Big Daddies (originally named Protectors) are genetically enhanced human beings who have had their skin and organs grafted into an enormous diving suit, with Alpha Series being an apparent exception to the grafting process but still heavily spliced. Their primary purpose is to protect Little Sisters while they escort them around Rapture.
Aside from the Alpha Series, Big Daddies communicate by haunting sounds similar to that of whale calls. Alpha Series communicate with low, inhuman moans. For easier interpretation (as stated in the Deco Devolution art book), production model Big Daddies have a mind controlling, bio-luminescent chemical substance which was filled into the helmet to display what state of emotion or mind that it is in. Big Daddy helmets have three light colors: green indicates the Big Daddy is hypnotized and friendly, yellow indicates awareness of indifference to his environment, and red indicates a rage towards assailants. If the first few attempts to drive away potential threats prove futile, Big Daddies will become enraged, unlike Alpha Series who always begin enraged.
The Protector Program (the project responsible for the creation of Big Daddies) was the brainchild of Dr. Yi Suchong. Knowing that the Little Sisters would be at great risk if they were out on the streets gathering ADAM without any protection, Suchong sought to rectify the problem. He presented his idea to Andrew Ryan. Knowing that becoming a Big Daddy would be a "one-way street," Suchong fretted about finding suitable candidates despite Ryan's assurances that it would not be a problem. Although the true identities of the candidates are unknown, many were criminals and political dissidents who were prisoners of Persephone. Augustus Sinclair contracted these prisoners out to Ryan Industries as test subjects in the research labs of Fontaine Futuristics and Point Prometheus.
After Suchong's accidental death at the hands of a prototype Big Daddy, the Protector Program was placed under the control of Dr. Gilbert Alexander. Alexander took inspiration from the common nickname for the Protector Program candidates, "Big Daddies", and engineered a physical bond between the protectors and their charges that would mimic the emotional bond between father and daughter. This breakthrough generated the first successfully bonded Big Daddies: the Alpha Series.
As the Big Daddies were sent out on the streets of Rapture, citizens responded to them in different ways. They were referred to by many slang names among Splicers, including "metal daddy" or "tin daddy." Their intimidating appearance and aggressive conditioning caused fear among the populace. Confrontations with Splicers and well-meaning citizens prompted Ryan to create public address announcements that warned against approaching Big Daddies. Ryan even tried to combat public dislike of the Protector Program by spinning the Big Daddies as "Knights In Shining Armor" created to protect against the "parasites."
Conception and designEdit
Conceived of early on as a man encased in a diving suit, the Big Daddy was designed to have "that hulking metal feel of an underwater protector, so solid not even a shotgun blast could knock him off his feet." While the concept remained the same of an AI character that protected the "gatherer" AI characters in the title, many ideas were considered for their mobility and execution, including a wheelchair mounted version. As the designs for the individual types evolved, intricate details of the actual diving suit were worked out piece by piece, using the concept that the suits would be constructed from salvaged parts of the city. Developer Ken Levine noted that with the concept of the gatherers as little girls, it allowed the team to explore the protector role of the character and demonstrate it in a way to appeal to a real-world relationship for the player.
Two versions of the Big Daddy are present in BioShock: the 'Rosie' and the 'Bouncer'. Initial drafts of the Rosie model featured it encased in a light atmospheric diving suit with a singular hole for viewing through the helmet, as well as missing its left forearm and hand, replaced with a hook and pulley supported by cables attached to the stump. Later designs restored the arm, adding a rivet gun, heavy oxygen tanks mounted on both shoulders and a squid-like tentacle extending from each shoulder. The completed design remained similar, removing the tentacles and reducing the oxygen tanks to a singular one positioned on its back, angled towards its right shoulder. The Rosie's rivet gun itself went through progressive design improvements, with the intent of making it "more fleshed out and threatening".
The Bouncer model of Big Daddy featured it encased in a heavier diving suit than the Rosie, with the helmet more heavily armored and having smaller but multiple holes for viewing. Several ideas were considered for weaponry, originally consisting of a wrist mounted fan-blade on the right arm and a hand-held double hook in the left hand. They were replaced by hand mounted grinders attached to each arm and an added oxygen tank angled over the left shoulder. The weaponry was changed in the finalized design changed to a heavy drill over the right hand, with an engine and exhaust for it positioned over the right shoulder.
Induction and Conditioning ProcessEdit
From the time of its founding, maintenance of Rapture required trained divers in reinforced suits to walk outside along the sea floor to repair leaks and reinforce the city's structure. After the end of the Protector Program's tests, the inhabitants of those metal diving suits were genetically altered to become the common, mass product Big Daddies. They were genetically conditioned in the research labs of Point Prometheus and trained in the Proving Grounds.
The candidates for induction into the Protector Program went through voice box modification and pheromone application. The pheromones are what attract the Little Sisters to the Big Daddies. After the voice box is modified, the candidates' skin and organs are grafted into the suit to ensure complete adhesion. The candidates are then placed in large vats with a substance that effectively turns them into mindless drones. With gene splicing, the humans inside the suits are given enhanced strength and agility. Their steel suit exoskeletons contain life support machinery to keep them alive during their duties, and allow a Big Daddy to lift heavy weights with ease. The suits also give them the ability to resist deep ocean pressure to a depth of six miles. Big Daddies are sometimes assigned and outfitted to do other constructive tasks around Rapture, and have been seen doing repairs and other maintenance tasks both inside and directly outside the city. The Big Daddies periodically returned to Hephaestus for routine maintenance check-ups.