Cliff Bleszinski interview
Going back to Gears 2 for a moment, Dom's discovery of his wife Maria struck many players as silly, not heartbreaking. Any regrets on how that was designed?
The problem was that we didn't earn it. The cutscene was very well done, in my opinion, even though it was, you know, buff guys in armour, things like that. If I could go back and change it I would have had many more flashback scenes where you build up how Dom and Maria were before as well as teasing the fact that it might not end well.
The other problem of course is our GUD system, which stands for Gears Unscripted Dialogue. The fact that we put in these barks of the characters shouting out things as gameplay feedback – for a perfect active reload, "shit yeah"; or you take out an enemy, "suck it". Those contribute to the game's dude-bro perception but they're designed to serve as gameplay feedback mechanics. I had wanted to disable Dom's GUD system for at least the next few levels after that, so he didn't just kill his wife and now he's yelling out "hell yeah!" as he's killing Locusts, but I believe it got unhooked before we shipped.
Hindsight's 20/20. It's one of those things it'd be great to have a more dynamic system with a character so you can tell them to be quiet or have a different mood as far as what they're shouting out or not even shouting at all. But again these are things we've learned from and continue to apply to future storytelling.
Having Dom's wife spill out of this giant, almost comically maniacal metal sarcophagus – doesn't the sense of camp undermine your emotional response?
Part of that's just the design of the franchise, right? The fact the way she was rendered was – yes she's CG so it's slightly stylised – but when you contrast her next to the characters it's like wow, hello. And camp is something that I would love to continue to evolve the franchise away from – there's no giant worm in Gears 3. Gears was always intended to be more Band Of Brothers than Predator. We got a lot more towards Predator and I'd love to steer it towards Band Of Brothers.
A significant chunk of the Gears 3 campaign involves trying to locate fuel to power the submarine that will usher Delta Squad to the game's final level. Confusingly, it seems as though you've successfully recovered Griffin's lost fuel convoy at the end of the Char sequence, but then the quest for fuel resumes at the submarine hangar. Did we miss something?
In hindsight, fair enough. One of the things we could have made more obvious is "shit, the fuel got blown up". One line like that would have helped. Again, hindsight's 20/20. Maybe in a director's cut someday we can add in a character screaming, "Nooooooo".
You've cited Miyamoto on several occasions as a hero of yours, but Gears doesn't seem to show much Nintendo influence. The giant Corpser boss battle in Gears 3, however, feels extremely similar to the Gohma battle from Ocarina Of Time, even down to the cavernous room in which it takes place. Was this intentional?
I can't take much credit for that battle outside of playing and giving feedback. That boss fight was snuck in by one of our developers – Rob McLaughlin – who's a bull-headed great programmer of ours. But I go back to the rule of threes with bosses, on average it's like you want three phases. You're fighting Bowser and the first phase is the exploratory phase and phase 2 it gets a little harder and it's a challenge and you have the prestige. But you have to have that moment where now he's really mad, and one of the things I've seen from the reviews thus far is that we finally have boss fights that people feel are worthy of a game like this whereas a lot of them were kind of tacked on or disappointing in previous ones.
Especially with the final boss battle in Gears 3 we wanted to make sure it felt like an ending that was worthy, and that it was a large scary creature you had to take out that took more than a minute or two.
The Lambent Berserker was one that we were really happy with, speaking of multiple phases. She initially just had the ability to leave the trail and the goo behind and could jump and I was like, let's back up, don't make her jump at the beginning, and then eventually she gets angry and then starts jumping more and then starts boxing you in, Tron light-cycle style. Then eventually she gets harder and harder and you take her out because you want that challenge, that torque that makes the palms sweaty. And if you don't have that the game gets boring and you just go and screw off on social media.