FAQ: Cliff Bleszinski

FAQ: Cliff Bleszinski
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

December 5th 2011 at 9:00AM

The Gears of War man gets the rapid-fire question treatment

[Develop’s archive of FAQ interviewees can be found here]

Who are you and what do you do?
My name’s Cliff Bleszinski and I get out of bed in the morning and I put on my pants one leg at a time and I take all the efforts I can to destroy the Gears of War franchise. Well, that’s what they’d make you think.

What was the first video game or product that you worked on in the games industry professionally?
I did a game called Palace of Deceit for Windows where you were a young dragon who was being persecuted by an evil wizard and you had to escape from a castle. I sold that out of my mom’s house when I was about 16 or 17.

What was the first video game that you ever played?
It was Space Invaders

What was the most recent video game you played and did you enjoy it?
Deux Ex: Human Revolution. I enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of the first one, and I think the first sequel had its merits, though I think it’s a little bit misunderstood.

I think the new one goes in a very cool direction. I’m a huge fan of the cyberpunk genre.

What’s your favourite game of all time and for what reason?
It’s still Tetris. You can still fire it up and it’s still fun. Well, it’s not fun on iPhone. After the first three levels when you have to perform good moves under pressure it just doesn’t work. I still need buttons.

How many hours a week do you actually get to play video games?
I’d wager between a busy week four-to-six, on a less busy week ten to 15 tops.

What area of the games industry do you feel needs more investment?
I’m interested in seeing gaming experiences that transcend all screens. I want a game where right now I can sit here and play it on my iPad and go back to my 60-inch plasma TV  screen and play it there.

Or I can play it on my phone in the elevator and continue to contribute to the greater good of whatever my game is going to be. He who solves that problem is going to be the big, successful person of the future.

What do you enjoy most about the video games industry?
I enjoy the feedback. I enjoy the fans. It’s a funny thing; if you do great they will love you, if you slight them at all they will violently oppose it.

What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
It’s developer visibility. I want to meet developers. I want to talk to them. I want to pick their brains. Us developers; we were the ones in the back of the class who weren’t going to prom because we were sitting at home on our computers.

We need to get out of the basement and it’s the perception of video gaming being in the basement that drives me crazy.

Of all the games you’ve worked on, which has been your favourite?
The easy answer is Gears of War 3 because of course it’s our baby. But I think it goes back to Jazz Jackrabbit.

What game that you were not involved in would you have like to have worked on?
One of the early Zelda games, because when I was a child in New England Zelda, for me, captured the magic of the summer when I was 13 years old exploring the woods and golf courses.

What interests, hobbies and collections do you have unrelated to video games?
I collect antique keys. I was going to get a third tattoo. The two tattoos I have were just flash shit that I got when I thought I was cool.

Back when everybody was getting tramp stamps. But my third tattoo is actually going to be an antique key.

It goes back to a childhood chasing keys in video games and there was always that antique looking skeleton key that was in the game; that completely overdesigned one.