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E3 2013: Call of Duty: Ghosts - Infinity Ward Interview with Mark Rubin
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 03:56am 12/06/13 | Comments
AusGamers was given a chance to chat with Infinity Ward veteran Mark Reuben about Call of Duty: Ghosts ahead of the E3 conference. Read on for what he had to say...

This piece we already ran on Call of Duty: Ghosts lacked a bit of insight. We were gracious enough to have been given the opportunity to chat with Activision’s VP of production for Call of Duty, Daniel Suarez, but we wanted to get in tight with Infinity Ward. Activision took the initiative and ahead of E3 proper, AusGamers was given another chance to see Call of Duty: Ghosts up close, and this time it was a demo being driven by IW’s Mark Rubin who serves as executive producer on Ghosts, but is also a veteran of the studio, and he gave us an explosive amount of insight and was also happy to answer our grilling questions.

AusGamers: There’s new stuff you guys are introducing, like Riley the dog; a new storyline and a brand-new engine, but there are a lot of tenants that are still the same and have been carried over from previous iterations of the series, you know, like the sequence you showed us where you’re moving stealthily with your brother and he’s telling when it’s okay to shoot... does it ever worry you that after so many entries in the series that players are kind of aware that that’s what they should be doing and that handholding is actually a detriment to a player’s own autonomy in the game?

Mark Rubin: Yeah, a little bit. Actually, let me rephrase that: we don’t worry about it, what it is is what you’re seeing is early in the game where we do a little handholding until you [progress]. We still do give a lot of audio feedback and in actuality it’s just to stay more “real” than bringing up hint text, like, we don’t do a big block of hint text that would stop the game and say “You’ve Now Got This Ability, You Can Now Do This and This and This” which a lot of games actually do and we try to make it feel more natural.

But you know, the goading thing... part of it, honestly, comes from focus testing -- so we bring people in once a week to play the game and we only let them play that one scene and so what we do is, a lot of the time the level starts off without a lot of that goading, and when we have people play through it and there’s a point where they sort of get lost or feel like they don’t know what they’re supposed to do next, we say “okay, that’s a no” and we need to make sure there’s some kind of...

AusGamers: But if I can add to that, at the moment there’s a kind of an argument that games are becoming a kind of interactive Choose Your Own Adventure where maybe they used to be “here’s your tutorial level, here’s your base skills, now go and do what you need to do on your own”, and I understand that it’s a pillar of Call of Duty to have a narrative-lead experience, but I guess from a philosophical point of view I’m curious to know if you [Infinity Ward] would ever kind of look at that one and just change it up and give the player more autonomy?

Mark: My overall feeling on that is I hope we don’t, and I’ll give you the reason why: I play a lot of different games, I mean if I see it on Steam I pretty much buy it -- I’m playing Gun Point right now, it’s fricking awesome -- and it’s its thing and there are a lot of other games that do its thing and if everyone started to follow [that] direction one way or the other, I would be very disappointed because then all the games would be copying themselves. So we as a franchise have always been trying to make movies that you get to play -- we want that cinematic experience, we want that directed immersion and that’s what we do really well, and [so] I want other games to kind of fill in that desire for other types of gameplay. So I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but I want us to do what we do because that’s what we do really well and I want other games to explore those other different mechanics and different ideas.

AusGamers: It seems like Call of Duty -- on the console side -- would be ready for the players to be able to create their own content. You know, you’ve got games like Far Cry that release with level editors on console, is that something you’re...

Mark: It’s absolutely something we’d love to do, the problem lies obviously in security and also it’s a competitive game, and so if you give people too much access to those toys they can ruin other people’s experiences. The unfortunate part of this is there’s almost nothing I’ve seen out there that is people who have hacked the system who are doing good...

AusGamers: But [perhaps] with a level editor you’d be alleviating that desire for someone to break the game...

Mark: Maybe... no, I don’t think it would [laughs]. The community would still try and break the game because they’re not trying to break levels, they’re trying to break people’s progression, or they’re trying to break things with, like, aimbots and all that kind of stuff.

AusGamers: Talking about mods and wishlists, and I know you can’t talk about multiplayer at the moment, but a big component of... specifically on PC, but also with next-gen and the giant number of Microsoft’s servers that have been ramped up for next-gen, what’s the situation moving forward -- from that wishlist perspective -- in terms of dedicated servers; going back to that model because it really did split the community in half, especially on PC...

Mark: We had dedicated servers on Modern Warfare 3... or are you talking about the difference between people who “Find Match” versus people who use dedicated servers?

AusGamers: Yeah...

Mark: The funny thing is we found people -- the casual people -- prefer “Find Match”. They don’t like dedicated servers, because to them they feel like they’re generally being put into an unfair advantage, it’s a little more than they want to handle from a mental standpoint...

AusGamers: But is there no way to cater to both?

Mark: There may well... it’s definitely a challenge [and] I can’t talk too much about it, but we are examining the tech advancements in that area. Personally I think it’s something [where] we’re not going to see an instant gratification change, we’ll probably see it as a gradual over time change as the tech... so we’ve been doing some investigating and the tech isn’t quite ready yet, and so we’re “almost there, almost there” but you know, I’ve seen a number of reports lately with, you know, Xbox One and their whole Cloud system, [so] there’s potential there and we’re not bandwagon guys -- we’re not going to jump on the bandwagon day one, but we’re going to watch and see if it’s the best thing to do for the game.

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