Last week we had the chance to sit down with Infinity Ward's senior community manager, Tina Palacios and discuss Call of Duty: Ghosts. The game, which was released today, is something entirely new from the studio renowned for redefining multiplayer with the Modern Warfare franchise. Continuing to do so is not easy, but Palacios explains that there's plenty of new features in this year's installment.
Game On: How much did the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 influence the concepts and ideas behind Call of Duty: Ghosts? Are there aspects to the game that would not have been possible if the game was coming to just current-generation systems?
Tina Palacios: Absolutely! When we received the new hardware in our office, we were all excited with the new opportunities it brought. We put together a list of things we wanted to accomplish in Call of Duty: Ghosts, one of them being the tech overhaul. For starters, the team developed a new engine and all the bells and whistles that come with it. The rendering system for instance, (anything you think of in terms of eye-candy), includes Sub D rendering. With our game we do Sub D in real-time, adding polygons (triangles) progressively, so there's never a breakdown in curvature. This is significant to characters, vehicles, and weapons; they'll maintain their shape by adding more polygons as you get closer to them. The Audio team also played a big part in our new tech, as they had an opportunity to add new systems as well. One example is that they built an ADSR (attack, decay, sustain and release) Reverb system. This allows us to take into account where you are in an environment and alter your weapons sounds accordingly. So if you were in a small, enclosed space, you'd hear the echo from firing your weapon. This all happens in-engine, in real time. The current generation versions of Ghosts will also benefit from this new audio system. So fans are going to get a great experience regardless of whether they play on next-gen or current-gen.
GO: When looking at the addition of the K-9 unit, Riley, what sorts of changes will players see in the overall gameplay? Is this an addition that changes the core gameplay experience?
TP: The team didn't have a fully-fleshed out idea of what we'd do with Riley until we met with some Navy SEALs and their dogs at the beginning of the dev cycle. They are much different than K-9 units in the police force, so that research was a must. K-9 dogs are trained to attack a limb and never let go; these dogs are much more agile and rigorously trained. The designers tasked themselves with utilizing Riley in unique and interesting ways without sacrificing the respect for the role the dogs play. Our team really did their homework and didn't take the stories they heard from the SEALs for granted. At the end though, it's about fun gameplay and adding functionality and game mechanics that push the game forward.
GO: With Call of Duty: Ghosts, is this a new sub-franchise that players will see multiple times, much like we have with Modern Warfare and Black Ops? Why was the concept of Ghosts the go to for Infinity Ward?
TP: Right now, our focus is only on Ghosts, and we don't have any other plans to speak to. We knew we wanted to start a new story and that led to creating a new sub-franchise. The concept behind Ghosts is something that really appealed to the team-- being the underdog. In previous Call of Duty games, you always had the firepower, the brute force, and the tech you needed to win the war. This time, the Ghosts don't have any of those advantages - all they have is each other. They'll find themselves struggling to fight for what's left of a crippled United States while also utilizing the limited resources they have left. You'll play as Logan, alongside his brother Hesh, and see them experience the US before and after a devastating attack.
GO: When looking at the narrative behind Call of Duty: Ghosts, how different is it from previous iterations such as Modern Warfare 3 and Block Ops 2? How does Infinity Ward define innovation when it comes to the game's narrative?
TP: The main premise of being an underdog opened up new doors for our Design team. Consider this - in a previous Call of Duty game, you could use an air strike to take out an enemy base. This time, the Ghosts have no backup and are called upon to perform tasks under the pressure of having no other alternative.
GO: How will the new dynamic changes, which can happen to a multiplayer map's landscape, ultimately change the game's online experience? Was this something the development team wanted to add all along, but just needed next-generation consoles to do so?
TP: The dynamic map events have their beginnings in our campaign brainstorming, taking after the crumbling US landscape. We wanted the dynamic map events to make a player stop and say, "wow, that happened?" Each dynamic map event will be unique to a map. On snow-covered Whiteout for instance, a satellite will enter orbit, and you'll see it crash down into the earth. The player that triggered the satellite crash will earn a permanent Sat Com perk for their team for the remainder of the match. At the end of the day, the player-triggered events and the larger dynamic events add to the strategy behind any given match.
GO: What are you most excited for players to see or learn about this game that they currently do not know?
TP: I want to hear what fans say after playing the all-new Extinction mode for the first time; that's going to be fun!
Call of Duty: Ghosts is available at all major video game retailers starting today! We'd like to thank Tina and the rest of Infinity Ward staff for taking the time to talk with us and for continuing their success in the industry.
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