Cliff Bleszinski (formerly known as Cliffy B or CliffB, formerly known as Grand Master Ice Shaft) is a retired game developer known for his stint as a lead level designer and later game designer for Epic Games, playing a key role in the development of both the Unreal and Gears of War franchises. He was also the founder of his own studio, Boss Key Productions.
Clifford Bleszinski was born in 1975 and lived in Andover, Massachusetts before moving to La Verne, California at the age of 15. During his time in La Verne, he released his first title, named The Palace of Deceit: Dragon's Plight (1991), an adventure title he started at the age of 15, through his self-owned company Game Syndicate Productions. Programmed in Visual Basic, its second version came out when he was 16.
He then sent his next game, Dare to Dream (1993), to Tim Sweeney, CEO of the then-named Epic MegaGames. Despite the game not achieving sales expectations, Bleszinski then went on to work on Jazz Jackrabbit, a platformer co-developed by demoscene coder Arjan Brussee. The title, which was released in 1994, became Epic's biggest selling game at the time, earning him enough money to get his first apartment and car.
He has been with the company since, working as the lead designer for several franchises such as Jazz Jackrabbit and especially Unreal and Gears of War. Cliff became less involved with Unreal's later installments (such as Unreal II, UT2004 and UT3) and instead worked as the lead designer for the Gears of War franchise.
In addition to his work on the Unreal series, Bleszinski served as creative consultant on Rune, and as lead designer on the first three installments of the Gears of War franchise. Gears of War evolved out of the development of what was going to be a game called Unreal Warfare. As Bleszinski explained in a speech at GDC 2007 entitled "Designing Gears of War: Iteration Wins", the game started out as another first-person shooter in the Unreal universe. Over time, however, influenced by the cover mechanic in Namco's 2003 game Kill Switch and the third-person Resident Evil 4, Unreal Warfare evolved into the game known as Gears of War.
After 20 years, Cliff announced his departure from Epic Games on October 3, 2012, saying he had been making video games since he was a teen and wanted to take a break. According to a 2015 interview, his original intention was to retire permanently:
On June 30, 2014, Cliff announced on Twitter that he was "coming out of retirement to make video games again" and would be unveiling his next project in the next week. The new game, a free-to-play, PC-focused arena shooter code-named BlueStreak, would be published by Nexon and developed by his new studio, Boss Key Productions, which he co-founded with Brussee the same year. A year later, Bleszinski revealed that the arena shooter would be called LawBreakers.. Eventually, members of Boss Key went on to work for Epic Games, something that didn't sit well with him. After the failure of LawBreakers and the closure of Boss Key productions, he retired from the gaming industry.
Cliff Bleszinski was offered an opportunity to work on the Silent Hill franchise by Hideo Kojima, vice president of Konami Digital Entertainment. "I was flattered but declined", he wrote on Twitter. In May 2016, he joined the board of advisers for Fig, a mixed crowd-funding/investment platform for video games.
Involvement with the Unreal series
Around the time of Jazz Jackrabbit, he teamed up with Sweeney and James Schmalz of Digital Extremes in order to create what would be known as Unreal. The first demo came in 1995, the completed game in 1998,, the expansion-turned-standalone Unreal Tournament came in 1999, and the rest is history.
Cliff was the lead level designer on Unreal and contributed to Unreal Mission Pack: Return to Na Pali, Unreal Tournament, Unreal II: The Awakening, Unreal Tournament 2003, and Unreal Tournament 2004. During a time, he also maintained a space on PlanetUnreal called CliffyB's Ownage, dedicated to third-party map recommendations from him. This feature eventually made it into Unreal Tournament 2004 itself, which has an "Ownage" section in the Community menu.
|Maps created by Cliff Bleszinski|
DM-Brickyard • DM-Dust • DM-Gearbox • DM-Girder • DM-Google • DM-CurseII • DM-HealPodII • DM-MojoII • DM-ShrapnelII • DM-Codex • DM-Turbine (UT map) • DOM-Bullet • RA-CliffyB • DM-Tempest (UT map) • DM-Barricade • DM-Paladin • DOM-Tutorial • DOM-Cinder • DOM-Gearbolt • CTF-Tutorial • CTF-Gauntlet • AS-Guardia
|Unreal Tournament 2003:|
|Unreal Tournament 2004:|
- The nickname "CliffyB" was originally a derogatory name given to him by "some jock kid" when he was a shy teenager; he then took it and developed a tougher persona around it. However, in an interview with MTV in 2008, he expressed a desire to retire the moniker, saying it's "time to grow up a bit".
- Early on his career, Cliff used the nickname "Grand Master Ice Shaft", later on, he changed his nickname to "Dude Huge". This nickname can be seen as the author name in some of the Unreal Beta maps.
- His favorite map in Unreal Tournament 2003 was between DM-Antalus and BR-Skyline, and his favorite mutator was Quad Jump:
- One of his favorite mods in 2004 was Robostorm. Other mods of his liking were Clone Bandits, Air Buccaneers and Alien Swarm.
- He once said that he would have loved to see the original Unreal adapted as a movie.
- One of the criticisms Cliff had regarding 2004 was the huge variety, which in his eyes is counterproductive.
- Around the early days of Unreal Tournament, he confessed he liked its arch-rival Quake III Arena, praising the character work from Paul Steed and Kenneth Scott. On consoles, he preferred the "games one can play with their friends" such as Mario Party 2, Chu Chu Rocket and Soul Calibur, while also calling Parappa the Rapper, UmJammer Lammy, and Bust a Groove his "guilty pleasures". In an interview he also said that Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 had some "very, very impressive work", lauding its architecture.
In-game easter eggs
See also: Easter eggs
- There are hidden pictures of Cliffy in DM-Asbestos, DM-Codex and AS-BP2-Outback. The ones in Asbestos and Codex are secret areas, while Outback has a portrait of him in the bar as the "Employee of the Month".
- Cliff's name is on the Nexus Missiles in AS-Convoy and on a few street signs in ONS-Urban.
- One of the unused taunts in UT2003 and UT2004 is "You're almost as good as CliffyB".
- Changing the player's name to "CliffyB" in UT2003 or UT2004 botmatches will cause bots to have the names of various Epic Games employees.
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- Corriea, Alexa Ray (July 4, 2014). "Cliff Bleszinski creates Boss Key game studio with Guerrilla Games co-founder". Polygon. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
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- "Cliff Bleszinski accuses Epic Games of trying to hire away his team, but then they are almost neighbours". MCV UK (April 16, 2018). Retrieved April 25, 2019.
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- Keighley, Geoffrey. "Blinded By Reality: The True Story Behind the Creation of Unreal". Gamespot. Archived from the original on May 19, 2001. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
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- Bleszinski, Cliff (September 10, 2004). "RoboStorm". Epic Games Forums. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Berghammer, William (August 18, 2004). "AU: The Cliffy B Interview". GameInformer. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Bleszinski, Cliff (October 4, 2004). "UT The Movie". Epic Games Forums. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- "CliffyB Interview". IGN (April 11, 2000). Retrieved May 23, 2019.
- Harris, Patricia (September 22, 2000). "Dueling Designers: Alan Willard and Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games". 3DActionPlanet. Archived from the original on April 28, 2001. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
- de Neve, Erik (June 6, 2018). "A retrospective of Unreal, from the people who made it (comment section)". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
- Cliff Bleszinski @ Wikipedia
- "Interview with Cliff Bleszinski". Unreal Universe. Archived from the original on August 18, 2001. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "Unreal Tournament Interview with Cliff Bleszinski". Unreal Universe. Archived from the original on August 15, 2000. Retrieved April 25, 2019.