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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 3 of 4 Next

Yeah, that makes sense. How's your flamethrower compare to the one in Far Cry 2?

NH: I'll say that I think our flamethrower is fucking awesome. You can see the flesh burn. We built this really cool procedural technology where you can watch the uniform burn away and the flesh just char as they struggle. We wanted to be very brutal and very realistic about it.

On the other hand, we gave the flamethrower an unlimited supply of ammo, because we thought it is a silly game mechanic to have you wandering around in a level, and you are picking up propane tanks or gasoline tanks and putting them on your back.

You know what, you've got a flamethrower. This is the flamethrower level. We're going to balance it appropriately for the flamethrower, because we're going to assume the player has it throughout the whole level. That lets us make better game design. The player can forgive us for unlimited ammo, because the alternate would be just as silly.

Flamethrowers are definitely in this season.

NH: There's a lot of flamethrowers out there. I will say that we spent a lot of time talking to the First Division Marines and the guys that actually use the flamethrower. I can't speak to flamethrowers in other games that aren't based on reality, but our flamethrower is.

How does the process of sharing tools and technology work between you guys and Infinity Ward? Are you in close contact with one another?

NH: From an engineering standpoint, we share our source code for the engine. They get source drops from us as we got closer to beta. As they were finishing up Modern Warfare, we got source drops from them. But that's where it ends. It's very important that both companies are insular when it comes to design.

Why is that important?

NH: Because it lets both companies have their own creative force. Honestly, it's not like if they see something in the game that they want to give comment on, that they don't have copies to review or anything like that. But it's very important that our design team is able to create their own vision, and that their design team is able to create their own vision.

Do you swap builds during the process and review each other's work?

NH: Well, at this point, because we're pretty much gold at this point, it's more us giving builds to them. Earlier in the process they were giving builds of Modern Warfare to us.

The engine is an Activision platform, something that we can all use. From a design perspective we don't want to step on each other's creativity, and the Treyarch team has its own insular design force.

Obviously there's got to be some level of competition between the two studios. How does that work? In the past your games have been unfavorably compared to their games, something you're sick of hearing I'm sure. Do you find that a motivator?

NH: It's tough, but at the end of the day we're all Activision. A great Call of Duty game just opens up opportunities to do other great things with Call of Duty.

That's nice, but you want to beat them this round, yeah?


NH: I'll say this: it's awesome that we're able to trade and we're able to do a Call of Duty game this year. They were able to do one last year, because on Call of Duty 3 it was nine months in the pipeline to get that game done and no team should ever have to work like that.

If this is the system that's set up so that we both get two years to make the projects, it's a really healthy system. And frankly, it's more gratifying to compete internally than it is against any other company, because at the end of the day we both win if we make a great product.

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