Here's something new for you. A Q&A from Kotaku with a top gaming person—short enough that you can read the whole thing before the bus arrives, before it's your turn in line, before your date is back in his/her seat. Weekly. First-up: game designer Cliff Bleszinski.
1. What impact do you think the popularity of Achievements has had on gaming?
Bleszinski: I used to like them. The more I worked around with the system the less I liked them. Watching my wife do a bunch of silly things in a game just for the points bothers the heck out of me. If you ask me, a system more like what Valve is doing with their cards is far more compelling for the future of games.
2. What's better: a video game sequel every year or a video game sequel every other year?
Bleszinski: Annualization is the business way of mitigating risk on a long-term franchise. It can burn a franchise to the ground or, in a crowded marketplace, keep it relevant. Lately I'm more in the camp of Rockstar—release a world-bending sequel whenever it's darned well ready.
3. What's the best cut you ever made from a game you were making?
Bleszinski: George Broussard, ironically, said once that cutting features ships games. There's some truth to this. Sometimes you need to ship with the bare minimum of cool and then polish the cut ideas for a sequel, strangely enough. Gears 1 had a canine helper with you that was cut early in the game. Guess word got out to Activision. ;)
4. What's the story behind the guitar riff in Gears that tells you there are no enemies left to fight?
Bleszinski: We needed a "stinger" that would let you know when the monsters were all gone so you weren't hunting around endlessly. Our audio guy just came up with a bunch and we picked the one we liked. It just so happened to be SLIGHTLY METAL in a non-ironic fashion, which dates [former Gears producer] Rod [Fergusson] and I tremendously.