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Unreal The subject of this article appeared in Unreal Tournament. The subject of this article appeared in Unreal Championship. The subject of this article appeared in Unreal Tournament 2003. The subject of this article appeared in Unreal Tournament 2004. The subject of this article appeared in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict. The subject of this article appeared in Unreal Tournament 3.

"Level Designers are the ones that are responsible for taking all of the content that the rest of the team produces and meld it into a cohesive, fast, enjoyable experience. They're 1 part architect, 1 part artist, 1 part game designer, and 1 part beta tester!"
Interview with Tolstiy's Place[4]

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.[5] 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.[6][7][8] Programmed in Visual Basic, its second version came out when he was 16.[8]

He then sent his next game, Dare to Dream (1993), to Tim Sweeney, CEO of the then-named Epic MegaGames.[2][9] 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.[9][10] 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.[9][11]

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[12], and as lead designer on the first three installments of the Gears of War franchise.[13] Gears of War evolved out of the development of what was going to be a game called Unreal Warfare.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

On April 12, 2010, he appeared on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where he showed the debut trailer for Gears of War 3 and cited Space Invaders as the game that initially inspired him.[17][18]

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.[19][20] According to a 2015 interview, his original intention was to retire permanently:

"It was a combination of gamers feeling jaded, as well as working with some very talented people who were also very jaded (...) I could pitch the most amazing idea to anybody back when I was at Epic toward the end, and they'd be like 'I don't buy it'"
Cliff Bleszinski[21]

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.[22] 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.[23][24] A year later, Bleszinski revealed that the arena shooter would be called LawBreakers.[25]. Eventually, members of Boss Key went on to work for Epic Games, something that didn't sit well with him.[26] After the failure of LawBreakers and the closure of Boss Key productions, he retired from the gaming industry.[27]

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.[28] In May 2016, he joined the board of advisers for Fig, a mixed crowd-funding/investment platform for video games.[29]

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,[30], the expansion-turned-standalone Unreal Tournament came in 1999, and the rest is history.[31]

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
Unreal Tournament:
Unreal Championship:
Unreal Tournament 2003:
Unreal Tournament 2004:

Every map in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict and Unreal Tournament 3 is credited to Epic Games as a whole, hence why his own works for those games don't appear here.


  • 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.[2] 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".[32]
  • 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:
"I'd have to say it is a tossup between BR-Skyline and DM-Antalus. The ways that skilled players move around in Antalus is nothing short of jaw dropping! (...) Quadjump baby! Once you try it, you'll never go back. "
Cliff Bleszinski[33]
"I'd love to see some of the mythos behind the first Unreal envisioned as a sci-fi epic. Tough prison gal crashes on Na Pali along with other nastier convicts. She's heralded as the savior of the Nali, etc... and she just wants to get out of dodge. Then there's the Skaarj to deal with..."
Cliff Bleszinski
  • One of the criticisms Cliff had regarding 2004 was the huge variety, which in his eyes is counterproductive.[35]
"I wish we actually had, like, less variety. I know that sounds funny, but it like, you know, there’s so many game types, there’s so many mutators, and there’s so many different ways to play that it’s like…there’s a certain beauty to like a consistent experience. I mean, you go to McDonalds in Texas, you go to a McDonalds in Tokyo, your cheeseburger’s going to be the same damn thing. And that’s part of the reason why you have McDonalds everywhere is because people, to a certain degree, they like to know what they’re going to get. And that’s partially what helps Counter-Strike be so huge. You know, you play Counter-Strike in Seoul, you play Counter-Strike in Sunnyvale and it’s pretty much Counter-Strike. It’s the same thing. It’s not low-grav one minute and, you know, a different game type completely the next. There’s a little variety in there, but it’s consistent. That’s something I hope we can find a balance of in the future, you know, as far as having that consistency, but still allowing that sense of variety that the gamers expect. There’s no way, you know, if we do Unreal Tournament 2005, or whatever it is, we can just keep adding game types. I mean, we gotta start consolidating at some point."
Cliff Bleszinski
  • 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".[37] In an interview he also said that Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 had some "very, very impressive work", lauding its architecture.[38]

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.


External links and references[]

