Hey, reddit! We’re Joe Fielder, contributing writer to BioShock Infinite and BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, and Robb Waters, concept artist on the BioShock franchise, here.

We’re ready to answer all your questions about our experience making narrative-focused, first-person games and our new project The Black Glove – an eerie, surrealistic adventure that attempts to move the narrative game genre forward by tying story directly into gameplay, allowing players to alter both events and the world around them: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theblackglove/the-black-glove

Proof: https://twitter.com/day4nightgames/status/526810731593756673

Update: Thanks SO SO much everyone for taking the time to ask us these awesome questions. It was great. We've got to get back to work but we hope you'll have us back again for a triumphant return after The Black Glove is funded.

Thanks again!

  • Joe and Robb

Comments: 107 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

Stuifiee12 karma

Welcome to reddit! Great to see you on here. Now my question: I've heard many different things about working with Ken Levine. What is it really like? Is it better than work at a "regular" studio?

JoeFielder17 karma

Ken's my favorite writer in the games industry. I consider him up there with the Coen Bros (Miller's Crossing, Fargo). He's a game developer with incredibly high standards, which he holds himself to most of all. Having him open his playbook to teach me how to write Splicers for BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea was one of my career highs.

iamdew8028 karma

I loved bioshock infinite and burial at see and the dialogue between booker and Elizabeth. I loved the way plot revelations unfolded. It all had such great build up, so thanks for all your contributions!

My question is what about your new project are you most excited about as a dev? What part should I, as a consumer, be most excited about?

JoeFielder4 karma

The premise of The Black Glove is really exciting to us because it lets us focus on everything that we learned about making story rich, immersive environments -- and it also pushes us to take our skills to the next level. The idea of giving the player direct control over changing the course of the game narrative and the world around you is going to be immensely challenging and fun to tackle. We'll be able to develop The Equinox into an incredibly eerie and "real" place, which is something we know how to do based on work on previous games, but we'll need to move outside our comfort zone and develop new skills to hit all of the game's ambitious goals. It's a premise that has us constantly crackling with new ideas though and I think games that are fun to develop for are the most fun to play. Does that answer your question?

Kimihro6 karma

Did you ever have an idea for the game that would haunt you till you finished it? A lot of the stuff I see and hear about in the games aren't scary until you experience them firsthand.

JoeFielder10 karma

Actually, The Black Glove has been that sort of project for us. It pretty much takes up every waking thought right now. We're constantly figuring out new elements, dialogue, and more. The world is going to be extremely story rich, to say the least. It's been haunting... in a good way.

NandoFlynn6 karma

I'm sorry about what happened to you guys at Irrational Games. How did you guys feel when you found out you and the majority of the team was gonna be laid off?

JoeFielder11 karma

It was a tough day to be sure, but I feel like I learned so much working at Irrational. It was like a master's class in game narrative taught by some of my favorite writers in the industry. I'm really happy to continue working with a lot of my former colleagues on The Black Glove.

Dreakor5 karma

How did the "would you kindly" concept come to be part of the game? Was it something you had planned since early development or did you have other plans?

JoeFielder3 karma

That would be a better question for BioShock creative director and writer Ken Levine, I'm afraid. I don't know the origin of that one.

Ferrick733 karma

In your trailer and description of the game, you've talked about how the player will be able to affect the narrative through choices throughout the game. Can you give us an example to show how this will work and how consequential a choice made in the game will be?

JoeFielder5 karma

When you gain the ability to change a creator's past in The Black Glove, you're able to change one aspect of his or her Medium, Message, or Muse. There are three choices available for each. In the original trailer, you saw the art gallery scene full of skeletons made from materials like wood, gum, wax, and more. The selections for that were MEDIUM: painting/sculpture, MESSAGE: the internal, and MUSE: science. Then you watched as the MEDIUM was changed to Multimedia and when you saw that room again, everything was radically different. The entire room was bathed in (unsafe) x-ray light and the patrons on hand were the display.

