Steam Box, Oculus Rift will define next-gen, says Cliffy B


Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski doesn’t see much disruption or innovation coming from consoles and AAA titles.

The new consoles from Sony and Microsoft are now only a little over a month away. While much of the industry is gearing up for the arrival of these next-gen systems, there are plenty who are less enthusiastic about what the platforms mean for next-gen gaming. You can count former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski in that camp.

When asked by the [a]list daily what he thinks will define the next-gen era of games, Bleszinski gave an answer that was decidedly in a direction away from consoles. “Things like the Steam Box and the Oculus Rift, honestly. I’m friends with a lot of folks in Microsoft. Microsoft has been very good to me throughout my career. I’m friends with the folks at Sony. But when I think about my gamer instincts and where I’m going to see a lot of the most disruptive and innovative gaming I don’t see it in the $250 million budgeted game that cost $100 million to market. Because when you have that high of a budget the amount of risk being taken decreases exponentially,” he said.

“I was more excited about playing games like Gone Home than any console release. I am thoroughly excited to dive into Grand Theft Auto V, but it’s sitting on my desk looking like War and Peace to me right now. I’m going to have to clear out a good two weeks of doing nothing in order to just deep dive into it. In the meantime I’m on my Nintendo DS and I’m on my laptop playing Steam games. I got to fire up Two Brothers and I finished Thomas Was Alone and Gone Home. I don’t know if it’s because I’m rubber banding and rebelling against my AAA background, but I will buy a Playstation 4 and an Xbox One. Am I more excited for that than the Rift and Steam? I think Sony and Microsoft are going to do just fine and it’s a known entity. A known entity is not that exciting to me. It’s the disruptive things that are exciting to me.”

Bleszinski is confident that Oculus Rift can become a solid platform, but it needs games designed specifically for its VR interface and not just some console ports. “They know what they’re doing over there (at Oculus) and I think Rift could eventually be its own platform. Putting Team Fortress 2 and Half Life on it is a mistake. The experiences that are going to be the best ones are the ones that are custom made for the pacing of that kind of experience. I got more excited by the trailer for EVE Valkyrie on the Rift than anything I saw at E3 this year,” he commented.

 

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Gears Of War movie signs up Battleship producer


Scott Stuber to write script alongside Epic Games

Gears Of War movie

The troubled Gears Of War film adaptation is showing signs of life again, as Scott Stuber, the producer behind Battleship, Ted and Love And Other Drugs has signed up for the project.

Variety reports that Stuber will develop the script in partnership with developer and publisher Epic Games. The company have been looking for producers and a new film company to pick up the right for 6 months or so.

News of the film first circulated in 2007 with Len Wiseman (Total Recall, Die Hard 4.0) signed up to direct. In 2010 there were rumours that the scale and the budget of the project had to be scaled back, Wiseman left to focus on an apocalyptic thriller called Nocturne, and New Line gave up the rights to the title.

 

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Industry turmoil worst since ’80s crash, says Bleszinski


Ex-Epic designer ponders a downloadable-only future with Nintendo out of the hardware race

Bleszinski

Cliff Bleszinski is at least semi-serious about his semi-retirement. The former Epic Games design director today is maintaining a presence in the industry–today he was named the keynote speaker for the 2013 East Coast Games Conference–but Bleszinski toldGamesIndustry International that now would be “the absolute worst time” for him to come back, and that he was waiting for the dust to settle a bit before making his next move.

“This business has not been in a state of transition like it is right now since the video game crash of the ’80s,” Bleszinski said. “I really think we’re in a massive state of turmoil. I think Nintendo could possibly be faced with the situation of becoming a company that only makes software moving forward. I think Sony and Microsoft are about to come to major blows. But at the same time, people love playing games on their iPad. The PC is going through a wonderful renaissance right now. I think we’re ready to do digital download games all the time…I just want to see what happens. In regards to the industry, it’s like the Super Smash Bros. of business right now, and I want to see if Peach or Mario wins.”

If any of the console makers are to emerge victorious from that Super Smash Bros. melee, Bleszinski said they would need to embrace qualities from more open platforms like PCs and tablets while preserving the stability of a closed platform. Enabling developers to update their titles as needed was one such example.

“When Gears of War 2 launched and we found out that our netcode wasn’t working right, it took us three months to get an update out,” Bleszinski said. “By that time, the majority of users had moved on to the next game or had traded it in. If Microsoft and Sony are to do well in this next generation, they are going to need to reduce that time as much as possible, as well as continue to enable user-supported mods, independent games, and really just get rid of the wall that makes it incredibly hard to find those products, even if they’re allowed on the console… All that red tape needs to be stripped away in order to create an ecosystem to allow for a product like Minecraft to actually happen on a console.”

Part of that effort must enable and encourage a greater diversity in the offerings on consoles, Bleszinski said. Right now he suggested the console market is 80 percent $60 retail titles and 20 percent cheaper downloadable offerings, but it needs to embrace virtually all genres and all price points. That means $20 horror games, $40 shooters, $60 AAA blockbusters, free-to-play, and everything in between, all easy to find for the audience who would be most interested in them. (Microsoft has not announced its next-generation system yet, but Sony is positioning the PlayStation 4 as a developer-friendly machine open to alternative business models, and independent developers say Nintendo has made similar strides with the Wii U.)

While Bleszinski waits for winners to emerge from the current industry upheaval, his ECGC keynote will reflect more on the past.

“It’s about what videogames mean to me,” Bleszinski said of the address. “Ultimately, I want to take people on a journey through my 38 years of growing up playing games since the age of 6 when I first saw Space Invaders. And how throughout every major milestone of my life, video games have been there for me in a very positive way, and hopefully reminding people that this is a very wonderful medium. And to be frank, I’m kinda tired of it being challenged as some sort of demonic thing in pop culture.”

The East Coast Games Conference is set for April 24-25 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

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