Cliff Bleszinski on Building Gears of War, Meeting Miyamoto, & More! – IGN Unfiltered #64

Welcome everybody to IGN unfiltered it Is my occasionally airing interview show Where I sit down with the best brightest Most interesting Minds in the video game Industry a rare repeat guest coming back You're one of the early guests on this Uh final program Cliff blazinski good to See you again you are the author of your Memoir control freak out November 1st Which by the way is today as this Interview is airing Cliff welcome good To see you it's good to see you man it's Been way way too long uh you know I was Saying earlier that you know we haven't Been doing the convention circuit that Much you know with covet and everything Like that and just being around crowds Just feels kind of weird these days Um but we're slowly starting to Re-emerge it is society you know Probably gonna do Comic-Con this Upcoming year Um you know I you know being mostly out Of the video game industry you know E3 And GDC I'm kind of like eh because if I Go people are just gonna be like what Are you up to these days and I'm like I Actually have a lot of stuff going on But you know I don't really feel like Explaining myself over and over again to Multiple people at a hotel lobby bar Yeah we'll get to that uh because I've Got just under an hour with you so I'm Gonna make the most of the time I read

The book I really enjoyed the book it Was a really very honest book which I Mean I know you to be an honest guy from The the many years that I've known you I Mean you discuss being molested by a man That you met on the internet when you Were a teenager in this book you admit To cheating on your first wife in this Book and you confess a lot of insecurity About uh your life as you were trying to Make it as a video game designer so you Know what What compels you to to put all this out There Honestly first off don't ever do a Memoir because it's it's I mentioned in The book it's like fighting Dark Link You're like fighting yourself and I'm Having to like relive you know the Trauma of losing my father you know Losing in the Nintendo World Championships um you know the Molestation the whole nine yards uh you Know the fall of my first marriage the Amount of hours that I worked uh you Know for epic games and boss key the Failure of boss key Um essentially What It ultimately wound Up being was a weird form of therapy That I might make a tiny bit of money Off of right and it's like and the the Thing is the process it's like you know When I was writing it just by myself you Know I was just blathering just you know

My I you know maybe I have 80d or Something just yammering all over the Place and then um Simon and Schuster Partner be up with this guy named Todd Gold uh he wrote uh Drew Barrymore's Book a little girl lost uh he wrote Books for the osbornes things like that And he's he's brilliant and he Essentially taught me how to be a writer And so it was an arduous process it took Four years from start to finish Um but I really think it it paints a Picture of who I am as a person and as a Human being as opposed to the Brash Personality that the personality that I've had online for for decades that you Know people love to paint me as some Sort of giant [ __ ] and I'm like I'm I'm a loving husband now and I'm in a Better place so that's me Well you know just a little on that Topic you know you've I've recall you Really making a concerted effort to try And get away from the Cliffy B thing for A while but you you ended up you went With it right here on the cover of the Book so I'm just it's such a tiny little Detail to me but but again knowing you I Was just wanted to ask you about that Like uh well that so Back in the day Um you know when I said I don't want to Be called Cliffy B anymore it was Essentially me [ __ ] with the internet

Like I don't you know I'm 47 years old Now in my whole policy these days is I Like to be called Clifford because for Years when I'd say Cliff people would be Like Chris I'm like Cliff Clifford like The big red [ __ ] dog and so you know Now being a little bit older you know Lauren refers to me as Clifford you know She's streaming these days uh you know Twitch TV Um lead Lauren and uh you know she's Getting a little bit of traction there But she has like a little stuffed Clifford inner gamer chair next to her And it's one of those things that you Know you're allowed to be confident in Almost every industry or business if You're a cocky athlete if you're a Politician saying God knows what Especially these days if you're an actor A porn star whatever uh but if you're a Game developer and you have confidence The internet will just rip you to shreds And it I can tell that a Troll's gonna Be show showing up on my Twitter feed When I haven't had a troll for a couple Months and sooner rather than later you Know Anime Avatar you know eight five Four eight six seven is gonna show up And be like you're an idiot you know Who's just joined Twitter two months ago And has zero followers right Um and you know it's easy to say don't Read that or like don't take it to heart

But you know I'm an emotional person you Know I'm a drama nerd always was you Know I'm you know I'm a big fan of uh The the the speech that Jimmy Valvano Did the uh the North Carolina college Um yeah uh basketball coach when he said During his decline if you do three Things in one day if you could think Laugh and cry that's a good day and I Usually try and done for that you know I Watch stand-up comedy towards the end of The night or I'll watch a movie that Makes me emotional or I'll I'll Reminisce about something and you know I'll I'll research you know how to you Know the restaurant business works or How Broadway works or how the book Publishing business works so you know I'm always learning I'm always laughing And I'm always trying to look for an Excuse to have you know Niagara Falls Uh Nick Kroll's latest on Netflix that Was I don't know if you've watched that Yet that was I do the same thing I like To watch stand up before bed because it Just it's just a it's a happy calming Thing I love it well I I have like Several types we're lucky enough That we have a nice movie room set up Right Um I mean I did work for it but we're Still lucky and basically you know I go Towards the end of the night I get in That Aroma to put the chair back

