There’s been some significant shuffling around at the top of the Bioshock Infinite team at Irrational. A couple of days ago Gamasutra indicated that director of product development, Tim Gerritsen and art director Nate Wells had left the company. Gerritsen was responsible for supervising the day to day work of the development team and is rumoured to be headed over to Naughty Dog after a since-removed mention of the Uncharted developers was spotted on his LinkedIn profile.
Creative director Ken Levine mentions Wells’ departure on Twitter, saying that “Scott Sinclair, art director of Bio1, back in the art director’s chair for Infinite to bring it home. Can’t wait to show you what’s cooking.”
Meanwhile VG247 note a twitter announcement from Epic’s director of production, Rod Fergusson revealing that he’ll be taking up a position at Irrational pronto. “I’m leaving my family at Epic to join my new family at Irrational in Boston starting tomorrow,” he says, adding “I’ve played Infinite and it’s amazing! Can’t wait for you guys to get your hands on it.”
Kotaku indicate that Irrational have lost quite a few team members over the past year or so, including systems designers Ken Strickland and Tyann Sylvester, design director Jeff McGann and senior level designer Steve Gaynor, who has since founded The Fullbright Company and is working on their debut game, Gone Home.
“In a company of 200 people you’re going to have turnover,” Levine told Kotaku, later adding that “as far as the team itself, the lead artist, the art director, the creative director, the lead effects artist, the senior sound guy, the lead programer and the lead AI programmer from BioShock 1 are all on BioShock Infinite. I don’t think there’s a single senior BioShock team member that isn’t here.” He also mentions that Bioshock 2 designer Jordan Thomas is has moved over to Bioshock Infinite from 2K Marin for a while to help out with development.
Bioshock Infinite was delayed from October to February 2013 earlier this year, and Levine said that Infinite would skip E3 and Gamescom to give designers more time to work on finishing development. The delay, the studio silence and the disappearance of senior staff members suggest that all’s not entirely well with Bioshock Infinite, a sense that’s worsened by information from Kotaku sources suggesting that two multiplayer modes have been cancelled.
One mode is described as a co-op tower defence scenario in which miniaturised players had to fight off waves of toys on rails in the bowels of an old fashioned arcade machine. That was apparently ditched in favour of a more conventional co-op spec ops mode that’d let players run missions set in environments from the single player campaign. That was cut too, allegedly. Levine wouldn’t comment on these specific ideas, but said that “we are experimenting with things, and only if they are good enough will we put them in the game.”
Bioshock Infinite is still scheduled to arrive in February next year, and hopefully it’s on a course to deliver on the potential of that spectacular E3 showing. If you need other reasons to be excited, one of the enemies is an evil robot version of George Washington with a gatling gun.