Call of Duty: Black Ops – The Ultimate Interview

Mega-chat with Treyarch’s Studio Head Mark Lamia and Community Manager Josh Olin on the seventh Call of Duty.

By Kikizo Staff, June 2, 2010

Either they built shotguns real big in the 70s, or our depth perception's out of whack.

Either they built shotguns real big in the 70s, or our depth perception's out of whack.

I kind of joke about it, but it’s probably true that the government was wondering what was going on in our building! People were researching everything from techniques to weaponry to specifications – they were probably like ‘what the hell is going on at Treyarch’. I’m pretty sure we’ve triggered every single warning list. Hopefully they’ve realised now since we’ve announced it that we were actually working on this game, but I’m sure we’re tapped by now!

So yeah we did a ton of research, and we’ve talked to the veterans of the era. We do that with every one of our games. We’ve talked Major John Plaster, who is a SOG – a Studies & Observations Group – and they were one of the first real black operations, and they conducted off-the-record deniable operations in south east Asia. In places where the government said we were not, we were – and these were the guys who were doing it.

And they were the elite military branches of the Green Berets, they were joint forces with the elite air and naval forces, and they were pulled together, given these missions by the CIA to conduct in south east Asia, in these areas that like I say were off the record. And they were able to outfit themselves as they saw fit, nobody could question them because everything they were doing was of the utmost secrecy, they could commandeer what gear they needed, including a general’s jeep if they needed it, they could go to armories and take what they wanted for their mission.

The mean streets of Hue City.

The mean streets of Hue City.

Nobody was going to tell these guys what they needed and what they didn’t need, because these are the best of the best. You’re not going to tell these guys anything, they know what they need and by the way they put their lives on the line every single time they go out, they’re a small team of people, they go out and do their missions, they choose their weapons, modified weaponry, alternate forms of ammo, experimental weapons before they’re mass-produced – these guys would have access to it if they’d heard about it and they wanted it, home-made ammo… If they wanted it, they would use it.

Josh Olin: And we’re capturing all that in the game too, so you saw the different types of ammo we used in different levels. And also one good example would be in Slaughterhouse, the second level that we showed, where if you go outside you come upon a regular soldier, he’s in there, he’s pinned down, he’s just part of the normal army that’s fighting in the battle for the city, and he’s trying to call in helicopter support, because they’re pinned down and they need support.

And the helicopter pilot is telling him no, sorry, we’re busy in this quadrant over here, we can’t spread resources across all our guys. So you go up there and say ‘give me that, give me the radio’ – you have a voice, and you’re the biggest badass on the field, and you give the Huey your access code and your SOG password that you need to commandeer the helicopter, and they immediately say ‘roger that sir, we’re in route’.

So that’s a good practical example of ‘the general’s jeep’ – the helicopter pilot’s telling that guy sorry, we can’t spare the time, but as soon as you step on the scene, as soon as you play the SOG card, they know that it’s something very important.

Lamia: So everything from books and conventional research to speaking with veterans is the length that we go to create our narrative and create our fictions, where we draw our inspirations from.

Amidst the ice and snow of Unspecified Deniable Theatre of War.

Amidst the ice and snow of Unspecified Deniable Theatre of War.

Olin: And it’s different to play. I don’t know how many Call of Duties you guys have played, but when you’re just a regular footsoldier and you’re taking the orders on the field, and you’re just this mute guy, the paradigm shift from that to being the guy who’s giving the commands, being the guy who can change the tides of the war on the battlefield – it’s totally new, and it gives you a whole new feeling of empowerment.

Lamia: Yeah, and I think every mission is going to have some level of difference in terms of who’s taking the lead in your team, because like in real black ops there always had to be a team leader. But they were all specialists or experts, all of them brought something to the table.

Olin: Each mission they elected a different team leader depending on that mission. So it didn’t matter what your rank was.

10 Responses to “Call of Duty: Black Ops – The Ultimate Interview”

  1. Fif says:

    whats up with zombies modes man?

  2. Dont bet on a zombie mode

    See you online!


  3. Zommb1e says:

    All we fellow cod players wanna see is good map control by this I meen each weapon has it’s best use such as shotguns in building snipers outside. We want to have to move around the map in a smart manner and make guns harder to use so skill level is needed stop helping noobs and make your game more challengeing.

  4. ZomBie says:

    Umm Look On The Ipod App It Says Zombies Will Be Back

  5. nils99 says:

    they better have the nagant and tokarev and they better make it realistic because guns arent even and if the gun was made cheaply with bad material like the arisaka and the m4 it should jam brake what ever i hope they make it reallistic and a simulation not arcadey and they better have zobies

  6. nils99 says:

    zombies my bad

  7. Cod6 is about to be comming out the Nov 11th god I cant freaking wait for it to come out. Add me on XBL my id is Globalthreat

  8. Black Ops was a big let down with all the constant PS3 freezes due to rage quitters leaving and leaving me and my friends stuck in Host Migration..

    Why not let people host their games at will? Why not ban people who constantly disconnect from the game from hosting? Great game, but poor implentation…

  9. Ots says:

    Thanks for the article! That’s what I was looking for.


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