Forrest Dowling, project lead on the newly released Clash in the Clouds DLC for BioShock Infinite, has shed some light on how Rod Fergusson helped Irrational Games finally finish and ship its ambitious story-driven first-person shooter earlier this year.
Fergusson joined Irrational in August last year and promptly left once Infinite shipped. Development was widely thought to be struggling when he joined, and the fact his brief spell at the company saw it advance to market quickly, achieving incredible critical acclaim and huge sales in the process, has done wonders for his reputation as a sort of Horse Whisperer for troubled video games.
"I think his role, the role of a producer, is very much about determining where you're going to spend your very limited resources," Dowling told me this week at the launch event for the Clash in the Clouds DLC.
"So, a lot of the decisions he made or helped make were just, 'We are going to pull people from one part, because it's good, it's going to be fine,' and put them on another part that maybe needed far more animator time to ever possibly be good."
One of the decisions we know Fergusson played a critical role in was delaying Infinite from February to March for extra polish and bug-fixing.
That might all sound like fairly standard work for a producer, but for a project at the scale of BioShock Infinite - especially one that had been in development for as many as five years - and with so much riding on it, it must have been an awesome and dizzying situation.
But while Fergusson's skill was partly in processing huge amounts of incoming information really quickly and drilling down to the most important thing, Dowling paid tribute to another quality that was just as important to getting BioShock Infinite right.
"One of his talents was just for coming in and looking at it with the eyes of a gamer, which is really uncommon to find in a guy in that position, and just know and say, 'OK look, you guys, we really need to spend more time on this.'"
Whatever it was that Fergusson brought to the project, it clearly left a strong and positive impact on his colleagues - and his reputation wasn't exactly an issue in the first place. As creative director Ken Levine put it at the end of 2012, "If you have the opportunity to hire Rod Fergusson, you hired Rod Fergusson."
There's no word on where Fergusson will end up next, but judging by his Twitter feed, he's currently recovering from wisdom teeth surgery. Ouchie. Get well soon!