You did make an effort to add some more rich female characters, or bring them more into the central story this time around. Can you talk about what drove that decision?
CB: Well, I initially wanted to have it in Gears 1, but we didn't have the time to properly model them and everything like that. And by the time we got to the third game, the way the fiction was panning out was that now the women aren't even birthing anymore. They have to grab their guns and get into the mix as well, right?
The evolution of Anya from being just kind of the dispatcher who's your voice in your ear to someone who's stomping on Locust heads next to you -- it's an interesting character evolution.
And quite frankly, the franchise seems to have a lot of female fans. I don't know why, but I'll take it. And the fact that we're the go-to game, and girls come up to me at Comic Con and show me the Crimson Omen tattoos on their neck, is pretty crazy.
And so we felt the need to properly represent them in the game, and make sure that they have characters that they like. That are confident. That, again, don't look like prostitutes.
Because the traditional video game methodology used to be that. But if you look at the new Tomb Raider (pictured below), she actually looks great. She doesn't look like the traditional Lara Croft with the big boobs anymore, she looks more like a Hilary Swank who's been fighting for her life in the jungle and I think that's the maturity of the industry growing up a little bit.
I feel like people tend to forget that large generic groups are made up of individuals. We tend to forget that -- not just the game industry, but people tend to forget that. Just because you say "women might not like Gears of War," it doesn't mean that some women can't like Gears of War.
CB: Yeah, yeah. For some reason, I don't know if it's the third person nature, or the fact that you can kind of hang out behind cover and pop up, and the fact that Gears fans generally tend to be more cooperative, as opposed to adversarial. And it might be a combination of all those factors, but it's a good problem to have, for us.
Has your role changed over the course of the franchise?
CB: It has a bit, because being promoted to design director means I get to participate in all the different projects, across the board, that Epic works on. And so I get to playtest an Infinity Blade expansion, or a game like Bulletstorm, and then also make sure Gears gets its love. And it's been tough to balance that. I'd like to think I've hit a decent balance, but there's always little things that I'd love to make sure that I touch and polish in a game, that you don't always have time for.
Mike Capps spoke recently about how you know Chair abandoned Shadow Complex 2 in production to move to Infinity Blade, and how it was the right decision. How do you feel about those shifting priorities, and the shifting market?
CB: Well, the industry right now is like the Wild, Wild West. Look at the amount of platforms out there, from iOS, to social, to Facebook, to Xbox, to Vita, and everything. It's crazy.
You know, we are an engine provider, and not only do we make great games, we also provide technology to help our partners make great games, and we needed a flagship product for iOS, plain and simple.
And we could have ported Shadow Complex, but it would have been a lot of work, and it might not have been the right fit. And then Donald Mustard [co-founder, Chair Entertainment] suggested Punch-Out!! with swords, with RPG layers, and we're like, "Yes."
So that's where the majority of the effort is going, for our Utah-based studio of Chair. And Shadow Complex 2 is sitting there; it's actually largely designed, we just need to find a partner that will help us to finish it, so we can bring it to market.
How closely do you work with Donald?
CB: Not incredibly closely. I mean, I have like a weekly phone call with him, and then I'll play builds once a week. It's 15 percent of my time. But every interaction I have with him is a pleasure, because he's a joy to work with.
CB: He's great.
How are the learnings from the stuff they're learning on iOS? Are they feeding back into the way you look at console, triple-A design at all?
CB: Oh, yeah. I mean, one thing that the beauty of iOS is, you can take the game with you everywhere, and that's one of my big drums that I've been beating for next generation consoles. He who makes a game that you can always have with you is going to win.
I want a way to play Gears when I'm in the elevator or at the coffee shop. I want to be able to play it at the pub. I want to be able to play it on the bus, and then come home and have the full experience. That's what I want, and I hope everybody's moving towards that.
Do you think that that is the future of triple-A franchises? EA has been very public about its "We want to be with you everywhere" kind of thing. Do you agree?
CB: Oh, absolutely. But it's not just about multiplayer, though, right? Because people think you just want to take the game, and attack on multiplayer, with deathmatch. People are not being very creative when they think about that.
Look at what things like Dragon's Dogma is doing, or Dark Souls. You can have multiplayer, and a large RPGish-type environment, just with asynchronous elements.
The big takeaway for us is having an enthusiasm for asynchronous gameplay, because that is where a lot of the future is going to go. Right now a lot of online gaming is based upon the whole ,"Okay, we're all going to meet at the bar at eight o'clock, and we're going to have fun."
And you have to schedule that, as opposed to people come and go as they please, and you tag the graffiti wall when you want to, and check out what somebody else did, and that's where a lot of the business is going with multiplayer.
Would you say that Demon Souls and Dark Souls are very influential?
CB: I think for the industry, yeah. It's a game that's based around being hard, and then because it's hard, you leave clues for other people to help them out -- and they're blazing new trails that not a lot of people have done yet, which is why that game's getting some nice buzz.