I’d heard the name Cliff Bleszinski before PC Gamer featured him as a New Gaming God in November of 2000, but I wasn’t quite sure what his angle was. This was a guy who’d done a colorful platformer (Jazz Jackrabbit) and come off the colorful, yet thoroughly monotonous first-person shooter Unreal during his time at Epic Games, a North Carolina developer he started with at the tender age of seventeen. But with twenty years of service at the Gears of War shop, Cliff Bleszinski, known by his old frag handle, CliffyB, is leaving. What is he taking with him?
It’s clear that Cliff is trying to grow up. In the past few years, he’s ditched his crazy pink suits and sought a more professional life, even marrying again. It seems like he might finally be ready for that quiet life in the suburbs he ditched so long ago to turn his attention Epic Games. As the creative director of Epic since it was a handful of employees working on ubermind Tim Sweeney’s creations, Cliff has defined much of the game industry’s most prolific tropes. Unreal brought us swaths of colored lighting and crazy effects when others were still dabbling in Quake 2 tech. Unreal Tournament stole the online fragging crown from id’s Quake series at the turn of the century. Gears of War solidified the presence of the space marine forevermore.
And while there’s still plenty of wonderful, excellent talent at Epic while Cliff seeks out a new chapter to his life, game-related or not, one wonders what direction the company will go next? Will they stick to the sci-fi mumbo jumbo of Gears and Bulletstorm? What about their new Minecraft-ish Fortnite, the debut title for Unreal Engine 4 that we know so little about? Who will step up to take his shoes and can Epic continue to define what core gaming looks and feels like?
I guess we’ll have to see.
Source: Epic Games