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Bioshock Infinite's Dancing Bread Boy Explained

Modern AAA video games have grown massive in scale, giving players large, sprawling maps to explore as they complete their objectives and immerse themselves in the world. It's not enough just to have a big sandbox, though. Game designers need to fill these landscapes with cars, trees, buildings, NPCs, and various other environmental assets so that the world doesn't feel empty. With so many moving parts, it's only natural that the odd asset will stand out here and there. Some definitely draw more attention than others, however.

"Bioshock Infinite" is the third title in the dystopian action-horror series made by Irrational Games. It has a couple of controversial scenes that have aged poorly and its complex meta-narrative about the multiverse might have left a few players scratching their heads about the convoluted ending, but it generally received favorable reviews from both critics and fans, even attaining a rare score of 94 on Metacritic. It also had a two part DLC titled "Burial at Sea" which features a return to the city of rapture and documents the city's fall. It's in this DLC that many players will notice a curious boy dancing around a pillar with a loaf of bread. Fans have been scratching their heads for years wondering why this strange child was included in the game. Now, one of the creators has finally come forward with an explanation for this weird NPC.

The dancing bread boy was never part of the plan

The DLC is almost a decade old now and the memory of the dancing bread boy has faded into the background for most fans, but the conversation started up again when Twitter user Pocklecool posted a clip of the dancing bread boy, stating that they thought the developers "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." Little did Pocklcool know, however, they were about to get the real story from the game's Senior Technical Animator, Gwen Frey herself.

Frey claimed in a reply tweet that she was "populating the Paris scene with "chumps" (skeletal meshes of humans with no AI)." These NPCs would have some looping animations, head tracking, and maybe some light ambient dialogue, but wouldn't move around much. She then went on to explain how the dancing bread boy came to be in the subsequent tweet chain, stating that they couldn't afford to have proper AI wandering around, but that she felt the scene needed more movement. "I figured a chump running in a circle around that cylinder could work" she stated, "since I could just expand the collision of it to prevent the player from running through them." Then things got even more complicated.

Problem solving gone awry

Frey's initial plan seemed solid, but she explained that, since the game was a DLC, the team was mostly expected to work with assets and animation patterns developed for the main game. This meant she had a limited number of tools in her toolbox. "[We] didn't have a looping "run in a circle" animation. We did have dancing in a circle though!" she said, linking a clip of Elizabeth and Booker dancing on Battleship bay from "Infinite."

She explained that it seemed to make more sense for two children to be randomly dancing around a pillar than two adults, but then she encountered more issues. Frey stated that "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." She then rotated the children's feet and hands so that they wouldn't be clipping anymore, but then the hands were way over their heads, which also looked awkward. "So I deleted the boy's dancing partner and attached a baguette to his hands," she said. "Bam! Boy dances with baguette! Ship it! ... I didn't think anything of it at the time, but this boy is the most viral thing I've ever made[.]"

It's possible that "Bioshock 4" may never happen, but at least gamers will always have the dancing bread boy.