Got a drink in my hand got my wife next To me got my dog in my lap got the other Dog next to me and there's multiple Types of entertainment first off it's Like you know what's new streaming video On demand so we'll maybe watch a movie And then I'll watch you know essentially A stand-up special and then I'll just go To YouTube and just start watching Random things and uh you know ultimately At the end of the day my problem is my Schedule is totally [ __ ] because I'm Having a sleepover with my best friend Every night and we go to bed at like Three in the morning at least and Because I'm like I'm lucky that I don't Have to set an alarm like 90 of the time And you know that anticipation of like Okay just just 20 more minutes of sleep Ma you know that kind of that kind of uh It's it's one of those things that you Know I'm very blessed with where I am in Life and you know I've been asked you Know how do you feel about the fact that You know epic has exploded because you Know fortnite's a global phenomenon uh You know there's a photo in the book Of myself and Tim Sweeney and it says You know one of these people is a Multi-millionaire the other one's a Multi-billionaire and I had to come to Grips with the fact that you know I'm Comfortable you know I'm maintaining but The thing is is

Um I have a get downstairs to remind Myself that comparison is the thief of Joy so I'm you know happy and one of the Reasons you know I I try to renegotiate My contract when I left epic Um you know Tim wouldn't put up with it Tim's like no this isn't gonna happen And so I was like okay we got you know The 10 cent investment I'm going to be Fiscally comfortable and then I'm Happily married now Um and I'm just gonna ride off into the Sunset and at the same time I started Getting bored you know the everybody has That Dad that retires right and there's A reason he has like a woodworking shop Inside the garage you know you need to Do something and you know I got this Tattoo a while back I don't know if You'd see it There it is yeah Yeah you can barely see it but it's um It's Harold the Purple Crayon which is One of my favorite books as a child Growing up and Harold you know has this Crayon and he just draws stuff that and Just makes it come to life and you know I've always been a creative and you know I have multiple irons in the fire right Now that I'm creating and for me I Missed that feeling of typing up a Description of a character or a setting Or an environment and getting concert Back from a very very talented artist

And so I'm making multiple things that I'm paying out of pocket myself so I own It right now like you know owning the Intellectual property and whatnot and uh It's gonna be a while before anybody Sees it but I'm really really excited About what's in the Horizon and my Theory is When you obsess about the past you're Not thinking about making your future And so you know I take Edibles to sleep Which has been a godsend and uh whatever I get I get a too high of a dose because Usually it's like roof bird armed hard Um you know sometimes you wind up with Like an existential crisis and I'm like No think about where you're going to do Tomorrow think about what you're going To do next week think about what you're Going to do next month not only to keep The coffers full but to also have that That feeling of creativity coming out of You you know I'm just had a call earlier With my Broadway producing partners and There's an option to you know invest and Produce other Broadway shows besides Hadestown so you know I just I have a You know a lot of plates spinning but I Also get my sleep Well that's you know I I I'm all I'm all With you on focusing on the future and Not dwelling too much in the past but we Are here to promote and talk about a Book that is your past so let's keep

Doing that for a few minutes I wanted to Add names have been changed Which is you know you're doing do it to Protect the innocent Were you a rock star as a kid in school After the Nintendo World Championships Thing happened No I was I was still just a pimply dork You know there's yeah even you're five Years older than I am and I remember I Mean Nintendo was Maybe that five years made enough of a Difference but Nintendo was such a a Cool thing uh when I was in of that the Same age you were when when the Nintendo World Championships competition happened That I I feel like you should have been Hailed as a Conquering Hero and had had Been like legendary playground stories At school after that That was absolutely not the case Um I was a pimply face to awkward teen And video games weren't cool when I was Coming up in the 80s and early 90s right And uh you know the sports kids were Cool right and it was one of those Things that uh you know there's a story In the book about you know uh you know Me having gum put in my hair on the School bus and having a Coke dumped on My head Um and then me making the bus driver Stop and be running across the pond Where I used to catch frogs and snakes

And turtles and whatnot and they're you Know yelling out the window he's going Home to please Nintendo and then there's Also the uh the story of I used to go Into our computer lab in Middle School And I play like Oregon Trail and Lemonade on the Apple TCS and whatnot And there's a famous Far Side comic Where there's a kid playing his video Games and the parents Imagine in the future the help wanted Ads where the kids getting really really Fat salaries and things like that and Gary Larson God bless him he didn't know At the time he was being prophetic Absolutely because you're seeing you Know YouTubers and streamers and tick Talkers you know playing games you know Esports these kids are making money hand Over fist now because at the end of the Day eyeballs equals money and we also Live in a world where loneliness is an Industry you know that explains you know Only fans you know you can just be a Person that puts up amateur adult stuff Online but the thing about only fans is There's a feeling of a connection and People just want to feel connected to Somebody else and you have an entire Generation of of Youth that really have A hard time interacting IRL in the real World right and so they live online they They live on 4chan they they Live on memes and that's the world in

Which we live and parents these days are Just like what the [ __ ] is going on and It's one of those things that you know I Was online you know from 1990 or so on You know I had to dial up modems that Sounded like two robots [ __ ] and you Know I I you know the BBS bbs's and Whatnot all of it and uh you know I've Been called to every name you can Imagine on the internet for you know 30 [ __ ] years you know and you know you Think I'd have thicker skin right now But now I'm I'm still an emotional uh Theater nerd at the end of the day Well you know speaking of of emotional You know you wrote that after your dad Died uh tragically of a heart attack That happened while you were in high School your mom moves out to California Remarries and as you put it in the book Pieced out emotionally speaking which Just as her mom had done to her so at That point you're still at an age where I'm sure it would have been really great To have a mother's love and guidance as You're trying to navigate High School I Mean if you don't mind me asking look What ultimately happened with your Relationship with your mom like did she Do the thing where when you become Successful and Rich and and get some Fame that she comes knocking Absolutely so what happened was first Off

