One of gaming’s most veteran, high-profile, and outspoken developers–Cliff Bleszinski–is writing a book. He posted a teaser of a section about the challenges and realities of working in games, something he has a lot of experience with from his time at Epic Games and later at his own studio, Boss Key. The section Bleszinski shared was specifically about the fall of Boss Key, which shut its doors just a few years after opening.
Other parts of his book will cover things like the death of his father and nephew, how his first marriage fell apart, and when he met his second wife. The section about the crumbling of Boss Key was harder to write than any of those passages, he says. In this passage, Bleszinski speaks frankly and honestly about his time at Epic. He praises Epic CEO Tim Sweeney for being a great boss and friend, and talks about how the games industry is a tight-knit community that looks out for each other (“We’re like the Nerd Mafia,” he says).
He also reflects on the big shakeup at Epic with foreign investment. When Chinese internet giant Tencent invested in Epic, Bleszinski made a lot of money from selling his shares, which was in addition to the generous-sounding pay package he received at Epic before leaving the company. The passage cuts off at what sounds like the most interesting part, so I guess we’ll all have to wait for the book to come out to learn more.
I haven’t done any interviews since Boss Key imploded because I needed to tell it in my own words, in my book.
Did that today. Felt good, like that chapter in my life was finally closed. ❤️😉 pic.twitter.com/T9MYzra7Sy
— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) August 17, 2018
Bleszinski worked on the Gears of War franchise while at Epic, while he was also involved in the development of Epic’s massive hit Fortnite. In fact, Bleszinski was the person to officially announce Fortnite for the first time back in 2011 at the Video Game Awards.
He left Epic in 2012 and founded Boss Key in 2014, which was the same year that Microsoft bought the Gears of War franchise from Epic. Boss Key shipped the arena shooter LawBreakers in August 2017, but it was not the hit that Boss Key and publisher Nexon wanted. Boss Key launched a battle royale game called Radical Heights in April, but it also failed to find an audience. Boss Key then closed its doors for good in May.
Bleszinski’s life story certainly sounds like it would make for some good reading. It’s unclear at this stage of Bleszinski will self-publish the book or partner with a publisher. Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest. You can read the passage below, while some of his other previously published excerpts can be seen further down the page.
“Let’s frame some context here, first and foremost.
This is going to be a hard chapter to write, honestly, harder than my father passing, harder than my nephew dying, harder than reminiscing about meeting Lauren, harder than talking about the fall of my first marriage.
For those of you who don’t recall, I worked my butt of for Epic Games (Gears of War, Fortnite) for many years, and Tim Sweeney, the CEO/primary owner, took good care of me. He paid me well, I had a chunk of the company, and hell, he’s a really nice dude (brilliant, too) who I enjoyed going on long walks with and discussing the future of the company with. Heck, he and Mark Rein were at my wedding, remember. (Both, hah!)
Tencent is an ENORMOUS Chinese tech company, and, years ago, they bought out a really large chunk of Epic, including my shares, and I had a windfall of money, on top of what Tim had so generously given me in the Epic Bonus Plan. (Awwww, my first Lamborghini, in burgundy, who does that?)
Game development can be a VERY stressful business, I mean, we’re not curing cancer or running Space X here, but for those who work in this biz it MATTERS TO US. We grew up with Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, all of it, and want to make our own mark on this (very small) business that, to be honest, feels like family. I huge 85% of my industry peers every time I see them, be it in downtown Raleigh (shout out to Squanch Games!) or at the Game Developers Conference. We’ve all seen each other at our best (shipping great products) and our worst (divorces, affairs, watching out for reach other if sloppy drunk) and if you fuck with one of us you fuck with all of us. We’re like the Nerd Mafia, and we stick together.
So, with this windfall (after listening to Big Sean’s “Live This Life” on repeat while pounding…”