The Secrets of Minerva's Den

Today, Steve Gaynor, Writer and Lead Designer of Minerva's Den, tells us about some secrets, inside jokes, and easter eggs you can find while playing through this new chapter in BioShock 2.

Note: Spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk.

Hi! I'm Steve Gaynor, Writer and Lead Designer of the new BioShock 2 DLC, Minerva's Den. I also designed the first level of the DLC, and as a level designer you tend to put in little secrets and nods to people you know... "Easter Eggs," they call'em. And we hid plenty around Minerva's Den! I'm going to try and remember all the secrets I can and share them here. If you haven't played Minerva's Den and don't want any spoilers at all, stop reading now!

The Cats of Minerva's Den

Minerva's Den is based on early supercomputing technology, going far beyond what would have been possible at the time (anywhere except in Rapture, that is.) Also in Rapture, dead cats are often found (there was at least one dead cat in each level of BioShock 2.) And so, in Minerva's Den, you'll also find one dead cat in each level, and each is named after a pioneer in the field of computer science-- "Babbage," "Lovelace," and "Turing," named after Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Alan Turing, respectively. Can you find them all??

The Slugs of Minerva's Den, and Karla Vacuum Tubes

For the design of Minerva's Den, we wanted to place more ADAM around the world for players to find. So we added the slugs in jars that you may have found. The idea is that the sciencey-types of Minerva's Den collected ADAM slugs in specimen jars, and kept them on their desks and such. We figured they would name the slugs, and put the names on the jars. There were nine ADAM slugs in Minerva's Den, and ten full-time members building the DLC, so the slugs were named after members of the Minerva's Den team. The team roster was as follows:

Steve Gaynor: Writer/Lead Designer/Level Designer
Karla Zimonja: Assistant Director/Graphic Artist
Devin St. Clair: Lead Artist
Jeff Fisher: Lead Programmer
Scott LaGrasta: Level Designer
Mario DiPesa: Level Designer
Rinaldo Tjan: Level Artist
Will Armstrong: Gameplay Programmer
Collin Fogel: Modeler
Brandon Pham: Modeler

But what about the tenth member? "KARLA" model vacuum tubes can be found throughout Minerva's Den, rounding out the representation of the team in Rapture.

Spitfire Kill Screen

Did you know that you can play the Spitfire arcade game in Minerva's Den? It's the world's first video game, produced in Rapture, found in Operations in the Programming wing. And if you max out its score counter, you get to the game's kill screen, a seemingly random pattern of glitches. But if you look closely... is that a pixel golf club, and the letter "R"? What could it mean??

McClendon Robotics, Brent Hudson, and Christopher di Remo

Sometimes you need a name for something, so you grab the opportunity as a shout-out to friends and co-workers, even if they didn't work directly on the project. One of the main areas in Minerva's Den is McClendon Robotics. This is named after Zak McClendon, the Lead Designer of BioShock 2. It was his idea that Minerva's Den should feature robotics labs, and I think he just loves robots generally, so it seemed like a natural fit.

The founder of the business, "Jack McClendon," has an audio diary where he talks about the Robotic Little Sister project. For one, Jack's radio portrait is in fact a photo of Zak. Also, this diary was written late in development, and we needed to record it quickly, so we found some... "local talent." Jack McClendon is voiced (brilliantly!) by Kent Hudson, our Senior Systems Designer, who now leads the design team in Novato on XCOM.

Kent, never one to deny a shout-out, also appears in altered form as "Brent Hudson," the guy who hid Felix Birnbaum's office key in the Circus of Values in the Programming wing of Operations.

Finally, I wanted to recognize Chris Remo, longtime friend, former host of the Idle Thumbs podcast, and now the Community Manager at Irrational Games. "Christopher di Remo" is named after him, the author of an audio log hidden inside a vacuum bot in the McClendon Robotics showroom.


The Rapture Central Computing mainframe is nicknamed "The Thinker," partly because its full name is pretty damn long: the "Rapture Operational Data Interpreter Network." This becomes the acronym R.O.D.I.N. (as seen on some Status Update cards near the end of the DLC.) This is a little circular reference to the statue The Thinker by Rodin, a cast of which is found in the lobby of Minerva's Den, and is the mainframe's namesake. But consider the acronym, and how it's pronounced. If the programming for a thinking computer were to escape Rapture and be reconstructed on the surface in 1968... what might that lead to in the future?

I think that's about it! I hope you enjoy exploring Minerva's Den... and remember to keep your eyes peeled!

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