When my dad died Um I was 15 years old and then my mother Like didn't have any friends apart from The family so the uh my older brothers The the I'm the youngest of five boys The older brothers had moved on to College and things like that it was my Older brother Tyler and I that were left You know dealing with you know her Grieving right yeah for the first few Nights she couldn't even sleep in her Own bed you know we wound up sleeping in The living room and the thing is um She decided to move to California Because she didn't want to be known as That woman who lost her husband so we Moved out there It was a turned out to be a great move For for me long term but what happened Is She met a new dude who was great Um and fell in love and she went from Being a loving doting mother to just not Now [ __ ] off I don't want anything to do With you and then when I started making Money It was one of those things that I bought Her a car and she says on the phone to Me well Shaq bought his mom a house And that was like establishing character Shot where I'm like Mom you don't Understand how volatile the video game Industry is like people you know such as Yourself have asked me where do you

Think the industry is going to be in Three to five years nobody [ __ ] knows You know it could change you know in a Year you know no one predicted the rise Of Battle Royale et cetera and all that Stuff right Um and the irony of all of it is my Father's death and my mother's ability To tune out and just let me do my thing Led to my career so you know I've Carried a lot of guilt from both angles Of that across the years you got noticed By epic while you reached out uh after You made your own game you mentioned it Uh that started to sell copies people Would would call and order copies over The phone uh and to start making money On a game that you made as a teenager in The pre-internet days Uh Even you know that had to give you some Confidence right that that you you had Some Talent here I got into video games for multiple Reasons first off to Um make great games second off to be Well known for it and third off to make Money and the feeling of you know There's a scene in the book where you Know there's two of the uh the cool kids You know on the quad at my uh California High school where they you know they're Like you don't we don't see you at any Parties like like what's going on here

And I'm like uh they're like what do you Do and I'm like I make games and I make Money and then we all went to Taco Bell But the kicker was just you know I used To listen to I still listen to iced tea I've always been a fan of iced tea and Realizing that iced tea was playing my Video games when he was making his Records as I was listening to his Records making said video games so it's Like oroboros like the circle is Complete right and the thing is is uh he Has he has this line in one of his songs Where he said I had nothing and I wanted It you had everything and you flaunted It and I remember being in the shadow of Software and you know John ramire and John Carmack being in Wired Magazine Showing off their Ferraris and that like I have this term I used it's called find Your Fireball like you know Kenner Ryu Where it's like what is what is that Coming out of your chest to motivate you To get you out of bed in the morning to To keep you going and it's that's that Thing it's like you know I was hungry I Was hungry as [ __ ] I was willing to Sleep under my desk I was willing to Work the hours I was willing to travel Back and forth to shitty Waterloo Ontario Canada repeatedly when I was Actually happy with Mac's wife for a Brief period and and make the first Unreal it's amazing how many people

Don't know there was actually a game Unreal and it's not just an engine well I remember it it dragged my Pentium to Its knees but it was stunning I remember It well remember yeah You remember the Weird Al uh song it's All about the panties It's kind of his parody of All About the Benjamins and you know it's one of those Things that you know being 47 I still Like I think relatively young and people Just don't really know like the amount Of work that was involved because it Wasn't just sitting at a desk in Building levels and playing games and You know or you know you know doing Visual Basic for my adventure games I Also Rose to the top of the Heap in Regards to being decent on camera and Having you know my drama background and Having no problem being in front of a Crowd so I had to work double duty Essentially and you know much to the the Love and also ire of the internet right Well you know your first game at Epic Jazz Jackrabbit which uh you were Partnered up with a very talented artist On it you know it sounds like from just Following you over the years and Continuing to keep in touch with you Sounds like jazz is still really near And dear to your heart I'm still getting paychecks from it It's a crazy oh thanks good

Well the thing is I actually have a Sticker for jazz 2 right here There it is nice The thing is is um you know I always try To make all of my work as personal as I Could Um and to actually not to to be a dick But to correct you um dare to dream was Actually the first game I did with epic Um it was my first fail my first failure Long before law Breakers And uh but then you know Jazz you know We grew up having you know bunnies as Pets and you know I grew up you know my Parents would show me you know 80s Violent movies like Robocop and Rambo And I was like What if I had a Rambo Rabbit you know and he's you know it's The tortoise and the hair 3000 years Later and you know I I understood Branding even at a young age you know Alliteration helps you know the Jazz Jackrabbit right and you know there's People out there with you know tattoos Of him on their body and As a creative I can tell you Ryan there Is no greater honor than when you make Something and people get it tattooed in Their bodies you know the amount of Gears of War tattoos and Unreal Tournament tattoos and Jazz jack rabbit Tattoos out there It's crazy there's no dream tattoos Surprisingly

