Will the real Cliffy B please stand up? Oh. He just did.

Opinion: Tim Ingham has had his expectations of Dude Huge 'butthurt'...

We all know Cliffy B.

Outrageous. Outspoken. Outdone in the vulgarity stakes by no other man alive.

He's a vainglorious motormouth who thinks "dick-tits" is the greatest contribution ever made to the English language. He's an unyieldingly cocksure self-publicist, whose combination of artificial ire and scent for contrariness makes him a fanboys' worst nightmare. And he's always, always great for a quote. Even if he didn't actually say it.


But do you know Cliff Bleszinski?

Because take Dude Huge away from his expletive-filled Twitter profile and journalists who revel in his most impudent mutterings (hi Cliff!); gift him an audience of his peers and professional acolytes, and something strange transpires. He becomes very difficult not to admire. Dick-tits and all.

At his GDC presentation last week, I was expecting the usual preening from Bleszinski - a bit of "Bulletstorm kicks ass" here, a coy-but-obviously-targeted smidgen of "those guys just can't compete" there. And, of course, plenty of shameless Gears 3 promotion.

And yet what came to pass was a real surprise: a considered, discerning, fervid plea for less prominent indie developers to ascend in a new-age marketing economy which has the big boys on the back foot.

Bleszinki's talk included a stinging, impassioned attack on publishers who look on virtuoso games creators as plastic mould production machines, an irritated dismissal of "games as art" refuseniks - and not a little humility.

Yes. You read that correctly. Cliffy B has a 'modest' setting. Nothing will ever be the same again.

My expectations for a headline-grabbing barnstormer were fluffed early on, when Bleszinski qualified that anything he said shouldn't be quoted as "EA or Microsoft or [Epic cohort] Tim Sweeney". Time to settle in and absorb the scandal.

But then something odd happened. It emerged that Bleszinski's underscoring of the need for accurate attribution wasn't because he was proffering tabloid gold, but because he was about to gift us something very rarely seen: a glimmer of vulnerability.


Whilst lecturing the audience - packed to the rafters with engrossed self-employed developers - to "make your product personal", Bleszinski gave more away about himself than anyone could have foreseen.

After highlighting his flaws as a designer - admitting he relies on Epic's comparatively contemplative Rod Fergusson to "shrink my head" and say "dude, you just can't have 15,000 guns" - Bleszinski referenced the role that individual angst and tragedy had played on his most cherished work.

"I was actually going through a very tough time when we were doing the first Gears - I was going through a divorce," he admitted. "It was very difficult personally. But somehow through that some kind of creative magic came out."

Bleszinski then soberly recalled his teenage years, when the death of his father hit hard - before noting the impact a similar experience had on fellow Epic devs Fergusson and Lee Perry. The room fell silent, but Bleszinski sidestepped public emotion for a more salient professional point: "There's a reason Marcus has daddy issues."

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