Legendary developer Cliff Bleszinskii just revealed his news studio Boss Key Productions and his upcoming free-to-play shooter codenamed BlueStreak, and answered quite a few questions (believe me, he can write a lot) as part of a Reddit AMA.
One of the most interesting parts is the explanation on why Bleszinski selected Nexon as a partner for his new project instead of more obvious choices like Electronic Arts or Ubisoft:
Here’s the brief story.
I know so many folks at EA, Ubi, MS, etc… After I left Epic I felt like the belle of the ball, EVERYONE wanted to meet with me when to be honest I just needed time off. But I have a very good agent who did the deal with Nexon, and he was eager, so after stalling him as long as I could (and knowing I’d want to come back eventually) I met with nearly all of the old guard. Even Zynga. (Mark Pincus came into my meeting 45 minutes late.)
Knowing developers who’ve worked with the traditional publishers I’d take them out, feed them a beer, and they’d do the “look around to see if anyone’s going to hear this” look and tell me “Run away. These guys aren’t the best to work with, and they’ll try to design your game and just get involved where they shouldn’t be.”
With nearly EVERY one of the established big publishers I heard this from MANY developers. And no, I can’t name names.
When Nexon came calling I laughed. “The fucking Maple Story guys?!”
And then I met Min Kim, president of Nexon US. And then Owen Mahoney, who runs all of Nexon. And I saw the direction they were going – Brian Reynold’s new game, Robotaki’s one, Splash Damage etc… and I spoke with all of these western devs who are working with them.
They all had glowing things to say about working with Nexon. They said they just let you build the game you want to build and when the time comes to see if you can monetize they’ll help.
When your developer friends vouch for a publishing partner like that, you trust them.
It was a bit awkward meeting Min Kim considering that the one Asian character we had in Gears was named that and died in the first hour.
We also learn about the current composition of the studio, even if more still need to be hired. The goal is to have about 15-20 developers for the first year, and then to ramp up to about 60-70. There will be a lot of outsourcing handled by former Epic Games Prodicer Chris Mielke.
Right now we’re around a dozen. Some folks have left Epic to join us, others from Call of Duty, some from Ubi, and we’re actively flirting with more.
Between my COO and my Senior Producer right now we’re okay on producers.
Having the right balance of management is really important. Once you grow to a certain size you have People to Watch People to Watch People, and that’s when the politics start showing up. I will not tolerate politics at this studio.
One of our other studio pillars? “No Bullshit.”
One of our studio mottos is “old bones and fresh blood” – I want to have a mix of seasoned vets and young upstart developers, both feeding off of each other’s enthusiasm.
Bleszinski also gave a quite cold but rather realistic outlook on why the industry seems to want to milk gamers for all they’re worth nowadays:
They don’t mean to shit on you, they’re doing what they think is “the right thing” because we’re in a console space whereas budgets are astronomical for the games as well as the marketing budgets, and more and more players are buying used and just renting games (“campaign rental”) and that cycle simply cannot continue much longer. This is why we see annualization, DLC, season passes, all that stuff, it’s an attempt to stick a finger in the leaky dyke of the industry.
He also provided quite a few bits of relevant information about BlueStreak itself:
Below you can see the first concept artwork released after the reveal of the game: