Original BioShock pitch document released

2002 papers reveal radically different story for undersea actioner; other gameplay elements such as turret hacking and bioengineered powers present.

BioShock featured one of the most compelling fictional universes seen in recent gaming, with the title's layered and complex story of an undersea dystopia earning praise from critics and gamers alike. But the original pitch document for the game--the start of which has now been posted on Irrational Games' Web site--painted a radically different picture compared to the final product, with absolutely no mention of Big Daddies, splicers, or Little Sisters.

The post on Irrational Games' site only has the first few pages of the document but promises that "In the next few instalments of From the Vault, we will divulge the myriad departures BioShock took from its original vision but also show our readers just how much the game's heart and soul stayed constant." The document--which is dated 2002--certainly does have several similarities to what would end up being the final BioShock product, particularly the overarching setting that sees a lone protagonist having to infiltrate a giant underground and undersea complex.

Can you imagine BioShock without Little Sisters or splicers?

But when it came to the story, this early version of BioShock is a completely different beast. According to the document, the original protagonist was a character named Carlos Cuello, a "down and out 'deprogrammer' assigned to infiltrate a religious cult on a remote island and rescue a wealthy heiress." (In reality, Carlos Cuello is actually one of the original programmers on the BioShock and BioShock 2 development teams.) Deprogrammers generally refer to people whose task it is to break psychological attachments others may have formed to religious, political, or other social groups.

While the story may be different, the pitch document also contained the genesis for several gameplay aspects gamers eventually saw in the finished product. At the top of the list are genetic enhancements, which in this pitch allowed the character of Carlos to take on the capabilities of aquatic and amphibious creatures. Examples given included crustacean powers (such as a hard shell and a claw-based secondary attack) and electric eel abilities (like electrical attacks and enhanced senses). Hacking turrets and terminals was also part of the original pitch, as was the ability to upgrade weapons through various modifications.

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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Discussion

94 comments
Tergiver
Tergiver

Wow, when are they going to make that game ... Oh.. they already did. They just removed over 2/3rds of what was pitched. I want another Thief or System Shock game damnit!

williebazerka
williebazerka

I dunno maybe it would be cool to turn into a dolphin.

masterdude192
masterdude192

Mmmm they should put this out as a free dlc... just for kicks... When people first began to transform into splicers. Before the civil war and everything I think thatd be cool!

juxtapose519
juxtapose519

Aside from the security hacking and the genetic modification, that game would have been NOTHING like Bioshock. Thank god they made the changes they did. "Mutant lobsters" would have ruined it for me.

thedbarbee
thedbarbee

//cws3e I don't know what version of Atlas Shrugged you read. The book has NOTHING to do with capitalism run amuck It's about the government taking control of all industry, not unlike what we've seen with GM and some banking industry in the past year and a half. At least read the Cliffs Notes or Wiki the book.

HLno1
HLno1

Ahh, that's a shame.. the game would have won a lot for me without the lame splicers... Stupid enemies..

lindallison
lindallison

@Goldensky29 Slightly different take? Bioshock's villains are Rand's heroes.

cws3e
cws3e

It is well known that they used Ayn Rand's writings. They have said as much http://kotaku.com/354717/no-gods-or-kings-objectivism-in-bioshock I prefer to think that things like this help to justify games as an art form just like movies are are forms. If you fall into the camp of 'they are just making games to get paid' then you must also believe games are not art and therefore are not protected by the 1st amendment.

Dawn_oF_Doom
Dawn_oF_Doom

have you noticed that all sequals or games that are out this day are usually placed 10 years later from the original.

Szeiden
Szeiden

@Goldensky29 Haha. I thought the avatar part was hilarious. As for the bioshock message being ironic though, I can't say I agree. Sure, bioshock is sold as part of a capitalist system... but it's not the same unchecked capitalism as is seen in bioshock. The underground city in which bioshock takes place (don't know what it's called, I, like you, have not played the game) is very different then, well, anywhere modern capitalist society of which I can think. On a side note, I too, hate when English teachers find meanings in books which the author him/herself likely didn't intend, but usually that's because it's the teacher's job and s/he simply takes it too far. Here, however, the message being conveyed in bioshock is undeniably more transparent. This isn't a hidden meaning. Or at least, it's not a stretch to see this as a message compared to some of the things your English teacher might tell you.