Tattoo on your arm I mean again it's on my left arm because You know I'm a lefty so it's my reminder When I wake up every day to just take a Few steps to create you know I'm working On I don't know if you've seen on my Twitter I'm working on an intellectual Property that stars a superhero dog the Dog thing yeah yeah which was inspired By my Pomsky Um and the funny thing is is uh the Pomsky uh her name is the lady Um and I lost my Australian shepherd He Has this we have the shrine behind me Right there you know a few years ago Right his boss he was circling the drain I had to put my [ __ ] dog down so it Was like a one-two punch in you know a Mad world was probably playing in the Background and I um you know once the The year of spontaneous crying stopped Because I love that [ __ ] dog Um Lauren found this Pomsky in Charlotte North Carolina and we were going up to The final season premiere of Game of Thrones in Manhattan and yes the final Season wasn't that good I know but I'm Friends with the show Runners and so we Go to Radio City Music Hall you know we See the the first episode and then we go To the after party you know we're Hanging out with John Oliver in the Mountain and things like that and then You know I'm about to to leave and then

Turns out there's another after party And so we're at this uh this hotel the Mandarin Oriental and uh you know it's a Speakeasy I'm sitting there hanging out With a cast right and um you know I'm Friends with Liam Cunningham sir Davos And uh he you know goes upstairs and Changes out of a suit comes down wearing A t-shirt and sweatpants kit Harrington AKA Jon Snow looks at him and goes you Look like a [ __ ] homeless mad VOD and Then I see Peter Dinklage you know a Little tipsy I mean probably it only Takes a beer and a half for him you know He's a small man and uh I'm like can I Meet Peter he's like yeah sure and Dinklage comes over Reaches over grabs Liam Cunningham's Left nipple and I grab his right nipple So I'm sitting there with Tyrion Lannister giving sir Davos a titty Twister in Manhattan and then it like While you know Emilia Clarke Daenerys is Like behind us going like what the [ __ ] Is going on right now and uh so then you Know I get another message from a dby Stan Weiss who you know gave me a quote For the back of the book because he read It and enjoyed it And uh he's like oh we're having a we're Going to uh up to our suite to hang out And we wound up drinking with the cast Of Game of Thrones until four in the Morning it turns out Shaw figures was a

Nice guy but immediately after that we Flew down to Charlotte North Carolina Picked up the dog and realizing you know How much I love Game of Thrones I was Like okay we're gonna name her lady After Sansa Stark's direwolf and she's Ultimately been my muse for the dog Thing that I'm working on and that's the Thing is you know I talk about finding Your Fireball like you know finding your Muse I really believe in the idea of Muses you know Lauren was my muse for so Much of what I've done throughout my Life you know at the end of Gears three Uh you know Marcus and Anya are on the Beach you know Marcus finally takes off His do-rag he takes off his armor you Know he's essentially letting his hair Down and he sits down on the log you Know next to Anya and he says what do we Have now and Anya puts her hand in his Leg and says we have a tomorrow and and You know during crunch time in the Gears Of War franchise with Lauren we you know We'd escape to the Carolina Shore and That's why you know I am a firm believer That game developers should make their Work as personal as possible I'm with you I mean and it comes through In your games too I mean that was always The secret sauce well not so Secrets it To people that didn't play the game it Seemed secret but to people that played It we knew like there's a heart you know

These Meat Heads all there's a there's a Heart at the at the at the center of This thing and that's that's why it's Lived on so long but Um you know you talk about music I want To ask you about about heroes because Shigeru Miyamoto is mentioned repeatedly In your book as an industry hero of Yours and understandably so but you know You don't actually mention if you've Ever been able to meet him at some point In time so did have you had the chance To meet Miyamoto and if so what was that Like I I got to buy it once at E3 and That was that was the closest and even That I like you know I've met a lot of Great people in the industry and that Was one where I was I had the kind of a Little bit of a celebrity moment Yeah it's uh I don't I don't geek out That often around uh like celebs or Anything like that you know and you know I've had my sh my share of hanging out With you know famous people and whatnot Blah blah but I've met him a few times Um and it's one of those things there's A there's some photos of me and him out There at some some point Um you know and he's he's just he's got A childlike way about him you know and That's I think it's that's the thing is You know for me My brother often says you know with Everything that happened to me when I

Was 15 and it's a case of Arrested Development and he was he was kind he Was affable and he's one of my heroes The other one that's also mentioned in The book is a hideo Kojima who's Actually excuse me become a friend of Mine and it was hideo Kojima when I took My uh in-laws to Japan Write his boss key was circling the Drain and he told me in person he says You did something on your own you know You're with your old studio for years You got funding you hired up you shipped A game you know and this is before death Stranding had even shipped And he's like I haven't even done that Yet you know and it's one of those Things that You know sometimes As they say in dear Evan Hansen when You're you know when the dart comes Crashing through would need a friend to Carry you when you're broken on the Ground you will be found and sometimes You know I believe we're in The Matrix And decoder that's running this Matrix Has a way of sending you signals Sometimes and that was the sign that you Know I was going to give it one last go With the studio with uh radical Heights And it's one of those things I hope you Know I'm going to be in the right side Of history in regards to the fact that You know I made well I mean let's be

