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Cliff Bleszinski opens up about the future of games
Cliff Bleszinski opens up about the future of games
July 21, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"Not having an agenda has been tremendously freeing, creatively as well as professionally."
- Cliff Bleszinski on his "retirement."

Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski has re-entered the game industry with BlueStreak, a free-to-play competitive first person shooter he's developing for Asian MMO publisher Nexon at his new studio, Boss Key.

"Not having a project to promote, not having an agenda has allowed me to take a step back and look at where the industry is going more objectively," Bleszinski says in a new interview with GamesBeat.

He intends to fundamentally change the way he made games in the Gears of War era, for one, he says. The announcement of the game was a surprise, but in comments he's made publicly since then, Bleszinski's thinking has crystallized.

Bleszinski left Epic Games in 2012 and has since spent his time away from the industry reading and contemplating his next move. He discussed his time away with Gamasutra earlier this year; now that he's back, he's sharing the observations he's made.

"I used to be about flash, about making people cry, about hitting that musical crescendo and all that," Bleszinski says. That has changed: "Now Iím all about systems interacting with systems... It goes back to the greatest games of all time, like chess and go -- easy to learn, a lifetime to master. Thatís the pinnacle of game design."

He wants to create a game for the industry he sees emerging, not the one that has already passed. He borderline dismissive about Sony and Microsoft in the interview; his new game targets PC first and foremost.

The rise of eSports and a burgeoning interest in pro sports has also greatly influenced the direction he's taking the game, he says: "I was watching the enthusiasm of the fans at the Evo championships in Las Vegas last week. Thatís absolutely amazing. The reason why people want to get into it is this tribal nature."

A lot about BlueStreak is "tied to things that Iíve learned from watching pro football, becoming a big fan of football on Sundays. This isnít to say Iím going to make a sports game, but thereís so much to be learned from the fan loyalty, the branding of the teams, the player personalities, the broadcasting, the rules of the game."

In the interview, he reiterated his desire to make a game that is accessible to all with an interest in the genre, yet allows pro players to showcase their skills at the highest levels -- something he said in his Reddit IAmA.

That's inspired by modern eSports, but also has its foundations in the old days of PC gaming, Bleszinski says.

"I used to go to some of the Quake tournaments in Dallas and other places, watching people like Fatal1ty playing professionally. They didnít set out to make that at Id. They set out to make the most airtight multiplayer game possible, and then the community rallied behind it, and then it made that magical leap."

His hope is to make a game that is just as "airtight." To aid in doing so, he's already scooped up a number of shooter veterans.

The full interview on GamesBeat has much more from Bleszinski, including his thoughts on free-to-play game design. It was published alongside an interview with Nexon president and CEO Owen Mahoney, who explains how he signed a deal with the prominent and (after his exit from Epic) much sought-after developer.

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Tom Maxwell
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Since most current displays are limited to 60fps, is it possible to have another Quake 3 level competitive shooter with widespread success? The CRT was a major factor in the precision of the fast, competitive, multiplayer shooter.

Garry Grossmann
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Some people may claim that but that's far from the truth, really.
The only factor here is that running the game at high framerates would give you an advantage over other player, but not because of the higher framerate, but because the game's physics would act differently (at least for you).
The thing is, few people were able to run the game at high framerates at the time, so the refresh rate of the screen was irrelevant. It only made the perceived motion seem smoother (no retinal blur)

Heng Yoeung
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Smells like a lot of money. Consoles the way to go.

Michael Thornberg
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Did you just read what he said as 'Consoles the way to go' rather than 'PC first and foremost'?

Aside from that, I hope he does well with that sci-fi shooter. But there is just something.. call it a hunch... that he relies on his name a bit much. But I hope I am wrong about that.

Garry Grossmann
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Personally putting more hopes into his project than into the upcoming Unreal Tournament.
From their concept art, it struck me as if they were trying to recreate the older Tournaments, which I personally find undesirable. We've had many "bring back the good old days" requests and attempts but they simply did not work - the good old days are there only to be remembered. But they ended for a reason. The strange busyness model might end up being it's most defining feature.

Some people don't like Cliff for things he said. I admit, some of his earlier statements made me eat my chair, but his previous work makes me curious about everything he works on.

Also, I find the sudden shifting back to PC interesting (lots of people and studios are doing it now). If I remember correctly, Cliff used to criticize PC in the past.
But the fact that PC games generate more revenue than any other platform was quite eye-opening for a lot of people. Any arguments about piracy became quite moot and only stress out how immense the player base is on PC.

Arjen Meijer
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Making a shooter enjoyable to watch for an audience is the most tricky of Esports. Remember the CoD4 days, it was horrible to keep track of anything when watching the commentators switch between players in spectator mode.

Think Natural Selection 2's commander mode might be interesting to get inspiration for this. And give a good amount of stats for people to track.