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

Olin: We had this thing called the idea wall, at the beginning of a project. And you wouldn’t put your name on it, you’d just take a notecard, write down an idea and post it on the wall. Anyone in the studio could do this. And you would not put your name on it because nobody’s one idea was more important than the others. And then the leads would come by and review the idea wall – and if it sounded cool and fun and it could work, they’d put it in the game.

Apocalypse Now quotes on a postcard please.

Apocalypse Now quotes on a postcard please.

Lamia: We’d prototype it, yeah – there’s a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor. So it does eventually go through hard decision-making process, but to start with it’s open, and I think that’s why we have some of the creativity. We’re killing a couple more sacred cows for the franchise, because we think it’s time to give people something fresh, while retaining the core essence of Call of Duty. People have had a lot of great experiences, but they’ve got to move on.

It’s Call of Duty – they know how to pick it up, they know how to play it, they know it’s going to have 60 frames per second, they expect epic encounters, core gameplay is there, but… what am I doing that’s new? And hopefully it’s not just me telling you about it, the team are working so hard – I really do want to show you a couple of examples of portions of levels just to give you an idea that there’s a lot of variety to expect.

How do you keep getting 60 frames per seconds?

Lamia: Lifting up the curtain a little bit, we do make our own compromises in terms of where we want our engine to process its power. So if we want to have something that’s destructable, does the whole world need to be simulating destruction at the time we’re creating it in an environment where shit’s flying around, or are we just going to simulate that area? But that in of itself is a lot of work, that means that every single piece of that area needs to have an attribute, a special attribute that maybe it doesn’t have in another location.

Set pieces come thick and fast.

Set pieces come thick and fast.

That’s just one example of it. So what I’m going to tell you is that it doesn’t just happen. We have guys who literally just play for performance and do performance analysis reports on every level, and we have an uncompromising engineering staff that is not willing to give – ‘hey by the way your job is to run at 60 frames per second’. Because that’s what players are expecting.

The reason why Call of Duty in my opinion feels so good in your hand, and why it is one of the best expressions of ‘that is me on the screen’, is because we do let it run at 60 frames per second. That’s why it’s so fluid. So it’s critical, it’s a critical component. Are there parts where it will dip? If there are, only barely for a second if you’re lucky. Almost always you’re seeing that constant 60 frames a second you’ve seen in all the Call of Duties.

And I think also visually, there’s a difference. I think that’s why the engine looks a bit different from other engines, because we’re running at 60 not 30. That would be a compromise that some people are willing to make – we’re not. It’s all about the gameplay, and it’s a lot of work to keep it that way.

Josh, Mark – thanks for your time.

Call of Duty: Black Ops launches for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on 9th November 2010. Wii and Nintendo DS versions are also in development.

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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