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Gears of War cinematics director leaves Epic for Black Tusk

Greg M. Mitchell joins Microsoft to continue working on the Xbox exclusive franchise

Microsoft has made another key addition to the team working on Gears of War at Black Tusk in Vancouver, bringing in the series cinematics director from Epic Games.

Greg M. Mitchell started at Epic in 2006, working as a Digital Cinematographer on the first Gears of War for both Xbox 360 and PC. He was promoted to Cinematics Director in 2007, and in the time since he has worked on virtually every game that has come out of Epic: Shadow Complex, Infinity Blade and, of course, more Gears of War.

While Mitchell didn't specify his new role at Black Tusk when he tweeted the news yesterday, it's near certain that he'll be working on the cinematics for the new Gears title.

Microsoft founded Black Tusk in 2012, but it was more than a year before the studio had a clear direction, the turning point being the acquisition of the Gears IP.

At this time, Rod Fergusson, a veteran of Epic Games, also joined Black Tusk, leaving a studio head role at 2K Games after just a few months for a chance to lead development of Gears again. Fergusson called the move, "a homecoming." A few months later, Microsoft also hired Stephen "Stepto" Toulouse, who was in charge of Xbox Live community policy for the release of the first three Gears of War games.

One person who won't be contributing to the new game is perhaps the most important and influential of all: Cliff Bleszinski, the design director of the series for Epic, who is now working on a free-to-play online shooter with Nexon at his new company, Boss Key Productions.

All that remains now is to actually see the product of Black Tusk's efforts. Gears of War was one of the first games to really demonstrate the power of that generation's console hardware, becoming a system-selling franchise as a result. In that sense, it had a similar impact on Xbox 360 as Naughty Dog's Uncharted series on PlayStation 3.

Microsoft will be keen to repeat that pattern, using Black Tusk's Gears title to lift the commercial performance of the Xbox One. However, it's very unlikely that Black Tusk will be ready to shop before the extremely promising Uncharted 4 launches for its market-leading rival.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.