Cliff Bleszinski: The Escapist Interview

Russ Pitts | 13 May 2008 20:15
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TE: How do you balance that with what's a bigger, broader industry now? We're going to have 30- or 40-year-old people who haven't played videogames. How do we give them what they're looking for while satisfying the people who want an experience like Gears of War?

CB: I think what we do with Gears, when we talk about the sci-fi clichés or stereotypes, what we're doing here is we're taking things that are often seen as cliché or stereotypical and putting our own unique twist on them. I don't want Gears to be too weird. I have a tremendous amount of respect for games like Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, but I see those as almost not games, but art. To the point where it's not in the realm of commercial art. It's just art.


We're making the accessible blockbuster, and we're painting our characters with far broader strokes because we keep our cut scenes short and to the point. Our dialogue is snappy and we cut to the chase. We don't have the time necessarily to pontificate on who this guy is for 20 minutes at the opening of the game, because the player picks up the controller and he wants to get in and he wants to get action right from the get-go. So that's what we give the players, and over the course of the game, you start to get to know these guys a little better and you have a better sense of who they are.

I mean, bringing it full circle, Gears is ... yes, it's about guys who are these kind of big, bad space-marine-looking characters, but at the same time there are a lot of secondary themes in the background about struggle for energy sources and themes of loss and retribution and whatnot, and I think that those who play the game and want that will find it there.

TE: So it's not necessarily about depth of story, or even presence of story vs. absence of story; it's more about how it's presented that differentiates your game from, say, a BioShock for example ...

CB: I think BioShock was completely about the passive narrative; there were only two and a half actual cut scenes in the entire game, whereas the rest of the game's narrative was audio logs that you would find or things you would hear over a speaker. Looking at how BioShock handled all of that, there is a little bit of that coming through in Gears 2 as far as the players being able to locate COG tags and read the name of the soldier on them, or find a scrap of paper that's a brief love letter from a soldier back home to his girlfriend and things like that, as well as certain sections of the levels that have PA systems where the player overhears what's going on in the environment.

Basically, when the player's playing the game, you don't just have cut scenes to tell them the story; you also have dialogue between the soldiers. You have things you read on the wall. You have things you find in the world, things you just happen to overhear that help kind of add up to that overall construct of what the world and the universe ultimately are.

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