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Saints Row stifled by immature humor, says Bleszinski

Gears of War designer says dildo weapon "doesn't help industry perceptions," keeps series from competing with Grand Theft Auto

With Saints Row and series developer Volition now in the hands of Koch Media, Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski offered some advice on unlocking the franchise's full potential. In a series of posts on Twitter yesterday, Bleszinski said Saints Row's distinctive sense of humor was doing it more harm than good.

"Saints Row. Keep the crazy action and game mechanics. Lose the gimps and dildos and purple suits," Bleszinski said in his first post. He continued, "If your average guy is embarrassed to be playing a sequence in a game when his wife walks in that's a bad sign... The SR team is amazing. Dildo holds them back. It's immature. Make an open world game that's more Michael Mann/HEAT/Collateral/Training Day."

Bleszinski added that Volition is one of the few developers who could actually compete with Rockstar and Grand Theft Auto in the open-world crime genre, but, "Once you put a dildo in your game it doesn't matter if your controls, pacing, graphics are all great. You're 'that game with the dildo.'"

The developer did acknowledge that he found the dildo weapon in Saints Row: The Third to be hilarious, but added, "It doesn't help industry perceptions."

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Latest comments (28)

Matthew Bennett 3D Engine developer, Sitedesk3 years ago
Regardless of what this man says, I enjoyed the Saints Row Series, the second one most of all. Me AND my partner play Saints Row 3 together all the time. Yeah the humour is immature but some parts are genuinely funny.
GTA (recently at least) has moved away from any form of humour and become. frankly, boring. I really hope Rockstar fix that with GTA V But I am not rushing out to pre-order it just yet.
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Jack Nilssen Independent Game Developer, Dark Acre3 years ago
Clearly, CliffyB doesn't "get" Saints Row. He's just denounced the entire design goal of the franchise.
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Miguel Maglutac Designer and Tester, Digital Leisure Inc.3 years ago
I think they use the dildos ironically.
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Show all comments (28)
Mike Thorpe Web Developer, EA Canada3 years ago
Hello Pot? Yes, this is the kettle calling.
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Pier Castonguay Programmer 3 years ago
The game is not meant to represent to video game industry image, it's meant to target a specific demography who like this kind of stuff (which is quite large obviously). Just like specific sub-genres of any movies / music / books / art forms.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd3 years ago
Of course Gears of War neatly sidesteps the eventuality of making any of its fans embarrassed in front of their partners.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
I think giving the woman a dildo weapon is a good antidote to tea-bagging.
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios3 years ago
What about the 12 year old humour in "Bulletstorm" do you like that Cliff?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Howe on 26th January 2013 6:28am

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Gareth Donaghey Customer Support Agent, Blizzard Entertainment3 years ago
To me it sounds like Mr Bleszinski is a bit miffed that he did not come with it himself.
Chainsword guns and electrified whip mechanics would have taken a lot of design and talk to perfect, which they were.
But a wobbly pink stick thing, 3 mins tops. And it became the main icon almost of the game too.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 3 years ago
So, he wants them to get rid of their unique selling point?!

"If your average guy is embarrassed to be playing a sequence in a game when his wife walks in that's a bad sign...

But, that's 90%* of games out there today. I can't honestly say that I'm 100% okay with playing a Tomb Raider game - or most games that feature women in front of a woman or parent when they make a comment about her unrealistic proportions or apparel.

What about all those bloodthirsty shooters and gory brawlers and 3rd person action adventures? What about virtually every puerile, adolescent, ham-fisted video game story?

Frankly, the majority of gaming is embarrassing.



*A gross generalisation!
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 3 years ago
Mr B obviously forgot that Volition tried to compete with GTA with Saints Row 1 but when they realised the mammoth task ahead of them, they went the opposite direction and hit a gold mine. THQ saw this as a sign and they went with it, which is why Saints Row 2 and The Third were such big hits.

Furthermore, some people either play both franchises (Like myself) or moved away from GTA and to Saints Row purely because they are "allowed" to be wacky and crazy

Of course, now that the franchise is in new hands, it will all depend on the direction the new owners want to take it but I seriously hope they continue the series as it is and maybe even focus more on the co-op element that made SR3 so much fun. In fact I can guarantee myself and 3 other friends would buy Saints Row 4 in a heartbeat if they added 4 player co-op rather than just keeping it to 2 player
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
The SR team is amazing. Dildo holds them back
"Once you put a dildo in your game it doesn't matter if your controls, pacing, graphics are all great. You're 'that game with the dildo.'"

I can't figure out which of those quotes I enjoyed more. But I think Saints Row 4 just got it's next marketing slogan:

"Saints Row 4: The Game With The Dildo In It"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 26th January 2013 8:55pm

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Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London3 years ago
Sorry Cliffy but I disagree, that's your opinion on the matter, just like saying it doesn't compete with GTA because it has a dildo... Well I have to say I had more fun with Saints Row the Third than I did with GTA for a long, long time, and what makes that game great is precisely - you guessed it - the dildo. Obviously that's an exageration, and what I mean with this is that the game actually benefits a lot due to the fact it doesn't take it self too seriously.

