Rod Fergusson knows his way around a studio. With ten years at Epic Games and time at Irrational Games and 2K under his belt, he’s more than prepared to lead a team in bringing Gears of War to the Xbox. Heading Microsoft’s Black Tusk Studios, Fergusson spoke of the team’s advantages and challenges in making the next Gears title.
Gears of War will be the studio’s debut game, as well as an Xbox exclusive. Fergusson says the studio is excited and full of fresh energy, a contrast to the older Epic studio that had handled the Gears franchise in the past.
“What I’m really excited about is just the pure energy that’s at Black Tusk,” Fergusson told Total Xbox. “When you live with a franchise for seven years, there were people at Epic who were kind of done – like I wanted to do something else interesting. But when you look at Black Tusk it is just a pure, raw, pool of energy and excitement for what they want to do.”
Rod also shares what fun Black Tusk has been so far: “… walking through the studio and Gears of War is on every screen, we’re playing multiplayer together and we’re playing horde together, and doing all this different stuff. Just to have that fresh enthusiasm is really invigorating.”
With Microsoft at the helm, the studio has access to the resources Epic always lacked. Fergusson noted that “at Epic we were always super lean, we always had the smallest team possible, we were always sort of understaffed and overworked so we weren’t able to fully take advantage of what the franchise could do. So one of the other reasons I’m excited about having Gears of War at Microsoft is that we can actually see Gears do more than just any one particular instance. There are just a lot more opportunities because we have more resources to do that.”
Black Tusk had already been working with the Unreal Engine 4, so their collaboration with Epic will bring the Gears series to next gen at full throttle. “We’re going to highlight the engine just like Gears always did. And the engine is going to enable an amazing game like Gears,” assured Fergusson.
Along with the team’s confidence comes their wary tread into the Gears universe. Fergusson spoke of the challenges of creating a new and exciting title for an established franchise: “You actually have to betray them enough to give them something new and surprising but not so much that they disconnect, and I think that is a big thing that we have to focus on. It’s how we can innovate and bring something new to the franchise while at the same time really proving that we understand Gears – that this is the franchise that you know and love.”
We can’t wait to hear more on how Fergusson will be leading the Black Tusk pack to make a grand new entry into the Gears world.