Cliff Bleszinski

September 14, 2012

I am Cliff Bleszinski, Design Director at Epic Games. Co-creator of Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, and Gears of War. AMA.

Here’s proof:

I've been in the videogame industry for 20 years.

I'm currently working on the Gears of War prequel "Judgment" as well as our upcoming PC game "Fortnite." I'm also giving feedback on our other projects such as "Infinity Blade: Dungeons", "Rampart: The Movie: The Game" and other unnanounced titles. Ask me anything; even non industry related questions.

Finally, we’re going to give that Retro Lancer away to a Redditor in this thread. The only qualification is that you act like a decent human - no trolls please.

I’ll be back here to start answering questions at 1:30 p.m. EST.



EDIT: Okay, I've got to go now guys. THANK YOU for all of the love. Seriously. You've gotten me to open up about a lot of stuff that I wasn't planning on talking about!

For those of you who want to get in the biz JUST DO IT. Start making something TONIGHT. Grab UDK or whatever's best for you and START. YOU are the next generation of innovation and I expect to see many of you at GDC at the Indie games festival with your own games in the coming years!

The winner of the lancer is Cheesiepoofs. DreamvsPS2 - you got the Transformer. Someone from Epic will be in touch to coordinate sending the goodies over.

When are we getting a return to the PC FPS glory that was Unreal? Hell I would like a return to Unreal Tournament too. One that is developed for PC first, and consoles second.

Edit: Thanks for the reply Cliff. You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

It seems as if you're asking about two entirely different games. The first Unreal was more of a single player exploratory experience whereas Unreal Tournament was a multiplayer focused game with a "ladder" for the single player. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

I was quoted recently on a Fortnite panel about the first Unreal and what a reboot might look like. Having really grown into a big Bethesda fan lately (Skyrim rocked my world) I couldn't help but wonder what a reboot of Unreal would be like if it was more "SciFi-Rim." Sure, there would be shooting involved, but exploration would almost be more important. Get back to that sense of wonder that the first game had. (Caves and castles and crashed ships are basically your dungeon instances, whereas the "overworld" is less intense.) Put it on a high end PC and prepare yourself for amazing visuals never before seen in real time.

As far as a new UT, it's hard to say. Shooters and their sequels are a tricky beast. Often you wind up upsetting your core whenever you make a sequel because sometimes you change things the users didn't want changed, or the users are so very in love with their memory of the original game that there's nothing you can do to live up to the first game. This happened with Counterstrike: Source, Quake 2, Unreal Tournament 2003, heck, even Halo 2.

(All that said, I do personally believe that UT3 suffered a bit from an identity crisis in regards to whether or not it was a PC or Console game.)

So if, when? I don't know, honestly. We're understaffed right now for all of the projects we've got going on so I can't say if or when it may happen. I do love that IP and do hope to return to Na Pali some day.

p.s. The delta between the current crop of consoles and a high end PC is incredibly obvious now. Looking at Hawken at PAX versus the other console games and this difference is startling. FYI Fortnite is a PC first game.

THIS Is exactly the comment I was looking for because It's exactly how I feel.


This is the sequel catch 22. The fans clamor for "the same game, re-skinned" but if you do that the naysayers will say it's just "Sequel 1.5."

Quake has much better movement mechanics to UT and far superior weapon balance. Give quake live a look if you're into fast paced arena shooters.

Keeping 2 weapons around that perform the same basic function (lg and sniper)is bad practice balance wise because you have 2 weapons to keep in check, 2 binds for them and generally adding complexity for the sake of complexity.

I know, that nailgun totally ruled over the Quad damaged rocket! ;D

I would say that your UT sequels have suffered an identity crisis because you've build each of the UT sequels with a console first mentality that is demonstrably visible from the GFX to the UI. All of them have been poorer because of it IMO.

That's the problem with cross platform development.

Are you looking forward to the Wii U, as a gamer and developer?

Being raised on All Things Nintendo I will always I love all things Nintendo.

I'll be watching the Wii U closely. I think Nintendo may have initially lost a little of their core with the Wii for a bit, honestly, and they seem to have realized this. I believe they also recognize that we live in a "multi-screen" culture hence the controller design. I played ZombiU at PAX and it was promising (even though the controls could use a little loving!) so we'll have to wait and see.

I sometimes wonder if we'll find ourselves in a PC/Phone/Tablet future, honestly.

The Legend of Zelda.

He spoke about it at GDC 2012. I checked, though, and that particular session is not offered for free, I believe.

Yes, the original Zelda. It felt like a mirror of my childhood growing up in New England. The sense of exploration, the hidden caves and items, the music, all of it. Sometimes I'll go to Youtube and call up the title screen and get chills at the goodness that is the opening 8 bit theme.

