Gears of War 4 is still in the concept/prototype stage, new-in-charge developer Black Tusk has revealed.
"It's only been 100 days," project boss Rod Fergusson said in the inaugural Black Tusk webcast. "I can't go into a lot of depth about a lot of things. This isn't going to be the place where I announce the name of the next game and all these sorts of things. Obviously it's going to take some time to get to a point where we can do some stuff like that."
He added: "We are in what we would call the concept/prototype stage, so again, we're really super early."
Fergusson did, however, hold a piece of concept art up to the camera - a camera that didn't focus on the artwork, rendering it blurry and indecipherable.
The timing of the update, shortly before E3, may be significant. Talking about it now means people won't expect to hear so much about it there, perhaps. Nevertheless, a flashy CGI teaser trailer should never be ruled out.
Gears of War publicly changed hands at the start of the year. Creator Epic Games sold the series to Microsoft, which put Canadian studio Black Tusk in charge. Rod Fergusson, who'd been instrumental in establishing the series at Epic Games - and who helped BioShock Infinite get out of the door - was a key hire.
"The hardest part is getting everyone up to speed here on how you make a Gears game," he said in the webcast, revealing that he'd been at the studio for 108 days.
"I mean, everyone here is a Gears fan, everybody's played the games and loves the games, but there's a certain style - the way you have to think when you make a Gears of War game. That's been the harder part; there's a lot of rules and ways and design methodologies and pillars and the way that we think about the franchise.
"The franchise can do a lot more now that Microsoft owns the IP"
"Making sure that everyone's on the same page and we're working towards the same goals is probably the most challenging - to go from zero to 'hey we need to make the next Gears'."
On the plus side, however, there's Microsoft's considerable - and much more direct this time - financial backing. "[This] means we're able to push a lot harder in a lot of bigger areas," Fergusson said. "The franchise can do a lot more now that Microsoft owns the IP; we can expand it's breadth and do a lot more with it."
Another advantage is that this is new for Black Tusk - fresh. Epic Games spent most of the Xbox 360 generation working on Gears of War. "When you've made the same game for seven years it's a little bit harder to..." have the desire and creativity to keep it fresh, he inferred. That's why Gears of War: Judgment came from Polish studio People Can Fly.
But there's a natural energy and enthusiasm - at least according to Fergusson there is - at Black Tusk. "Every awkward urinal conversation is about Gears of War," he grinned.
It's not all about Gears of War 4, mind you - there's Gears of War 3 and Judgment multiplayer to show a little love to. Don't get carried away: significant updates and content probably won't happen because they take resources away from the new game. But mixing up playlists more regularly is a must.
"We're going to try and get into a cadence of updating the Event playlist every couple of weeks," Fergusson said. "And then once we feel really good about it, we'll probably try and change it and get back to the way we had it at Epic where we're doing it every week or so."