As we reported earlier this week, Cliff Bleszinski -formerly of Epic Games- is set to make a return to the industry. Instead of throwing his lot in with the usual suspects i.e. Ubisoft, Activision, EA, the Gears of War/Unreal icon has formed his own studio: Boss Key Productions. The developer’s first title is codenamed Blue Streak, a free-to-play competitive online shooter published by Nexon.
Of course, with the return of such a divisive industry figure there comes plenty of questions. Anticipating this, CliffyB took to Reddit last night to host an “Ask Me Anything” session, inviting queries from around the web.
From what was said, we can at least determine that Blue Streak won’t be launching in the near future.
A fair ways off, it’s safe to say, because we just got office space and furniture and we’re doing our initial round of hires. It’ll be a slow burn for the first year but we promise to show you as much as humanly possible in the process.
Delving into the more technical side of the project, Bleszinski says Boss Key has yet to decide which engine to run with, though Unreal 4 seems like an obvious choice. Another topic raised throughout the Q&A was weapons with plenty of fans baying for some more chainsaw action.
“For this game I don’t want to go full on Serious Sam,” Bleszinski replied, “or make the weapons too crazy like Ratchet and Clank. Think District 9 weaponry.”
Having left the industry two years ago, he told of how he’s been soaking up new inspiration for eventual return to video games. This included plenty of swatting up on sci-fi novels, graphic novels, and movies. As a result, the Boss Key CEO is confident he has some solid concepts, especially where new and inventive weapons are concerned.
He also went on to briefly discuss user-generated content:
Arjan and I (my COO) are HUGE fans of this sort of thing. On the PC it’s easier than ever to have this sort of thing, let’s just say we need to “walk” before we “run” in this department. We need to make a great game with a community around it, sort out if people actually want to spend a dime on it and then figure out how to get to user made arenas, at a minimum.
The AMA is chock full of interesting tidbits, detailing Belszinski’s time at Epic, his departure, and eventual return to video games, as well as why struck a deal with Nexon:
I know so many folks at EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, etc. After I left Epic I felt like the belle of the ball, EVERYONE wanted to meet with me when to be honest I just needed time off. But I have a very good agent who did the deal with Nexon, and he was eager, so after stalling him as long as I could (and knowing I’d want to come back eventually) I met with nearly all of the old guard. Even Zynga. (Mark Pincus came into my meeting 45 minutes late.)
Knowing developers who’ve worked with the traditional publishers I’d take them out, feed them a beer, and they’d do the “look around to see if anyone’s going to hear this” look and tell me “Run away. These guys aren’t the best to work with, and they’ll try to design your game and just get involved where they shouldn’t be.”
With nearly EVERY one of the established big publishers I heard this from MANY developers. And no, I can’t name names.
When Nexon came calling I laughed. “The fucking Maple Story guys?!”
And then I met Min Kim, president of Nexon US. And then Owen Mahoney, who runs all of Nexon. And I saw the direction they were going – Brian Reynold’s new game, Robotaki’s one, Splash Damage etc… and I spoke with all of these western devs who are working with them. They all had glowing things to say about working with Nexon. They said they just let you build the game you want to build and when the time comes to see if you can monetize they’ll help.
When your developer friends vouch for a publishing partner like that, you trust them.
It may be a long way off, though we’re intrigued to see what Blue Streak can bring to the competitive shooter scene.