Interviews// Gears of War's Cliff Bleszinski

Posted 29 Sep 2008 18:15 by
Were there any inspirations that helped create that narrative, such as films or books?

Cliff Bleszinski: I think if you look at Gears in terms of the chainsaws, blood, monsters and the action, there’s a link between a few films there. I mean you have your Aliens and your Predators and your Starship Troopers (resemblances in Gears of War 2), right? But there’s a little bit of Band of Brothers, and a little Saving Private Ryan there, and there’s even some sadness there in a style of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or The Vanishing in regards to Dom’s story. It’s sort of a combination of all of these that helped set Gears of War 2.

Microsoft seems to be changing its focus towards what some would call the ‘casual’ market – would you say Epic is doing the same thing?

Cliff Bleszinski: We’re in an interesting state with the business right now, where you can see the success of Guitar Hero and the Wii whereas before you’d have people never touching games or simply stopping at Ms. Pacman or something. And you have older people like grannies playing games now, too, and stuff.

A lot of gamers get very sensitive and defensive about (the way the market trend is heading) and hardcore developers do too. We’re all in favour of it, in that I think anybody who’s playing a video game that they may not have before is a good thing.

We would have intentionally made the tutorial more forgiving and we would have made the Casual difficulty more forgiving regardless of Microsoft’s platform strategy and the state of the market.

It’s in our best interests to make sure the game is as accessible as it can be. At the end of the day, we put those narrative elements in there because we think they’re compelling, but I think it’s something your average person beyond a hardcore gamer would be interested in.

Is Epic in a position where it can discuss the things you'd like to see in the next Microsoft console?

Cliff Bleszinski: Well, Epic were somewhat influential in the development of the Xbox 360 where we pushed for them to have more memory in the console, which ultimately cost Microsoft a gob of money (laughs).

We talk to them about a lot of things, and when I say the next controller could have less buttons I mean it, because we could have done Gears without some of them. We could have done a context-sensitive thing where the [Y] Button could have been [X] when there’s nothing else around or something.

You could do all sorts of things in lieu of buttons, like maybe voice control commands or cameras that allow you to move your hands with a little motion control. Those other things supplement the experience – I think games designers need to be smart about context-sensitivity and analysing the complexity of controls, as well as being very forgiving with tutorials.
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