As quickly as Epic Games‘ former Director of Production Rod Fergusson left behind the Gears of War studio to join Irrational Games, he is moving on to other endeavors. The departure comes as somewhat of a surprise, but it seems Fergusson’s involvement in BioShock: Infinite‘s development was always planned to be completed once the game reached release.
With the dawn of a new generation of home consoles quickly approaching, where will Fergusson end up? He’s not sure just yet, but strong storytelling will be one of his highest priorities when considering his next project.
The confirmation of Fergusson’s departure comes courtesy of Polygon, with the now-former VP of Development still working out his last days at the company (and no doubt preparing to hear from any number of suitors). It was presumed at the time of Fergusson’s move to Irrational that both his years in the industry and first-hand experience with Unreal Engine would help the oft-delayed Infinite reach the finish line.
Now that it has, Fergusson is clearing the air over the reasons for his shifting role and latest departure:
“During my departure from Epic, I learned that Irrational was in need of a ‘closer’ to help finish BioShock Infinite…I’ve been striving for better storytelling in the games I’ve worked on and I saw this as a great opportunity to learn from Ken and his team on how to build a truly story-driven game.
“I am very proud of the work that I did and of the team and what they were able to accomplish on Infinite. Now with the game shipped successfully, I’ve done what I set out to do here and now I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life and career.”
No one can dispute Fergusson’s talents as a ‘closer,’ even if the extent of his involvement in BioShock: Infinite – and how it affected what gamers did and didn’t see in the final product – will likely never be known. The quality of Infinite isn’t in doubt (read our review), but there’s no question that some elements of gameplay and story were emphasized less than initially implied.
Whether or not Fergusson played a part in narrowing the studio’s scope and emphasizing the core story – the strength of which drew him to Ken Levine’s team – from a publisher’s standpoint, he possesses skills in high demand. As the competition heats up between triple-A properties and developers, delays can mean serious trouble.
It’s entirely possible that Fergusson could return to Epic Games, but other developments make that seem less likely. For starters, the face of the studio Cliff Bleszinski has also departed following the end of its core Gears of War trilogy, and three leads from the People Can Fly team have also looked for work elsewhere.
Epic maintains that their momentum hasn’t slowed, with the upcoming Fortnite pitched as a contender for “their best game yet” – we’d recommend Gears fans wait and see how it turns out before feeling slighted. Bleszinski hasn’t determined his next step in or out of the industry yet, so it may be possible to see he and Fergusson working together before long.
What do you make of Fergusson’s movements? Would you like to see him move over to the publisher side and encourage story-driven experiences, or stick with development? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.