The Story Behind BioShock Infinite's Dancing Bread Boy
There's always a lighthouse, a boy, and big bread.
BioShock Infinite now has one less mystery within its floating walls thanks to the excitement of SkateBird developer Megan Fox, as she tweeted her love for the game's environmental storytelling. That, in turn, led to some explanation of the infamous dancing bread boy from the first-person shooter.
Following Fox's tweet, it didn't take long for Gwen Frey to show up and spill the flour that everyone wanted to hear. Frey founded Chump Squad, an indie studio with one of the best names ever, but she previously worked on BioShock Infinite and its subsequent DLC, Burial at Sea. One of Frey's jobs during development included placing "all the background characters," which also included giving life to the dancing bread boy. Frey revealed the whole process in a series of tweets, which are delicious, even if they are a little heavy in carbs.
Frey believed the Paris scenes were "too static and needed more motion."
"I was populating the Paris scene with 'chumps' (skeletal meshes of humans with no AI). I'd play a looping animation on a person, script some head-tracking or whatever, & request VO lines from the writers to flesh them out."
Frey continued, saying that chumps were the only real option as the team couldn't add anything additional with "proper AI pathfinding."
She also had to "[reuse] animations from the base game," due to a lack of resources for new background character animations for Burial at Sea. Any animations she wanted to use had to be pulled from things already made for Infinite's main game.
Luckily, Elizabeth's dance by the beach provided Frey with a very busy animation, which would break up the Paris scene quite nicely.
random sensory flashback to the Bioshock Infinite DLC where they wanted to communicate to the player "you are in Paris, France" so they put a little kid in the game dancing around in the street while holding a baguette over his head pic.twitter.com/E77jzW0Air— Pocklecool (@instant_grat) February 4, 2022
She was forced to abandon the idea of two dancing children after encountering another technical hurdle. The bread boy's dance around a cylinder-shaped object was necessary to prevent collision issues with the player. The giant baguette above the boy's head came next.
Frey tried to use child hands and feet on bread boy, but the animations didn't line up with the scene. The boy was clipping through the environment since the proportions were different from the adults. She added adult hands and feet to correct this issue but then had to compensate for the boy's hands being so far above his head. A giant baguette was added, which somehow just made it all work. (It's probably the yeast.)
Frey ended her story with what she planned to say if anyone started asking questions about bread boy before BioShock Infinite was shipped, saying,"I figured if anyone asked I'd just say 'bread is great right?!'"
Compromises forged from a lack of resources and/or time are common in game design. We see it all the time but don't always know it because of creative people like Gwen Frey.
If you're not familiar with my new favorite video game character, bear witness to him and his full carb-fueled glory. Cliff Bleszinski and I both think the story of Bread Boy is legendary. I do, however, wish it didn't mean learning about the existence of BioShock's man-baby-man, which you now have to live with too.
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