What happened with Jazz Jackrabbit? That was my favourite game growing up. Any chance that game will be reborn?

Not any time soon. We're (fortunate) slaves to our success here at Epic with great franchises like Gears and Infinity Blade. It seems like a risky bet. Could we see a 2D platform game return and really move that many units, or would it just be a cult hit?

We make games as a labor of love, but we also try to weigh the choice of what we build based upon a solid understanding of the business. How could Jazz exist and flourish in this market? I don't know, honestly.

One idea that George Broussard and I discussed years ago was to bring back Jazz as an FPS, Jumping Flash style.

But yeah, we'll do that in our "spare" time. ;)

This is what I came here for. I didn't like UT after the 1999 version, and I'm not a GoW fan. I was a huge fan of Jazz growing up. I loved that game. I would love a mobile, XBL or PSN game, or even HD graphics on Steam or the PC in some way.

Hey Cliffy, cmon man. Cmon.

You should check out "Dust" on XBLA. The guy who made it was an animator on Jazz 2 and it feels like a spiritual sequel.

Opportunity cost is a real thing, sir.

Kickstarter can't give Cliff time. Only money. Money isn't his limiting factor.

This guy gets it.

I haven't had a chance to play it myself, but I've seen the viral videos. That mod is a prime example of my theory that "bugs not withstanding, there's a direct correlation between how cool your game is and how many interesting Youtube videos it can yield."

I loved the "Never trust anyone in DayZ, especially if they have a helicopter" video. Pure gold.

So, put the survival and social aspects aside for a second and step back and consider that we're in a world where a mod like that CAN blow up thanks to the connected nature of the world in which we live. A handful of guys can now have a great idea for the next big thing and put it out and it can explode seemingly overnight! (We had seen this before with mods like Counterstrike, but it's only become more and more frequent lately.)

My wife and I were very hooked on Minecraft for months. It's brilliant and I have a lot of respect for Notch and the crew at Mojang (and 4J!) and I find it thrilling that unique games like the aforementioned can flourish now.

As a Raleigh native, I was a bit surprised to find that Epic had an office in the Triangle area. What is it about NC that is attractive to a company like Epic?

EDIT: I have realized the answer on my own. It's because of all the bacon isn't it.

The cost of living is really reasonable, the city continues to grow, the weather is nice, and the food/entertainment scene is exploding, and the schools are good. What's not to like?

(Plus we're like one of four things in town people seem to like to talk about.)

I live literally across the street. Do you ever do tours for random strangers/nonindustry folks?

Did you meet iron man?

Unfortunately we don't do those sorts of tours. And no, when the alleged movie was maybe being filmed at our office I was in LA at E3.

I did meet Don Cheadle at the Entertainment Weekly party at Comic Con.

It is bizarre how often EPIC comes up in conversations I have at NCSU. Out of curiosity, what are the other three things?

The colleges, The Ale House, and the Hurricanes.

Trust me, active reload sniper in Gears 1 had to go. I speak from personal owning experience. Once you had the timing of active reloads, it was an easy one hit down. Too easy in fact.

Exactly. People would fire one shot into the sky, active reload, and then cap people in the body for a free down without any sort of warning/telegraph. The torque bow has a "charge" time, a loud sound, and a big glowy light to warn you that they're charging. The sniper, as of Gears 3, has a "glint" to help with that telegraph.

There's a rule in a game, especially in multiplayer that we try to stick to that says "the easier or more powerful the gun the more clear the telegraph needs to be."

And Cereal, we didn't try to "focus Gears 3 towards the casual gamer." We always want to embrace our current fans while expanding our audience. It's a tricky balance to find. We introduced TDM but also remained many of our classic modes to try to find that balance.

To be fair, the campaign in Gears 3 may have been a tad too easy for our core, which is something we're balancing for in Gears: Judgment.

Do you intend to drown your userbase in bullshit DLC and subscription fee's to play your game with your next installment of "The Same Game About Generic Space Marines Shooting at Aliens With a New Number In Front of it" like you have in the past?

Gears' characters are not marines, nor are they from Space. They're Seran, and the Locust are not aliens.

How do you keep your teeth so damn white?

Crest Whitestrips. Also, floss.

What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Pralines and Dick.

You have unlimited funds and processing power, what film/novel/comic book do you make into a game?


What is the best advice for a possible future game programmer?

Stay out of the bar scene.

Can you elaborate?

I had this chat with my teenaged nephew the other day. He asked me to send him a picture of my car. So I sent him a picture of all of them with the statement "Not to preach to you, but everyone I know who is this successful was working hard at your age and not partying." I barely went out in my teens and 20's. I was driven and I wanted to make games more than anything else.

