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Lazy 8 on the Cogs behind BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution

Independent developer Lazy 8 launched steampunk puzzler Cogs on PC in 2009; that same year Cogs was an IndieCade finalist. In 2010, the game snagged an IGF nod and won $100,000 in the Indie Game Challenge, and in 2011, Cogs was released for Mac gamers. Three years later, Cogs is still picking up steam and its quality is the reason Irrational Games approached Lazy 8 to assemble BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution.

"The BioShock Infinite team at Irrational was already aware of Cogs, the award-winning puzzle game that we launched in 2009," Lazy 8 founder Rob Jagnow tells Joystiq. "They knew they wanted to create something similar – challenging puzzles in a steampunk style – so they approached Lazy 8 Studios in the hope that we could help design a puzzle game with the same level of polish."

Turns out Lazy 8 could do just that. Industrial Revolution is available now, for free, with pre-orders of BioShock Infinite. It's a flash puzzle game that has players fight on the side of BioShock Infinite's warring factions Vox Populi or the Founders, and generates in-game goods for next year's full Infinite release. Industrial Revolution comes with its own innate depth, however: The choices players make on the first playthrough are permanent and the game can't be replayed with different allegiances.

"It's true that Industrial Revolution is designed to be played only once, and while you're playing, you'll be offered choices about which factions you want to support. Not every player may realize it, but the choices you make will impact how the story is told to you. And once those choices are made, you can't go back and make them again. They're permanent. While that may not make everyone happy, I think it makes for a really compelling player experience. It gives a lot more weight to your actions and their consequences."

Lazy 8 on the Cogs that power BioShock Infinite Industrial RevolutionChoose your factions wisely, but be prepared to push that loyalty to its limit, Jagnow says:

"I designed the story system to make players constantly second-guess their decisions. Just when you're really starting to root for one team, you'll be forced to see things from a different perspective. I don't think we could have achieved the same emotional impact if players had been allowed to go back and change their decisions."

Irrational had a distinct vision for Industrial Revolution in terms of art style and story, but it gave Jagnow complete control over the puzzle design. He had a lot of fun with that arrangement.

"That was amazing for me," Jagnow says. "The puzzles revolve around placing gears and pulleys on stationary pegs to build machines. Designing new puzzles was a real joy. I think I designed about 70 puzzles total and then trimmed down the list to our favorite 59 for the final game."

Lazy 8 on the Cogs behind BioShock Infinite Industrial RevolutionJagnow took some of the most popular mechanics from Cogs and turned them into puzzles for Industrial Revolution. The puzzles themselves are fairly self-contained, and even by Jagnow's description they don't seem to be overtly intricate – though they are, Jagnow says. This is part of the deception that makes Industrial Revolution a true puzzle game.

"I didn't realize at first just how rich the puzzle space would be. As I started exploring the mathematics of the game space, I realized that we had created a really fascinating dual-space constraint system that lends itself to some extremely challenging puzzles in a deceptively simple space. Rather than explaining what I mean by a dual-space system, I encourage people to play the game and discover it for themselves."

Industrial Revolution is free to anyone who pre-orders BioShock Infinite from participating retailers, including Steam. Get those cogs turning, people.

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