It’s tough to act in crises mode. Sometimes, when faced with stern challenges and setbacks, we channel Bluto from Animal House. Never give up! Charge out of the house screaming ready for action. Other times, we turn into Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, panicked and screaming, “ALL IS WELL!” in the middle of a riot, just waiting to get trampled. Who is Irrational Games’ Ken Levine channeling when he talks about the myriad staff losses hitting BioShock Infinite? Is the iconic designer charging forward, or trying to reassure folks that his ship isn’t sinking even as water is bailed?
As reported on Wednesday, BioShock Infinite art director Nate Wells and director of product development Tim Gerritsen left Irrational for new jobs. This came after months of other departures at the studio. Senior level designer Steve Gaynor left in April to open The Fullbright Company. Principal systems designer Ken Strickland, design director Jeff McGann, producer Joe Faulstick, and systems designer Tynan Sylvester also left company for new opportunities. Irrational has a staff of around 200 employees, but the collective loss of these individuals is bound to take a toll. It’s especially disconcerting in light of BioShock’s delay from fall into February 2013.
Speaking with Kotaku, BioShock mastermind Ken Levine tried to assure everyone that the game is just fine. “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 programmer and the lead AI programmer from BioShock 1 are all on BioShock Infinite,” said Levine, “I don’t think there’s a single senior BioShock team member that isn’t here, which I think is amazing and a testament to their commitment to the studio.”
“We never like to see a guy like Nate [Wells] leave because he’s been here for a long time but it’s been 13 years and I think sometimes people want to spread their wings. I’m not going to stop people. We love Nate and I think we all remain friends. After 13 years he sort of finished his work on BioShock Infinite, as you will be able to tell when you see the game again.”
Kotaku’s sources claimed that not one but two of BioShock Infinite’s planned co-op modes have been scrapped from the game completely.
Irrational is bringing in new talent meanwhile that will bring great experience to the project. Rod Fergusson, Epic Games production director and one of the chief people behind the Gears of War series, announced he would join Irrational via Twitter on Wednesday. Fergusson has history making ambitious games successful. Here’s hoping he gets Irrational through this crisis.