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Activision On Iterating, Innovating Call Of Duty Series

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the check-out-our-flamethrower-it's-kickin-rad dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 66

Activision's Noah Heller sat down with Gamasutra to discuss the refinements made in Call of Duty: World at War to keep the popular FPS franchise moving forward. He points to cosmetic things, like realistic burning and the ability to set just about everything in the environment on fire, as well as bigger gameplay improvements, such as making the AI more difficult to beat without having it "cheat." "... the main thing we tried to do is honestly make the placement just more brutal. You've always got an advantage on the enemy; you've been through the level before, you know where they're going to be, but in Veteran mode you're going to find that they're not going to cheat. You're really going to have to be going for headshots using the most effective weaponry. You're going to have to use that bolt-action rifle and aim for the head if you want to take an enemy out at a distance. It's a different sort of gameplay. We heard those concerns and we tried to address them."

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66 comments

There was innovation in Call of Duty 5? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25714813)

Can someone tell me which cheat I need to turn on to get it? The game I played was just Medal of Honour Pacific Assault with better graphics and swearing.

Dumb (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25714841)

Aaand one of the guys that make the good Call of Duty games calls him a dumb little shit who should stfu:
http://ve3d.ign.com/articles/news/42853/Call-of-Duty-4-Community-Guy-Rants-At-Activision-Producer

http://www.fourzerotwo.com/2008/11/07/noah-heller-stop-doing-interviews/

Hahaha, "innovation" (0, Troll)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 5 years ago | (#25714859)

Call of Duty 4 II: WWII. Keeping the FPS genre fresh. Don't mind Far Cry 2 or Left 4 Dead or anything, here's a innovative new mod for a modern combat game about WWII!

This game is going to be a colossal failure.

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25714927)

This game is going to be a colossal failure.

Not initially. Do you know how many eleven- to fifteen-year-olds are going to get this game simply because it's got Call of Duty in its title? Critically, I'm sure World at War (good lord that title sucks) won't fare too well, but commercially it'll probably rake in shittons of money.

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25715129)

The sad part is, it's not even as good as COD 4. I've been playing the public beta, and I am not impressed. There's no way I'm parting with my money for that game. Nothing "feels" right in World at War. The weapons don't even handle as well as they did in COD 4. I love the changes they made outside of the game play. But then the point of a game is the playing!

So now I'm waiting for Call of Duty 6, Infinity Ward will be back for that one!

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25717373)

Play it more. Seriously. CoD4 rarely left my Xbox since I bought it, purely for the multiplayer, and when I first played WaW I was underwhelmed. Its different to CoD4. It looks different. The weapons are different. I went back to playing CoD4.

Then I thought I'd give it another go. I remembered how badly I sucked at first at CoD4 and wondered if I'd forgotten that when playing the beta. I started again, determined to see what could be done. As I improved, so did the experience, and the feel came. There is no doubt that it feels different to CoD4 but that's not a bad thing, just different. Once I got used to it I liked it.

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25723153)

Well you're being vague with what exactly you find wrong with it but isn't a bit soon to say that you'll never buy the game when it is still in beta? Games can change allot between a public beta and a release.

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25723239)

Pffft. I wish there was a way I could reliably bet large sums of money with you on this. How on earth can you be so certain at this point? The game has one of the best brand names in FPS's right now. It will sell in a big way as long as it is at least mediocre.

It's like the new Star Wars movies, god awful movies but ass-tons of people spent money on them anyways because of their strong brand name.

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (1)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726589)

Two words. Battlefield Vietnam.

Re:Hahaha, "innovation" (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25863739)

Two words. BetmeashittonofmoneyinareliablecontextthatthenextCODwontmakeashittonof money.

I honestly don't see how one could not think the next COD will make money.

ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25714873)

the "killing nazis" genre. beyond moral reproach.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (4, Interesting)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25714963)

When are we getting a game where you kill Americans instead?

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715155)

Isn't that what you can do in GTA and other such games already? Or did you mean non-americans killing americans?

Re: game where you get to kill Americans (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715203)

Try the free Half-Life 2 Insurgency mod where you get to play US Marines or Iraqi and Afghanistani insurgents. It's won awards and is one of the best mods out there.

http://www.insmod.net/ [insmod.net]

It's now out on Valve's steam, and will work with any Valve Source engine game.

