Do you do a lot of layering or combining of textures, as well?
MB: We do, but that's slow, so we try to do as little of it as possible. I think, generally, most textures in the game have two and sometimes three layers. We try not to go overboard.
From an art perspective - thinking specifically about the end-game or post end-game scenario in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare...
MB: The airplane?
Yeah, is it hard to justify something like that? From an art perspective, is it like, "Now we have to generate these assets, too?"
MB: No, that's not how that stuff usually works. We make between two and three times as many levels as people actually see, and due to schedule restrictions or overarching story changes, they just don't fit into the final game or plotline. But we make that decision pretty early on.
Still, there are always some assets that we really like, that look really good, and that we really want to use, and in the specific case of Mile High Club it was just too good to let go. How its purpose plays into the overarching Modern Warfare plotline is still yet to be seen.
So with the intro sequence, where you're riding in the car, was that entirely scripted by hand? Because a lot of those animations were not reused in the game, like someone poking their head out of a dumpster.
MB: I think a lot of those animations, actually, came from that reuse I was talking about -- I mean, not the majority of them, but there was a good chunk of them at the start of the level that we'd actually made for other levels that got cut.
We call that level Coup. When Coup was first being built, it was like the graveyard for animations. We were like, "Oh, we're cutting this animation," but it would work in Coup, and we put it in the background, or we put it wherever. And then, once the level really took shape, we then started making custom animations for it. And now, it's a good mixture.
That's interesting to hear, because some of us who obviously weren't privy to your process at the time were speculating, "How could these guys afford to make this extensive sequence here?"
MB: We have a very good arrangement with Neversoft; they have a motion capture facility that we use. They are a 15-minute drive up the road, and they don't charge us as much as a commercial house would, so we can afford to try things out like that and use them once, and that's really good.
In terms of making sure that you were going to be able to control this IP more and do your own original projects, how has that affected the company and the feeling there?
MB: I think everyone at Infinity Ward feels some ownership for Call of Duty, and we're very proud of it. But at the same time, we knew when we first started talking to Activision that we're making Call of Duty for them; it's their property. So, we accept that. But the more successful we are, the more leverage we have, and the more we can say, "We want to do this next."
I think at this point, we could probably make whatever game we wanted. I think that another thing that would influence their decision to let us do that is that we have a very high internal standard.
And if we started making a game and we didn't think it would sell, even if we thought it was good, if we didn't think it would sell, we would pull the plug ourselves. I think they trust us in that.
During the postmortem for Game Developer magazine, it was mentioned that there was a second project that was distracting for some time, and you made the decision internally to not distract yourselves with it. Is that being revisited now, or is that still in the future? Or not to be revisited at all?
MB: There's no such thing as purely revisiting anything like that. We always have a big pile of ideas cooking. Jason has said, I think, that we'll expand to two teams when it feels right, when we actually have two games worth of ideas that are ready to go, and not just two high concepts that are ready to go.
I think that was the problem last time, we just had a high concept, and when it came down to figuring out the nitty gritty, it took a lot of effort. It does, it takes a lot of effort.
Have you guys ever considered doing anything on a smaller scale? Infinity Ward has always been pretty oriented toward blockbusters.
MB: We talk about it all the time. We're constantly talking about what iPhone game we want to make or whatever it is. But seriously, eh, I don't know. It might happen. There's a lot of people who are excited about it. But there's nothing concrete for sure.