January 3, 2011

Video Blog #5 - BioShock New Year's Eve Party

Happy New Year!

This year, my boyfriend Jason and I decided to host a BioShock themed New Year's Eve party at my house. We loved the idea of re-creating Rapture, the underwater metropolis of BioShock, but MAN we had NO IDEA what we were getting ourselves into.

Here is the Video Blog I created for the Frag Doll site:

And now, for the details:

1. Creating the under-water city
Rapture is an iconic city featuring New York-esque buildings and art decco-styles. I fell in love with the city as soon as I read my first BioShock article in a Game Informer magazine years ago, and it has been so much fun re-creating the city in my house.

Designing the City
The first step in creating Rapture was designing the multiple skyscrapers in the city skyline. Using the picture above, I drew different buildings (styles and sizes) on black cardboard. To make the perspectives stand out, I painted the lines of the buildings with silver paint - just light enough to see, but not too bright so as to take away from the silhouettes.

Lighting the City
After designing the buildings, Jason took strands of white LED lights (super cheap after Christmas!) and re-soldered all the connections to match up with the windows and signs. As you can see from the picture, the new light strands were long and involved. Each building section (above) took roughly 1~2 hours to light, and with 10 building sections the time really added up!

Submerging the City
Once the buildings were lit, we attached them to my basement walls with tape and thumbtacks. We then cut blue cellophane into 92" strips (the height of my basement walls) and attached them on top of the buildings. The blue cellophane provided a great under-water impression, and made the lighting especially dramatic.
Between each "panel" of blue cellophane (meant to be windows looking out on the city skyline of Rapture) we put one strip of white paper to symbolize columns.

The Finished Product
Look at that under-water skyline! :D

2. Adding details
In BioShock, Rapture is littered with propaganda for Fontaine and Ryan, as well as tons of advertisements for locations in Rapture and of course - Plasmids! We decided to print out some posters for our re-created Rapture, including some of the most well-known signs:

Glowing Sign
Jason found a great company online that deals with El Wire. If you're not sure what El Wire is (I can't dive into specifics because even I don't quite get it) check out this company (elwirepros.com) for the full details.

We ended up buying yards of this wire to create a "neon-glowing" sign for the party. Here's a picture of the desired sign in the game:
Happy New Year 1959

And here is our sign - created out of plywood (black base), El Wire, and hot glue!

Plasmid Drinks
In BioShock, Plasmids are essential for destroying your enemies. - Because this game mechanic is so heavily used in the game, it stands to reason that a BioShock party would entail the use of Plasmids too! Here is the drink list I created for the party:

1.5 oz Amaretto almond liqueur
1-2 splashes Sweet & Sour mix
Green food coloring

1 oz Goldschlage Cinnamon Schnapps
2 oz Lemonade
Red food coloring

Sonic Boom
1 oz Vodka
2 oz Orange Juice
No food coloring required

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Coffee Liqueur
Light Cream
Purple food coloring

Winter Blast
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Blueberry Schnapps
1 oz Pineapple Juice
Blue food coloring

Splicer Masks
Although Big Daddies are the iconic enemies of the game, the most common fight you'll get into in BioShock is with a splicer, left over from the fall of Rapture. To commemorate this, I picked up some plain white masks, paint, hot glue, and white feathers so that guests could create their own splicer masks.
Splicers with their masks!

3. The Vita-Chamber
We decided that no party in Rapture would be complete without a Vita-Chamber, and making it actually turned out to be fairly straight-forward.

Jason created a wood frame to match the frame of a door in my basement. By cutting semi-circles out of the wood, we were able to create a rounded top from which to hang the "doors." We used a clear shower liner for the "doors" and attached a light colored fabric to the front for the door design. Jason was able to hook up two lights to the top of the Chamber; one with a blue light below the top, and a regular light on the top. Out of the same black posterboard used for the buildings, I used stencils to create the Vita-Chamber sign. We added some blue pipe cleaners for electricity to complete the look:

Overall, it was a pretty amazing party. I ended up leaving a lot of good ideas out at the last minute - but the guests had a great time (whether they had played BioShock or not) and we had a fun time hosting :-)

Happy New Year!


  1. This is wholly awesome, Kim. I'm sure there's money to be made in this! game themed party planning? Hell, I'd pay

  2. I'm sure there's money to be lost, too ; )

    And yet, can you put a price on awesome?

  3. So much fun! Great job you guys!

  4. I've only been to one BioShock party but I must say, this took a LOT of effort. I found you through the 2K forums. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on your blog from now on!

  5. Thanks for taking a look and leaving a comment! This party DID take a lot of effort, but it was so much fun...we're still enjoying the setup in my basement :D

  6. Hey I want to make a Bioshock theme for my Halloween party and was wondering if you know where I can find some good quality (large) pictures of some of the signs and advertisements seen in Bioshock?

    Thanks! :)

  7. Also wondering, did you paint the cardboard black or where did you find black cardboard sheets?

  8. Hi Red Wolf,

    Actually finding pictures of signs/advertisements from Bioshock was the hardest part of the party. The best I could do was find low-quality pictures online and try to print them in a larger size.

    Also, I used black cardboard for the buildings. Any craft store should sell large amounts of black cardboard (no paint required!). I did use a silver marker to define the edges of the buildings though.

  9. Thanks for the info! I will let you know how mine turns out :)

  10. Holy Crap! That looks like it would be the best party ever!

  11. I am having trouble finding black cardboard...the closest I can find is black posterboard at Michaels, and it is not big enough. :(