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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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