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."
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...