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Developers should "have a fixed ship mindset" - Epic

Exec producer Rod Fergusson believes the schedule is "what's really, really important"

Epic Games executive producer Rod Fergusson has told an audience at GDC that, in his mind, developers should retain a "fixed ship mindset" when creating games, talking up the virtues of maintaining a discipline of vision.

In an attempt to identify what makes a game successful he looked back to the release of the original Gears of War title, noting that with a young development team, an unfinished Unreal Engine 3 and an unfinished Xbox 360 hardware set-up, the pressure was on.

But, he said, the importance of the timeline is something that the company relies upon: "The schedule side is what's really, really important," reports Gamasutra. "You have to know when you're shipping."

"The schedule side is what's really, really important. You have to know when you're shipping."

Rod Fergusson, Epic Games

He also discussed the three-sided triangle of scope, schedule and resources - and that if one changed, the other sides would also shift accordingly, while "having a healthy team at the end of your process is a great way to ship a game," he added.

Fergusson also talked up the importance of a game's visibility, and that changing schedules can impact that as well.

"Marketing is what's going to put you over the top. A game without marketing very rarely succeeds," he said, adding that the "it's done when it's done" attitude wasn't prevalent at Epic Games.

"We'd rather have small and polished than large and mediocre. Never be fearful of the ability to cut," he said, adding that a project will always "grow again."

"You need to build extra time into your schedule that is not on your schedule." He added, "The more uncertainty you have, the more buffer you need. You need to spend polish time to make that shiny golden nugget."

The company's next offering, Gears of War 3 was originally due for release in April, but has been rescheduled to the end of the year. Fergusson noted that the extra time wouldn't be taken up with adding lots of new features, but in applying that polish.

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Phil Elliott