Goldensky29
Goldensky29

@ cws3e You make some good points. but when it comes to Triple A games making comments on society. Well thats just ironic if you think about it long enough, its like saying a war movie is anti war. Of course it is war i horrible, and when i say war movie i dont mean things like rambo. Thats an action film. Anyway (though i havent played bioshock im more of a oblivion kidda guy) i think bioshock's story line if in any way "commented "on society then it did so, because it needs a believable story for you to become more immersed in, to sell more copies of a video game that is strongly part of capitalism i mean lets face it. Its like finding meanings in a book that the author didn't intend to be there. Which i hate when my english teacher does. IDK it's like when people talk about Avatar being a movie about how crapy we treat our planet but there we are with out 3d glass's in a Imax theater for 3 hours totaly sucked in to this thing that is burning massive amounts of energy scary ironic. Sorry for the rant

cws3e
cws3e

What made bioshock a good game was that it was more than a shooter, it was a social commentary on unchecked capitalism. Although many of the themes are directly lifted from Ayn Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged" it is obvious that the developers have a slightly different take than Rand did. While bioshock 2 was a good game its attempt at being a social commentary on aspects of socialism and marxism were a little overly obvious which watered down the impact of the story.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

This could be an interesting idea for a spin off, maybe.

Wam11
Wam11

@dkdk999 if you mean bioshock 1 when Atlas was actually a steroid jockey monatine that took basic genetic upgrade mega forms in a typical end-boss fight format. then maybe.. i was a bit dissapointed too.

dkdk999
dkdk999

i personally hated the twist at the end. it changed everything the game previously had imo. did any one else have the same experience?

docwoo
docwoo

I'm glad the finished product had a much more fleshed-out and unique story than this would have been. Bioshock is one of the best games I've played in the last 10 years!

Aggieman10
Aggieman10

Bioshock will forever be my favorite game of all time, i wouldnt change a thing about it...except for maybe a little human to human interaction lol

Owner34
Owner34

I think the story they ended up using seems much more interesting, there are certainly many more plot twists.

GravityDs
GravityDs

C'mon Half Life 2 Episode 3!!! Where are yoooouuuuuuu.......(sobbing in the distance) I miss the best Sci-Fi/FPS ever created, I think I'm going to go beat myself to death with a crowbar.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I loved BioShock one, I wish I could say the same for the 2nd

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

@azureblade89 Hana montana/Mily sirus, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Twlight, need I go on? BS found its niche and the overly simplified game was a hit to the widest and least caring demographic. I don;t mean to call the game crap its far frm it but to me and all my experiences with FPS's and RPGs and gaming in general its merely 6 or 7 at best. Why? Aiming is broken, there re wide balance issues, AI is neutered,lack of proper death mechanic,poor implementation of money system and weaopn upgrades, overly simplified level design(even if its better than most shooters out of the box), the lack of proper PC(and some console) fixes to the game they released. I play a game for the thrill of the interaction I could care less about story or graphics as long as its polished or fun to play. BS is a mess and boring to boot mainly due to a endless supply of weapons,items and ammo.

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

@Marky360 It was good enough for the film geeks and the tweens and zombie brand following gamers and the sold out the new average is a 7 reviewers. I do not consider it a "bad" game(no matter how much I rant about it) it goes through the motions and is very average for the art and flash centric direction gaming has gone in. Game play,mechanics,complexity has to be watered down for the masses who do not want better and thus the best games the industry can churn out(Zelda TWP,FO3,Bioshock,MW2,) are various mixes of bland, stagnate overly simplified media suited for the average consumer.

GravityDs
GravityDs

I'm with the people who think this games wasn't that great. It was ok for what it was, but when Fontaine was introduced, holy crap, he was the most annoying character i've ever encountered and after that the game completely sucked for me. Terrible. I haven't played the 2nd because of this, and to add on, the 1st one just got so repetitious after a while. I'll play and have played other things that are far better in my opinion as far as FPS games go, or FPS games with a story.

