Over the last week Gears of War lead designer Cliff Bleszinski announced a new studio, Bosskey Productions, and a free-to-play sci-fi arena shooter he'd be making with Nexon for PC tentatively titled Bluestreak. Naturally, people had questions.
To this end, Bleszinski decided to host a Reddit AMA where he could address fans' queries and concerns publicly for all the internet to see.
First off, people asked about the free-to-play model. The very words "free-to-play" are something of a death knell in terms of public opinion - despite games like League of Legends making mad moolah off the format - so why would he hop into this oft-repellent arena?
"Anyone can just jump in and play your darned game," Bleszinski explained. He also noted that Bluestreak will be entirely skill-based. "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."
Beyond that, Bleszinski couldn't confirm whether or not microtransactions will be part of Bluestreak's economy. "We'll experiment, tweak, tune, and most importantly, build a positive community around the game as we develop it," he said.
Figuring out how to balance monetisation with fun is one of the key reasons Bleszinski decided to join up with Nexon, a company he was initially very skeptical of.
"When Nexon came calling I laughed. 'The f****** Maple Story guys?!'" the Gears developer said. "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."
So that explains the model and the publisher. But what about the platform. Why PC?
"PC is where the comments generally are, the community gathers, and it's got that big global audience," Bleszinski replied. He also noted that a game really needs to be optimised for the platform with a wide range of options for players with different kits. "In order to hit that global audience your game needs to look fantastic on the high end rigs but also run on a potato."
And what about Bluestreak's story? Narrative was seemingly always something of an afterthought in Bleszinski's previous games, but the legendary designer is going rogue and trying something different with his new studio, so could this be a new priority for the man who made chainsaw bayonets an industry icon?
"There will be an emphasis on story, but not in the traditional sense," Bleszinski explained. "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."
Elsewhere, Bleszinski noted that Boss Key currently has about a dozen staffers with ex-Epic, Ubisoft and Activision employees in its ranks. "Goal is 15-20 folks for the first year," he clarified, noting that the focus would be to "find the fun first." After that, he'd like to grow the team to 60-70 with "tons of outsourcing."
That's about all we know for now. It sounds like Bluestreak is still in its early days - Heck, Bleszinski said that the developer hasn't even sorted what engine it will use - but it looks like the Gears lead is very confident about where it's going. To top everything off, he issued the first official piece of Bluestreak concept art (above), so we no longer have an excuse to keep posting covers from that Martin Lawrence movie.