‘Gears Of War’ Dark And Funny Origins Shared By Cliff Bleszinski

Cliff Bleszinski was the lead designer and face of Gears of War through the original three releases on the Xbox 360. With the release of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition today for the Xbox One, the outspoken game designer looked back on the development of the game that kicked off the franchise, and shared thoughts on Twitter that were sometimes dark, sometimes funny, but largely informative.

It’s no surprise when songwriters and artists draw from their personal life experiences for inspiration in their work. The same can be said for game designers, too. In the case of Bleszinski and Gears of War, the game was heavily influenced by a rough time in the developer’s life as his marriage fell apart and ended in divorce.

“In hindsight, the Berserker being female and being chained down for breeding is really f****ed up. I was in a dark place,” Bleszinski wrote.

It wasn’t just the game world. Inspiration for some of the characters came from people Bleszinski knew in real life. When asked if Marcus is based on someone from real life, Bleszinski tweeted the following.

Even Baird is drawn from a real life doppelganger. “Baird was named after a childhood friend who was a bit of a d**k, Mark Baird,” Bleszinski revealed. “Baird just sounds like a d***.” Cole Train is an unstoppable mountain of energy and enthusiasm. While he’s not necessarily based off a real world acquaintance of Bleszinski, his character is completely driven by voice actor Terry Tate.

Some of Bleszinski’s more interesting comments were about the design of the game. The oversized and ultra-buff bodies of Gears characters have turned into a running meme, for example, but it was driven more by the art director than Bleszinski.

“In SP the last bullet in each magazine is 25% stronger so the chances of ‘oh sh**’ ” fighting a bad guy are high in the game,” Bleszinski added.

Other tidbits include Bleszinski admitting that the ability to “gib” other players in multiplayer with the Gnasher shotgun eventually won out, despite Epic’s attempts to fight it. He also put a directive out to the world designers that no skulls be shown in the game at all, because he was sick of their use from Quake. Bleszinksi wasn’t afraid to throw in a little social commentary, too, as he used Gears as his way to touch on sensitive topics such as the Terry Schiavo and the Gitmo prison in Cuba for terrorists.

Not every one of Bleszinski’s ideas made it into Gears of War, despite him being such an influential decision maker. There were times when his thoughts were shot down.

“Rod” is Rod Fergusson, who is now the Executive Producer on the Gears of War franchise and is leading the development of Gear of War 4 at The Coalition. Fans of the franchise know that he’s been dedicated to Gears for years, something that Bleszinski confirmed happened almost immediately.

Of course, Bleszinski and Fergusson didn’t always see eye to eye.

The “fatigue meter” forces players to stop running after approximately ten seconds in Gears of War. Bleszinski wanted the ability to run infinitely, but Fergusson though otherwise. Fergusson went on to make some other key decisions, such as bringing in John DiMaggio to voice Marcus Fenix, and coming up with Dom’s last name of Santiago. He was also the reason for no single writer returning to do another game.

Possible the most fun fact in all of this, however, was how Bleszinski pumped himself up to pitch Gears of War to Microsoft.

The pushups and Eminem worked as Gears of War went on to be a showcase game for the Xbox 360 ahead of the launch of Halo 3. The series went on to sell more than 22 million copies and earn over $1 billion in revenue.

[Images via Cliff Bleszinki / Twitter, Gears of War]