Fair it was a game and a half you know Because radical Heights was super raw But you know so many days people message Me on Twitter they're like fix Gears of War and I'm like the see the new ones Are pretty good dude okay Um but the uh the other thing is you Know like they want radical Heights back They want law Breakers back and I'm like Where the [ __ ] were you guys back then Jesus Christ and the fact of the matter Is We live in a world now where if you're Not in the front page of twitch you're Dead in the water and it's it's such a a Shell game in regards to you know Appealing to influencers and social Media another quick point about one of My heroes is um Todd Howard and you know When we were doing the convention Circuit it was the funniest thing Because you know Todd my wife's a big Nerd right you know and she she you know Loves you know all sorts of types of Games that's what brought us together But her and Todd would always be off the Corner at like the E3 parties just Chatting chatting chatting right she uh You know she loves you know nerdiness Um you know and we have seen what's also This in this generation the rise of the Beautiful nerd you know and it's it's Been such a fascinating thing and you Know it's so nice to know that she's my

Forever person and I don't want to ever Spend a night without her because I Absolutely love her Uh you mentioned the of course you know The Unreal Tournament days you mentioned Carmack and Romero uh Romero Specifically comes up a decent bit Throughout the book and I want to ask You about him in a second but I'm just Curious as as somebody I was a gamer During the UT Q3 you know the 1999 and That whole thing was that rivalry felt By you guys on the inside as developers The way it was definitely a thing in the Community at the time because it was a Bizarre coincidence that they came out So close to each other Yeah we uh we wanted to crush them Honestly and there's a certain period at Epic where you know Tim was always like Well what would Aiden Carmack do right Because you know At the same time what we did was what I Call counter programming yes we were Making a multiplayer first-person Shooter but we wanted to have bright Colors and not make it kind of dark and Dreary you know same thing with the First unreal unreal had the bright Colored lighting it had Sky castles it Had you know all these beautiful Environments whereas Quake was deep dark Trent rezner fueled Cthulhu Dungeons and You know that was also you know what I

Tried for with the you know law Breakers Back a few years ago where you know like You we wanted to have an art style Different than OverWatch we wanted to Have abilities that weren't just the Same you know I watched my wife play OverWatch too you know as Mercy just With the the healing noodle falling People around and I'm like I still don't Understand how that's fine Um the game certainly has its merits it You know crushed us but it's one of Those things that you know we saw it is Our Rivals and it's a similar thing you Know like with John Romero that I saw Romero as my my enemy you know like you Know he had he was dating Stevie case at The time who's in Playboy and whatnot Right and uh I was like I'm gonna take That guy down you know it goes back to The again the whole I have nothing and I Wanted it you got everything and you Flaunted it and so we were gunning to Try and you know defeat it and I'm Fairly certain that Unreal Tournament Outsold uh Quake 3 Arena but um I don't Actually have the numbers in front of me But the thing is you know their Tech was Technically more advanced but ours would Actually run on a potato so Um and we continue to support it by you Know I had my my Ownage website back in The day you know which has led to many People uh actually having jobs in the in

The industry as level designers now and Uh it was uh it was a wild time you know And a lot of sleeping under your desk a Lot of Mountain Dew and uh eventually a Lot of clarity indeed to keep me awake You were you were pretty honest about Romero in the book and talking about how You know you just kind of touched on now That you were sort of seeing him as a Rival and and you talked about die Katana and and sort of the you know Being part of the um you know kind of Rooting for the demise and then life Came full circle for you on that with Lawbreakers and you've you've come to You write in the book that you talk About uh really coming to a a better Place with regard to your your feelings About Romero has he read this book yet Has he gotten a copy or or have you have You had a chance to sort of talk to him Over the years and and sort of I have no I have not actually been able to get him A copy yet um I mean you know he's you Know he's thriving these days um you Know he's happily married to Brenda Um and it's one of those things you know We wound up hanging out in Croatia at uh The the dev conference a few years ago And uh you know it's one of those things That you know I saw I miss my rival I Saw him as my enemy and then eventually He became a good friend you know and He's a smart he's smart charismatic dude

And the thing is Romero was one of the First rock star game designers and I Looked at his Playbook and I tried to Emulate it as much as possible you know He had his signature long hair he has His painted nails you know his Rocky raw Mike and then I was doing the whole like In the blonde hair the the red hair you Know changing my looks up a lot because Pop culture not you know I was you know Grew up watching Madonna continue to Reinvent herself and I knew that was Something that I had to do in the video Game industry and I'm you know I'm proud To say that he's actually become a good Friend and to go back to the whole out Real quick the The Game of Thrones thing Uh sir Davos his daughter uh Ellen Ellen Cunningham Um she uh is actually what was studying Game design under Brenda and John in Ireland and so it's one of those things You know when I met her at a Comic-Con Party the the Entertainment Weekly one She's like oh my God you're Cliffy Bean I'm studying under John and Brenda and She's just an absolute sweetheart and Very very talented and you know she was At GDC once and I was introducing her to Absolutely everybody that I could Because she's just super talented now She's making games and it's just you Know the world is small you know and my Advice is you know don't be a dick when

You're young and you're cocky you just Think you're Invincible you think you Can get you can get away with anything And then you get a little bit older and You're like [ __ ] man I was being an [ __ ] and so now you know hindsight it Really is a classic Hollywood kind of Story whereas you know rooting for Ramiro to fall like you know every time I go to Dallas you know we just went There for My Chemical Romance and to see You know we stay at the W there because It's the hotel where Lauren and I first Met first kissed Etc And I look at that tower that Romero you Know leased the top few floors for ION Storm and I send a photo to my my old Art director Chris perda who's working For him for years and uh I'm like it Still hurts doesn't it and he's like God Damn it and uh you know now Chris Perna You know it's just you know worldwide Art director for epic games you know I I Recruited him from ionstorm and from Romero's fall of the studio I wound up Recruiting a whole bunch of really Really talented people uh at epic games And uh you know Silver Lining to that But it's one of those things that you Know in hindsight it was really dickish To have the shot and fraud of seeing Somebody else's Studio fail and then Again the Matrix God was sending me Another signal like well now your studio

