Bleszinski on BlueStreak: a skill-based shooter in a living world

BlueStreak AMA

After a brief hiatus, Cliff Bleszinski is back in game development with a new studio, Boss Key Productions, and a new game, BlueStreak. The free-to-play arena shooter was announced a couple of days ago, but nothing more than the name and genre was revealed. 

Yesterday, Bleszinski took to Reddit, hosting an AMA (along with his dog). The game is so early on that few specific details could be talked about, but he answers burning questions about it being free-to-play and how his outlook on the industry and game development has changed. 

Bleszinski left Epic back in 2012, and its given him a new perspective. He mentioned not wanting to do a scripted game back when he first hinted about his plans for an arena FPS, and on Reddit emphasises this.

“Yeah, it made me almost bitter about scripted games, honestly,” said Bleszinski. “All the time and effort that goes into yielding only one Youtube video.

“That’s why I now believe there’s a direct correlation between how good your game is and how many unique Youtube Videos it can yield,” he continued. “Maybe amazing competitive matches, or fantastic things the users have built themselves, or even a crazy physics bug that was caught on a live stream. The YouTubers have taken over, folks!”

He’s come back to the industry because he misses the community, even when there’s negativity. And he wants to keep making things and not resting on his laurels. “ I don’t want to be the guy who still hangs out at high school with his Trans Am talking about how cool he used to be. It’s time to get off of my butt and make some more fantastic product with a great team.”

He does manage to squeeze in some information about the game, or at least what he wants to do with it. He wants to make BlueStreak something anyone can play, but it’ll be hard to master.

“I want to make a skill based game whereas someone who is really, really good is seen as a player with nearly godlike abilities,” he explains. “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.”

One Redditor asked what will set BlueStreak apart. “There’s still PLENTY that can be done in regards to environmental manipulation, weaponry, and player movement in the FPS space,” Bleszinski replied.

“TitanFall tapped into some of the things that excite me in this area – wall running, double jumping, the smart pistol, the mech “absorb bullets and fire them back at people.” That’s the kind of thinking the FPS market needs, less damned red dot iron sights.

“When’s the last time you led a target in a mainstream shooter? Pretty rare, it seems.”

It doesn’t sound like mechanics have been the only inspiration to come from Titanfall. Bleszinski notes that BlueStreak will have an emphasis on story, but not through traditional exposition. “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. 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.”

In regards to BlueStreak being a free-to-play game which, despite the positive way in which the model has progressed in the last year, still has a stigma, he said he was determined not to make it pay-to-win.

“Anyone can just jump in and play your darned game. I’m DETERMINED to not do Pay To Win. 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.”

In the past, Bleszinski’s made comments that could be read as anti-consumer and had few positive things to say about PC when he was still being courted by Microsoft. He doesn’t shy away from discussing that part of his past, though.

“I’ve talked a lot of shit the last two years online, admittedly, in an attempt to educate the gaming public on how this business actually works,” he said. “Many of those studios/businesses are trying to keep the lights on by any means necessary, they don’t feed on the souls of anguished gamers. I was probably mentally prepping myself for being the one who is going to be responsible for keeping the lights on.

“Part of it was also not being held own by PR folks and being able to say a lot of what I really thought about the industry. Did I go a bit overboard? Probably.”

BlueStreak remains pretty shrouded in mystery, but Bleszinski promises to spill more beans on Twitter.