What is a movie that you would love to make into a video game and why?

The Big Lebowski, for every system. It'd tie all the gaming platforms together.

FORTnITE represents a pretty big change in direction from Epic. Are you tired of the over-muscled freaks of games gone by, or just wanting to branch out?

Or did you just come to realise how much freakin money Notch was making and want to get in on that action?

I'm thrilled to be able to work on something different. I'm currently dividing my time on our various projects. We just had a playtest of Fortnite in our war room yesterday and it's really starting to come together. The visual style alone excites me after living in the Gears universe for 7+ years.

Again, I never wanted to build a game with muscle-bound characters; the art department produced the concepts and models and they simply felt good slamming into walls and cutting one another in half with chainsaw guns. I do hope that in the future we can get some of the "dudebro" out of Gears, to be honest.

One time at E3 I saw Notch take his hat off and 100 dollar bills fell out, true story.

It was amusing you see you scramble to pick it up.

(Also, I love you, man)

You're just sad I didn't crash your rave at PAX. ;)

Hey CliffyB, will we be seeing a resurgence of ?

I wish. I just stopped updating that site one day because I didn't want it to be my legacy, I wanted the games I worked on to be what I was known for. I guess I was way ahead of the "cats take over the internet" trend in hindsight!

Hey Cliff, it's Max Scoville from The Destructoid Show.

I drunkenly suggested this to you at GDC, but when are you gonna make a line of functioning NERF guns based on weapons from various Epic Games? I want replica Flak Cannon that shoots Ballzooka balls and a Bio Rifle that shoots Nickelodeon Gak. Basically what I'm asking here is can you use your fast fortune to do an real-life HD remake of my childhood?

Also: Jazz Jackrabbit reboot in Unreal 4? Fortnite's looking like a playable Pixar movie, when are we gonna get some bunnies up in this motherfucker?

Also also: You seemed impressed with the Oculus Rift VR headset. Any plans to like, do stuff with it? With your games, and shit?

(This is the closest I'll ever get to actually interviewing you because I know you're still mad about that time I took a shit all over Gears and Bulletstorm.)

  1. Getting NERF to make guns based on an M-rated game would be tricky, but I sure would love to do it. We honestly haven't approached them yet, thanks for the reminder.

  2. Already answered the infamous Jazz question at the top.

  3. I think Oculus is awesome and VR is set for a BIG comeback in the next few years. Not announcing anything formally today, though.

  4. Are you still mad because I blocked Jim Sterling on Twitter?

What's your greatest triumph that you've never openly discussed with the press? What's about your greatest loss? How did you overcome it?

My greatest triumph would have to be finding and eventually marrying my amazing wife. I still have no idea how I landed her.

My greatest loss came in two losses, actually. First was the sudden loss of my father at the age of 15 to heart issues. Second was the sudden loss of my 20-year-old nephew a couple of years back to a car accident. The first motivated me to do what I do so that hopefully he's looking down on me and is proud of me, the latter reminded me how important family is and how fragile life is and to live every day as if it were your last.

Hey Cliff! The thing I love most about Gears of War 3 is that there are female Gears in battle. What was in the decision making process that allowed female gears in battle? And in "Judgment" will we see more females out in the battlefield? I always felt that is humanity was as jacked as it looked in the first game, that women would pick up arms too, it was nice to see that in GoW3! Saw you in the Comic Con Panel this year! I was volunteering (guarding the doors!) so I woulda asked that question in person if I had a chance. :)

We honestly didn't put females in battle in Gears 1 and 2 because our animation department was worried that we'd require an entirely new animation set for them. (We didn't have the memory for it.)

When we started Gears 3 I was hoping to revisit that issue and we did a test with a female mesh on the existing animation set and it just ... worked.

As a side note I consider myself and Epic as "thought leaders" in regards to how women are depicted in our medium. I can appreciate a bikini clad warrior as much as the next guy, but in our games I want to make sure that proportions are more realistic and that women can kick ass just as well as the guys. Maybe that's the Joss Whedon fanboy coming out in me.

Judgment features Sophia Hendrick, who is a strong and fiery redhead who kicks butt.

Can I have one of the toys from your office? PLEASE

Sure, you can have this one. Our folks will contact you shortly for shipping details.

What is it like drinking with Hideo Kojima?

Do you ever say "BEER ME KOJI" too?

It's kind of surreal, actually. I usually wind up getting somewhat sloshed and wind up telling him and his guys how everything that influenced me growing up came from Japan. (Nintendo, Shogun Warriors, Star Blazers, Transformers, Godzilla, etc...)

