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

Thursday, 10 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”.

bluestreak

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 [America], 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.

Bosskey

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 America?

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 America, 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 America 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.

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