It's pretty badass plus the sound and graphics production value is amazing for a mod -- rivaling or better than commercial games like Counterstrike Source or Day of Defeat Source.

The "iron sights" aiming model where instead of GUI crosshairs you see your character aim with your gun barrel and sights also makes it a bit different and refreshing compared to most other FPSs.

Another refreshing aspect is the way the US Marine uniforms provide camouflage in Middle-Eastern terrain and urban environments, same with the insurgents' outfits. Friendly fire servers are pretty cool too for the extra realism aspect as douchebags on current servers are pretty rare.

Give it a go! You won't regret it :)

Re: game where you get to kill Americans (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25724791)

Don't give it a go; you will regret it.

Hats off to the hard work and devotion that obviously went into the visual elements of this mod but the game play simply isn't there.

Almost any shot is a one-shot kill and even though you're theoretically supposed to use the iron sights pretty much just firing your weapon in the general direction of the bad (good) guys guarantees a frag.

Players familiar with the map can often camp out of visual range and simply hose down the exits from the spawn points with great effect.

The map objectives are lame and overdone (we've seen it all before) and most servers are setup to spawn endlessly making the whole exercise pointless.

There appears to be no material difference between the player classes. You could save everyone a bunch of time by simply putting all the players together in an empty room and letting them frag away. It's essentially DoD:S but with modern weapons.

This in no way compares to the polish or great (and generally well balanced) game play of CS:S, TF2, or RTCW:ET.

Summary: visually good, but boring, boring, boring.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25715415)

When are we getting a game where you kill Americans instead?

Son, it doesn't matter how many Americans you kill -- virtual or otherwise. You'll still always have an ant penis.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (3, Interesting)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25716333)

Screw that, when are you going to get a WWII game that shows you the real horrors of war--pitting you as a German SS soldier committing war crimes and implementing "the final solution" in the name of Hitler?

It's really not meant to be flamebait--I'm tired of war games that show war as this epic struggle that only involves soldiers vs soldiers destroying each other with cool toys. You never have to make tough moral decisions--you either shoot him or he shoots you. Where's a game where you're commanded to search for hiding Jewish families, arrest them, and ship them off to concentration camps? Would you? It's only a game, right? You need to do it to complete the objective. Is that all the prompting gamers need? It would be an interesting experiment anyway.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25716615)

I'd do it in the game. Not because I'm anti-Semitic, in fact quite the opposite. However, it seems like it would be a pretty boring game if you stood around doing nothing instead.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25716781)

If you don't do it then you get hunted and it becomes the epic struggle of soldiers destroying each other with cool toys

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25717959)

Where's a game where you're commanded to search for hiding Jewish families, arrest them, and ship them off to concentration camps? Would you? It's only a game, right? You need to do it to complete the objective. Is that all the prompting gamers need? It would be an interesting experiment anyway.

finding new ways to dismember nazis and paint your name on the wall with their blood.... that sort of thing is okay for retail sales.

But put in a game that you have to sign a document that sends children off to a nazi death camp and you'll have the motherfuckin christian coalition riding your asshole like a circus ride until your game is off the shelves and your company is bankrupt from court fees.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25718227)

One issue is that in a game there are no real consequences. What you kill is just a bunch of pixels. You could desert, fight your own side, join the enemy, etc and if you get shot you just reload a save. In real life getting shot is permanent and not something you can risk as easily.

There are concentration camp tycoon games out there, they're made by neo-nazis though. If you want to make the player take part in a virtual genocide the first thing you should do is name things differently (people back then didn't have the same conceptions about Nazis = evil as we do now) and actually make the player character go through the propaganda a real person in the SS would have gone though. If you take an American off the street and tell him he has to gas Jews he would react completely different from an SS member who just got reassigned to KZ duty. The SS member would already have gone throufgh a lot of loyality building and would already have formed the oppinion that Jews aren't real humans. Hell, you couldn't even get a modern person to take the job of a slave trader or something when that would have been completely normal for a person living in the simulated time period.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25720697)

There are small time human trafficking rings broken up all the time, including some in the United States and Europe.