He seems to favor bloody marys, whereas I go for vodka soda.

At PAX there was a 25th anniversary party for Metal Gear and I somehow wound up being recruited to give a toast to Kojima. I was shaking afterwards. I remember seeing the first ads for "Ultra's" Metal Gear in the Nintendo Fun club and here I am, toasting Kojima at one of his career milestones. It was humbling and amazing.

Did you ever find out if this Kojima comment was targeted towards you?

Yes. Throughout the years the press has taken quotes out of context to try to turn it into some Real Housewives of New Jersey drama between us but we've remained friends throughout it all.

Why don't your games have color?

Troll. :)

Who was responsible for Dom's death? We want justice!

I'll claim that one. I was eating brunch one day and I texted Rod Fergusson "Dom's got to die." I think the seed was put in my head by a Gears fan that I met at a tweetup in NYC at Union Square months prior. I asked the folks "What do you think is going to happen in Gears 3?" and one guy said "Dom's gotta die dude" and I replied "Why?" and he said "Stuff's gotta happen."

The more tangible rationale that I have for killing Dom comes from a fun story. I remember one time I was chatting with Joss Whedon about Buffy and he said that they realized that "Buffy Suffer = Show Good." I suppose that I helped facilitate that for Marcus.

So have you ever had an original thought?

Have you ever posted anything positive? Hugs!

How do you feel about chest-high walls?

They make for stellar cover.

How did you and your team take the luke-warm reception of Bulletstorm?

It sold fairly well and as the fella below mentioned it had a good critical reception.

The kill with skill system was rather unique and innovative, however, when it comes to shooting it's really hard to encourage a gamer to "play with their food" because we're trained in our shooting games to be as ruthlessly efficient as possible.

The marketing (which I was partially responsible for!) was also a bit off kilter for the game. The problem with the unique language in the title (Rick Remender did a stellar job on the writing, BTW) is that it becomes the standout thing that can outshine the graphics, world, gameplay and story. Suddenly you're the game with "Dicktits" in it, marketing latches onto that, and people might not take the property as serious as you'd like.

Also, I believe we should have had a versus multiplayer in the game.

Alright, StopYouAnimal, look cool man, look cool

'Sup broskie?

I'm kidding, but seriously, thanks for doing this AMA. Now my question:

You're obviously famous, what moment did it hit you? What was the moment were you said "I'm famous." Was it after meeting and having lunch with a CEO of a fortune 500 company, being offered special treatment etc. Tell us some being famous stories.

If I saw you out on the street and I just wanted to thank you for all that you've done for the gaming industry (including Gears of War.. that game shaped my high school haha) what would be the best way to do so (assuming you're by yourself). "Hey man I really appreciate what you do, can I buy you a beer or ten?"

Any awesome hobbies that you have that are "not normal" or that you're really passionate about? Does Cliff go fishing in Florida every other week because of his love of fishing?

I have many more, but there are so many other questions here I'll stop there.

Thanks again!

I'm not "real" famous, I'm more "niche" famous, I suppose. It's the best kind of fame, honestly, because I get recognized only a handful of times a week IRL and a whole lot more at conventions. At PAX everyone was so nice and friendly that Lauren and I had to eventually zip up our Minecraft Creeper hoodies in order to get to where we were going. I'd say it first hit me when I was getting out of my car after Gears 1 came out and some college dudes driving by yelled out "Gears of War rules!" This was when I had that silly blonde hair.

There was the time I was at a pub in London and the bartender just bought all my drinks and said he loved my work.

I've met a lot of celebs, most of whom are quite nice and friendly, even made friends with a few.

If you saw me in the street just come up and say hi. It's the creepy hovering that kind of weirds me out. I'll always take a beer that's not roofied.

As for hobbies, my wife and I love beachcombing on the Carolina shore. Sounds silly, but it's like a relaxing little treasure hunt. I like to boogie board and would like to learn how to surf one day. I try to make it out to the coast as often as possible as it's truly my happy place, especially when there's a full moon. The beach always feels like the ending of Contact on those nights, and I half expect an alien to walk up that's in the shape of my long lost dad.

I try to make it out to the coast as often as possible as it's truly my happy place, especially when there's a full moon. The beach always feels like the ending of Contact on those nights, and I half expect an alien to walk up that's in the shape of my long lost dad.

I am still only half-way through with Gears 3 (promised to co-op it all the way with a friend), so maybe I'm missing something, but you should incorporate moments like those (albeit, less humorous and more sentimental) into your games.

On that note, was the relationship between Marcus and his dad in any way consciously influenced by your relationship with your dad?

