Game Designer Cliff Bleszinski Departs from Epic Games

Given that we're well into October, this bit of news can't be brushed off as an April Fools joke: Cliff Bleszinski is leaving Epic Games. The announcement was made on the Epic Games forums, reporting that the company's famed design director is ready for a break.

"I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going non-stop," he said in a note to colleagues. "I literally grew up in this business, as Mike likes to say. And now that I’m grown up, it’s time for a much needed break."

Bleszinski has been in the gaming business for 20 years, creating hits like Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, and Gears of War. His first title was 1991's The Palace of Deceit: Dragon's Plight, self-published under the name Game Syndicate Productions when he was just 17. He submitted it to Epic MegaGames and was asked to create another title. Twenty years later, he's now ready to move on.

"I will miss the projects, the playtests, the debates, and most importantly, the people," he said. "Epic only hires the best of the best, and it has been a joy working with each and every one of you on a daily basis, whether you were hired weeks ago or decades ago."

"I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with a variety of disciplines, from code to art to marketing and PR – it’s been one big, rewarding learning experience," he concluded. "I’m confident that each project that is being built, whether at Epic, Chair, PCF, or Impossible will be top notch and will please gamers and critics alike."

Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder, CEO and technical director, says it best: Bleszinski has grown into a true design luminary. "His contributions to the 'Unreal' and 'Gears' series have helped shape the game industry into what it is today," he said. "Cliff leaves Epic with our gratitude for his many contributions, and our wishes for continued success in the next chapter of his life!"

"Cliff has been my friend and business associate for the past 20 years and, while it is sad to see him move on from Epic, I know that everyone here has benefited greatly from his passion for gaming and the depth of his expertise and experience," said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic. "I’ll miss watching his star shine from such a close vantage point but I’ll still look forward to watching his continued success."

The full blog post can be read here.

Bleszinski's departure from Epic Games arrives after BioWare co-founders Doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk announced that they were retiring from the long-standing, AAA game development studio. Muzyka said that after serving nearly twenty years in the gaming business, he felt it was time to pursue an entirely different career. Zeschuk said something similar, that after nearly twenty years working at BioWare, he decided it was time to move on and pursue something new too.

"I’ve reached an unexpected point in my life where I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation," Zeschuk said. "For the people I have had the privilege of working with, however, my passion burns as brightly as it did the day we started. The people I work with now, and that I have worked with in the past, have inspired me and really made all of the challenges we’ve collectively faced over the years worthwhile."

Thanks for all that you've done for the PC gaming business, Cliff. I'll always remember you as CliffyB storming the #unreal IRC Undernet channel, pumping us up with talk of the now-classic shooter. Man, time flies...

  • pocketdrummer
    And not a single F*** was given that day...
  • ttg_Avenged
    pocketdrummerAnd not a single F*** was given that day...
    I bet you have not played Gears of War, Red Orchestra, so many good games especially the engine itself is/are glorious.
  • mousseng
    pocketdrummerAnd not a single F*** was given that day...I care: I like Cliffy B, Epic Games, and a lot of the games that were created because of the two (which is a lot, because Unreal Engine is hugely prolific). I'm actually interested in what he'll be doing next.
  • master_chen
    Cliffy left the building...
  • matt_b
    Wow, there seems to be a lot of innovators and founders leaving lately that have left a large impact in their industry over time - what's going on here?

    pocketdrummerAnd not a single F*** was given that day...I don't know if you're too young to realize or who this man is and what he's brought to the table in his twenty years. If there's one guy in the industry that any true gamer new, it was Cliffy_B. Some may argue that GOW was crap or Unreal 3 ruined the series, but like him or hate him this is a big deal as he was one of the founders of the gaming market and innovator of many things/ideas gaming - that's big. Combine this with the huge blow to Bioware with who's leaving them, and you have a dark week in game development, moment of silence........
  • myromance123
    matt_bWow, there seems to be a lot of innovators and founders leaving lately that have left a large impact in their industry over time - what's going on here?They've probably been inspired by the indie developer's market success. They may have great ideas and simply want the freedom to express those ideas, outside of Publisher's restrictive money-oriented bounds.
  • alidan
    good news epic, you got rid of the person who said everyone on the pc is a pirate, congratulations, i will now look at all games you release from this day forward so long as he doesn't come back.

    seriously, cliff may have been good way back when, but what has he done lately?
    every game of his looks like meat mountains hitting eachother
    the engine, while i will give it credit for begin good, i don't believe was ever under his care, but the engine itself, unless you do some heavy tweaking always looks like statues that move. which is annoying.

    i also credit him with the complete deficit of color in current games, and the whole to look real you need to look bland approach.

    everything he did post 360 launch i do not like one bit.

    and sense his view started going more and more toward all people who play on the pc are pirates, i will not miss im in the least.
  • Kami3k
    matt_bWow, there seems to be a lot of innovators and founders leaving lately that have left a large impact in their industry over time - what's going on here?
    Could be they are sick of groups like EA having nearly complete control of the development.
  • aaron88_7
    It's amazing some people can have such strong feelings towards an individual they don't even know personally. For those incapable of saying anything positive, I think this is one of those perfect moments where a good STFU is appropriate.

    Good lock to Cliff Bleszinski, I know I'll certainly be curious to see what he decides to do in the future.
  • happyballz
    I give him respect for all he helped envision and create up to Unreal Tournament(OG). Anything after was a cookie cutter approach game design more focused on selling more copies across as many platforms as possible and not quality.

    Gears of War like everyone is mentioning was a "revolution" for consoles not PC. It was mediocre on PC at best. IMO
    Since U/UT I have not seen any games that would really excite me from EPIC like the originals did.

    In any way, good time off to him.