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Cliff Bleszinski on Retiring, Returning, Lessons Learned and the Future

Boss Key Productions
Boss Key Productions

Cliff Bleszinski, the lead designer of the Gears of War trilogy and the Unreal series speaks out on his upcoming title, Blue Streak, his retirement and why he pulled a Jay-Z and came back.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Cliff Bleszinski got a lot off of his chest about his frustrations with the industry, his retirement, his decision to come back and his new studio, Boss Key Productions. Bleszinski swore he’d never make a game again after his departure from Epic Games in 2012. This past February, Bleszinski announced that he was done with disc-based gaming, but hinted at his return by saying that he did not want to be remembered in gaming history just for Gears of War. Recently, he announced his return and the opening of his new studio, Boss Key Productions.

“I was just tired.” Bleszinski said in regards to his early retirement. “The industry was at such a massive tipping point. [Gears of War developer] Epic was figuring out how to do the new world order. I had saved up enough money to sit by my pool and get fat for a while, honestly.”

Bliszinski explained that even though he thought he retired, he mentioned that he was still coming up with plenty of game ideas during the past two years that he couldn’t bury.

“I’d read about some interesting sci-fi weapon in a book, and I’d keep this idea in the back of my head and twist it around to see how it would work in a first-person shooter. Or different settings or environments, all that stuff. I had an idea in my head that married a universe and game mechanics together really well.

As of late, Bleszinski mentions that his biggest influences include reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Swarm by B.V. Larson and Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman.

In terms of Blue Streak, Boss Key Productions’ upcoming debut, Bleszinski voiced a frustration modern first-person shooters forcing you to look at small characters through iron sights in multiplayer for a majority of the gameplay — he wants something different.

“There are still so many things that people either haven’t done recently in a first-person shooter or haven’t done at all. They date back to mechanics in Genesis and Super Nintendo games, relating to weaponry and player movement and things like that. They’d make for an absolutely fascinating take on a first-person shooter.”

Bleszinski praises the double jumping and wall-running mechanics of Titanfall along with the spells of Destiny and explains that there is so much more developers could do with these standout mechanics. Of course, he mentions one thing that we have been hoping to see  in first-person shooters in a long time, teleportation, which hasn’t been a focus in a an FPS games since Quake 3.

In terms of the free-to-play nature of Blue Streak, Bleszinski said, “my goal is to make it so that someone who hasn’t dropped a dime on this game will have a weapon that could kill someone who has spent $100 on the game.” Based on Bleszinski’s fondness for DOTA 2, this suggests that “freemium” content for Blue Streak will be in the form of skins and alternate costumes for players.

With launch window in sight, we will provide more coverage on Blue Streak once new information is available.

Next: Cast That Game: Gears of War

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