When you beat Gears 3 and watch the ending I think you'll find that my beach answer may resonate more.

Damnit Cliff. Right in the feels man. Idk if you'll read this or not, but I feel like letting you know.. one of my best friends and I played through each Gears game together. It was pretty much to the point where when Gears 3 came out, we both took off work/school to make sure we had time to marathon it. When we hit the midway point...there was pure silence. I think a single manly tear fell from each our eye. It was like we had both lost a best friend. You guys touched on it with Gears2, but that caliber of sadness was almost refreshing and unexpected. It made me realize there was so much more to gears than the testosterone. So thanks for that. Also - screw what everyone says, Gear's color palette is perfect for what its trying to convey. "HURRRr COLORS". This is war. Its grim, grey, bleak and visceral. Thanks for everything.

Thanks, that means a lot to me. People sometimes only see the muscles, the blood, or the silly dialogue that we put in. The whole IP is very personal for us and it bums us out when people dismiss it.

are you still going out with a 19 year old? do you two still go together like chocolate and peanut butter?

Chantal and I broke up years ago. I'm now married to Lauren, and she's 25.

Loved you on Joe Rogan's podcast. Doing another one anytime soon?

For those interested.

Joe's in town at the end of the month. Tweet him at @joerogan and remind him to get up with me.

Fortnight looks like it might be an apology for that

I've spent the last year hailing that the PC is "next-gen" and telling everyone that Fortnite is a PC first game.

How is your fantasy football team doing?

I'm 0-1. 9th out of 12th. #FUNFACT: The guy in last place worked on Madden.

How did you meet your wife?

She won the "miss video game" competition a few years back. I saw her pop up on all of the videogame blogs and said "That's going to be my new girlfriend."

Who has the better wardrobe; you or Randy Pitchford?

Randy's a paisley guy, I'm more of a solid color guy, so I'd have to go with Randy.

Do you work out? It looks like your in pretty good shape

I try to hit the gym 2-3 times a week, but with the travel schedule it's tough. My wife and I almost always go together.

WOW finally im here for an AMA for someone i've wanted to talk to for years. Im such a massive fan of yours you have no idea.

1) How did you get to where you are in the videogame industry? How do you even get selected for leading the development of a videogame?

2) What point in your career did you go from being hired to make a game to being able to get games made? Have you gotten to that point? I imagine you've got quite the sway in the industry after all this time.

3) How much of development gets affected by the people funding the game itself? Is it just timelines or is it common for them to step in to make cuts to affect things like the target audience etc.?

Anything you want to answer would be absolutely incredible. Honestly I got nerd chills when I saw you were doing an AMA and it was only 9 minutes old.

Edit: Holy shit I just got back from class.. i cant believe it.. this has made my life... on top of that my birthday is in 2 weeks... i just.. i have no words. Mr. Blezinski you are my hero. Thank you.

  1. I kicked and screamed and clawed my way to where I am today. As I mentioned below, I seldom went out in my teens and 20's and focused on my career. I was never very good at graphics or code but I did both of them anyways and later found folks much better at both that I could work with. Remember, I've been at this for TWENTY YEARS now, as I started at 17. The one constant in this business (and in technology) is change.

  2. I just made my own games, it's that simple. I also realized the value of being visible in the industry at an early age. I used to be a drama geek in high school. I played Mercutio in our high school's production of "Romeo and Juliet" and was a lead in our production of "Rumors" as well as "Ten Little Indians." (FUNFACT: I was in drama with Courtney Ford ("Dexter" "True Blood") and we still keep in touch. I got her to do Maria's voice in Gears 2.) Anyways I use those drama chops for interviews and stage presentations and what not.

  3. Epic is NOT the typical developer as we are the ones who decide when our games ship as well as the games that we work on. We use a combination of gut and market conditions while also balancing what's best from the engine side of the business to decide what's next.

Can you help me settle a 5 year old dispute?!?

Me and my buddies used to play Call of Duty 3 (terrible game, we know) with someone who claimed to be you. The game sucked so bad we made up game types like hide and seek...

Your username had the word 'garnet' in it. Was that you?!

We've debated it...well rather infrequently to be honest... For years!

No, that wasn't me.

FUNFACT: I used to play Quake 3 online with the nickname "GAYPRIDE" in rainbow colors. Used to drive the folks insane online, because I was rather good and would kick their butts.

Is there anything for the Gears series you wish had been kept off the cutting room floor?

I wanted Gears 1's multiplayer to be more like Counterstrike in regards to having a purchasing system between rounds. That was cut out of Gears 1, and instead weapons were placed in the maps.

What was your inspiration for the Gears of War series?

