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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 16, 2010 at 5:43 PM

E3: Epic’s Cliff B on Kinect, “Gears of FarmVille” and women

LOS ANGELES — The interview with Cliff Bleszinski, design director of Epic Games, was supposed to cover “Gears of War 3,” the next version of the Xbox 360 hit.

But he took a few other shots.

North Carolina-based Epic sold more than 12 million copies of the first two versions of “Gears,” an ultra bloody, military-themed shooting game.

“Gears 3” goes on sale in April, extending the run of “big three” shooting games for the Xbox that begins with “Halo: Reach” on Sept. 14 and “Call of Duty: Black Ops” on Nov. 9.

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Bleszinski outlined improvements, such as the ability to attack enemies with a chainsaw and then kick them toward other enemies where they explode, so “you get more deaths that way.”

Then the influential and outspoken developer touched on a few other topics while holding court with a handful of reporters in Microsoft’s treehouse-like pressroom elevated above the E3 show floor. Here’s an edited sample.

On the Xbox Kinect:

“We’re getting the dev kits, we’re playing with it. I can assure everybody it’s not going to be in ‘Gears 3.’ It’s just not appropriate. I don’t want it to be something that’s like ‘oh and then you chainsaw’ [making a chopping motion with his hands] — it just doesn’t make sense for ‘Gears 3.’

“But I’m intrigued by the technology. I think the first generation is always the ‘wow, look at me, it’s a dance dance party’ thing. That’s cute, that’s fine, there’s a market for that.

“If you look at the Wii games that are ultimately the best, I think they’re kind of a hybrid, you know — ‘Mario Galaxy,’ where you play, you play and then you waggle here and there … It’s kind of a mix. That’s the kind of game I want to see. I think a lot of traditional developers are working on that. I’ve said before a ‘Heavy Rain’ game like that would be amazing … get great writing, get great motion controls, voice controls — you could have the whole genre right there.”

On expanding to new platforms such as the iPad and Facebook;.

“Gears of FarmVille? It’s fun to hate on FarmVille but they obviously did something right. The rest of the industry is looking at lessons to be learned as far as reciprocity and how to have everybody publicize your game whether they want to or not.

“Our engine is up and running on the iPhone and iPad …. We’ll see as far as our actual games appearing on there what happens in the future. It’s hard to ignore those numbers. And it’s hard to ignore the fractured market and how it is now. A few years ago it was like PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. Now it’s like, OK, PC, MMOs, browser-based games and Facebook-based games and iPad games, Nintendo 3D DS, Xbox and then Kinect and PlayStation Move and PlayStation 3, and it’s like there’s 4 million different categories, which quite frankly terrifies me. I think the industry’s a little bit nervous about it.”

On adding female lead “Gears” characters to “Gears of War 3”:

“I swear ‘Gears’ has a bigger female audience than a lot of shooters … I don’t know what it is, but by adding a female ‘Gears’ to this thing, I’ve had so many girls go, ‘Thank you so much for adding them, more importantly thank you for adding them and making them attractive but not look like strippers or babes or whatever.’

“We have our violence, we have our over-the-top moments, but we didn’t want to be the game that has, like, the boob physics or have girls running into combat wearing thongs, right? That’s just not us.”

Comments | Topics: cliffyb, e3, E3

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