Bluestreak players will be able to “take down the trust fund kid”

Thursday, 10th July 2014 01:39 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Cliff Bleszinski has sworn that his free-to-play shooter won’t be “pay to win”, with skilled players reverenced for their “godlike abilities”.


The Gears of War creator was asked whether BlueStreak would have microtransactions in a Reddit AMA, and said that at this stage, he doesn’t yet know.

“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,” he said.

“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.’

“So we’ll experiment, tweak, tune, and most importantly, build a positive community around the game as we develop it.”

Bleszinski said he was attracted to free-to-play because “anyone can just jump in and play your darned game”, but that he’s determined to avoiud a “pay to win scenario”.

“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,” he said.

“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. Anyone can toss a football, but Drew Brees can get it through the tire at X yards every time.”

What is Bluestreak?

Bleszinski had plenty to say about the game itself, too. Development will focus on keyboard and mouse controls, but may support controllers if the demand is there – likewise, BlueStreak may come to other platforms one day, but for now, “PC is where the comments generally are, the community gathers, and it’s got that big global audience”.

The aesthetic has not been locked down, with Bleszinski commenting that he loves the look of Mirror’s Edge, and is “pretty much over the dark and gritty stuff”. He won’t go cel-shaded, though.

“I now believe there’s a direct correlation between how good your game is and how many unique Youtube Videos it can yield. The YouTubers have taken over, folks!”

The project’s codename is the name of Bleszinski’s first transformer, and is temporary – unrelated to the lore. “Part of the pitch for the game is “‘The Warriors’ by way of Christopher Nolan,’” Bleszinski said.

Speaking of lore, story will be emphasised, “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,” Bleszinski said.

“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.”

Bleszinski confirmed that concept art he’s shown in the past is related to the project. “It all ties together, giant basketball players and everything,” he said.

As for why he’s gone down the multiplayer-only route, spending time away from development put Bleszinski off scripted games, which he feels don’t produce “amazing competitive matches, or fantastic things the users have built themselves, or even a crazy physics bug that was caught on a live stream”, which are then turned into YouTube videos.

“I now believe there’s a direct correlation between how good your game is and how many unique Youtube Videos it can yield. The YouTubers have taken over, folks!” he said.

The veteran developer said he doesn’t “want to go full on Serious Sam, or make the weapons too crazy like Ratchet and Clank”, and suggested the film District 9 is a good starting point. That said, he pointed out that he “gave the world the Shock Combo and the Chainsaw gun”, so might have a few more tricks up his sleeves.

Bleszinski feels there’s “still plenty to be done” in the shooter space including “environmental manipulation, weaponry, and player movement”, saying Titanfall began to tap into some of this unexplored potential and hinting that leading targets might be important to play.

Bleszinski also believes first-person is a better bet than third-person for shooters because there are players who enjoy both, and players who only like first-person, but none who only like third-person. “Plus, I miss the ‘down the barrel’ view and the flow of first person,” he added.


Building on a discussion of what engine Bluestreak will be built on, Bleszinski commented on the costs of founding a new studio.

“As I build my team I need to take into account each department, engineering, art, level design, online, and of course, cost. Being a lean startup we’ve got to keep an eye on our burn rate and expenses,” he said.

“There are thousands of developers out there working on established AAA game franchises that would 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.”

Boss Key currently employs “about a dozen” people, Bleszinski said, including former Epic and Ubisoft staffers as well as ex-Call of Duty developers. “And we’re actively flirting with more,” he added.

“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,” Bleszinski said.

The team will be limited to 15-20 people for the first year while Bleszinski and colleagues “find the fun” before ramping up production. Bleszinski hopes to max out at about 70 staff at most, outsourcing a lot of work, so that he knows everyone in the company personally.

Bluestreak is the company’s only focus right now, and Bleszinki hopes to be open and transparent during development. “It’ll be a slow burn for the first year but we promise to show you as much as humanly possible in the process,” he said.

“Build the company While we build the community While we build the game,” he added. “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.”

Why Nexon?

One perplexed gamer asked why Bleszinski didn’t turn to crowdfunding instead of publisher support. The reason for not taking this route is likely quite complicated, as Kickstarter’s simply don’t raise enough money for triple-A development of this scope, and are generally used to prove demand and thereby attract outside investor interest to a triple-A project. But Bleszinki had a more simple reply:

“It’s hard to do a Kickstarter when you regularly tweet photos of your Lamborghinis,” he said.

“We’re considering some early buy in ‘founder’ stuff, somewhat similar to Star Citizen. Kickstarters are just as much about instant built in community and free PR as they are about raising money.”

Bluestreak is being funded by Nexon, and Bleszinski’s account of why he chose this publisher is worth reading.

