TE: How does that inform who you're designing for? Your experience with playing games and not having the time to pursue all the achievements - does that inform your design in terms prioritizing certain design choices and not making as deep an experience?
CB: Once you establish the core loop of the game, the classic "what you're doing for 30 seconds over and over again," you need to then switch it up. I'm not diagnosed ADD, but I have a very ... my mind just needs to continue to be entertained. When we're doing level walkthroughs, if I find myself thinking, "Oh, OK, on the way home today I need to pick up eggs and butter," then I'm like, "Well crap, this level's not keeping my interest. I need to have something happen at this moment."
And what that's pushed for is a game that, while it may not be very heavily scripted in some ways, also moment to moment has things happening one thing after another. Always something bursting through the door, always something chasing you, always a new creature being introduced, new weapons, new dialogue ... there's always something happening that you can latch onto as the proverbial water cooler moment.
I think when players sit down and play Gears 2, the "describability" of the level will be even higher than the first, and they'll be able to just sit there and talk about the part with this and the sequence with that, and the moment when this happened to that guy. I think it's going to be one of the most memorable experiences that has been captured in games.
TE: The ending: cliffhanger or no cliffhanger?
CB: There might be a little bit of a cliffhanger. It's a fucking dark game. And that's not to say it's all emo and the characters are sitting around cutting themselves, listening to like Shiny Toy Guns or anything like that. But at the same time, there are moments of levity in there. Gus Coletrain has some great moments in this game. There's some wonderful interaction with Baird, Marcus and Dom, and certain characters are back that were in the first game. I don't want to spoil too much, but there's some nice giggle or laughable moments in the game, too.
TE: Gears 1 was kind of a departure for you guys, particularly from the shareware days, and also Unreal. Unreal had a very strong PC and PC-mod community. Gears was your first major console title, and obviously Gears 2 is going to be released on consoles, so you could say the focus of the company has shifted in that direction. Do you see that as a general trend in the industry?
CB: I don't think PC gaming is dying. I think it's evolving. I think it's one of those situations where things like Steam seem to be doing rather well, digital distribution is helping them a lot.
At the same time, right now we look for partners with our games, and with Microsoft we have a partner that wanted to not only sell games but also wanted to sell and establish a console base with the Xbox 360 in this war. And with Microsoft's support, A) us providing a great game, B) them providing amazing marketing support, come together you have almost 5 million copies of games sold, and you have a new IP established. ... I don't know if people really know the amount of risk that was involved with us doing the first Gears. We hadn't done a single-player game in a while. It was a new IP, with a new universe. It was the next generation of our engine, which we hadn't shipped a game with yet. It was a new console, and we were also in the process of merging with Scion, which was the company Mike [Capps] was heading up at the time.