Way back in 2014, the father of BioShock and System Shock 2 Ken levine began work on his next game, developed by his studio Ghost Story Games (ex-Irrational Games), expecting its release by 2017. Yet, at the dawn of 2022, very little is still known about this title and the attention of the public and the media has gradually waned. Despite this, the publisher Take-Two Interactive seems willing to continue the ten-year partnership with Levine, with the hope that the latter will be able to come up with a good product.
However, a new report from the Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier brought up some testimonials highlighting the obvious managerial problems that Ghost Story Games employees are facing.
As mentioned at the beginning, the development of this game began in 2014, with the aim of releasing a sci-fi shooter based on the concept of LEGO-Narrative, the theory that provides for the reduction to a minimum of all the elements of a narrative to make them interlocking with each other like the famous bricks, so get a different scenario every game. This concept was exhibited at GDC 2016 by Levine himself.
The underlying problem in the development of this new IP lies in the expectations and in false promises by Ken Levine himself. The designer, in fact, despite having communicated to his employees that he wanted adopt an independent studio mindset, with the first game that would keep its size and moderate budget and serve as a basis for gaining feedback on his LEGO-Narrative, Levine placed on the latter the same ambitions as a chapter of Bioshock, however, having a limited number of employees available, who were given the task of creating a script tangled, a complex dialogue system e elaborate 3D environments.
“The ambitions and ideas were incredible. But the goal of the game was just growing and growing without taking into consideration the abilities of the team that was supposed to release it in 2017. Ken wanted to create a Triple-A game with a minimum budget team. He would never have been able to make it happen. "
According to the testimonies, one of the constants that the various employees of the firm have had to face is his dissatisfaction. Employees would have spent months for create 3D models and game components that would be immediately trashed, due to the fickleness of Levine's tastes, which changed every time the latter tried a new game that was just released, causing the development of the game to suffer delays well beyond the expected goal.
On the other hand, this philosophy procrastinator towards development has minimized the need to impose a regime crunch, however, going to slow down the activities of employees who, at the end of their work, would have abandoned the software house. In particular, artists employed for the creation of the graphic sector they will not be able to include their work within their resumes until Ghost Story Games is ready to reveal the project to the public, thus preventing them from showing the fruits of years and years of commitment to possible interviews with new employers.
Finally, within the studio it is in force an atmosphere of tension between Levine and the employees, put in difficulty by the same idea of LEGO-Narrative, a concept that is too elaborate and that would change the continuation of the story with each choice of the player, as well as the ways in which Ken Levine relates to his employees.
"He can be charismatic and interesting at times, but he can also become moody and go wild, targeting a colleague and scolding him in front of everyone."
In all of this, Take-Two would seem to regard Ghost Story Games and Levine's experiments as errors inherent. In this regard, the industry analyst Michael Patcher argues that "Take-Two will continue to give Levine carte blanche as long as they continue to believe in the success of the project, and that it will offer them a very successful new IP".