“After I left Epic I felt like the belle of the ball, everyone wanted to meet with me,” he said.

“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.”

“After stalling 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.”

Bleszinski said he laughed when Nexon showed interest, calling the company “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,” he said.

“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.”

There’s probably loads more worth squirrelling out of the AMA if you want to head over and read it in full. Boss Key released the Bluestreak concept art above following the AMA.



  1. The_Red

    “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…”

    Partially true. While they would want to escape the cycle, I don’t think many of them want their talents to be wasted on a F2P game.

    #1 5 months ago
  2. redwood

    you lost me at ““I now believe there’s a direct correlation between how good your game is and how many unique Youtube Videos it can yield. The YouTubers have taken over, folks!”
    only someone as disillusioned as mr.Cliffy here can say something like this. youtube videos is a celberity culture, PewDiePew can’t review every game outthere, so you just have to pray that he picks up on your game. same goes for all the other youtubers, they only pick games that are already generating buzz, so yeah “a good game” doesn’t always get reviewed by cliffy’s darlings :) it’s all PR talk from mr. PR himself.

    #2 5 months ago
  3. TheWulf

    I don’t understand the hatred for free to play.

    Freemium, yes, but that’s different from free to play. He’s dropped the right names when it comes to F2P — if it goes no further than Warframe or League of Legends, then what’s wrong with that? I’ve also name-dropped Quake Live, myself, as an example of a free to play shooter that isn’t exploitative. Riot themselves have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that just a title is free to play, that doesn’t automatically make it exploitative.

    Correlation doesn’t imply causation. Or to put it in a simple way: Whilst all love boats are boats, not all boats are love boats. (I never thought I’d use a quote from the ’90s Bill & Ted cartoon to explain the logic of something, but there you go. It happened. That’s a thing.)

    If it is exploitative, then it’s exploitative because he chose to make it that way, and as such he’ll end up as a despised pariah. He has the chance to redeem himself, though, so he may actually choose to handle this intelligently.

    I mean, goodness, even ME3′s multiplayer is fair. Sure, you can use money to gamble for new character unlocks, but you can also just play the game well and get in-game money to do the same. Much like League of Legends. I know of people who’ve never spent a penny on ME3 and have all of the characters and customisations unlocked. Just because they’re damned good at the game, and they play it on Platinum.

    And it’s not like it’s an unfair system for unskilled players, because all you really have to do is ask a nice person to carry you through a bunch of Platinum matches to score a ridiculous amount of money. And people do that. Not all of them, admittedly, but there are those who’ll do that for free, without asking anything in return, just because they’re decent.

    And BioWare never put a stop to that, because it’s intended. I had a friend coast me through Platinum in the early days, and then I threw some money at them because I found I was enjoying ME3′s MP that much that they deserved some kind of recompense. If you’ll note what Cliffy is saying, it’s precisely that, it’s an atmosphere where you create a game that’s so fun and not exploitative that people will want to spend money on it.

    The Secret World was the same way. They have almost exclusively just cosmetic items on the store, but worse, they actually give you store money for completing story arcs in the game. I didn’t know how to feel about that, because I was going to give them money anyway just because I was having a blast and enjoying myself. So I gave them money anyway! :I The thing is is that they’d all ready provided me with enough shop money to get all the items I wanted, so I just have a bunch of virtual monies sitting around in the TSW store, now.

    And those systems, systems so bereft of exploitation? I’m okay with those.

    So here’s the question: Is Cliffy’s new game going to be like Leage, Warframe, ME3 MP, Quake Live, et cetera and not exploit at all, but engender the desire for people to share monies, or is it going to try and be like MMOs and Tribes Ascend where it’s more exploitative and takes advantage of the players?

    If Cliffy can land on the right side of this, he’s got the potential to create something amazing. Like I said, redemption or gaming pariah, only he’s able to choose his future at this point.

    I just want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    If he does turning out to be ready to exploit people for all they’re worth, I’ll just reclassify him as a pariah and forget all about him. And I’ll know that he’s not capable of actually making something so brilliant as Unreal any more, that he no longer has the capacity to do so.

    Only time will tell.

    But considering the lack of good twitch shooters these days, I’d love for this to turn out to be awesome, without the possible exploitation.


    Eh. I don’t know about that. There are a lot of them who go out of their way to ensure that the lesser knowns are heard of, good or bad. TotalBiscuit is a fine example of this. It’s funny, TB is terrible at games, but he’s so charismatic and generally likeable that it makes his videos way more watchable for me than the likes of Northernlion or Pewdiepie.

