Lounging in the corner of the room, Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski strikes a weary figure as he finishes an interview with another journalist. He looks slightly different too. Gone are the bounding blonde locks many have become accustomed to seeing, and in place is a shorter, spiky haired look.
He only flew into the UK the day before, and complains light heartedly about jet lag. Despite his jet lag he's relaxed and friendly, cracking jokes before we begin and noting how London's cabs are "really expensive" – he's not wrong by the way.
It's a testament, though, to his strength of character and profile that he's here at all. Clearly, if anyone from the Gears of War team was to fly over for a few days just to brief twenty or so journalists, it would have to be CliffyB.
Preliminaries done away with, we were ready to begin what proved to be a refreshingly honest and candid interview with one of the industry's most exciting and high profile figures.
Bit-tech: You mentioned in your presentation that you started showing it [Gears of War] on the PC, and then on the Xbox 360...
Because we didn't really have 360 kits at the time...
Bit-tech: Obviously. Was it always the intention that you would start on the 360 and come back to the PC at a later date?
Yeah, that was always the plan.
We weren’t about to let him off that lightly so we pressed a little harder.
Bit-tech: So, it was always the plan to make PC version eventually.
Yeah, yeah. We tried to deny it for a while but in our hearts of hearts we knew. It was just a matter of...honestly…what you say internally versus what you admit to the press, it's a delicate dance, just because we didn't want anyone being distracted by any future product announcements so, you know, for that period of time we knew it was going to be "this is Gears on 360".
Bit-tech: And when you were designing the game on the 360, semi-knowing that you'd eventually port it to the PC, did you think about how any parts of the game would play on the PC?
No, we were dead set from the get go to make the best 360 game possible, which meant we designed a lot of the combat areas for the 360. We didn't put a lot of verticality in them as far as the player having to shoot up and down, and made sure the cover setups worked and everything like that. Coming over to the PC, we just had to make sure that the game still played great with the controller because you can just plug it right into your PC, as well making sure it played great with the keyboard and the mouse, which was its own design challenge in itself...it really was.
Bit-tech: With the new chapters, have you added any gameplay elements specifically with the PC in mind?
No, what we did was try to remain very consistent with all of the design paradigms of what we did on the 360. What we actually wound up doing behind the scenes was having a lot of little tweaks to make sure that the player wasn't too empowered with the keyboard and mouse, playing with things such as accuracy and kick of the weapon and things like that, because we wanted to keep the Gears pacing. We didn't want the game to devolve into how quickly can I get one pixel on another pixel, because that's really not what the game is about, the game's about the pacing of taking cover and gauging your damage meter, knowing when to move, knowing how to blind fire and throw grenades…we didn't want to fundamentally f*** with the core loop of the game.