Cliff Bleszinski has quite a resume. His early work on 90s titles like Jazz Jackrabbit led him to the Unreal franchise and now he is enjoying success as a contributor for titles like Bulletstorm and Shadow Complex. He has been designing games for 20 years (which is pretty remarkable for a 36 year-old), but he is probably best known for the massively popular Gears of War franchise, with the release of Gears of War 3 just around the corner in September. After five years of working on Gears, though, Cliffy B is ready to move on to new things.
“I’ve been itching for a while [to create something new]. When we finished Unreal Tournament I wanted to do another game. It’s just a matter of opportunity and figuring things out. So all hands are on Gears right now, in the foreseeable future. But, we’ll see how things go.”
The success of the Gears franchise is undeniable, having sold millions of copies, with Gears of War 3 poised to sell millions more, and the series has delivered hundreds of millions of memorable single-player, co-op, and multiplayer experiences since the first Gears of War released in 2006. With success like that, developers can become shackled to a popular franchise (look at Bungie and Halo, for example), and working on the same IP for years can be exhausting or dare we say it, boring. The last thing anyone wants is for our favorite worlds and stories to become stale in the hands of their creators.
So, while Gears is best known for its core gameplay as a cover-based third-person shooter, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful without some of the best visuals from this generation of consoles, hyper-masculine aesthetic, and crazy violence, but this hasn’t changed much for the life of the series. As a relatively young designer, It shouldn’t surprise gamers to hear that Bleszinski wants to be remembered for more than just Gears of War.
It’s a foregone conclusion that the franchise has long-term plans – Gears of War 2 writer Joshua Ortega let us know as much at NYCC 2009. “You will not be disappointed in the next ten years,” Ortega said. “It’s a ten-year plan. Gears is long-term. The lancer is the new lightsaber.” Bold words, but whether the series will be helmed by Epic Games in Raleigh, California, or whether that team will get a chance to work on the “other” things that Bleszinski and Co. are “incubating” isn’t yet clear. What is clear is Bleszinski’s wishes to explore other avenues.
“What I would like to see moving forward is if we were to make a new IP or a new Gears game, I would like to figure out a way to get some sort of ancillary thing that ties in with mobile that ties in with the game directly. The future of the game is always with you. And those who are the platform holders, such as Sony and Microsoft and Nintendo, hopefully will understand that …to open their mind[s] and have an iPad app that talks to Xbox, that talks to the PlayStation. So then maybe there’s a mini-game that I can do when I’m in the pub… things like that that contribute to the greater good. That’s where things need to go.”
Sounds like fun, and it would be cool to be able to play a quick, mobile, Gears of War-themed poker game with Cole and Baird to unlock some art, gear, or accessories for the console Gears experience waiting for you at home. Bleszinski has also spoken about his interest in Kinect integration for future titles, but remains cautious with the technology, commenting that he would only pursue it if he had the resources to do it right. Epic and Bleszinki seem dedicated to great, innovative new gaming experiences, so whichever direction they head after Gears of War 3, gamers should win out.
Are you ready to give Epic a break by saying goodbye to this generation of Gears of War titles, or are you hoping to be playing Gears of War sequels, prequels, and spinoffs for another five years?
Source: Industry Gamers, IGN