Epic Games’s military science fiction third-person shooter, Gears of War original concept was a class-based Battlefield-style shooter, according to Unreal Engine lead programmer, James Golding.
“Gears started as a class-based Battlefield kind-of game, Golding told GamesTM. It had classes, mechs and it was going to be multiplayer focussed… that was until [Cliff Belszinski] played Medal Of Honour and he was like ‘no, single-player campaign is where it’s at!’”
The game was called Unreal Warfare, a multiplayer focused class-based game, which was held back for few years as the team worked on Unreal Tournament 2003, 2004 & Unreal Tournament III.
“The idea was that you could play it in a big multiplayer arena or against bots, and we came up with this mech that you could deploy and use to suppress the battlefield.
Because we’d been working on Unreal Tournament 3 before that (and then Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004) by the time we came back to look at Unreal Warfare, it’d been a couple of years and the industry had completely changed,” he explained.
He adds, “We saw the rise of more single-player and campaign-based games, so we took Unreal Warfare back to the drawing board – it became just ‘Warfare’, got another name, then another name (but we always kept the ‘War’ part – that stayed!).
We redid a whole bunch of the characters at this point, too: we went from the traditional-looking soldiers to a more sci-fi looking thing and certain precepts like ‘no laser guns’ came along a little bit later, and it slowly became more in line with the Gears of War we know now.”
“The team at Unreal was working on the first draft of the game in 2001, as a multiplayer game, and Gears shipped in 2006 – so it took five years for the whole project to become this very different, whole other thing.
Back in 2006, there was a real crunch to get the game done; a month before release [it didn’t feel anywhere near finished]. That was the first game on the Unreal 3 engine, and it had a lot of new ideas, a lot of new tech, and the lead-up to release was the busiest I’ve ever been at Epic,” Golding concluded.
The final version of Gears of War was released in 2006 released as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 & A PC version was developed in conjunction with People Can Fly and released in 2007.
Microsoft Studios acquired the rights to Gears of War IP from Epic Games earlier this year. Microsoft’s Black Tusk Studios is currently working on new Gears of War game for Xbox One.
Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games on the Gears of War franchise, will join Microsoft and play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise going forward.
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