Ken Levine has revealed the enormous undertaking in writing the dialogue for Irrational's upcoming title Bioshock Infinite.
In creating the characters of Booker and Elizabeth, and in having them interact throughout the game, Levine has said that the dialogue requirements were much larger than those of the original Bioshock.
"When I first came up with these characters Booker and Elizabeth talking to each other and interacting with their world, I didn't consider how much writing that was going to be," he said.
"Just one level of BioShock Infinite writing and the amount of character interaction we have is probably three or four times as much writing as in all of BioShock 1.
"I'm doing the vast bulk of it and it really is... it can get overwhelming. But on the other hand it's a world that I absolutely love to write. Mostly because it's a new challenge. Thinking how these scenes are going to play out, how we keep them interactive and how you communicate the ideas."
Levine's approach has always been to ensure that gameplay comes first, even (especially) when telling a story, maintaining the suspension of disbelief by having exposition in the game's he's made emerge truthfully, always giving the player a reason for the action around them.
"It would be so much easier just to write tonnes of cut scenes - I could tell the story much more easily," he continued. "But my gut feeling, which probably comes from being forever changed by playing System Shock 1, is to keep the experience going.
"That makes it more challenging, as you keep on ramping up the audience's expectations of the kind of stories you're going to tell. So you come up with certain rules, like, if there's ever a moment where the player is locked to the ground, there must be some context. We don't just lock a player's feet to the ground. There has to be a reason why they can't move - they're using a machine or something.
"You fight against the suspension of disbelief as soon as you lock a player in place or start moving him along without the player controlling it.
"But it's challenging because these two elements often struggle with each other. And in that struggle you often say either I need to take a lot of control away from the player, or I need to simplify things. And generally anything encouraging you to simplify things is a good impulse. If a scene isn't working it's generally because you've made it too complex."
Bioshock Infinite launches on October 19th, for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. [Eurogamer]