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Cliff Bleszinski: Creativity, Design, and Reality


May 13, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next
 

But what you talked about is definitely a process, right? A process for the way you develop games at Epic. Do you try to enforce this process across other studios?

CB: I wouldn't say "enforce". That sounds like we're showing up at gunpoint and saying, "Do it or we'll shoot you." I think "coax kindly". I'm not a parent, but one thing I know about parenting is the best way to get somebody to do something is to convince them it's the right thing instead of just saying "Do it because I said so."

And so by providing examples of our proof of concept process that's been successful in Gears 1 and 2, we've been able to convince PCF that it's the right thing to do, and that keeps them positively motivated.

And they've seen the gold in it. The weapons you're going to see at E3, the kind of modes you're going to wind up seeing out of the game, they all tie into the fruit that's to bear from this process.

This is an EA Partners title. You guys are an independent studio and you have these great relationships.

Obviously, you have a great relationship with Microsoft because of Gears -- or at least a fruitful one. How's it feel to be turning around and working with another publisher, on another big new franchise launch?

CB: It's exciting. It's kind of like dating. You know, each entity is unique. It has its own things that work well, things that upset them, back and forth. It's very much a human relationship. You kind of have to like the people you work with.

And thankfully, I kind of get the best of both worlds because I get to go one minute and be in a Microsoft Gears meeting, and then the next minute, I get to go be at an EAP Bulletstorm meeting, and it's been fascinating for me to watch how each individual publisher works. I'm fairly certain it's going to create some great opportunities in the future.

I'm wondering if popularity of the shooter genre is leading to the evolution of the business in a certain way, at least in terms of the genre. If you look at obviously what happened with Infinity Ward. Those guys break off. Bungie became indie. You guys are still independent. Is that something that's because of the success and the revenues that are being generated, that allows that sort of leverage to stay independent, or become independent?

CB: There are so many things going on with the industry right now that I really can't even drill into too much detail. Those who are smart will recognize where talent is and will aptly take care of the talent, and if they don't, the talent will go and figure out a way to do something.

Tim Sweeney is an incredibly intelligent guy who knows how to take care of the talent at Epic, hence the retention rate at Epic. We have a very low turnover rate. The industry? Who knows what's going to happen. I'm glad that independent developers can stay afloat and 150 development teams can still make great games, right?

You own this IP, I'm assuming, right?

CB: Yes.

You own Gears. But at the time Gears was first announced, it was a bit of a surprise, I think, to people that you guys would be able to retain the IP.

CB: Well, to be frank and to be honest and fair, our business guys are very, very good, and they know that it's really where a lot of the value is. And I, in the foreseeable future, will not be working on any sort of licensed IP or anybody else's IP. I like working on ones that we can control and foster and allow to grow and breathe within our own umbrella.

But do these relationships impact you in terms of the direction you want to take? If you take a game to a publisher.

Tammy Schachter: At least speaking for the Partners side, David DeMartini and Sinjin Bain, who go out and talk the partner program and work with developers who remain independent, they're focus is very clearly around finding the best of breed, and people that we want to encourage to remain independent and allow them to cultivate their own culture and foster their creativity and bring the best out -- like, allow Epic to cultivate the best in PCF.

So, our role as a partner, and I'm sure you guys count on us for this, is to kind of stay out of it, stay out of the creative process so we can focus on the business side and we can do the publishing and distribution while leaving them to focus squarely on the creative.

CB: And that's absolutely correct, but that's not to say that there's not feedback, right?

TS: No, of course.

CB: You know, there's feedback like "Hey, what do you think of this?" But it's not a "This game needs to be about apples!" or whatever would come up.

One thing I've learned in the years that I've been in the business is to know when to give creative people enough rope, right? There will be some that will hang themselves, but ultimately I want the guys at PCF to get out of bed in the morning and feel like it's their game and that they're contributing to it. I don't want them sitting here feeling like they're making "Cliff Bleszinski's Whatever", right? It needs to be PCF's title, and they need to own that. That's crucial.

Real quick, to summarize everything here, the publishers that have been the most successful in acquiring a studio have not messed with the studio and have kept them as their own little bubble, and their own incubation, and their own family. Whereas the ones that acquire a developer and then systematically go, "No, do it this way and do all that," everything just crumbles, and then they wind up with nothing that they paid for, and they lose value.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

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