Call of Duty: Black Ops Interview

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posted 12/4/2010 by Charles Husemann
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What did your team do to get in the Vietnam era mindset? What movies did you watch, what music did you listen to, etc etc? How did you avoid getting caught in the cliche’s of the era?
There’s a ton of era-specific cultural references to play off of. From movies, music, novels, other games. We feed off all of it, and of course toss our own creative mindset into the mix.


Call of Duty has a reputation as a fairly realistic series as far as equipment and weaponry, but there's been a departure from that starting in World at War (using the "aperture sights" and alien blaster as an example). Now in Black Ops, you have a variety of weapons that have modifications that did not exist at the time. I've heard the "these operators had the ability to customize weapons" argument and I can suspend my disbelief to a certain degree, but I wonder what is the guiding design philosophy; after introducing alien weapons in WaW, where do you feel your creative boundaries are?
The Call of Duty series has always been about entertaining players with an immersive narrative experience set within a historical context. It’s an entertainment product first and foremost, and that’s been the case going all the way back to the original. From a design perspective, the franchise has also been strong in providing players with a ton of gameplay variety. Our guiding design philosophy is to continue the tradition of building an immersive fictional narrative while providing players with a wide variety of weaponry and gadgets that stay true to the greater Cold War era.

What’s interesting about the Cold War as a period in history was that so much of it was shrouded in mystery, even to this day. The SOG and other CIA field operatives were given a wide range of prototype and modified weaponry, and that gave us a perfect foundation to be creative in providing gameplay variety to players. We had to be able to utilize weapons that were within a few years of our narrative in order to support the Black Ops fiction, make sure gamers have enough gameplay variety, and still maintain a feeling of authenticity.

Now, ray guns and alien weapons? You must be talking about Zombies… we’ve been open about the fact that the fiction of Zombies is completely separate from the story campaign, and the same rules don’t apply. Anything is fair game – even our medium of story-telling is completely different. You have to look for the hidden clues and participate in the community of fans to follow the story in Zombies.


Will Call of Duty: Black Ops have the same opt-out choice for the more disturbing content like World at War did? Did Treyarch receive positive feedback from putting that in the last entry they worked on?
Yes, and yes. We’ve heard a lot of great feedback from people who appreciate that we provide this option.

How does the 3D on the Xbox 360 work without native support built into the device? Was it difficult to add the 3D functionality for the Xbox 360? Will you develop future cross platform or Xbox 360 games with 3D as a feature?
Stereoscopic 3D is simply the rendering of each frame twice, side-by-side. The Xbox 360 hardware is perfectly capable of this feat. So while you may have to set your TV and game to 3D on the 360, this is a small couple of button presses to experience the spectacular 3D effects Black Ops is capable of.

Stereoscopic 3D is also supported on the PlayStation 3 and the PC as well. The PC in-fact can achieve even more stunning visuals with the added processing power of high-end rigs. You can crank up the resolution and obtain some stellar visuals not possible on the other console counterparts!
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