Developer Spotlight: Cliff Bleszinski

If there’s something that I’ve noticed growing up and having a passion towards the industry, its that nobody really knows the names of the creative minds behind the games they love. It always seems to come as quite a shock to me when I mention people like Inafune and Molyneux, or even very common and relevant people in the industry like Pitchford or Kojima, and the person I’m discussing it with has no clue who they are or what they’ve done.

I understand that gaming has only managed to become more of a relevant media in recent years, and even controversial in recent months, so most people don’t truly care who these people are just yet. This feature is going to allow me to give insight on people that not only do I find inspirational, but also give you the chance to see what these people have done.

Jazz the JackrabbitTo start the feature I’m going to introduce you to the person that inspired me to pursue my dreams the most: Cliff Bleszinski. Cliffy B has been active in the gaming industry for twenty years now, starting at the age of seventeen with his independently developed title The Palace of Deceit: Dragon’s Plight. Not only did he create this game at an early age, but he also did it while he was still in high school. He went on to publish it himself in 1992 through his own company, at the time called Game Syndicate Productions. Palace of Deceit: Dragon’s Plight was a point-and-click adventure game developed for the PC and managed to impress the founder of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, who ended up bringing on Bleszinski shortly afterwards.

Upon his arrival at Epic, Bleszinski started to create another adventure based game for the PC known as Dare to Dream, which followed a ten year old boy going through the mental stress that came from the problems in his life, which was released in 1993 by Epic. After creating this, Cliffy B went on to create his own series of games that followed the loveable character Jazz the Jackrabbit. He created three games for the franchise in total, two on PC and one on the Gameboy Advance, and had another installment in the franchise planned, but was cancelled due to the lack of a publisher. Jazz ended up becoming the face of Epic for a short time.

While Epic had its run of child-friendly based games, they had also been working on an engine developed mostly out of Tim Sweeney’s garage that would almost end up becoming a standard in the industry: the ever so famous Unreal Engine. Although Bleszinski wasn’t the creative mind that brought the Unreal Engine to fruition, his involvement in designing the Unreal franchise is what made Epic the company it is today. Unreal, released in 1998, was the first game to truly utilize what the engine was capable of and showed off all of its features. Upon the success of the Unreal franchise, Cliffy B went on to work on several other installments in the series, which included the Unreal Tournament franchise and Unreal Championship franchise as well as a sequel to Unreal itself.

Gears of War 3After his work on the Unreal franchise, Bleszinski went on to create what would end up becoming another flagship franchise for Microsoft to usher in the Xbox 360: Gears of War. When asked what his inspirations were behind making the franchise, he stated that he pulled from Resident Evil 4’s third-person perspective, and the tactical cover system from Kill.Switch. Gears of War went on to become a successful franchise for both Epic and Microsoft and spawned two more main entry sequels with a prequel on the way as well.

A year after the release of Gears of War 3, Bleszinski decided that after twenty years of making games it was time to take a break and left Epic Games behind to find a new path in his life. Since the departure he has made several tweets and has been involved in several interviews regarding his future plans, but hasn’t given any solid confirmation on what he is doing or where he is planning on going.

The only thing we know is that his project has personally been given the name of Project Bluestreak, after the Transformer of the same name. As for what it entails, nobody really knows. Its always an interesting piece when someone major leaves a company, but for what Cliff Bleszinski has in store for us as an audience, only time will tell…