A typical person off the street may be quite unlikely to take the job of slave trader, but there are apparently plenty of people willing to do it.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25720879)

Yeah but you need the player to arrive at the decision with the matching mindset and most of your players aren't going to be traffickers.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (2, Interesting)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25718403)

It's really not meant to be flamebait--I'm tired of war games that show war as this epic struggle that only involves soldiers vs soldiers destroying each other with cool toys. You never have to make tough moral decisions--you either shoot him or he shoots you.

Yeah, I agree. (Go read Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett --- a kid is playing Space Invaders, when suddenly, they surrender. Then what?)

One of the few interesting things about the Left Behind game of a few years ago was that every character had a (different, IIRC) backstory, and that bodies didn't go away. Although the game itself was rather forgettable, I always thought that was a rather good idea, as a way of getting the player more involved with the characters, rather than just treating them as interchangeable, expendable blobs.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (2, Funny)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 5 years ago | (#25717015)

Call of Duty 1812? Sign me up! I hope the last level you get to torch the White House!

ah yes, the low flying fruit. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25717815)

When are we getting a game where you kill Americans instead?

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25720775)

When are we getting a game where you kill Americans instead?

You could in the earlier Battlefield games: 1942 [wikipedia.org] and Vietnam [wikipedia.org] . In 1942, you could play on either side, axis or allies, so you could be a German, Japanese, or Italian soldier and shoot at American, British, Canadian, and French soldiers. In Vietnam you could play as Vietcong and fight the Americans.

Re:ah yes, the PC low hanging fruit. (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715027)

Blame the other other guys that use the PC acronym for making them the only bad guy we're allowed to have anymore.

Beyond Moral Reproach (2, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25717417)

Releasing your game on 11/11/2008

90 years to the day after 11/11/1918

The day dedicated, each year, to the memory of the millions who lost their lives in that war.

The day dedicated, each year, to reflect on the terrible cost of war.

Launching your videogame on that day of all days.

How could anyone call that crass?

It's about time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25714893)

Finally, a game where the difficulty levels don't just correlate to levels of AI hacks.

Call of Duty 4½. Scratch that, Call of Duty 3 (3, Insightful)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 5 years ago | (#25714967)

I lost any and all interest in Call of Duty 3½ as soon as Activision happily announced that the next iteration in the Call of Duty series would take place during World War II.

Re:Call of Duty 4½. Scratch that, Call of Dut (1)

xalres (668363) | more than 5 years ago | (#25720787)

I'm with you. I've had an assfull of WWII games. It's been done to death. If you add up the gameplay time of all the WWII games that have been released it's probably longer than the war itself. I'm sick of hitting the beach at Normandy, I'm sick of paratrooping into France, I'm sick of the same damn guns I've used in 4 other games and I'm sick sick SICK of killing nazis. How about an original frickin idea for once?

Re:Call of Duty 4½. Scratch that, Call of Dut (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25722061)

If someone has an original idea, perhaps they'll do an original franchise? And if you want an original idea, perhaps the place to look for it is not in existing franchises?

When I play "[Game] N+1", I expect to be playing "[Game] N" with improved graphics and gameplay, not a whole new game. Which was why I avoided CoD4 for so long.

IW made good WWII games, and I hope they continue to do so, and modern ones too since it turns out they do that well too. I would not like to see the series chop and change its basis in a doomed attempt to keep the interest of those who aren't particularly interested in it in the first place.

Re:Call of Duty 4½. Scratch that, Call of Dut (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25724737)

Most importantly, why snub the megashitload of other interesting conflicts? Why not a game that involves going after Pancho Villa? What's wrong with the Cowboys vs. Indians war (whatever it's called)? The Civil War? Something that involves pirates? Being a Zulu warrior and repelling the British?

I mean fuck, you won't tell me that conflicts in the whole history of mankind wouldn't make good video games except for WWI, WWII, American's Vietnam war and the 2003 Iraq war? I believe it's just ignorance from game studios, who were themselves overly influenced by war movies rather than anything else, and even then it doesn't excuse the lack of pre-WWI cowboy war games.

Re:Call of Duty 4½. Scratch that, Call of Dut (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25744201)

What's wrong with the Cowboys vs. Indians war (whatever it's called)?

