Gears of War boss talks about "managing betrayal" with a sequel

Black Tusk's Rod Fergusson shares his thoughts on the balance between keeping things the same and providing something new.

Gears of War: Judgment for Xbox 360
Gears of War: Judgment for Xbox 360

When making a sequel to any video game, part of the developer's job is to deliver something new and different, but not completely alien--a task that could be described as "managing betrayal," according to the boss of Gears of War Xbox One developer Black Tusk Studios.

"It's the same thing with all sequels," Black Tusk studio manager Rod Fergusson said in an interview with Official Xbox Magazine. "This isn't a great way of phrasing it but I always talk about shipping a sequel to customers as 'managing betrayal'. They want something new but they don't want something so new that it doesn't feel like what they want. But if you put out something that's very familiar and is the same as the game they just had, then it's like 'I've already had this. This isn't new enough.'"

Following Microsoft's acquisition of the IP earlier this year, Black Tusk was tasked with developing a new Gears of War game for the Xbox One. Fergusson is plenty familiar with the series, having worked on it at Epic Games (which he left in 2012), initially as an executive producer on the first two games and then as director of production on Gears of War 3. We already know the studio is shooting for "best in class" visuals, but it sounds like it's also hoping to provide more than just a better-looking Gears game.

"You actually have to betray [fans] 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," Fergusson said. "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."

Fergusson also stated he's talked with the team at Black Tusk more than once about what aspects of Gears won't be changed and where there "are opportunities for us to innovate that we think we can knock out of the park."

When Fergusson spoke earlier this month about Black Tusk taking over the series, he talked about ensuring its style remaining intact. "The hardest part is getting people up to speed on the way you make Gears," he said. "Everybody here is a Gears of War fan; everybody's played the games and loved the games. But there's a sort of style; the way you have to think about when you make a Gears of War game."

The new game has yet to be given a name or release date, which should come as no surprise considering work only began on it a few months ago. One of the few things we may know about it is something we learned from a job posting for a position at Black Tusk discovered earlier this year, which indicated the game will carry on the series' tradition of supporting co-op play.

What parts of Gears of War would you like to see stay the same or be changed for the series' debut on the Xbox One? Let us know in the comments below.

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