A couple years ago, Cliff Bleszinski, the former Epic Games design director best known for Jazz Jackrabbit (but also Unreal Tournament and Gears of War), left retirement to found a new game studio in Raleigh with fellow Jazz Jackrabbit creator and Guerilla Games co-founder Arjan Brussee. Last week, I visited the offices of Boss Key Productions and was allowed to take a few photos of Bleszinski and co's operation, which I've collected here. I can't say much about it just yet, but later this week I'll have impressions from my hands-on session with Boss Key's first game, multiplayer shooter LawBreakers.
Above you're seeing the first sign hung in Boss Key's office, secured to the ceiling as to not damage the wall's existing, historic damage.
The building's history combined with the studio's taste in games and art makes the office feel like a private eye's den overtaken by a 20-year-old from 1995. Some areas are decidedly modern and cleanly professional, especially where two rows of QA testers mash on WASD, but other areas are cozier and more likely to harbor snacks and Pac-Man art.
See? It's cozy.
"Where science meets violence!"
The space can be a little cramped. Boss Key might need a bigger office if it ever expands, but the team seems to be making the best of it. Whatever happens, it sounds like Bleszinski wants to stay downtown, where he also owns a bar.
The office is peppered with signs and printouts encouraging the small teams of QA testers, programmers, and artists to do things like "bug it out" and "run swarmagent every day." Personally, I only run swarmagent every other day, but that's just me.
A place for streaming.
Some of the original, hand painted doors from the building's past are still standing. I couldn't find it, but apparently a private detective really did work in the building at one time.
The office is a bit warm and stuffy in places, a standard feature of old downtown buildings. There is a sort of historic air conditioning, though: a shaft runs up the center of the building, the idea being that hot air rises, and so air should flow through the exterior windows, into the shaft, and then out the top. I was told that it isn't entirely effective, and also that Cliff once dropped something down it.
Raleigh's Triangle Downtowner Magazine was apparently so enamored with Bleszinski's Twitter account it gave him a plaque. However, the publication won't go so far as to say that he's the best person in downtown Raleigh to follow on Twitter. That would be too far for them, apparently.
This is just a nice kitchen. Apparently it used to be the apartment of the building's owner.
I don't know who made the rule that game studios require one of these horse masks, but the owners of the horse mask factory must be happy they found a niche.
The executive office, where Bleszinski and Brussee work, is full of little treasures.
And finally, I'm glad to see Cliff is staying up to date on PC gaming news with yours truly. I for one can't wait to read our preview of Thief: The Dark Project—been keeping an eye on that game.
As for LawBreakers, come back Friday for our hands-on preview and interviews. I tried to role-play as a defense attorney to little success.