If you have played Bioshock Infinite’s Burial at Sea DLC you will have no doubt witnessed a boy dancing on the Parisian streets as he joyously holds a stick of French bread aloft (he is not exactly hard to miss). While a charming inclusion in its own right, the mastermind behind Bioshock’s “Bread Boy” has now revealed more insight into why he is there.
It was a simple fan post from Twitter user Pocklecool that once more brought “Bread Boy” back to the fore of our minds, commenting on the fact that the game’s shorthand for being in Paris was a small boy delightedly twirling a baguette in his arms. The tweet, perhaps understandably, blew up, catching the attention of Gwen Frey.
And who is exactly is Frey, you may ask. Well, she is Irrational Games’ former senior technical animator and the one in charge of placing all the background characters in BioShock Infinite and its DLCs… including Bread Boy.
What unfolded was a delightful thread from Frey, detailing how this boy came to be dancing in the street of Paris with a stick of bread as his partner. Frey revealed that they “thought the Paris scene was too static and needed more motion but couldn’t afford another AI walking around.
“I figured a chump running in a circle around that cylinder could work since I could just expand the collision of it to prevent the player from running through them. However, we didn’t have a looping “run in a circle” animation. We did have dancing in a circle though!”
random sensory flashback to the Bioshock Infinite DLC where they wanted to communicate to the player “you are in Paris, France” so they put a little kid in the game dancing around in the street while holding a baguette over his head pic.twitter.com/E77jzW0Air
— Pocklecool (@instant_grat) February 4, 2022
This made the dancing animation’s transition make perfect sense. But, why the bread? Why not just some dancers? With every other French cliché beautifully animated within Burial at Sea’s opening scene, was a baguette really a vital piece of storytelling? In short, yes – yes it was.
Frey went on to say: “a couple randomly dancing seemed dumb. I figured I’d make two dancing kids instead. However, the kids had different proportions than the adults, so the kids’ feet were clipping through the ground and their hands were going through each other.
“I turned on foot and arm IK [Inverse Kinematics, essentially rules for movement] so that their hands and feet would end up in the same position as the adults, but then their hands were way over their heads!
“So I deleted the boy’s dancing partner and attached a baguette to his hands. Bam! Boy dances with baguette! Ship it! I figured if anyone asked I’d just say ‘bread is great right?!’ I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but this boy is the most viral thing I’ve ever made🤣”
I think we can all agree that Frey made the right choice.