I used to take Cliff's opinion seriously back in the real days of EPIC - read Unreal; Unreal Tournament 99 - but listening to a lecture about dildos not contributing to the industry coming from the creator of testosterone rich and not that interesting or even comparable to other IP's, Gears of War is just hypocrisy and ironic as hell.

And that was my opinion, everyone's entitled to one.
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Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis3 years ago
I love Saints Row and I have to say that ""If your average guy is embarrassed to be playing a sequence in a game when his wife walks in that's a bad sign..." then there are other problems with their relationship and their comfort in sexual themes than the game.

There is nothing in the three games that I would be embarrassed for my wife to see me playing, in fact it generates a lot of laughs. It is rare in games now to actually laugh and have fun with the game as games try to go serious and more realistic to "improve the perception of games to the outside world". Games can be funny, games can deviate from the norm that is in todays games and still have a market, just like Saints Row.

I'm glad it isn't a more serious title, if it was it'd be dismissed as another GTA clone and I have played all three SR titles through to their conclusion, I have never done that with a GTA title. I hope Saints Row 4 continues the humour and Volition are left to do what they do best, make Saints Row how it is and not chase after GTA.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London3 years ago
I've not had time to play SR3 yet, but I enjoyed SR2 a lot more than GTA4 precisely because of its irreverence and immaturity.

GTA has lost its sense of humour and become a really dark, dull experience, from the desaturated colours and grimy streets to the cast of East European immigrants whining about money problems all the time. The missions are so scripted and linear they're virtually on rails, and there's precious little to do outside of the story and not much to spend your money on, producing a very staid, sterile, empty feeling world.

Saint's Row is the complete antithesis of this. It's bright, brash, silly and yes, immature. It's all bling, sharp suits and daft mini-games. It's GTA as it used to be, not GTA as it's become. And that's why there's a market for it. It's never going to succeed going head-to-head with GTA, but it's carved out its own little niche who are looking for something a bit more .. fun.
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David Serrano Freelancer 3 years ago
@Mike Thorpe

Exactly, its like Andrew Dice Clay criticizing Sam Kinison. If you're a one trick pony, just count your blessings and keep your mouth shut.
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David Serrano Freelancer 3 years ago
It would have been far more honest and accurate to say "If your average player is embarrassed to be playing a sequence in a game when his mother walks in, that's a bad sign..."
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
Anyone who bases their industry perception on one game and its humour must be an idiot, so I don't get his point!
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters3 years ago
Is reporting what someone said on twitter now considered journalism? Anyone who cares about Cliff's opinion probably already follows him. Must be a slow news day.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
Hey man I LOVED Saints Row the Third. I didnt mind the dildo weapon since its not something you have to use. Didnt mind the gimps either. I dont know why this series has to compete with grand theft auto. I find it has its own identity and character. And I like it. It doesnt take itself to seriously, yet the game play is super fun. Storywise it managed to keep me there. I tried Grand Theft Auto, but couldnt really get into it. I like that in Saints Row you can create your own character. I dont think it has to compete with grand theft auto. How is anybody gonna do anything different if they keep looking at other games. But I got to admit the only thing that annoyed me, was Zimos voice.
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Mariusz Szlanta Producer, SEGA Europe3 years ago
I don't follow Cliff just like I don't follow many other people. I would likely miss comment like this if it would not be aggregated on site like Games Industry. More importantly, I would miss comments of other users and they can sometimes be more valuable than the original story.

If anything, itís rather a question of who and what is worth quoting.
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Liam Wong3 years ago
I recently watched Frank Marquart's GDC talk on the Art Direction of Saints Row: The Third. Definitely worth checking out: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1015596/The-Art-Direction-of-Saints.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
I can't take seriously anyone who calls themselves CliffyB.

FrannyM
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
You'd be beautiful but pretentious, AndyG :)
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters3 years ago
I'm fairly sure he actually ditched that years ago and asked people to stop calling him by it.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
@ DaveyH - that's what I thought, then I noticed it was on his Twitter, so I don't know. In all seriousness, it's hardly a big deal - just always found it a bit strange, that's all.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 28th January 2013 4:56pm

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
I played Saints Row twice from beginning to end with all the DLC... didnt mind the dildo or the gimps... provided a few laughs. Its a game that knows what its doing and its not out to compete with grand theft auto. It is its own thing, it has its own character and identity. I tried grand theft auto, but could never really get into it. Saints Row however was truely addicting.
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Jace Cisnero Games/Level Designers 3 years ago
Maybe someone mentioned this already, but I didn't see it mentioned. At any rate, the dildo is really a non-issue.

There was one in the police station of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This level of humor has been around in the game industry from the early days and it isn't going away any time soon.
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