Infinity Ward Q&A: Call of Duty: Ghosts and the Power of a New Generation

The franchise that has defined a generation of gaming is set to raise the bar once again with the all-new “Call of Duty: Ghosts.”  Published by Activision and developed by Infinity Ward, the studio that created the original “Call of Duty” and the critically-acclaimed “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” series, “Call of Duty: Ghosts” ushers in the next generation of the franchise, delivering a riveting all-new gameplay experience built on an entirely new story, setting and cast, all powered by a new next-generation “Call of Duty” engine. 

Check out the Xbox Wire exclusive interview below with Infinity Ward Executive Producer, Mark Rubin, and Senior Community Manager, Tina Palacios, and stay tuned for more news and insights from other renowned developers of the hottest and most anticipated games coming to Xbox.

What are you most excited about for developing on new generation hardware?

Mark: We’re the first “Call of Duty” studio to work with the new next-gen hardware and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. It’s sort of like getting a shiny new toy because you just want to learn everything about the tech immediately and put the next generation hardware to the test. I think the most exciting part about developing for next-gen is all the opportunities it opens for the entire studio. We immediately created a to-do list of things we wanted to achieve in “Ghosts” for the new platforms – developing a new engine is the biggest example of that. At the end of the day, we’re honored to be the studio that gets to develop the next generation of “Call of Duty” and bring it to our fans next month.

How will a new generation of hardware impact/change/revolutionize the future of your title/gaming

: Since we’ve been developing “Ghosts” for next-gen hardware, it’s given us the opportunity to experiment and take a lot more liberties with our game. For instance, we completely changed the work pipeline for our art department. We adopted new techniques for creating vehicles, weapons and characters called “Sub D.” It allows the engine to alter the polygon count in real-time, thus allowing us to retain an assets true shape, no matter how close you get to the object.  Also, we’re able to create cinematic-quality assets now, and then pair them to work on different systems. So not only is next-gen going to look gorgeous, but current-gen fans will have a great looking game too. “Ghosts” is the best-looking Xbox 360 game we’ve ever done. The current gen has clearly benefited from all the work we’ve put into the next gen platforms.

What are some of the most notable contributions, innovations and/or perspectives brought by having Traffic and Syriana writer, Stephen Gaghan creating the world and story of “Call of Duty: Ghosts?”

Tina: It was a great experience having Stephen Gaghan in the office. He completely embraced the opportunity to work with us by asking for his own office space, and came in nearly every day with fresh ideas and new perspectives. It was an interesting experience working with Gaghan, because he really helped us meet the studio goal of giving our characters an origin story with emotional impact.

We held meetings with him where we played through the campaign in our theater and rattled off feedback on the spot. He took it all in, but it wasn’t always easy; we asked Gaghan to work with a protagonist that’s essentially a silent observer of the world around him. In Hollywood, this isn’t necessarily the case, but it definitely inspired him to think outside of the box.

How is new-generation hardware being used to improve and innovate the multiplayer experience with “Call of Duty: Ghosts?”

Tina: We were able to apply a lot of the improvements we made to MP because of the new engine and how it runs on the new hardware. For instance, we improved many systems, such as the rendering system, which encompasses everything you think of in terms of eye-candy. So next-gen and PC are going to have the most gorgeous “Call of Duty” experience to-date.

We also improved the animation system, and we expanded on first and third person movement by adding the ability to mantle over objects, along with the incorporation of the knee slide, just to name a few. Also, the FX and audio systems are vastly improved; the FX system allowed us to be more creative with cool things like Dynamic Map Events, which change the flow and appearance of a multiplayer game, so they really add a level of strategy for players. Also, with the inclusion of the ADSR reverb system, we can now take into account where you fire off your weapon in real-time, and this will have an effect on the way your weapon sounds throughout the map. So if you’re in a small, enclosed space, you’re going to hear an echo when you fire off your weapon. We’ve also taken many liberties by adding the ability to customize your soldier’s look for the first time, including being a female soldier. All of this comes together to really offer up a fun experience online. Creating an amazing multiplayer experience is our #1 goal, and we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished this year with “Ghosts.”

Can you briefly detail how Kinect functionality will be incorporated into “Call of Duty: Ghosts”?

Tina: One example is that we’ll use Kinect to allow our fans to give Riley commands in-game during the single-player campaign.

What are some of the challenges with developing underwater gameplay and creating the underwater physics engine and combat system?

Tina: It was incredibly challenging to create a level with underwater combat. In doing so, there are considerations and problems we had to solve for that the average gamer likely doesn’t take into account when seeing the finished product. For instance, where does our player take cover? Where would he/she be attacked from? When you’re underwater, you may be attacked from any direction, all around you.

How do we create an environment that makes it possible for our player to even stand a chance? We had to consider a new axis in which the player could battle from and develop those environments with extra care; it was really fun for the team to tackle this challenge.

What are the benefits and challenges with starting a brand new “Call of Duty” world and IP?

Mark: Unfamiliar territory, giving up the opportunity to deliver a game with familiar characters. In our Modern Warfare series, we presented our heroes without giving them a real backstory to who they are. They sort-of existed in this world we created, and you really knew nothing more than face-value.

With “Ghosts,” we went a completely different direction and want to provide origin stories to our characters– who they are, where they grew up, why they are fighting for survival. They are shaped by their environment and we think that will really show when players progress through the campaign.