There was never a "cowboys vs indians" war. In the United States there were a number of what are called Indian Wars or Campaigns. For example, the one I study, the Northern Great Plains Indian Wars from 1860-1891 had a number of phases and campaigns. Dakota War of 1862, Red Cloud's War (1866â"1868) - which the Indians won, Colorado War (1864â"1865), Black Hills War, or Little Big Horn Campaign (1876â"1877), Cheyenne War (1878â"1879), and Pine Ridge Campaign (November 1890 â" January 1891).

Re:Call of Duty 4½. Scratch that, Call of Dut (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25723315)

Actually I know allot of people like myself who were really disappointed that they moved away from WWII with Call of Duty 4. Number 4 was fun and all but it lacked the epic framework of World War II for a backdrop. Fighting terrorists is so overblown in modern media today I just can't get very excited about it.

Total respect... (5, Interesting)

vudufixit (581911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715067)

For the warriors who had to use these weapons in combat. I fired a BAR, Thompson and M-1 carbine (not a Garand) at Knob Creek. They're not as accurate as I thought they'd be and except for the Thompson, a bit punishing to shoot.

Re:Total respect... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25715257)

Dude, I used to work at knob creek during the machine gun shoots.
Amazing stuff happens there, and you're right. BARs and other WWII era rifles were a struggle to use.

I may be in the minority here... (5, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715157)

...but I liked CoD and CoD:UO. They were (and are) the best WWII shooters around, IMO. I don't much like the genre, and IMO you can toss out most of the rest (including CoD2), but those are keepers. Cinematic when they needed to be, action-packed at other times. Just good.

They've gone downhill since, but man, those first ones had some great moments and some intense gameplay. I didn't read anything about the games before getting them on a whim, and when one level in UO faded in and I realized they'd put me on a friggin' B-17... man, that was some good stuff! Battle of Stalingrad, also excellent. The shelling on that hill.... Jesus, no wonder people came back messed up from that kind of thing. Trench fighting on the eastern front--man, just good. The game offers experiences more than anything else, which is what I like about it, and what I think those sorts of games should do. I think it helps them communicate better, and makes them more than just a mindless shooter (if only for a few moments here and there).

The only weak parts, IMO, were the tank levels, and only because they were too small to get a feel for the machine. I kept trying to go in what I thought were reasonable directions for the levels, and running in to invisible walls :(

Re:I may be in the minority here... (2, Interesting)

vivin (671928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715483)

Well, CoD4 is something I could identify with (and enjoyed a whole lot) seeing as I did a tour in Iraq (I know the game doesn't take place in Iraq, but a lot of the environments looked eerily like place I drove through while in Iraq), and I've fired a lot of the same weapons. My personal weapon was an M-249 SAW and I had a Beretta M-9 as my sidearm.

I'll definitely try out the new CoD (I like WWII games), but I hope they make more titles that deal with "modern" warfare.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (1)

CRiMSON (3495) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715861)

I've often wondered how close they came to making it give the impression of being there.

Having never been there, nor been in a combat zone I haven't the foggiest idea if they did a good job.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (2, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25717275)

I dug the gunship mission. If they made a whole game that was mostly or entirely stuff like that, I'd play it.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25719827)

The gunship really has a 'stress relief' charm to it.
They could make a really nice mini game based on that alone.

Just add some familiar maps, say Redmond or Washington DC.
Imagine putting some 105 rounds into the capital dome
and then switching to the 25mm gatling gun to finish off the lobbyists scurrying for their BMWs.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25720397)

I loved the COD games.
I thought COD4 was really good.
It was like a good movie, over too soon
Yes, there are tons of WWII games out there, but usually they each offer something unqiue that keeps them pretty fresh.
I wasn't sure how I'd like modern warfare, b/c I love the WWII games, but it was sweet.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25716221)

Did you play CoD4? One of the best games I've ever played.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25717419)

What a stupidly overrated game. I mean, infinitely respawning enemies> In 2008? What the fuck?

Re:I may be in the minority here... (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25718505)

nfinitely respawning enemies> In 2008? What the fuck?

That to me was the only truly disappointing element in an otherwise brilliant game. However, from reading TFA, this is encouraging:

I can't say that there's no place in the entire game where enemies might be infinite, but believe me, it was a big concern to us. I'm pretty sure we reduced it down to nil in almost any situation. Except one, where from a plot perspective, it was important for enemies to keep pouring out to get the player to move on.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25716533)

CoD > All.