    I could never watch Pewdiepie. I’d rather have all of my teeth extracted without anaesthetic, thanks. I actually have sensory sensitivity due to poor sight and brain wiring, so my hearing is so good that I can hear a piece of cardboard drop across a room. What I don’t want is some guy screaming in my ears.

    No thanks.

    But you’re right if you’re only looking at the dregs of Youtube. But there are some channels out there that are actually worth it. Like Ashens, Vsauce, and so on. So there’s great stuff there.

    Not only that, but I’ve heard rumblings on game journalism sites that the writers are worried about just that happening, too. And what about the recently departed Dave Cook and his Youtube channel (Cookie)? Are we to say that Dave has lost all credibility because he’s now on Youtube versus being on a blog?

    It’s just the way the winds are blowing. It’s more pleasant to listen to someone prattle on and wax philosophical in their own voice than to read it in words that lack their own romantic tones, inflections, and niceness. You can hear the passion someone has for something in their voice, but you can’t always read it, not always. Sometimes, because some people are good at that, you can. But those people are mainly novelists. For obvious reasons.

    I still like sites like VG24/7, I always will, but I equally enjoy my smattering of subscriptions on Youtube as well. Ashens and Vsauce Mike always brighten up my day.

    I just think that we’re being overly harsh on him because he’s turned his back on AAA, and that automatically makes him a pariah. Frankly, my opinion is the opposite of that. For the first time, Cliffy might be talking sense.

    I just want to give him a chance, to see whether he’s trying to con us, or to see whether he’s genuine. Whenever anyone goes back to their roots, to try to be real with their creations, to be passionate, and to be true to themselves, I want to give them that chance.

    I’ve been accused of lauding him, praising him, and worse for that. But that’s not really the case. It’s more that I believe that people are at their best when they aren’t tied down by AAA, massive publishers, and developers which staff tens of people at any given time.

    I still see the early-to-mid ’90s to somewhere around ’03 (even leaking into ’04, and having completely died off by ’05, which coincidentally was the release year of the 360) as being the golden years of gaming. It was a time of so much strangeness and variety, because all the creativity wasn’t locked up into a small number of developers and publishers, it was all over the place. So you’d be as likely to see something like Spyro as you would Tex Murphy, or Outcast, or Day of the Tentacle, or Abe’s Oddyssee, or LittleBigAdventure, or Ecstatica, or Another World (Out of this World), or…

    Games haven’t bettered anything from that time. Almost all of my favourite games are from that period. There have been odd titles released since then that hark back to that period (DX:HR, Portal, NWN2 et al) and I glomp onto them and refuse to let go. This isn’t about Cliffy, which some shallow people fail to realise, this is about how the ’90s were the Renaissance of gaming that all ready happened and we hadn’t noticed.

    And anything that harks back to that halcyon time of unbridled originality, where an idea could become a game of depth and worth. Where everything was like Portal. I miss it.

    And the community involvement and mods, too.

    See, this is why I’m interested, because Cliffy’s been using words that I understand, that key into something that I long for. He’s been talking of things like involving the community in development and such, and having their originality become part of things. And that’s not new. The mod scene back in the ’90s was endemic of this — they could change a game in so many wonderful ways. Or even ways that just appeal to me.

    I remember back in the original UT, customising it to suit my desires. First of all, having the gore replaced by a weird teleportation thing, as though the players were just holograms and it really was just a game. Or replacing the weapons with a mod’s weapons. I actually found the weapons of Apocalypse Weapons and ChaosUT to be better and more fun than those of UT99. HERETIC, I know.

    Heh. Heretic.

    Anyway, the point is is that he’s talking my language. He might be trying to con me, in which case I’ll dismiss him like yesterday’s rubbish readily. But if he actually means what he’s saying… it means I get a ’90s shooter. I kind of really want that. A lot. A lot. Platforming, bouncing around, silliness, fantastic environments, and play that requires genuine skill. And mods, to take it even further than that.

    I loved gaming right up until the end of the PS2, with some of the last good games I recall playing being stuff like Up Your Arsenal, before it all went to shit and gaming became Hollywood. And then I mostly lost interest.

    It became diseased, cancerous with the tumours of big business and AAA. Passion and originality exited stage left, as doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over very safely took centre stage to appeal to the new extroverted customer base.

    So, this isn’t about Cliffy, this is about that. Cliffy just happens to be talking about that right now.

    #3 5 months ago
  4. Wodge


    It’s going to be with Nexon, who are notorious for P2W.

    Paying to “rent” an item is ridiculous, if you want it permanently, you will be paying exorbitant amounts. Nexon Customer Service is a joke as well.

    Clifford Blezonko is in it for the cash, and that’s all there is to it, Nexon offered more money than anyone else.

    I think quite a few people will just give this a miss.

    #4 5 months ago

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