A job listing posted by the creators of the just-delayed-to-2013 BioShock Inifinite on LinkedIn on May 2 seeks a "talented and experienced individual to help us with the networking aspects of BioShock Infinite."
- Work with the team who created BioShock network code
- Advising engineers on how to properly architect their systems for optimal networking
- Extending and enhancing Unreal Engine 3 with proprietary networking tech to address gameplay, performance, platform, production, tools, and QA needs
- Interfacing with Microsoft, Sony, and other providers about platform-specific services
- Working with the Technical Director, Lead Programmers, and IT Director to plan and execute major changes to client-side technology and back-end services
- Responsible for delivering a robust, scalable, and responsive client-side networking support on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 platforms
The first BioShock, which was made by Irrational, was single-player only. The second game, which was not from Irrational did.
Is the job listing a sign that BioShock Infinite is getting multiplayer?
Officially, the creators of the game aren't saying. One of their spokespeople told me that Ken Levine and his team have no further comment beyond what Levine told me in 2010. I'll reprint that here:
"Here's what I have to say about multiplayer," Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine said as I broached the topic during an interview with the designer last week in New York City. "It's what we said about BioShock 1: We have not made any determinations about multiplayer.
"I will say that we experiment with things, but for us we are never interested in making a multiplayer mode you could just play in some other game. Because, A) that's not creatively interesting and B), financially, you're wasting your time. They're going to go play Halo. They're going to go play Call of Duty.
"If we do something new - if we do something like Left 4 Dead that has something new to say - people will come to your game. If you don't, don't waste your time."
Today, when Infinite's delay from October 2012 to February 2013 was announced, I speculated on Twitter that a single-player BioShock Infinite might have needed to be moved away from a fall season full of multiplayer online shooter (the new Call of Duty, the new Borderlands, etc.) But friend-of-the-site and expert fact-digger-upper Superannuation Tweeted at me the listing I'm quoting above.
Levine's 2010 stance that he wouldn't tolerate me-too multiplayer remains reassuring, as does the positive examples of good multiplayer added to formerly single-player games such as Assassin's Creed and (trust me, because I've played it) Max Payne. But BioShock 2's coolly-received multiplayer is its own testament to the questionable need of some sort of add-on mode competitive mode.
For all we know, "networking" could refer to syncing leaderboards in BioShock Infinite or enabling campaign co-op. Or it could mean what it conventionally means with first-person video games these days: competitive multiplayer. Earlier today, Levine said BioShock Infinite won't be at E3 this year. We won't see it for a bit, and presumably, we'll not get a good answer to whether the February 2013 game really does have multiplayer for some time.