Call of Duty: Ghosts aims for perfection

PC gamers, get ready for a brand new Call of Duty game on November 5. The developers at Infinity Ward have developed a new game engine to push PC gaming, as well as next-gen consoles, towards more immersive and enthralling games. The latest game in the Call of Duty franchise, Ghosts represents a fresh start for the series with a fresh story and a new squad of soldiers. The multiplayer gameplay also includes some new additions, and we recently sat down with Yale Miller, senior producer on Call of Duty: Ghosts, to talk about what we should expect from the latest in a long line of excellent first-person military shooters.

Why did you decide to leave the Modern Warfare narrative behind? 

Yale Miller: We felt the story for Modern Warfare 3 really wrapped up that trilogy nicely and it was just a perfect storm, with the next-gen consoles coming out and the idea of being able to start a new story with the new generation. It organically came about, and really we were ready for a new story.

What did screenwriter and director Stephen Gaghan add to this game?

Working with Stephen Gaghan has been amazing. He is embedded more than I’ve ever seen—he’s got an office at the studio and he’s a gamer. He cares about the game and his expertise as a writer with the story is amazing.

The opportunity to get to work with him has been great for his director chops, as well talking about different scenes and how we would set them up. He’s brought a lot to the game in the overall story, and just what we’re doing with Ghosts in general. Just having him in the office has been great.

What were your goals heading into this new title?

Our goal every year is to make the best Call of Duty game that we possibly can, but we were trying to tell a different story and put the player into a kind of different place than they were. In the past, we’ve always been the superpower and you’ve always had that overwhelming force at your back. The cavalry was always coming. This year, it’s a different story. It’s an underdog story. It allows the designers to put the player in situations and have emotional connections with the story that they’ve never had before.

How much can you tell us about the story in Call of Duty: Ghosts? 

The story behind Ghosts is there’s been an unthinkable mass event, and it’s basically reshaped the United States and the world as we know it. The U.S. is no longer a superpower; they’ve been basically crippled, both the government and the military.  And you play as one main character with a squad, who’s not fighting to restore America, but just for survival. It really is a different dynamic than anything we’ve ever done before.

How does the dog play a role in this new game and what’s his name?

We don’t have a name for the dog that I can share. Dogs are used in real-world combat and we worked with advisors who understood how the dog can become part of the squad and how dogs in real life become part of squads. It opens up a bunch of different gameplay opportunities and things that we wanted to do; it also helps portray the squad as a family, as you play alongside your brother and have the dog as part of the squad. It adds an emotional family dynamic.

How are you utilizing new technology to bring the next gen versions of Ghosts to life?

The new Call of Duty engine has allowed us to do tons of different graphical things that we’ve never been able to do. A feature called Sub D, where you’re actually able to take a normal poly count object and boost it dramatically, ensures that the world never breaks down. We’ve all seen it in games before—the world looks great from afar, but as you start to get closer it breaks down and gets muddy.

The higher resolution textures afforded by Sub D and a bunch of different bells and whistles are making our characters and weapons look amazing. Things like environmental tessellation and displacement mapping allow artists to create amazing environments that look like they have real depth and geometry. A new light engine also adds iris effects and lens flares to help make a more immersive story.

What are some of the challenges when moving the shooter genre forward?

The challenge every year with Call of Duty is trying to make a better game. It’s a challenge across the board. It’s a challenge that the guys at Infinity Ward are really, really excited about every year. It’s how do we improve multiplayer, how do we improve single player. We’re trying to do that every year. Obviously, the new engine is allowing us to do a lot of things and go to places where we weren’t able to go before.

What do you feel interactive elements will add to the multiplayer experience?

The dynamic maps add a whole new layer to multiplayer. It’s not just that you learn the map and then you’ve learned it, right? There are dynamic elements that are sometimes environmentally driven. It will happen and you need to learn how to deal with those, how to use those for your strategy. Then there are player-controlled ones that can actually change how cover is used and maybe make a new entry or lock someone in an area. Using these adds another layer of strategy, which we think novice players and expert players are all going to love.

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