Bit-tech: Were the new chapters part of the story that you wanted to have in the Xbox 360, but either didn't have the time or the space [on the disc] to add them in?
I wouldn't say… narratively, some of the plot points as far as what's going on with this whole train section, that was very important to depict, and a little bit of that did get cut out of the 360 version. The Brumak fight, in my heart of hearts, I'd hoped would've made the 360 version but, six months before the Xbox version shipped, I knew it wasn't going to make it.
We could have forced it in there, but the game wouldn’t have come out last holiday season and it would not have been as good a product, it would not have had the level of polish that it did.
Development is all about making the appropriate mature trade-offs in what you're going to ship in the game, and The Brumak wound up only ended getting a cameo initially, which thankfully saved him for the PC version; so now everyone gets have their head stomped on by him.
Bit-tech: Did you find it difficult to maintain the original feel and pace of the game when developing the PC version of the game?
Well, Gears was very much designed around establishing this core combat loop of take cover and take out your enemy, throwing grenades at them and the emergence holes, and then suddenly start playing with that formula. Then, what we did with the original was one was start introducing giant monsters, going underground and Wretches and different combat scenarios, such as suddenly it’s dark out, the Kryll are there and you have to deal with that while you’re dealing with the regular combat.
What we’ve wound up doing with this section [the new chapters] is having this great grinder of combat, but all book ended with this beast that’s harassing you the entire time. So, there’s one section where the player is underneath the bridge and The Brumak is above, beating on the bridge; there’s another section where the player is trapped in a theatre while The Brumak is approaching on the bridge and you have no idea how you’re going to stop it, and he just keeps on making these appearances, reminding you that he’s there, reminding you that his presence is felt – which is what I like to call ‘Monster Foreplay’ – and eventually culminating in this battle sequence where you have to deal with him and figure out how to take him out.
Bit-tech: Do you worry at all that PC gamers may find the game too console orientated?
PC gamers may have a little bit of that hesitation at first, but once they fire up the game at 1920 x 1200 and they see the detail on the characters and they hear the great audio, and they download the new maps available via the community...I think they’ll get over it pretty frickin’ quickly.
Bit-tech: It was put to us recently that because the current generation of consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3) don’t support many of the features in the DX10 code path that PC graphics in general would suffer. What are your thoughts on this?
Well, we wanted to cast the net as wide as possible as far as the amount of possible systems Gears could run on. So, being on DX9 and running on Windows XP and Vista, we just wanted to make sure we could run on as many systems as humanly possible...it was just good business sense for us. But, if you have a kick-ass system, if you have all the latest [hardware] loaded up there then the game is just going to shine that much better.
Bit-tech: Moving away from the game for a moment, you’re known as something of a ‘celebrity designer’. Is this a role you’re comfortable with?
No, it’s awkward every day. Mark Rein’s hand is permanently up my ass manipulating my mouth.
We tried imagining this, but it seemed like a bad idea.
No, thing is, growing up, like, I love Shigeru Miyamoto. I finally got to meet him years ago and I’ve ran into him a few times since then, it’s always been the highlight of any E3 or any conference, and I just remember reading an interview with him where he was talking about being a child and going to caves in Kyoto and exploring and things like that. I didn’t quite have caves growing up but I did dress up as a ninja and sneak out of my house at four in morning and light fires, like every good red-blooded American child should, and I just remember wanting to know who the people were behind these games. So, if I can put some hair gel on and go evangelise the product then by all means, man, it’s just fun to do. It’s good job security too.
This was meant as a joke, and laugh we did. But, there's a serious point here too. Clearly Cliff, to use his proper name, understands his value as both a designer and a brand, and naturally it makes him just as much a commodity as the games he makes.