Nearly eight years after new project begun.
Bloomberg has reported that, after nearly eight years of development, the next project from BioShock creator Ken Levine is in development hell.
The report is based on interviews with several of Levine’s former colleagues at Ghost Story Games, the small studio set up by Levine following the launch of BioShock Infinite and his decision to subsequently shutter former studio Irrational Games.
These colleagues discuss Levine’s flawed management style, which has led to vast amounts of work being scrapped and staff left with nothing to show for years of their lives.
Ghost Story was founded by Levine from the ashes of Irrational, with a hand-picked team of 11 others. Like his former studio, Ghost Story is backed by 2K and Rockstar owner Take-Two, which has given Levine free reign, a blank check and little oversight.
Levine has spoken in the past about his desire to revolutionize story-based games and create something akin to “narrative Lego” which offers a different experience to different players. But actually making this concept a reality has proven tough, his former team says.
Ghost Story’s project still lacks a title or a release date, and is said to have gone through several reboots. One concept from 2016 was for a BioShock-like shooter set on a space station inhabited by three factions.
“The ideas and ambitions were great,” one former employee said. “But the scope just grew and grew without concern for the team’s ability to get it done by our fall 2017 deadline. Ken wanted to make a triple-A game with a ‘budget’ team size. It was never going to happen.”
Others criticized Levine’s perfectionism and ego. He is “charming and charismatic”, another former staff member said, but “can become moody and lash out, singling out an individual, while berating them in front of their co-workers”.
Half of those picked to join Levine at Ghost Story have now quit, including the studio’s top producer.
One estimate put Ghost Story’s debut game still at a couple of years’ away from release.
Take-Two and Levine declined to comment on the report.