] "As a narrative guy, it's the reason I'm excited to work on the game. The setting was chosen very specifically because I feel that the socio-cultural tension was about to come to a head. It was an old America and a new America kind of locked in a mortal combat, and it was very interesting for me to start exploring what was going on at the time."

He's supposed to be making a FPS Sci-Fi  strategy game of a beloved 16 year old classic, with a loyal fanbase he has to win over, and he's goofing off with this silly "period piece". He just didn't care about the xcom's story. There was so many cool things in xcom to explore, and here he is saying he didn't care for that.

It was only after he was kicked off the Bureau/XCOM team, that the game actually started to get better. They even had to bring in the writer from Spec Ops: The Line to clean up his mess.

So, I say to Jordan Thomas: so long, and thanks for all the commentary. You won't be missed.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

Wait, the guy responsible for the one good Bioshock game leaves the company? Why am I not surprised? People that make games that are actually good and big western developers seriously don't go hand in hand.

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

That's pretty cool. I hope he turns his dream into a reality

Banyek
Banyek

yeah,.... Im a trolll now!! :P

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

Well best of luck and thanks for ruining Rapture pal.

Winzent
Winzent

Im standing ready to throw my money at the screen, the rest is up to you = P

Wattsburg0
Wattsburg0

A few years down the road: This just in 2K Marin is suing Jordan Thomas because a stapler on the ground in the new video game his new company put out looks like the stapler the company provided for him that sat on his desk when he worked for 2K Marin.

Tlepsh
Tlepsh

Bioshock 2 was a far better game than Infinite was.
Best of luck to you!

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Bioshock 2 was a pastiche of the first one and an embarassment at that anyway. I hope his "departure" will make his "creative director" creative again.

19James89
19James89

Good luck Buddy and thanks for your input on Bioshock 2, it was greatly appreciated by me.

ryadings
ryadings

When there is a fire like this burning inside you, you either shine or turn to cinder. Good luck dude.

nait2k4
nait2k4

Good work Jordan. If I can offer some career advice, don't hire Denis Dyack as your partner.

silvergol
silvergol

Wow good luck! will be harder!. 

andmcq
andmcq

Might actually make a decent game then? Sure as hell, outside all of the hype, Bioshocks never been anything special.

kiramasaki
kiramasaki

You are not likely to create a AAA title like Bioshock at an independent company, if that is his goal.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

I wish him all the best and hope he creates an amazing game.

CesarBlack
CesarBlack

"I'm going to start my own studio;with blackjack and hookers."

But seriously,more power to you,Mr.Thomas.Everyone should take a bold step forward once in a while.

biggamer194
biggamer194

I hope too many devs don't flood the Indy market, but then again the Indy guys make some great budget games. Can't wait to see what he comes up with. As a aspiring game designer I GREATLY respect the passion and burning desire to create your own IP. Good luck to him!

Jay2528
Jay2528

@texasgoldrush Although I may not agree with everything you said, I agree that BioShock 2 and Minerva's Den are very well written. I still think BioShock 2 just gets hate from some people simply because it was not made by Ken Levine or anyone at Irrational and not because it was a bad game (which it truly was not).

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@PodXCOM 

Yeah, lets dumb the thing down......and just make another alien blasting shooter.

A victory of style over substance here.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@Wattsburg0 Well, anyone who has seen Office Space knows the significance of a stapler.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

@Tlepsh I personally disagree.

I liked 2, but not as much as Infinite, primarily because 2 reused one of the worst mechanics of the endgame of the original, and made it a mainstay. Yeah, I admit, I used that mechanic at one point to get all the ADAM from the bodies I could find, but that took longer than it should've, and only proved to falsely lengthen the game than add substance to it.

There's also the fact that the story didn't really add much to the lore of Rapture, rather it tries to glue itself onto it. It added a few new characters, as well as one or two characters from the prior game, but in the end, it felt less interesting as a result.

There's also the issue of setting. Whilst the idea of a further-rundown Rapture was cool, the execution could have been...better. It has that problem of using only the same colour palette for each area (even though the original did that too), which kind of damages the appeal of the game's environment, and hurts the atmosphere at the same time.

In the case of Infinite, its new setting, ambiance and style felt much more fresh and interesting. That, and I felt it to be a bit more challenging the first time around, given the limited amount of weapons you can carry, and it used an escort mission mechanic that wasn't terribly thought out, unlike those in the second game.

Whilst I do like BioShock 2, I wouldn't call it better than Infinite. I mean, I know it all boils down to a matter of opinion, but I still can't help but feel that Infinite did what BioShock 2 tried to do better than BioShock 2 ever could, and got rid of most of the tedium that came with BioShock 2's decisions.

shingui5
shingui5

@kiramasaki you missed his point.

He wants to create a game that is to him, what Bioshock is to Ken Levine. Meaning, he wants a game that is entirely his creation and is an outlet for his creativity. He doesn't want to copy Bioshock, he just wants the same, metaphorical thing. 

Temperedelm
Temperedelm

@texasgoldrush I think PodXCOM was referring to XCOM having its own lore he could have explored to make a good story. Instead he went the lazy route and decided on civil unrest based on the time period with aliens there for no other reason than to be the bad guy.

So no not a victory of style over substance but fiction over non-fiction.

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@DanielL5583 @Tlepsh 

Sorry but Infinite completely rips from Bioshock 2's story.

A father like figure (Delta, Booker) must save his daughter figure (Eleanor/Elizabeth) from a philosophically extreme parent figure (Sofia/Lamb/Comstock) who seeks to turn her into his next legacy or successor, while accusing the protagonist of leading her astray.

Bioshock 2 didn't add to the lore? Wow. They added how they built the city and a lot more on the big Daddies and Little Sisters. Not only that, did what Ken Levine failed to do, wrap up Rapture thematically.

DSCesq
DSCesq

@DanielL5583 @Tlepsh A simple, "I disagree" would suffice :)

In my opinion: BS1 Infinite, BS2, in that order. But hell, they are all great to play.

Tlepsh
Tlepsh

@texasgoldrush @DanielL5583 @Tlepsh Gameplay-wise, Bioshock 2 was perfect in my opinion. Infinite has probably the most jaw dropping story I have ever played through in a game, but  Columbia felt very very confined and restricted compared to Rapture, which was heavily expanded upon in Bioshock 2. The weapons and plasmids were not as interesting as in Bioshock 2 either. Infinite could've been perfect if it had the gameplay elements of 2.