In hindsight the failure of my first marriage was a big influence, to be honest.

Care to elaborate?

Don't marry the first girl you ever seriously date.

What person in the game industry have you learned the most from and what was the most important thing you learned from them?

Tricky one. I can cite one lesson that I learned from Miyamoto by way of Ken Lobb. Ken taught me that Miyamoto always praises the idea of an "upwards sine curve" of challenge in games. They're easy at first, then they ramp up the challenge, then once you've mastered the goal they should dip down and get easy for a bit before repeating. I try to apply that to most everything I work on.

p.s. I'm available to return to your show any time you'll have me. ;)

As "CliffyB" you've been put up by the video game press as some kind of "rock star" of the video game making community. Are you comfortable with that persona, or do you just put up with it to sell games? Would you rather be seen as a serious (if a bit boring) designer like Will Wright, Sid Meier or Shigeru Miyamoto?

I'm comfortable with the "persona" aspect of what I do. The one thing that bothers me sometimes is the random hatred from people I've never met. I have a blast doing what I do and I like sharing a lot of it.

It blows my mind when someone tweets me "I HATE YOU YOU SUCK" and I click on their profile and the name is something like "GearsFan214" and their profile picture is showing a kid in a Gears hoodie.

What's your favorite beer?

I like Gaffel.


I've been playing Halo since the original Xbox and have played every iteration of it. If you put aside just being a gamer for a moment it's important to see what other games and studios are doing in order to remain relevant with your feature set.

I was only able to be hands on with Halo 4 for a little bit but from what I saw BELIEVE. 343 is going to deliver with this one. Controls are as snug as ever and the visuals are clean and lush. Also, my team kicked ass at CTF.


I'd make sure that there's still a place for survival horror games to exist and floursh. There have been a few that have come back (Amnesia comes to mind) but by and large the genre has almost vanished. Fatal Frame 2 and Silent Hill 2 are two of my favorite games of all time. (Everyone knows I loved RE4 as well, but that's kind of action-horror.)

I believe that one of the main factors for this is the blockbuster hit driven nature of the business that we have in a disc-based market. You're either Call of Duty, Skyrim, or Gears, or it seems like you're a "campaign rental" or a used game. When we get to a digitally delivered world I'd wager that there will be room for, say, a 20 dollar short and fun and scary experience to emerge.

Where's the bike form american chopper now?

Microsoft has it. I'm trying to pry it out of their campus with a spork.

What's the one genre of gaming you'd like to make a game in that you haven't done yet?

I've always wanted to make a game about a lost dog who has to find his way home.

How do you feel about GAF?

I read GAF every single day.

How often does Jace Hall show up uninvited?

Entirely too often.

Is there going to be another make something unreal contest when UE4 comes out?

While at PAX this year, I saw a super hot chick walking around the floor and thought "what guy can get a smoking hot girl like that". And then I saw you next to her.

Dat ass.

What's your favorite weapon concept that has never been approved?

I wanted to make a follow up to the UT Ripper/Razor Jack that was energy based. I called it the "Laserjack." My co-workers talked me off of that ledge.

How do you manage to be so dreamy?

I bathe on a regular basis.

I'm so excited you made an AMA! I know you as the creator of the very first adventure games I played, at the tender age of 10 or so: "Dare to dream" and "the Palace of deceit". They taught me English, and created my present obsession with old-school adventure games.

I have three questions for you:

1- How old were you when you designed those two games and why did you do it? Did someone or something inspire you?

2- The two games I mentioned earlier are fairly old. Would you be OK if someone uploaded them to an abandonware website, and what do you think of abandonware in general?

3- Would you like to do a new adventure game sometime? In D2D, the story was so original and interesting I'd love to see what you can come up with now.

  1. I started on the first version of "Palace" when I was 15. The second version shipped when I was 16 - that was the one you played. Coded all of it in Visual Basic and did all of the graphics and design myself. Did "Dare" at age 16-17 and then went on to Jazz which shipped when I was 18.

  2. I'm not sure about any legal precedence for this. I wouldn't raise hell if this happened.

  3. Probably not any time soon. Also, "Palace" outsold "Dare to Dream" by a factor of 4 to 1. Turns out people liked escaping a mysterious castle as a young dragon over a screwed up young boy solving weird puzzles in his subconscious.

Man I was a weird kid. Redditors, go look up these games on Youtube to see inside the mind of a teenaged Clifford.

Looking back, did you ever think that you would be one of the coolest motherfuckers on the planet? If so, do you plan on a psychic career? I am a huge fan (not related to my weight) and I respect you and the whole Epic Community that exceeds strength in numbers and share an unlimited amount of respect...well, except for the trolls who whine about the Retro/Sawed-Off combo in Gears 3...haha


As far as being a "cool mofo" I'll just leave my wallet right here.

