Systems: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, DS
Publisher: Activision | Developer: Treyarch | Release Date: TBA
Interview with Rich Farrelly, Creative Director for Call of Duty: World at War and Lt. Colonel Hank Keirsey (Ret. U.S. Army), Military Advisor of Call of Duty: World at War
by Jason Lauritzen
June 11, 2008 - Months after its release, Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is still sitting pretty in a Top-20 position on U.S. sales charts. Developer Treyarch believes their follow-up entry can be just as edgy - both in terms of tech and narrative. Ditching the modern setting and returning to World War II may seem like a decision that sets off gaming alarm bells, but Treyarch is determined to show a more visceral side of a familiar war.
CheatCC went to an Activision event in Santa Monica, CA to view a guided demo and talk to the developers. We chatted with the Creative Director and the series' Military Advisor about working with the Call of Duty 4 engine, developing a grittier tone, and toeing that fine line between history and entertainment.
RF: Rich Farrelly - Creative Director for Call of Duty: World at War
LT: Lt. Colonel Hank Keirsey (Ret. U.S. Army) - Military Advisor for the Call of Duty franchise
CCC: Cheat Code Central
CCC: You are using the COD4 engine, and obviously that was helpful - were you able to jump right in from day one?
For us, a lot of the people that are on this team are alumni from Call of Duty: United Offensive, which used the Call of Duty 1 tech, which is very similar in terms of toolset for the Call of the Duty 4 engine. So, getting that basically opened up the floodgates for us - that, coupled with having two years instead of eight months to make a game. We've been able to have this engine that we all know that's already well established and it's a shippable engine ... to be able to create content and iterate very rapidly. It's having a huge effect on the quality of game we can make.
CCC: When Infinity Ward came out with that engine for 360 and PS3 everyone went, "Wow, it runs the same on both platforms." Are you guys going to be able to replicate that? Are we going to have to see an install on PS3 or is it too early to tell?
We're certainly aware of the issues that arose from the last one. I can't speak for the technological side - suffice it to say, it's something we are definitely aware of and would like to address.
CCC: What has you most excited from feature set and design standpoint in this iteration of Call of Duty?
Well, design-wise, we're able to make the game we want to make; we've got the time, we've got the tech ability, and we have a little bit more creative latitude in terms of the rating - we're able to push it a little more and make it a bit more gritty, a bit more edgy. That, and just having such a great engine to work with - the technology is awesome; it allowed us to add things like the flamethrower tech and the fire management technology that you saw in the demo. All these things are sort of icing on the cake.
CCC: You talked a little bit about historical accuracy and it's a tricky area; you don't want to have the player dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima!
For us – at the end of the day – we really do pay a lot of attention to being as authentic as possible. From the uniforms to the way the guys speak, the weapons they're carrying, sound of them, to what the environments look like...tiny little details like that.
If you wander in Rich's room you'll see he's got all these books: "Uniforms of the Imperial Japanese Army" - not a big hit with anybody else. "Uniforms of the 7-14 Japanese Army" - all this stuff. He does his research with a lot of passion. I think that's why some of the earlier Call of Duty games were still a big hit - you gotta have an entertainment product, but you can also have a product that takes you to a place ... People say, "Crap, that was intense." Now there's a sense of, "Wait, I'll go ask my grandfather before he kicks the bucket." They'll realize that the world is not some tiny bubble that I'm living in - that something happened long before that.
At the end of the day we still know we're making a product that's an entertainment product. We strive to make it as authentic feeling [of an] experience as possible. Hank has even said that every time one of our rifles goes off in the game he always flinches - being a vet himself.