Is gonna fail you're gonna see how it [ __ ] feels Uh well I've got 20 minutes to get Through ears and boss key and what You're up to now so I'm gonna I'm gonna Press fast forward here uh can you tell Me about casting John DiMaggio in Gears Did was he your first choice and and how Did how quickly did The Voice come Around I mean John's voiced a million Different things but but Marcus is a Pretty unique voice of his and it's so Iconic and it's so perfect I was Wondering if you could uh talk on that a Little bit He's got that kind of gravelly voice you Know like some Leonard Cohen kind of [ __ ] right and the thing is is uh he Wasn't our first choice um there's this Uh one of the first Gears trailers which Had a kid Whispering you know uh Something about you know the nighttime Coming and the Monsters coming up and Then saying are you friends right and Then the first guy we casted his voice Sounded like oh the dark And then rod God bless him was like dude this this Voice doesn't match this guy's body type Or his Gruff look we'd eat somebody with Like a deeper voice and so you know we Had another round of auditions and then DiMaggio Rose to the top and I'm like Wait that's [ __ ] Fender okay and you

Know the thing is so many of the The Voice talent that we we hired in cast For the the you know the the three of Them that I worked on you know had such A great Cadence to their voices they had Such a great tone you know anyo sounded Perfect all of them you know Dom you Know it's I remember Hiring Carlos farro Um because he he sounded a little Latino But he didn't sound like Speedy [ __ ] Gonzalez you know because I remember Playing one of the Splinter Cell games And I'm hearing these guys being like hi Papi oh dios Mia whatever I'm just like Oh my God that's like a bad stereotype And you know he wound up putting a lot Of heart into the characters and the Thing about gears Was when it came out with the first Three you know all the the feedback was Like this is just a buff stupid dude bro Shooter and once in a while I will Wistfully go to YouTube after a mimosa And look up like Dom's death Maria's Death you know uh all of it and then Just read the comments and people were Moved You know we made a game that was you Know one part predator in one part you Know Donnie Darko and it really it Resonated with people you know again Going back to the whole tattoos so yeah DiMaggio is a hell of a talent

Uh one thing that surprised me to learn About gears when I read the book is that You didn't have the trilogy mapped out You really were kind of taking it one Game at a time and the story was all Right well we're gonna do another one so Let where do we want to take this what Do we want to do That like in in 2022 that feels kind of Crazy in this world of MCU and Everything's mapped out all ahead of Time like it it's I mean please don't Take this disrespectfully but it's to me It seems like kind of a miracle that Years one through three has is wonderful Of an arc and as much of an emotional Heart as it does since you were you you Were kind of just taking each one as as It came from one to two to three We had a vague idea of what we were Doing and where we were going but it was Again it was vague so you know after Each game would ship we you know have These meetings where Rod Ferguson the Producer one of the best producers in The business would you know sit us down And say okay what what are we going to Do that's new what are we going to do do That's better what are we going to do More of new better more those are the Meetings and we just as the leads we'd Get together and brainstorm and then you Know there's things that I would push For there's things that Rod would push

Forward there's things that Lee Perry Would push for you know I get a lot of The credit for the trilogy but it was Very much a team effort you know like You know Tom Brady wouldn't be the goat That he is if he didn't have great Teammates to support him you know great Receivers and things like that and great Coaches and whatnot So it was one of those things that uh You know same thing with what I'm Working on now creatively like I have an Idea of where I want things to go but as A creative you know just have an idea Where things might go but stay a little Bit loose stay a little bit flexible you Know Kevin feige is that you pronounce His name Um for Marvel I guess the dude's [ __ ] brilliant and He's dealing with you know dozens of Years of backlogged uh work that he can You know draw upon and then find you Know talented people like James Gunn you Know to direct uh you know Guardians of The Galaxy and whatnot you know the you Know I can't remember the name of the Brothers that did uh uh uh Yeah the Russo Brothers you know great Movie Um and you know that's the thing about Being a creative you know like there's a Quote in the book that Mike caps my old Boss had on his desk you know in order

To uh succeed with your audience you Need to defy their expectations you know And I'm a big believer of giving people Something that's familiar yet different You know Star Wars is essentially the Old movie Hidden Fortress but sci-fi you Know the Mandalorian is essentially a Western you know and some of the new Stuff I'm working on is basically kind Of rooted in that you know I read a book I can't remember the name of it right Now that was basically saying you know Familiar but different and that's Generally the key to success so gears Felt a little bit like Resident Evil you Know felt a little bit like Call of Duty Uh you know but all mixed up with you Know a a new version of the tech Unreal Engine 3 that made it really really Shine and even you know uh yesterday you Know uh well since it's November 1st Um you know playing uh gears one with The guy who interviewed me for CBS It's like the remastered version still Looks darn good Um and I'm exceptionally proud of the Work that we did and I always will be And you know it's part of my legacy and You know it's one of those things about Ramiro Ramiro leans into his legacy with Posting screenshots from early Doom Levels and things like that so you know It's as they say in politics is you know The midterms are coming up rapidly play

