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I want to go back to something that was said a little bit ago, which I think is really important to unpack a little bit, which is the idea of "getting things right." Which is that very often we see this fetishistic level of attention to detail in perfectly modeled guns that have the perfect repeat rate as the manufacturer implements, beautiful graphics, I don't know... napalm shaders. You know what I'm talking about? But that's not the whole story of getting geopolitical, modern warfare right. Right?
MB: I think that the challenge that the level of quality, the level of visual fidelity, of audio fidelity, of everything fidelity is so high these days and I think that players and reviewers do not even tolerate if you're not there.
These days, the industry has never been as cutthroat as it is now. We're seeing studios closing and all that, like, left and right. There is only room for the best. And to be the best, it means that, yes, at one point you need to talk about that blood texture, that blood shader, it looks good or not, if it's big enough or not, if it's red enough or not, in the same way that we spent so much time on... Obviously, we have different priorities.
For me, for example, Sam has always been the Number One priority. Sam's our hero and I wanted the team to focus on Sam. The suits, the different outfits that Sam would have: the goggles, his face, his facial [appearance]. We wanted to really push the envelope on that. But at the same time, it's not like we can ship a game that has 10 out of 10 quality in 70 percent of our elements and two out of 10 in the rest. The level of quality is expected to be high on everything. That's the only way that you're gonna make a successful game.
RD: One of the tightropes that we consistently walk is the one between realism and believability. At this point, the audience is, for lack of a better word, educated enough about what they should be seeing in terms of weapons models, in terms of the sounds they should be hearing and things like that, that if you don't provide that level of detail, it's going to be jarring for them and is going to disassociate themselves from the illusion of the gameplay. It's going to break their suspension of disbelief.
At the same time, in terms of the overall experience, you always have to balance what is believable versus what is accurate. And there are things that happen, real-world stories that we researched, where there's no way in the world we can put them in the game because nobody would believe they actually happened.
We've actually done that on a couple Clancy products. If you back to one of the, I think, Raven Shield mission packs, there's a mission with a submarine, a drug-smuggling submarine in the Andes, and we got tons of hate mail from people saying, "Oh, God! You made that up!" That was pulled straight from a page-one news story, I think, in New York Times.
MB: I think Richard's right -- the line between realistic and believable is sometimes very interesting. When we had some consultants at the beginning of the project, they were telling us some stories where we were like, "Dude, that's a great story but I can't do anything with that, because people are gonna think we're making science fiction." Versus some super-small things that we're doing in the game that everybody takes for granted, that the consultants are like, "Man, I wish I had that, so much." Sam's goggles, the sonar goggles that see through walls. The consultants are like, "Please figure it out in real life. We need that so much."
But at the same time, it's an interesting line. It's a very interesting line, and what I've realized is, sometimes it's not about the idea. Because the idea can be very over-the-top, but if you present it and polish it well, people will believe in it. Versus you can have an idea that is highly realistic, but if you don't present it well...
A good example I like to take is the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops. In one of the first missions you were climbing the side of the wall, and you had these little nano-gloves that would grip, and they spent so much time justifying that it could pull you from wall-to-wall, and it would go green, and they showed all these little details and they made you believe in those little nano-grip gloves that you could grip the side of mountains with -- versus you could take the same idea and just not spend enough time or polish it enough where people would be like, "Oh, yeah, right. Climbing the side of mountain with gloves? Fuck off."