BlueStreak questions answered by Cliff Bleszinski
Rather than watching the, ah, “absorbing” Argentina-Holland semi final, Cliff Bleszinksi has been answering questions about his BlueStreak game on Reddit. You can find the full ‘Ask Me Anything’ here, though it’s probably better to just look at all of Cliffy’s answers in one chunk here.
The AMA still seems to be going on, but here are some of the more interesting responses to save you the bother of combing through everything.
On the dreaded microtransactions:
Honest answer: I’m not sure, and it’s entirely too easy to tell or make the call. Free to Play is one of those genres that means something entirely different depending on the game. For every model that feels like Las Vegas methods (Zynga, Candy Crush) there’s folks who do it right, like League of Legends, or WarFrame.
I’ve never shipped a Free to Play game before. That’s one of the MANY reasons why we’re going with Nexon, they can provide server structures and a global peek into gamers of all types and guide us into a game that’s more “Shut up and take my money” as opposed to “shaking you down for your hard earned cash.”
I’m DETERMINED to not do Pay To Win. Since this game is a shooter I want that one player who likes the game and doesn’t feel like spending any money to be able to take down the trust fund kid that’s spent a ton of money to have All The Stuff.
On whether BlueStreak would use Unreal Engine 4:
My former employers and old co workers seem pretty excited about our considering Unreal Engine 4.
It’s wide open right now what tech we’d use.
On mods and other user-created stuff:
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 areanas, at a minimum.
On BlueStreak’s possible story/lore:
There will be an emphasis on story, but not in the traditional sense. Weapons will have manufacturing corporations, players will have lore/history, and the world will feel there and lived in. We also want to make live action shorts quarterly to help tell more about the universe outside of the game. If you’re doing a Sci Fi IP you need as much of the fiction to come through in other mediums (and with lore) so people care about Plasma Rifle 3 or Player X.
On the reasoning behind the Boss Key studio name:
I’m a Zelda fan, so it’s a wink at that, as well as the old key on PCs that you’d hit to hide your game when the Boss came in. Boss sounds strong, Key sounds mysterious, so wham.
It was a toss up between “Boss Key” and KLTS “Kids Love That Shit.”
On putting BlueStreak on PC and getting it running on a broad range of systems:
PC First, and then we’ll see. PC is where the comments generally are, the community gathers, and it’s got that big global audience.
In order to hit that global audience your game needs to look fantastic on the high end rigs but also run on a potato.
On the kind of innovation still possible in FPS titles:
There’s still PLENTY that can be done in regards to environmental manipulation, weaponry, and player movement in the FPS space.
TitanFall tapped into some of the things that excite me in this area – wall running, double jumping, the smart pistol, the mech “absorb bullets and fire them back at people.” That’s the kind of thinking the FPS market needs, less damned red dot iron sights.
When’s the last time you led a target in a mainstream shooter? Pretty rare, it seems.
On the Boss Key studio size and potential new recruits, plus an indication that the game won’t be out for a while:
Goal is 15-20 folks for the first year – FIND THE FUN FIRST.
Then ramp to 60-70, ideally tops – TONS of outsourcing. One of my first hires was Chris Mielke, he worked at Epic and addition to being a great producer he also handled a ton of outsource work.
I don’t want to work at a studio where I don’t know everyone’s name, and preferably their spouse’s, again.
I believe there are thousands of developers out there working on established AAA game franchises that would hopefully love to come to a team where they can actually make an impact instead of being crushed under the cycle of the Big E3 Sequel reveal and inevitable annualization.
One of our studio mottos is “old bones and fresh blood” – I want to have a mix of seasoned vets and young upstart developers, both feeding off of each other’s enthusiasm.
On keeping the development process transparent and as open as possible:
My goal is to:
Build the company While we build the community While we build the game
Got new concept art? Post it. Get playable builds out as early as possible. It’s the new era of transparent development, honestly, there’s no real reason to hide what you’re doing. Get the community involved and have them see how the “sausage” is made. Weekly podcasts.
I’m actively recruiting for a community manager as we speak. Community is everything.
On the traditional publishers and the decision to work with Nexon. Some very, very interesting stuff here:
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.
And finally, on the type of shooter he’s going for with BlueStreak:
I want to make a skill based game whereas someone who is really, really good is seen as a player with nearly godlike abilities. Sure, once in a while the person who sucks might get lucky with a stray shot and take that person down, but I want to craft a game that has weapons and moves that are easy to learn but to really make them sing takes thousands of hours of play just like a professional athlete would.
Closer to TF2 [than Planetside 2, Blacklight Retribution or Shootmania], but it remains to be seen if we’re going to do no classes, light classes, or super identified roles.