My need for a cigarette after defending that one house from infantry and armor was never greater.

Thank god for air support.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25718151)

Personally I enjoyed all CoD games, the only slight let down was 3. CoD4 was hands down the best though.

I'll be getting CoD5 regardless, I could instead spend £35 of my hard earned cash on some other, new franchise that's just releasing it's first in the series but it may or may not be good. The thing for me is that even if CoD5 is just more of the same I don't have a problem with that because they're always games I've been left at the end wanting more of.

I guess it's people like me they rely on, but their series is tried and tested, you know what you're getting with it and if you enjoy it it's much less of a risk to slap your money down on than something new which may indeed suck.

I'm not expecting it to be as good as something like Gears of War 2 which I completed this week, that really was awesome, perhaps the best single player FPS I've ever played in terms of graphics, story and gameplay but I do know I'll be able to play through it and have fun and feel it was money well spent. That's more than can be said for other games I've purchased in the past based on the hype.

Re:I may be in the minority here... (1)

destroyer661 (847607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25720141)

You're definitely not alone sir. I hold almost exactly the same opinion on the CoD Series. CoD 2 didn't live up to being better than CoD/CoD:UO so I lost interest in the franchise. Also, CoD4 just looks like CoD2 on roids, not very good imo.

All on fire (0, Flamebait)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715563)

So, you can set the environment on fire. Does the AI torch the game (or your OS) if its copy protected with SecuROM? Or is the AI not that smart and leaves it up to the user?

Argh (2)

Desipis (775282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25716073)

You've always got an advantage on the enemy; you've been through the level before, you know where they're going to be This is what puts me off most FPS games these days. They make it so incredibly hard such that the only way to get through is to play it over and over till you've memorized the level. It takes away most of the fun of the game and justs makes it a frustrating experience. If you want to negate the deja vu knowledge of the player, make the game change each time it's played again.

Re:Argh (2, Informative)

HBI (604924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25716479)

That interferes with the eye candy 'requirement', to some extent. Note that most Call of Duty 4 scenarios have little detail outside the exact path that the game designers want you to tread.

Games tended to be better in the days before this overattention to art and detail.

Re:Argh (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25722247)

While it would be good if the scenarios were more flexible, a linear series of fancy scenarios is exactly what CoD has always offered, and since it does it well, is what it should continue to offer.

It would indeed be nice though, if there were more games in general focused on gameplay over graphics.

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25716737)

See Left 4 Dead.

Then again valve is normally the one to push true innovation to the industry.

without infinity ward, (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25721427)

without infinity ward, COD series would have died. Treyarch, while not necessarily bad, just didn't find that winning combination.

COD4 is one of the defining experiences in games, PC or console. The single player campaign is lacking very few things if any. It really connected with a majority of the demographic.

I have played hundreds of PC games in the past 20 years. Very few of the experiences remain with me. Very few had that impact.

leisure suit larry, space quest 6, wing commander 4, prince of persia, duke 3d, star wars x-wing vs tie fighter, jedi knight 2, dark sun wake of the ravager, system shock 2, warcraft 2, starcraft, wing commander prophecy, blade runner, half-life 2, need4speed underground, rainbow 6, portal, star trek elite force, tomb raider 2, soldier of fortune, max payne, operation flashpoint, COD1, KOTOR, Splinter Cell, Deus Ex, hitman, sid meier's railroads, Vampire Bloodlines, omikron: the nomad soul, gta san andreas, oblivion, COD4, mass effect, fallout 3, assassin's creed. crysis:warhead.

Those games had a serious impact on me. I remember them vividly. They all have that special sauce. I haven't included multi-player only games. But CS and BF1942 are high on that list.

They may not have been the most successful games, but out of probably 260-280 games I've played, these I remember.

Realistic Enough (1)

raveinco (1406639) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748183)

I started playing CoD:World at War the other day and I must say I was rather impressed. Apart from the realistic environment and having multiple soldiers rushing at you from all sides, the part of the game that stood out the most to me was the screams of the dying Japanese soldiers. Perhaps it's only because I'm half Japanese that I felt this way, but it was mildly disturbing (and sickly amusing) to hear these soldiers screaming bloody murder in Japanese as I torched them in groups. I think what hit me the hardest was that I was able to understand exactly what they were saying.
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