Cliff Bleszinski on mixing Unreal with Skyrim to make "SciFi-Rim" and more

Plus: "Mark my words, VR is coming back in a BIG way."

Cliff Bleszinski came across very well in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit at the weekend.

Here's a man popularised as the poster boy of Gears of War, the man who waffled about "destroyed beauty" when all we saw was over-muscled men pummelling overgrown insects. He's a good looking airhead, isn't he?

No not really.

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Cliff Bleszinski.

Bleszinski "barely went out" as a teenager so he could focus on his career - a career that started at 17 years old and now spans 20 years. 20 years. He's best known for Gears of War, of course, but Bleszinski also co-created Unreal. And without Unreal, where would Epic Games be today?

Those muscles, those Gears of War muscles - Bleszinski didn't want those. They came from the art department, although Bleszinski was soon won over: "they simply felt good slamming into walls and cutting one another in half with chainsaw guns". But he sounded tired of that approach now. "I do hope that in the future we can get some of the 'dudebro' out of Gears," he shared.

Adding female characters to the series should help. Bleszinski described Epic as "thought leaders" when it came to integrating the fairer sex. "I can appreciate a bikini clad warrior as much as the next guy," he wrote, "but in our games I want to make sure that proportions are more realistic and that women can kick ass just as well as the guys. Maybe that's the Joss Whedon fanboy coming out in me."

"Oculus is awesome and VR is set for a BIG comeback in the next few years," he declared. "Not announcing anything formally today, though."

Cliff Bleszinski, creative director, Epic Games

Talking of Joss Whedon: the fiction IP Bleszinski would most like to adapt into a game, if money and processing power were no object, would be Firefly. And that is awesome.

Bleszinski also revealed that he wanted Gears 1 multiplayer to be like Counter-Strike in terms of buying stuff between rounds. But that idea, obviously, was cut.

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Cliff Bleszinski.

One of the more popular topics of discussion on Reddit was whether there would be a new Unreal game, to which Bleszinski provided a headline-grabbing response.

"Having really grown into a big Bethesda fan lately (Skyrim rocked my world) I couldn't help but wonder what a reboot of Unreal would be like if it was more 'SciFi-Rim'," he mulled.

"Sure, there would be shooting involved, but exploration would almost be more important. Get back to that sense of wonder that the first game had. (Caves and castles and crashed ships are basically your dungeon instances, whereas the 'overworld' is less intense.)

"Put it on a high-end PC and prepare yourself for amazing visuals never before seen in real-time."

Unreal Tournament, as a multiplayer shooter, is different. "Shooters and their sequels are a tricky beast. Often you wind up upsetting your core whenever you make a sequel because sometimes you change things the users didn't want changed, or the users are so very in love with their memory of the original game that there's nothing you can do to live up to the first game," Bleszinski explained. "This happened with Counterstrike: Source, Quake 2, Unreal Tournament 2003, heck, even Halo 2.

"All that said," he added, "I do personally believe that Unreal Tournament 3 suffered a bit from an identity crisis in regards to whether or not it was a PC or console game.

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Cliff Bleszinski.

"So: if, when? I don't know, honestly. We're understaffed right now for all of the projects we've got going on so I can't say if or when it may happen. I do love that IP and do hope to return to Na Pali some day."

Bleszinski is currently working on the Gears of War prequel, Judgment, and cooperative sandbox PC survival game, Fortnite - the first game to use Unreal Engine 4.

Bleszinski went on to talk about the Oculus Rift VR headset, and exhibited more enthusiasm than someone with a mere passing interest.

"I think Oculus is awesome and VR is set for a BIG comeback in the next few years," he declared. "Not announcing anything formally today, though."

And again: "Oculus is GREAT. Once you try it you'll become a believer. "

Elsewhere, Bleszinski crossed his fingers and hoped for a survival-horror revival - something he thinks will be achieved as digital sales neuter the traditional 'go big or go home' publishing mentality.

"I believe that one of the main factors for this is the blockbuster hit-driven nature of the business that we have in a disc-based market. You're either Call of Duty, Skyrim, or Gears, or it seems like you're a 'campaign rental' or a used game. When we get to a digitally delivered world, I'd wager that there will be room for say a 20 dollar short and fun and scary experience to emerge," Bleszinski prophesied.

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