BioShock/Radio Skipping

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Some events are triggered when a radio message stops playing. Instead of waiting for them to finish normally, you can stop them playing by selecting another message from the message archive and this will trigger the event. ("radio skip")

If you have several radio messages queued up, you can speed the queue up by playing a shorter one than the one currently playing. Then the next message will play as soon as the shorter message finishes.

Diary Skipping

Some triggers wait just until there isn't a radio message playing to fire. If you start an Audio Diary playing, these triggers will be able to fire as if all your queued radio messages had finished. ("diary skip")

Diary skipping is generally better, if you can pull it off. Triggered radio messages important to the plot will interrupt any diary message. The only time you don't want to do a diary skip is when it's the last message and you'd have to wait for the diary to finish for the next trigger. Diaries tend to take a long time.

Note I didn't want to take the bit above out yet because perhaps I'm mistaken, or perhaps there's a console/pc version difference, but as far as I can see, every single trigger in the game fires normally when a diary is playing. The only time when you want to use a radio skip instead of a diary skip is when you need to START a radio message playing (because it needs to play to fire a trigger), which is ALREADY in the radio queue (that is, the backlog of radio messages which have ALREADY been triggered. If there's a sequence of radio messages, they probably won't all be in the queue at once, because each one's completion or cancellation will trigger the next). This is because QUEUED radio messages WON'T interrupt a playing message, but NEWLY TRIGGERED radio messages WILL interrupt a playing audio diary when triggered (but not, usually, a playing radio message).


"I suspect you'll have to identify the shortest radio message there is on each level (there might even be levels where you'll want to go out of your way to acquire a really short message, though I doubt it) and then when you get a big dialogue build up, start that short message playing every time a new message starts. That way, the next message in the queue will only have to wait for a short message to finish before playing, rather than for the (long) message that was in the queue before it.

Alternatively, I haven't checked whether radio messages that get queued up are added to the message archive before they start to play. If they are, you might be able to manually select a trigger message to start it playing and fire its trigger instead of waiting for it to play automatically. This too warrants research.

I also think - I'm not sure about this - that when you start an audio diary playing manually, it will finish before radio messages that are already queued start to play, BUT any new radio message will interrupt it. This means that when you have a long queue of radio messages but really need to play one that you're just about to get, you could interrupt the queue by starting a diary playing and then trigger the radio message you need, and because it interrupts the diary it will automatically skip the radio queue. If my observations are right." - ExplodingCabbage [1]

Another Theory

I *think* each event and audio message is marked with flags. These flags can say stuff like:

  • Trigger when the player steps in an area, or looks at an entity.
  • Wait for any radio messages to complete (eg the "Ah, That's Better" Cohen speech and the "Find the Quadtych" goal completion in Fort Frolic)
  • Go to the top/back of the queue.
  • Run X seconds after this other event.
  • Wait for these other events to start/complete.
  • Clear the event queue, first.

Fort Frolic, for example, is just a very complicated arrangement of these flags on events. Certain events will queue up; certain events get triggered at the end of other events; certain other events will clear the queue; certain radio events take forever. Speed running it is just a matter of knowing the graph of trigger relationships, what triggers what, when a clearing event is coming up, and when something's gonna wait for everything to play.

An Explanation of Letting the Radio Queue Play

Every instance of "Wait for all radio messages" I've seen so far has been a situation where the player is between two major events, the player is trapped, anyhow, and the player must experience both events in order to know what to do:

  • The "Ah, that's better" speech which introduces you to Cohen is preceded by Atlas' message that gets jammed (explaining why you don't hear from him later). You're trapped in the metro for that time.
  • The "Find the quadtych" goal is preceded by Cohen explaining how you fit in to his quadtych plan. You're trapped in the Atrium.
  • The two speeches by Atlas/Fontaine at the end of Rapture Central Control are critical. They even hold up leaving the level if the second one isn't done. You're trapped in Ryan's office.
  • Tenenbaum's "Go to Suchong's flat" tells you what you're doing that level, and the little girl demonstrates the special doors so you won't be surprised when you see them later. You're trapped in the safe house.

It's all by careful design. The game designers know, plot-wise, the player must hear these two messages, so they trap the player and make the messages hard to interrupt. I think the only reason we *can* interrupt the messages is that the UI would be frustrating otherwise - accessible one moment, inaccessible the next.

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