Hey Cliff, do you and Ice-T still talk regularly?

Not regularly. He's a busy dude these days. I did go to the Art of Rap premiere this summer; it's stellar. Bishop Don Magic Juan was there and I failed to get a picture, darnit.

I have almost all of his songs memorized. I used to rap to his music while I was a teenager working on my games and I'd replace his rap game lyrics with my own about the videogame industry. Cheesy, I know, but I saw it as aspirational.

There's a line from New Jack City where he says "I had nothing and I wanted it. You had EVERYTHING and you flaunted it." I used to think about Carmack and Romero and their Ferraris as motivation to work my ass off. One day I'll youtube myself rapping some of his stuff. I'm no Mac Lethal but I have fun doing it.

p.s. Coco is a sweetheart and mark my words Ice's son Little Ice is going to be big someday.

Why did you take Fortnite off of the Xbox 360? Was it due to consoles not being nearly as powerful as PCs? If so what do consoles need to step up to the next generation?

We never took Fortnite off of the Xbox 360. It was always planned as a PC first game.

Did you have anything to do with ZZT?

That was all Tim Sweeney. We still have the manual up on the wall here at work. Tim hand drew the map that's in the manual in his mom's basement when he started Epic Games.

Let's be straight with each other right now Cliff Bleszinski: Favorite Transformer. Right now, and why.

Optimus Fucking Prime because he's the kind of leader that doesn't sit in a control room and bark orders. He transforms, rolls out, and drives right over those pesky Decepticreeps like a BOSS. YOU GOT THE TOUCH! YOU GOT THE POWERRRRRR YEAHHHHH.

I sent you a pic of my gears of war tattoo (a black crimson omen) a while ago on twitter and you retweeted it and called me a hairy beast, made my day.

My question is what is your view on the gears of war tattoo's and have you got a favourite gears tatt?

They blow my brain, every one of them. I want to be like "You know, we all kinda just sat around and made this world up, right?" It's a lesson in branding, really. We call our Crimson Omen our "Nike Swoosh."

My favorites are the ones the girls get. One girl a while back got a great rendering of the Omen on her waist. TBH it was kind of hot.

What has been the most surprising thing about the gaming industry?

The amount of after hours shenanegins that go on at industry events like E3 and GDC and DICE. Hoo boy.

What made you decide to stop going by Cliffy B?

I never did, really. It was just a fun PR stunt to see what the reaction would be. I don't really care if people use it or not.

Do you remember when I drove your S63 AMG for valet at The Oxford in downtown Raleigh? That was great, thanks for that!

Thanks for taking all of the change out of the cupholder.

Is that you with with the high score for Super Mario Bros in Issue #1 of Nintendo Power?

Yes. I'm also in the last 2 issues of the Nintendo Fun Club.

Lauren is fake right? She can't be that hot and like video games!

I tell my friends that she's like my version of the girl from Weird Science. It's like I put everything I'd ever want in a woman in a blender and she just came out of the smoke with a controller in hand.

When will you be working with Mega64 again?

Not soon enough. I love those guys and any time they call or ask I'm right there to work with them. I'm DYING to do something with Freddie Wong as well, as he's a genius.

What should I watch on Netflix Cliff Bleszinski?


May I ask what your college major was?

I dropped out after a few months when Jazz started selling like gangbusters.

what is your favorite novel? and why?

I love "Lunar Park" by Bret Easton Ellis. The last few pages of that book bring me to tears every time.

Saw your plate at the Flying Saucer in Raleigh. Any plans to hit the next ring? Only 200 more beers...

Not any time soon. The servers there hate the outfits they have to wear. I'm way too proud of that plate. I also "won" a few trophies at the Ugly Monkey across the street.

What game are you playing/most recently playing?

I just finished the fantastic "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron." Great game. The sense of scale is fantastic, the nostalgia winks are amazing, and the transforming controls are stellar.

Hey Cliff,

I ran into you during E3 in 09'. You were kind and polite, asked how I was enjoying the convention. Keep up the good work.

Thanks! Some people on the internet still dislike my face it seems.

How much of your success can be attributed to 'luck'?

You must have worked hard to get where you are, along with surrounding yourself with people that are better than you (as you like to say), but can you think of or share any instances where you just happened to be in the right place at the right time?

Thanks for doing the AMA!

I believe that success comes from 3 factors.

  1. Hard work.
  2. The "loadout" you're given from your parents.
  3. Luck.

One lesson I've learned over the years is to find an emerging market and own it before everyone else.

