Cliff Bleszinski has left Epic Games, the firm announced last night. The former Epic Games design director departs after spending 20 years at the company where he became a household name amongst gamers for his work in the Unreal and Gears of War series.

"I've been doing this since I was a teenager, and outside of my sabbatical last year, I have been going non-stop. I literally grew up in this business, as Mike likes to say. And now that I'm grown up, it's time for a much needed break," Bleszinski said on the Epic Games website.

"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," he added. "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."

Former colleagues were keen to share their well wishes for Bleszinski, who had become one of the faces of Epic Games over the years, and someone young people looked at as a role model for working in the games industry.

"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," stated Epic's founder, CEO and technical director Tim Sweeney. "Cliff leaves Epic with our gratitude for his many contributions, and our wishes for continued success in the next chapter of his life!"

Epic's other primary public spokesperson, vice president Mark Rein, also had nothing but nice things to say about Bleszinski:

"Cliff has been my friend and business associate for the past 20 years and, while it is sad to see him move on from Epic, I know that everyone here has benefited greatly from his passion for gaming and the depth of his expertise and experience."

It's not known what Bleszinski will be doing next, other than taking a break. No doubt he'll return to the games industry in the future.