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Gears of War maker Epic Games today announced the departure of design director Cliff Bleszinski. Known to many gamers simply as Cliffy B, the game-design giant is leaving the company “to chart the next stage of his career.”

Bleszinski has spent the past 20 years at Epic. Here is his note to colleagues:

I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going nonstop. I literally grew up in this business, as Mike [Capps, president of Epic Games] likes to say. And now that I’m grown up, it’s time for a much needed break.

I will miss the projects, the playtests, the debates, and most importantly, the people. Epic only hires the best of the best, and it has been a joy working with each and every one of you on a daily basis, whether you were hired weeks ago or decades ago. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with a variety of disciplines, from code to art to marketing and PR – it’s been one big, rewarding learning experience. I’m confident that each project that is being built, whether at Epic, Chair, PCF, or Impossible, will be top-notch and will please gamers and critics alike.

When asked for comment, an Epic spokesperson directed us to the Epic Community story.

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Many of his friends at Epic chimed in to bid the designer farewell.

Here’s what Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder, CEO, and technical director said:

In 20 wonderful years with Epic, Cliff Bleszinski has grown into a true design luminary, and his contributions to the Unreal and Gears series have helped shape the game industry into what it is today. Cliff leaves Epic with our gratitude for his many contributions, and our wishes for continued success in the next chapter of his life!

From Mike Capps:

In my 10 years of working with Cliff, his passion for creating video games of the highest quality has been unflinching. We are grateful for all of his hard work and remain committed to making our fans happy and to always raising the bar in everything we do at Epic.

Bleszinski has not yet announced plans, but his name is trending on Twitter worldwide:

Cliffy B Twitter

[Via Epic Games]

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