I'm happy to give more examples, but I thought illustrating that one was a good place to start.

el_throwaway_returns3 karma

I'm curious, how does this actually play out? So you change things around and...what, exactly? Is there a timed story that plays out? Do you trigger things through dialogue choices? I'm not sure I see how the overall narrative progression works.

JoeFielder4 karma

There are larger and smaller narrative scenes playing out within the environment for you to observe and interact with. There's are also ambient storytelling and narrative for you to explore and excavate. There's a lot to take in and it's your job to figure out what's most important to act off of. These scenes will ideally be fairly entertaining. I want to make sure that the characters are eccentric geniuses who are just fun to be around. For example, Marisol is humorously obsessed with incredibly dangerous art mediums and the filmmaker Avery Arnault has Werner Herzog's sort of fascination with the world, philosophy, and art, but that strangely often veers towards absolute schlock.

Noaxzl2 karma

But she said it was all perfectly safe...

JoeFielder2 karma

Marisol goes through interns like nobody's business. She's fairly obsessed with mediums that are dangerous to be around.

Trimillionaire3 karma

What was the most difficult thing you ever had to cut from a Bioshock game?

JoeFielder8 karma

ROBB: the most difficult thing that i had cut from Bioshock was a 4th Big Daddy in the works.

JoeFielder6 karma

ROBB: it was a big daddy that had an organic leach-like slug that acted as a sort of puppeteer for the beast.

JoeFielder6 karma

This may sounds funny, but I was pretty sad that we had to cut the Plasmid advertisement jingle for Peeping Tom. Collaborating with BioShock Infinite music director Jim Bonney on jingles and songs was some of the most fun I've had making games. The guy's work is just genius. There are a few Splicers who didn't make the cut, as well.

two_off2 karma

@Robb: Have you done concept work for any other companies or projects than the ones listed here? How'd you get your start in the industry?

JoeFielder4 karma

ROBB: I've also done concept work for both Freedom Force games, System Shock, and Thief. I really just fell into the industry right out of art school

RickCity2 karma

You just announced The Black Glove for the PS4, which is awesome! Is there still a possibility for a Xbox one version or should we not get our hopes up?

JoeFielder2 karma

Hi, Rick. We haven't announced an exclusive for the PS4. Our backers were very vocal about wanting to see that system supported, so we worked hard to make it happen.

rooroo9992 karma

How is the story presented in the Black Glove? Does the game have a definitive ending, or is it simply about the experimentation with the different creators?

JoeFielder3 karma

There are a variety of successful endings for each character, plus each combination will have a different effect on the overall ending of the game. There are also a series of subnarratives planned that may take multiple playthrough or thorough digging to unearth completely.

crimsontribe2 karma

So, I've only played (to completion) the main story line in BioShock Infinite and am not familiar with any of the DLC. I like to say that I loved the first 10 hours and hated the last ten minutes, but after a lot of time thinking about the ending sequence, I realized that I loved the whole thing because it actually does make sense.


1) If I loved BS:I for the storyline and immersion, will I like The Black Glove?

2) I haven't read much about BS:I, so this may not be a very original reading, but do you think it is fair to say that while the game revolves around Booker and Elizabeth, the multiverse was really created by first contact between the Luteces in the "multiverse"? (Part of the reason why I didn't like the end of BS:I at first was that it didn't help explain how "reality" first split apart, but I may have missed some of the explanations in-game)

JoeFielder3 karma

If you loved the BioShock series for its story and immersion, I'd say it's a safe bet that you'd enjoy The Black Glove. It's a completely radically different game, but those are elements that our team has spent years refining our skills at. There will be dozens of narrative rich environments to explore and we intend to make them these fascinating places that you'd never be able to visit in real life. You'll want to spend hours exploring.

Stuifiee2 karma

Robb, what piece of concept art of yourself are you most proud of?