  1. Ashcraft, Brian (April 8, 2010). "Why We Call Him Dude Huge". Kotaku. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bissell, Tom (October 27, 2008). "The Grammar of Fun". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  3. Gaudiosi, John. "From Gears to Beers: A Video Game Mogul Opens a Restaurant". Men's Journal. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  4. Tolstiy (September 4, 2001). "Level design and more: Cliff Bleszinski interview". Tolstiy's Place. Archived from the original on December 25, 2001. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  5. Gaudiosi, John (July 21, 2014). "Interview: Legendary designer Cliff Bleszinski discusses the future of free-to-play shooters". PC World. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  6. Freeman, Will (December 5, 2011). "FAQ: Cliff Bleszinski". Develop Online. Archived from the original on February 26, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  7. Suellentrop, Chris (May 22, 2017). "Cliff Bleszinski on 'Lawbreakers', 'Overwatch' and Feeling Like a Disney Princess". RollingStone. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Cliff Blezinski Reddit AMA (transcript)". AMA Transcripts (September 14, 2012). Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Edwards, Benj (May 25, 2009). "From The Past To The Future: Tim Sweeney Talks". Gamasutra. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  10. Fahs, Travis (January 9, 2009). "...And All That Jazz". IGN. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  11. Bleszinski, Cliff. "The Summer That Launched My Career". Control 500. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  12. "Meet The Next Game Gods". PCGamer (November 2000). Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  13. "Microsoft Studios acquires rights to Gears of War franchise". Xbox Wire (January 27, 2014). Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  14. Dobson, Jason (March 12, 2007). "Post-GDC: Cliff Bleszinski Says Iteration Won Gears of War". Gamasutra. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  15. McGarvey, Sterling (March 8, 2007). "Everything You Wanted to Know About Gears of War...". GameSpy. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  16. Thorsen, Tor (March 12, 2007). "GDC 07: Cliffy B disassembles Gears, mentions sequel". Gamespot. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  17. Butts, Steve (April 12, 2010). "Gears of War 3 on Jimmy Fallon". IGN. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  18. Narcisse, Evan (April 13, 2010). "The Techland Interview: Cliff Bleszinski, Part 1". Time. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  19. Conley, Stacey (October 3, 2012). "Cliff Bleszinski Departs Epic". Epic Games. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  20. Makuch, Eddie (October 3, 2012). "Cliff Bleszinski out at Epic Games". Gamespot. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  21. Makedonski, Brett (September 1, 2015). "Cliff Bleszinski says he retired because everyone was too jaded". Destructoid. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  22. Matulef, Jeffrey (June 30, 2014). "Cliff Bleszinski says he's "coming out of retirement"". Eurogamer. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  23. Campbell, Evan (July 8, 2014). "Gears of War Designer Cliff Bleszinski Announces F2P Shooter BlueStreak". IGN. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  24. Corriea, Alexa Ray (July 4, 2014). "Cliff Bleszinski creates Boss Key game studio with Guerrilla Games co-founder". Polygon. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  25. Webster, Andrew (August 26, 2015). "LawBreakers is the next game from Gears designer Cliff Bleszinski". The Verge. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  26. "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.
  27. Sinclair, Brendan (November 16, 2018). ""I am NEVER making another game" - Bleszinski". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  28. Vincent, Brittany (February 16, 2016). "Cliff Bleszinski Turned Down A Chance to Work With Hideo Kojima on Silent Hills". Shacknews. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  29. Makuch, Eddie (May 10, 2016). "Gears of War Designer Cliff Bleszinski Invests in New Crowdfunding Site Fig". Gamespot. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  30. 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.
  31. Reinhart, Brandon (June 9, 2000). "Postmortem: Epic Games' Unreal Tournament". Gamasutra. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  32. Totilo, Stephen (May 21, 2008). "'Gears of War' Designer Cliff Bleszinski Done With The 'CliffyB' Moniker". MTV.com. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  33. Fragmaster (October 22, 2002). "Tim Sweeney & CliffyB Interview". PlanetUnreal. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  34. Bleszinski, Cliff (September 10, 2004). "RoboStorm". Epic Games Forums. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Berghammer, William (August 18, 2004). "AU: The Cliffy B Interview". GameInformer. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  36. Bleszinski, Cliff (October 4, 2004). "UT The Movie". Epic Games Forums. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  37. "CliffyB Interview". IGN (April 11, 2000). Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.

See also[]

Juan Pancho 'XceptOne' EekelsCedric 'Inoxx' FiorentinoMichiel van den BosAlan 'Talisman' WillardElliot 'Myscha' CannonShane CaudleSidney 'Clawfist' RauchbergerAlexander BrandonJim BrownNick DonaldsonDave EwingMatthias WorchJeremy WarDavid KelvinRich 'Akuma' EastwoodWarren MarshallJames SchmalzSteven PolgeScott McGregorPhil ColeBastiaan FrankMark ReinKevin RieplStarsky PartridgeDan GardopéePeter HajbaAndrew SegaWill NevinsRom Di PriscoJesper KydErik de NeveJack PorterEric 'Ebolt' BoltjesMick 'VerMoorD' BeardJean 'El Chicoverde' RochefortDavid 'DavidM' MünnichChris 'Plutonic' BlundellJeremy 'Faceless' GravesEd Duke-CoxNathan 'TomWithTheWeather' OvermanDavid SpalinskiTynan SylvesterRogelio OlguinTeddie TapawanPeter RespondekSjoerd 'Hourences' De JongTim SweeneySascha DikiciyanArtur BialasPaul MeeganJames Parkman