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Called Back to Duty: Activision on Iterating on Success
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Called Back to Duty: Activision on Iterating on Success

November 10, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

On a similar subject with the AI, in the previous game I think it was noticeable that, when you ramped the difficulty up to Veteran, the enemies basically cheated. They had prescient AI which knew when and where you were about to pop out, and so they'd just take your head off straight away. Have you handled difficulty increases in this game?

NH: There are a couple variables we can tweak, like how accurate the enemy is, how aware they are of you.

But 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.

You mentioned about the need to aim for the head at the game's highest difficulties. One of the inherent limitations of the World War II setting is surely the 1940's weaponry, which by definition is always going to be less accurate and more unusable than those in the modern or a future-set shooter.

That restraint from the premise translates into a weaker interactive tool for the player. How do you compensate for that weakness? In the most recent Brothers in Arms there were lots of situations where I found myself just plugging away for ages because my gun wasn't very accurate and that soon gets old...

NH: You'll have to forgive me for disagreeing, but I think it's a perception issue. We made sure that our weapons were doing very realistic damage. On normal difficulty a shot to the chest with a bolt-action rifle will kill an enemy instantly. On Veteran we might want to require a more targeted hit, but the weapons are very deadly and very accurate.

It's going to be more about choosing when to use what. The flamethrower is a great example, a weapon we want you to use not only to alter the environment but also to be a shield and to flush out an enemy from a region.

You're not going to use a flamethrower for a long-range engagement, and you're not going to use a bolt-action rifle to do up close and dirty work. You're going to use something like a shotgun.

We also wanted players to know that these weapons were nastier and dirtier. Not Geneva Convention approved. And that should be reflected in the kind of damage they do.

That's also why we added the limb-capping solution. You can detach a hand, detach a forearm, detach a shoulder, because we also wanted to show the power of the weapon very visually to the player, and give them the appropriate feedback. If you're taking a .30 cal to the enemy you're going to see feet and hands fall off. And that's good visual feedback, that you're doing some real damage.

What we don't have are engagements from 500 yards or a mile away based on super-telescopic sights, which are more akin to the modern era. We actually feel that it can be more visceral when the war is closer up. It's never fun to do a pixel hunt.

Other games do the hunt game, where you see a red dot over there and you know there's an enemy in that distance, and then you zoom in with your scope and you find him. That's not as interesting to us. Does that make sense?

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