How awesome is Tim Sweeney and are there any good stories about him being awesome?

Tim's a riot. One of his indulgences over the years from his success are giant geode stones. He has like the 2nd, 3rd and 4th largest ones ever found in his garage. They're sawed open and you could crawl inside of them. My friend saw them at a party and said "Are those the pods he arrived to earth in?!"

Tim could have retired years ago, but he still comes to work and does his thing every day. You never see more of a measure of a man and who he is than when you add success. He's the same Tim I met 20 years ago.

Why all the hate between you and Jim Sterling?

I don't hate Jim. I was dismayed at the fact that I made a joke about "haters" giving us an 8/10 and the fact that it became spun into "self entitled developers think they deserve a 10."

The internet is one big game of telephone sometimes.

Favorite weapon in all of Unreal Tournament?

Impact Hammer.

How much did you work with John DiMaggio, and is he as hilarious I like to pretend he is?

All of our cast members in the Gears series are hilarious. I didn't direct them, Rod handled that along with Chris Borders. I have hung out with them and drank. Lester Speight is particularly funny and sweet. We were hanging out at a party a few years ago talking about cars and I told him I was thinking about upgrading the Lambo to something like 1000hp and he looked at me all Office Linebacker and said with big eyes "Don't do it Cliffy! A friend of mine did that and he died." Turns out he was talking about the Tap Out guy.

What do you want to see from the next-gen consoles? (New Xbox, PS4)

No disc based games.

Silk or suede?


Can we get the "classically trained pianist" story, please Cliffy?

My buddy and I went out drinking one night and came back to the house and he decided to edit my wikipedia page to say that I'm a classically trained pianist. A few days later I was at a press junket in Toronto for Gears being interviewed and a journalist asked me "So, I hear you're a classically trained pianist!?"

Wikipedia has gotten better since then, but it was a lesson in not always believing what you read online.

I'm not a big fan of my current wiki. The books it mentions are my favorites are from YEARS ago and I'm not a fan of the picture on it.

How does it feel to be instantly recognized when you're driving around downtown? There aren't THAT many lambo's in Raleigh.

Most everyone's cool. It's the people that pull up next to me and yell out "DAYUM!" that startle the hell out of me. I've actually caused minor accidents driving around due to gawkers. One kid on a scooter rear ended his friend on another scooter, knocking him over. (They were coming to a stop anyways and were okay.)

Who is your favorite Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat character?

Chun Li and Mileena. I love playing as girls in fighting games for some reason.

What do you think is your biggest industry related failure, and why?

The online launch of Gears 2 and the fact that it barely worked upon launch. It broke my heart.

Seconded on the locust queen question. It was the one thing I was disappointed in with the Gears franchise

You can find the answer to this by digging online. The Gears community has basically solved this as well as the origins of the Locust. Also, Karen's books delve into some of this a bit more.

Have you followed your own advise to replay Warren Spector’s acceptance speech? If yes, will you incorporate his philosophy in your designs? And thank you very much for Mega64 episode about Warren.

Yes, his comment that games should be about the users showing the creators how creative THEY can be as opposed to the reverse resonated with me and I'm pushing at our studio to have more games that gamers can "play their way."

Cliff, what drives you? What is it that keeps you pumped and delivering these awesome games to us the public?

I got into this business for three reasons:

  1. To make great games.
  2. To make a living making said games.
  3. To be visible doing it.

Hey Cliff. Met you at Quakecon/CPL Dallas back in the late nineties right after Unreal dropped. You had a really gangsta necklace. Still got it? Reddit needs to see pics of this.


You were rude to me at a showing of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World at the Regal theater in Cary. Why, sir. Why.

Wait, what? I always try to be nice and friendly.

What do you think of the Oculus? Do you think it is a good idea to immerse gamers like this? Does it really enhance games that much? Will Epic be making games on it?

Oculus is GREAT. Once you try it you'll become a believer. Mark my words, VR is coming back in a BIG way.

Why didn't you kill off more characters in Gears of War 3? The tag line was a somber "Brothers to the End" but the end wasn't the super somber people were expecting.

btw: Gears 2 = best xbox game ever

Because I'm not George R Martin? ;)

Hi, game dev here. You're a big name at GDC. What's your worst/most hilarious fanboy/fandeveloper experience?

It's the shaking that gets me. Cameraphones also make it so that the fans can't get a shot that's not all blurry because they're excited to say hi. Sometimes it takes a while to get a good one.

[No question]

Cheesiepoofs please check your DM's - We need your address to send you the retro lancer. Thanks!

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Cliff Bleszinski conducted on Reddit on 2012-09-14. The Reddit AMA can be found here.