To your base Yeah I got to uh for the for Doom's 20th Anniversary 10 years ago I got to play Co-op with John Romero through all of Episode one the knee deep and the dead And that he he cared as much about it I Couldn't I was shocked like he is he's He loves that every bit as much as the Day he made it which uh which really was Awesome for me as a fan uh you show a Ton of Love by the way you mentioned Ron Ferguson a lot of love for rod in the Book I I have to imagine you're still Very much in touch with him I actually haven't talked to him in a Little while Um he's actually the um he's the lead Producer on the Diablo franchise at uh Activision Blizzard and whatnot Um and it's one of those things uh I'm I Became friends with this uh this cool Nerdy dude who lives in New York uh Named Ethan wolf and turns out he's Working on the Diablo franchise and and Apparently Rod will still tell the team Stories about you know being in the Trenches shipping the gears franchise And the irony is the art director On the gears I mean I'm sorry I'm the Diablo franchise is a guy named John Mueller who used to work for me in Epic And he actually uh as a favor he's a Classically trained painter and he will Paint every one of our dogs that we have

So in my bedroom I have you know a Painted image of Teddy rest in peace Bubba bear uh and Evie and lady and it's One of those things he just does it as a Favor for me and it's just you know Really realizing how small the industry Is which is why I tell people don't be a [ __ ] [ __ ] Good advice uh you talk in the book About the moment that the 10 cent money Hit everyone's bank accounts at Epic so For listeners who might not know 10 cent Uh invested a a large minority stake in Epic while Cliff was still there some Years back and you write about the day That the money hit everybody's bank Accounts but now you don't say exactly What the number was because you're a Nice guy but let me ask you this did Anybody quit epic and just retire right From there like was it and and really For you or for what you observed on the Team was it tough to stay motivated After that because if you get if it's Significant as you seem to indicate that It was I could see how that could change Some people's thinking about their about What they want to do The thing is uh eventually you know you Know I left I think I was one of the First people to leave but Mike caps my Old boss uh left uh Rod Ferguson left Um then the team that you know did the Initial version of fortnite pieced out

Um and it was a really interesting Period for epic games Um they weren't really shipping any Games fortnite the early version of save The world took like five six years to Get out and then they did the most Brilliant pivot in video game history uh To do the Battle Royale mode and then You know Donald mustard actually took Over you know as creative uh director at The company and I remember you know he Worked at a you know chair entertainment Which epic acquired a while back they Did Infinity Blade and and Shadow Complex and things like that and Donald Reminds me a lot of myself of the fact That he's a creative but he can hang With the Nerds but he can also hang with The cool kids you know he can stand in Front of a Roman pitch a game idea with This a great PowerPoint and super Charisma while also like you know out Going over somebody's shoulder and Looking at the character being built or Look at the environments being built or Or you know looking at the code and Things like that and it's one of those Things that um When you get life-changing wealth like That it kind of affects your thinking And I realized you know when I I walked Away Um that I just was tired of arguing with Programmers you know there's the old

Adage the old saying that says arguing With a programmer is like wrestling with A pig in the mud eventually you realize The pig likes it right and I remember You know there's a bit in the book where I'm talking about the Locust being from The underground and I remember pitching It to one of the programmers just like I Don't get it I'm like he's like how do They get there I'm like that's part of The mystery we'll figure that out later You know and it you know programmers are So analytical and you know they taught Me over the decades how to be efficient You know and the kicker was you know me Also being from New England I'm very Much cut to the [ __ ] chase let's get To the [ __ ] point and then of course I wound up going and marrying a Louisiana girl who's like well we'll get There when we get there you know like Just go with the flow and I'm like no I Make the [ __ ] flow I'm the one who Knocks right and uh so yeah no it's you Know just being you know freshly happily Married and you know after losing all of The money I made off of jazz and unreal In the divorce you know living in a Shitty apartment Um you know to actually be able to you Know be have a big beautiful house to be Able to pay my bills to be able to go Out for prime rib once in a while you Know and occasionally fly private

Um it's one of those things that it's It's very freeing and but the kicker is Right now what I'm doing everything is On my own terms which is incredibly Empowering Yeah no doubt uh last thing on Gears Were you surprised that Mark and Tim Sold it to Microsoft I honestly think once Lee Perry myself Uh and Rod Ferguson left I believe that Epic didn't really know what to do with The franchise and as much as I love Tim And Mark and we're still in touch uh When the IP was sold to Microsoft Um the only phone call I got was from Phil Spencer right and like that's Phil Is as they say a gentleman and a scholar And you know the kicker was is you know Epic how to keep the coffers full you Know they hadn't shipped a game in a While you know the engine was doing Rather well but you know they were Growing and they you know probably had You know needed the income even though They they really didn't know what to do With the future of the franchise the Thing is I will say about the latest Ones is that you know at the end of the One of the recent ones they made the Player choose between which character Lives and dies and I'm like dude really Like we committed to Dom dying we Committed to you know Maria being killed We committed to Ty's suicide and things

