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.
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.