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Cliff Bleszinski: Creativity, Design, and Reality
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Cliff Bleszinski: Creativity, Design, and Reality

May 13, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

If you look at another one of your licensees, there's Mass Effect. It definitely was more shooter-ified in Mass Effect 2.

CB: Yeah...

Chris Remo has asked the question: Can you have that kind of narrative in a pure shooter? Strip away all the RPG elements, but just have the narrative?

CB: Well, I guess you can kind of say... Well, taking away the RPGs and having the narrative is kind of what Gears is in many ways, right? And you'll see a little bit more RPG elements in the next Gears game that are very light. That's a total aside.

The thing that was cool was that Mass Effect is kind of an RPG for me, with the cover-based shooting. I think there's a reason why it's been successful. Because gamers love Gears.

It's like well, here's something that's like Gears, but even has more depth, and a different setting. It's Star Wars for this new generation, right? Well, and the addition of the potential for having sex in a video game is also very powerful.

I've heard you talk about this. You were an old school console gamer back in the day. One thing I personally like about Gears -- obviously I haven't played Bulletstorm so I can't speak to it -- is that I feel it blends the expertise of the Western school of game design, the shooting/PC heritage, with what I would consider a more console game feel.

CB: Yeah, when Marcus slams into cover, it's kind of Mario slamming his head on a block, right? In Gears 2 -- I think Steve Totilo made that analogy about Gears 2, "if Miyamoto had made a shooter", because there's parts in it where you shoot down fruit to cause these big stone creatures to move so you can use them as cover, all these kinds of creative solutions.Same thing with the razor hail, and staying inside.

I was born and raised... [and] many of the things that I loved growing up were Japanese, from video games to toys and things like that. Maybe that's coming through in my DNA.

Yeah, I feel like it is. I was trying to talk to someone, very inarticulately, about why I like Gears of War and why I don't as much like some of the other shooter games. What I said was, "It feels like a video game." She was just like, "What are you talking about?" And that's as far as I got.

CB: You're getting into very intangible things about look and feel and pacing and writing that you could write a retardedly long dissertation on, right? Gears is what it is, and it has its silly moments of chainsawing people, but it also has its most poignant moments.

The number one thing that the gamers that we surveyed loved about Gears, was cited continually, was the story, which I find incredibly gratifying because the number one thing that a lot of gamers love to criticize about Gears is its story.

Yeah, that's interesting. Talking more broadly about narrative, David Ellis from 343 Industries recently did an informal poll on Twitter, and he found that people will finish games for the story. He was surprised to hear that, because there's a general low opinion of them.

CB: I'm not surprised, because "what happens next" has purely been motivation for thousands of years that man has been able to talk. So, that's one more thing we can use to motivate players in a game.

I wanted to know who the Origami Killer was, and that was a huge power... It's the law of economy of characters. It was clearly one of the four characters in the game, but I wanted to know, right? And that, sometimes, is enough.

Do you feel satisfied with like the way you guys have explored narrative or is that something you want to move forward with your titles?

CB: This is one thing that Lee Perry, who's the senior gameplay designer on Gears, and I have been beating this drum with Adrian [Chmielarz] and People Can Fly, this implied narrative is more effective and cheaper than doing very well staged cinematics, right?

So, we're actually, in both games, planning on having a pass of somebody going through and doing the whole like "What happened here?" Right? Go into a room, and you find a character who's dead with a shotgun in their mouth with a note left behind. You know, those kinds of things that games like System Shock and BioShock always do so well, and that's something that we had a little of in our previous games but...

And Resident Evil.

CB: Oh yeah. Of course, of course. But I think you're going to continue see more of it, especially with Bulletstorm and the new city. Like, seeing the panic of everybody as they evacuated.

One of my favorite moments from BioShock 1 was coming off the bathysphere and seeing all the suitcases left there and all the panic of everybody trying to get out of there, which is, you know, kind of like, you know, Miss Saigon, Fall of Saigon, desperate grab-onto-the-chopper type moment. We're going to really explore that a lot in Bulletstorm.

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