BloomerNYC
BloomerNYC

this story idea is extremely intriguing

truelove79
truelove79

Bioshock 1 and 2 are both amazing.

azureblade89
azureblade89

For all of you crying about how Bioshock was such a "bad" game, why then would the first one sell so well? So the game had slightly off AI, the big daddy fights were some of the most fun and challenging fights of the early xbox era. I will never get why PC gamers buy consoles, and then complain how they're not as good as some obscure pc title. Try looking past the flaws and enjoy the game for what it is.

Marky360
Marky360

@ZippyDSMLee dude your avatar is awesome

Marky360
Marky360

@ZippyDSMLee I agree Bioshock was pretty bad don't see why it has garnered such high scores

penpusher
penpusher

-shrug- I dont know why people would find this suprising, a lot of games start off being completely different to the beasts they become eventually

darkness38
darkness38

thanks 2K for being different. im ready for the third bring it on

ColJendon
ColJendon

This just goes to show how incredible Irrational Games is and how much they get into their games. If they had just pitched something and made it right away, it wouldn't have been BioShock as we know it. But they took the time to really develop it and make it right.

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

@ Morphine_OD That was awesome!! I agree 200%!!

thanatosser
thanatosser

I remember when Bioshock was announced, I saw many production shots of intended artwork, I think they wheeled out Warren Spector to talk about their plans early on too and what he was saying was a lot different to what we eventually saw. I belive it was originally going to be set in an underwater Nazi bunker, I was glad they ditched the ol goose steppers and even more happy when they explored the 40's-50's style on a deeper level. I agree with wahyudil, Aside from looking foreward to the new Deus EX, I would also like to see another System Shock installment.....Glory to the many, I am a voice in their choir!

paseko
paseko

@Toysoldier34 your profile image is incredible

PS3gamer890
PS3gamer890

Wow bioshock with no big dadies, little sisters ar splicers would suck

wahyudil
wahyudil

I want to play System shock remake ...

darthchadder
darthchadder

And at the end of the series, you come out of the water and meet up with the player from the end of the fallout series. : )

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

This was supposed to be an awesome FPS\RPG, but because of all of the teens and MW2-lovers we got a shooter, an average one also. Thanks kids! Learn how to play a difficult games like SYSTEM SHOCK 2, first Fallouts, Operation Flashpoint and probably then we will have developers making us masterpieces they used to make, when gaming was mature. @Koolboss73 and yes, I'm talking about gamers like you.

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

@Marky360 Bioshock is a underdeveloped shooter with luke warm aiming,randomly deaf/blind AI thats harled as the second coming for art direction...while they forget this aint no damn film its a game and the game is average at best... So yes drolling amssesplz give me all youer negative thumbs down and show me how right I am!!!!!!1111

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

So the pitch was for a FPS RPG but we got half assed shooter instead?

Zackarias-313
Zackarias-313

Everything needs a foundation to build upon, and the final product was nothing short of superb. "We all make choices in life, but in the end our choices make us..." Good stuff, people. Actually, I think that quote is one of Ayn Rands, but nevertheless...Fn A+!!

MrBubbles59
MrBubbles59

That would be so weird having a BioShock without big daddies or little sisters lol.

Johny_47
Johny_47

Well, I'm very happy 2K did what they felt they had to do because in my opinion the 'nailed' BioShock. I love the game so much, a brilliant atmosphere and story and I can just play for hours exploring Rapture and killing Splicers in my imaginative and quite sick ways =P

green_dominator
green_dominator

That's insane, even in an early preview of the game in Informer in 2002 [this preview must have been after their first shift in development] they were talking about the splicer, Little Sister and Big Daddy aspect of the game but they were talking like they were going to allow the player far more control over security assuming you were at the right level..... It sounds like the game could have gone in many directions during development but I'm glad it ended up where it did because it was the best game of it's kind.......

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Well at least they got it right in the end

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

System shock 3 FTW! I need another ride with SHODAN!