Like that like you know like now you're Just painting yourself into a corner Narratively I just I don't get that and Again four and five were they're really Really good I just I didn't feel I Didn't feel some of the heart that we Had in the first three and I think you Know people on Twitter continually Remind me of that Uh now boss key you certainly you you Don't shy away from that experience in The book uh obviously boss key did not Work out you're very honest about it Including the details of why Um do you think any decision could have You know we can't go back but was you Could you point anything where it could Have changed the outcome on that So this is a bit of a side note but do You ever like research like why Airplanes crash I do not I I probably mentally don't Want to It's um I'm comfortable with air travel I have millions of miles up my butt Um the thing is usually it's a series of Cascading failures so people like to Point and say like this one thing made Law Breakers not work or this that or The other you know I think the marketing Was largely uneven I think that OverWatch became a phenomenon I think we Were actually a little bit too hardcore Of a shooter and I think that uh you

Know my Brash personality and my putting My politics out there certainly did not Help When your news story about your game is The fact that your game has gender Neutral bathrooms in it And people are like what the [ __ ] dude Like I don't give a [ __ ] you know Because you know my politics are Relatively Progressive you know I was Trying to actively do what I could to Get Pat McCrory out of office as the Governor of North Carolina and get Roy Cooper and stated spend a good amount of Money on that and you know all of those Things together you know really added up To the fact that It basically cratered you know we we Went up with like something like 6 000 Concurrent players initially and then it Just every week it went down and like I Literally felt like I was on the Titanic Watching it sink as all that happened And for me to stand in front of my Company these people that I'd hired that I've you know met their spouses and Their children you know to I've I've Gone to dinner and had drinks with them And to you know try and fluff them up on A Friday meeting and tell them you know We're gonna be okay we're gonna make This work Um even though I just I can feel my nose Growing like Pinocchio

Um that was one of the hardest Experiences of my adult life and uh I I'm still friends with a number of the People that worked there we have a text Thread that we keep in touch with all The time When they come to town we'll just go out For a pint and whatnot Um but it absolutely absolutely broke my Heart and broke me for a good year after The studio closed and I lost my dog and Meanwhile you know YouTubers and the Internet's like haha and I'm like you Don't really understand what it's like To be responsible for 80 people and Their livelihoods and there's this this Urban legend going around saying I Didn't pay them and it's like they got Two weeks of salary and two months of Health Care like we we allocated for That like I don't know where people were Making that rumor up from so yeah it was It it kind of wrecked me for a bit and Think I thank my lucky stars that I have Lauren in my life and she was supporting Me through all of it through you know Pitching the dragon project at you know 2K Microsoft Activision the whole nine Yards uh which ultimately got turned Down uh which I'm never more motivated than when I'm Angry and one of the things I'm working On is something related to that the Dragon thing and I'm working with uh JJ

Abrams go to producer Brian Burke who Did Star Wars the Force awakens the Star Trek movies Alias uh Cloverfield all That and uh you know stay tuned for news On that soon Well Do you think That uh social media has has changed Discourse in the games industry For Better or For Worse Maybe it's not a bite I think Well it's it's social media I believe is An issue but it's also you know again Eyeballs equals money so what you're Also seeing is the culture wars you know And there's people online you know Usually 4chan trolls are like you can Keep your politics out of my video game And I'm like dude have you played Bioshock it's based on Ayn rand's Philosophies you [ __ ] idiot like you Know read a book [ __ ] Um and so I think it's uh it's you know Caused this kind of like ping-ponging Effect between people where you know It's it's you know do you remember the Old school uh idea of the when you play Video game the time until you see a Crate from old man Murray uh it's Basically like whenever every every time You play a video game it's only a matter Of seconds until you see a crate right And it's basically you know the internet Brings out contrarians you know and

People that just want to say what no one Else is saying and they want to get Under your skin and then again eyeballs Equals money so it's one of those things That you know twitch streamers I respect What they do they work their butts off But we're in a the culture of hey what's Up guys like And subscribe and you know That kind of [ __ ] and uh you know it's As a 40-something dude it's it's Slightly exhausting to be honest It is that how you'd feel about it too I Guess because I should have phrased that Question of how does it affect game Developers because I know how it affects Me as a media person and in the Community but does it have a tangible Effect on game developers in the middle Of the project or are you guys Absolutely No no it absolutely [ __ ] affects us I Remember uh do you remember the old Website neogaf Sure it was yeah it was a forum um and You know it was like the whole like if You're big on neogaf you're big and um I Remember like you know my my coders at Epic and my artists like reading the Forums and seeing what people are saying And literally having panic attacks over It like if you're a person on the Internet saying words keep in mind these People are working sometimes 12 16 hour Days to bring you this product and yes

Sometimes it ships broken but they do it For you know to feed their [ __ ] Families but also for the literally the Love of the Game and you know I wish People online would just pick their Words a little bit more carefully and The fun fact is that you know sometimes There have been people who've recognized Me from my work that have actually Become friends with there's this uh Woman named Jesse to recognize me Karaoke one night and then now her and I Are like really really close friends you Know there's this girl uh Bree Martin Who um actually does QA and epic now and Her and Lauren are like because thieves Now you know she recognized me the first Boss key panel at packs and so you know The thing is you know we're all human Beings you know words hurt we all have Feelings and I wish people would keep That more in mind Well uh my time with you is up here and And we've covered you know we've talked About your early career your childhood Your your home life uh making it an epic Unreal Tournament gears the book is Control freak it's out now on paperback Read it wherever you want whether it's Paperback Kindle tablet iPhone whatever The case may be find it read it you will Enjoy it and for more from the best Brightest and most interesting Minds in The games industry check out all of my

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