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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 3 of 5 Next

That's something I think games can do really well. You know, people are exploring environments. A corridor is not enough. That's not a new revelation.

CB: Oh, I know, but if I can get on my soapbox for a second to give something out that you haven't really alluded to yet, the fact of the matter is if you're going to make a shooter, you better make sure that those 30 seconds that you do over and over again are more fun than anything else in the game.

Like, you could take Halo, right, open up with the grenade, soften him up with bullets, melee -- that is fun, and you can just do that over and over again, right? And we are getting to the point where we're nailing that with Bulletstorm, with kicking a guy, sliding, leashing, and shooting him, things like that.

And I've played a lot of shooters that just want to be a shooter, but don't really ever nail that. It's like, okay, well, I should want to be the rat with the feeder pellet who's addicted to that one little thing in your game.

The sound needs to be perfect, and, you know, to give the Bungie guys props, their grenade sound is still one of my favorite ones in all of games, because it has that little high-pitch pshew at the beginning, and I just want to throw a grenade just to hear that sound.

You look at the Gears headshot, you look at the heads exploding in Bulletstorm, the sound of the thump in the leash. "Oh, I want to do that again." That's good sound game design, that a lot of people miss.

I'm not a violent person, but I love chainsawing guys in Gears of War because it's got such a payoff.

CB: I've always said it's the equivalent of Gallagher on stage with the watermelon, and popping it. It's silly and fun and "Ew! I got blood on me!"

When it comes to designing games, I've been thinking about this. You hear about this, obviously. Nintendo harps on about this, obviously for good reason. How much time do you have to spend prototyping out?

Mike [Capps] did his presentation at TGS last year, where he showed some of the gray box stuff for Gears 2, and explained some prototypes of changing cover. How much goes into that with these games?

CB: An absolute ton. It's kind of the core. Lee Perry did a talk at GDC about this. We call it a "proof of concept" process.

Somebody writes a pitch. "Okay, here's this one-pager about these puff balls that cause enemies to fight each other that we showed earlier." And I'm like, "Well, I don't know. I don't know if that's cool."

Our Kismet scripting language, to pimp our engine a little bit here shamelessly, allows the designer, by himself, to rapidly get something together without any coder involvement, so then when he goes to the programmer or somebody else and says, "Hey, this is going to be cool," and they're like, "I don't know," then he's like, "Well, look at this video. Look at this little demo I made." "Oh, I get it."

Then click [snaps finger], and then you can do all these different rooms with a proof of concept to kind of prove all the different uses of it. To me, you're failing early and failing often. You're finding out what doesn't work, to sift through and pan for gold. When you find the gold, you hang onto it and figure out how you can combine it all into one big... gold statue, I guess? [laughs]

[laughs] No, Scrooge McDuck-style bin, is I think what we're looking for.

CB: Yeah, a dive in the gold.

So, these guys are in Poland. How does it work for them? Do they have to come to you? They can't like, you know, grab you. "Come look over my shoulder and see."

CB: No, and I wouldn't want to micromanage them that much. I do enough of that on-site at Epic, going over somebody's shoulder and being like, "Ooh! Let's do this and that and the other!"

But, you know, I have regularly scheduled meetings where we look at the latest art assets. I read the scripts. I've played the latest version of the game. Like, so much of the game is driven by them, but occasionally I'm able to come in.

Like when they were talking about the planet and the kick, I'm like, "You need giant cacti everywhere!" And Adrian's like, "Ooh! That's cool! We can do that." I'm trying to get him to make sure the female character's tank top gets a little like sweaty as she goes, throughout. You know, just to kind of add that little bit of detail. Who knows if that will happen. But you know, just little things like that to kind of sprinkle a little bit of that special sauce in the project.

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