JoeFielder7 karma

ROBB: my favorite design was that of the boys of silence.

hyp_kitsune2 karma

You guys can answer individually or as a team: Say you have unlimited resources financially and making profit for a game is NOT a factor, what would be your idea for an ideal game to make?

JoeFielder5 karma

I can say without a doubt that The Black Glove is exactly the game I'd like to make. I wouldn't mind additional resources to make it with, but constraints push us to be more creative.

STFUxxDonny2 karma


What games growing up influenced you create video games?

JoeFielder1 karma

Interplay's Neuromancer was an enormous influence. The mood, feel, and maturity of the writing. It was a huge thrill to have Brian Fargo back our game the other day. (I called my wife immediately.)

Joranthalus2 karma

Rapture and Columbia were amazing settings to explore. I always see those along the lines of The Village in the tv show The Prisoner, the environments were so fascinating they were almost characters to themselves. Are you planning on taking the Equinox to this level?

JoeFielder2 karma

Seeing reruns of The Prisoner in high school was a pretty formative experience for me. It was my favorite television show for a long time. I'd suspect some influence will seep into The Black Glove. Be seeing you!

begrudged2 karma

What did you draw upon or study in order to give your game such a cinematic feel?

JoeFielder2 karma

The premise for The Black Glove lets us pull in influences from film, art, comics, music, and more. I'd say some of the more surreal elements were loosely inspired by the work of Jean Cocteau, Alan Renais, and the makers of Le Jetee, but we also have DNA in the game from folks like Jack Kirby, William S Burroughs, Groucho Marx, Laurie Anderson, Werner Herzog, and more. (I should point out that whenever things get a little <too> pretentious, we'll make fun of it scandalously.) Plus we have a variety of fail states that riff off our weird obsession with the "so-bad-it's-good" like sad-eyed clown art, black velvet paintings, and b-movies.

LevelUpJordan2 karma

Hello! I love Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite even more so, The Black Glove looks really interesting. I'm sure you've heard it before but the way you integrate game mechanics into narrative (player agency, checkpoints etc.) is incredible, and the rich worlds are just great to get lost in.

Speaking of which, where would you like a new Bioshock game to take place, and what themes would you like to explore?

JoeFielder2 karma

I'd say the question for me would be less <where> would I like a new BioShock game to take place and more <when>...

Kmac091 karma

Can you guys give us some idea of what we will be doing in the game? I am fairly unclear of what I would be doing in it but love the look and polish shown.

JoeFielder2 karma

Sure thing. You'll be exploring an immersive, story rich world made by artists who had a hand in bringing Columbia and Rapture to life. That's to say, interacting with bizarre characters, eavesdropping on conversations, investigating the environment, and more in order to hunt down clues for what aspects of the creators' past to change next. Each creator has certain combinations that will unlock success for them, but even a "wrong" choice will yield interesting results in a so-bad-it's-good sort of way. And to unlock the ability to change their past, you'll be accomplishing gameplay Feats within... The Maze of the Space Minotaur.

JoeFielder2 karma

In a way, you're kind of a metaphysical investigator who is digging into the past, present, and future of these characters to learn how to put them on the right track. Part of the fun is simply seeing how radically different you can change their environments. Meanwhile, you'll also be learning about the mysteries of The Equinox, the theatre hosts, and more.

Kmac091 karma

So just curious how will you change things? I'm fascinated but just not quite understanding how you steer the world.

JoeFielder1 karma

When you gain the ability to summon The Black Glove, you get a chance to choose one aspect of the creator's past to alter, which causes massive changes to their narrative and environment. As the narrative scenes in them play out, you'll investigate the world for clues to what to change next. The goal is to satisfy the whims of the Creator, Critic, and Crowd. They're a fickle bunch, so it'll take some digging to learn what will lead to a consensus of opinion.

JoeFielder1 karma

I should add that this doesn't necessarily need to be your definition of success as a creator... It's just how we've chosen to determine it for the purposes of the game. :)

Noaxzl1 karma

Is The Black Glove something that can permanently be summoned, or do you have to re-summon it every time its used? I feel like altering a part of one's past means changing it so you wouldn't have needed to summon the glove in the first place.

