Irrational Games has posted nine pages of the original BioShock pitch document on its website, revealing a game quite unlike the finished, multi-award-winning article.
The document outlines the tale of main character Carlos Cuello, "a down and out 'deprogrammer' assigned to infiltrate a religious cult on a remote island and 'rescue' a wealthy heiress from the clutches of the cultists".
Cuello would have visited the island - seemingly called Isla de Salvacion - in the present day, judging by the timestamps on quotes from "MP3 Log Files" and other abstracts dotted around the pitch, and explored a city beneath the waves similar in principle - if not principles - to Rapture.
While the game as envisaged would have shared many characteristics with the BioShock we eventually played - its story-driven focus and sophisticated narrative, and a large degree of player choice, for instance - many of the details were very different.
Rather than the conflict between "looters" and the philosophy of rational self-interest espoused by eventual antagonist Andrew Ryan, for example, the original BioShock would have focused on "the terrifying nexus between religious fanaticism and unbounded science".
While genetic modification would have been a fixture, "plasmids" were to be "genotypes", many of which had an aquatic vibe. Hydrozoan, for example, would "allow the player to turn his skin gelatinous, poison enemies with a touch and appear nearly invisible in the shadows".
Judging by the graphic descriptions at the start of the document, players would have changed appearance considerably - and been able to observe themselves doing so.
Two of the biggest elements were to be customisable weaponry and environment hacking. Weapons would have been modifiable with all sorts of upgrades that reduced stability but made things more interesting - resulting in things like a chain-lightning tazer pistol, triple-barrelled shotgun or laser-sighted sniper rifle with acid-coated rounds.
The island's security systems - cameras, alarms, turrets, robots and so forth - would work for or against the player depending on how they were approached, and Irrational was keen to have us hack the environment, increasing oxygen levels in pressurised chambers to make explosions more volatile, or raising humidity to thicken fog.
The document also makes mention of "Story Based Deathmatch". BioShock didn't ship with multiplayer, but the second game - developed by 2K Marin with help from a variety of 2K affiliates - did include an online component with narrative components.
According to the Irrational website, future updates from the pitch document "will divulge the myriad departures BioShock took from its original vision, but also show our readers just how much the game’s heart and soul stayed constant".
We'll also get to see some interface mock-ups drawn by Ken Levine, apparently.
Suddenly a little nostalgic for BioShock? Check out our original BioShock review, our sort-of-retrospective from a few months later, and an interview with Ken Levine, Bill Gardner and Chris Kline about the game's development.