JoeFielder1 karma

You summon The Black Glove through success in certain games of skill and chance, like The Maze of the Space Minotaur. That's to say, by accomplishing certain gameplay Feats. These are achievements that spotlight particularly fun elements or key strategies. So, essentially, you learn how to have the most fun and are rewarded by unlocking new narrative and immersive environments to explore.

JoeFielder1 karma

To answer that question fully, every time you summon The Black Glove, you can change one aspect of a creator's past.

lordmalifico1 karma

How do you get started as a writer in gaming?

It's something I've always wanted to do.

JoeFielder3 karma

I got a creative writing degree, worked in magazines and web-sites for years, then taught myself the basics of level design and game writing using a commercially available game engine. That got me a foot-in-the-door as a level designer at EA. I was later able to write for a few games there and having been a level designer was completely invaluable. It's very different than writing for comics, film, etc. That and how I became a writer at Irrational are probably separate topics, if you want to hear more about either of them.

lordmalifico1 karma

Thank you, Mr. Fielder, I've just got a few more questions in response!

1- What would you recommend for getting started with level design?

2 - Is a degree required to get started in the gaming industry?

3 - Which game engine would be best to start with?

JoeFielder2 karma

1 - Learn how to become a self-starter and never give up. You really need to be able to teach yourself how to solve the many problems you'll encounter. 2 - Nope. I personally think that higher education is very important, but if you can prove you can do a job in the games industry, you'll likely get that job. I'd say the more you learn (whether it's through gaining a degree or your own research), the more you can bring to a game though. 3 - That really depends. I'd recommend doing research into the available level editors (Source, Unity, Unreal, etc) and finding out what's right for you. There are many factors to consider: price, available resources for learning them, the type of game you want to make, and so on.

lordmalifico1 karma

I'll do my best, Mr. Fielder.

Thank you for your time.

JoeFielder2 karma

Glad to help!

Xboxben1 karma

What was it like making the art for the game ? And is it like working for a company that makes a huge franchise

JoeFielder4 karma

ROBB: well, the art is hardly finished…but what i've done so far has been a lot of fun…this is a smaller scoped project with a small team…so it's easier to see your vision through being there are less cooks in the kitchen and less red tape

JenCarpeDiem1 karma

Is there anything you keep talking about making, but keep putting off for whatever reason?

JoeFielder2 karma

Yes, Robb and I have had a fully-plotted and concepted graphic novel on the backburner for some time now.

Greenstrawipod1 karma

The dialogue from this game was intense. What was your favorite line from the game?

JoeFielder3 karma

Thanks! Glad that you liked it. Not sure about my favorite line. Maybe, "You're a hot-headed kid. If only we could put that rambunctiousness to good use!" But partially because my colleague Bill hated it. My favorite upcoming story in the game is The Ballad of Erasmo Noddy, failed escape artist. There's also a lot of back and forth between theatre hosts Hazel and Cribbage that's been fun to write. I can't wait to get Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal back in the studio to record it. They're husband and wife voice talents who are are playing as exes who are... combative best friends.

halupki1 karma

Here's a question you're probably asked a lot, but:

How do I get into game writing? I'm a writer by profession (former newspaper guy, but now I do communications and internal writing for the marketing dept. at a Fortune 500 company), but I'm a hardcore gamer since basically birth. I've lived on the East Coast my entire life, and feel like that is a huge hindrance.

Any advice?

JoeFielder1 karma

I'd definitely recommend teaching yourself the basics of level design using a commercially available game engine. Game writing needs to work hand in hand with design and you'd learn exactly how by gaining a better understand of setting up a level and implementing the story in and around it.

redditorx135790 karma


JoeFielder5 karma

Maybe someday, who knows? For now, we're completely focused on The Black Glove. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it as well!