Activision’s Field Generals Talk ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’

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How important is Modern Warfare 3 to Activision? It’s being co-developed by three separate studios: Infinity Ward (still going after the exit of the studio’s founders), Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software. Glen Schofield comes to Activision from EA, where he worked on the first Dead Space and Dante’s Inferno.

Contrary to what’s been reported elsewhere, the studios are working in full partnership, with each having hands in single-player and multiplayer portions of the game. After watching the "Black Tuesday" level and playing Spec Ops Survival, I sat down with Glen Schofield of Sledgehammer and Creative Strategist Robert Bowling from Infinity Ward to talk about the development process and the ideas going into the high stakes sequel.

Robert, you’ve been at Infinity Ward since Call of Duty 4, but Glen’s only just come on board to the franchise with this game. That makes you a Call of Duty virgin, then.

Schofield: [Laughs] Well, I was. I’m not anymore.

So, I don’t have to tell you guys that the stakes are super-high this year. You guys have a competitor that’s gunning for you in a way, I think, that you hadn’t had before. There’s been whispers that the fan base is a little bit tired of what you guys may have to offer. How would you answer that? What’s new? Why should someone who has been playing COD year in and year out, show up?

Bowling: Right. Well, Modern Warfare 3 is all about bringing an experience for every type of player. What that answer is depends on the type of player you are, because it’s very unique for each mode. From a story standpoint, this is a huge payoff for the guys who have been with us since Call of Duty 4 when we introduced the characters and have seen the momentum that has built up with this conflict.

From a gameplay standpoint, we’re doing something we’ve never done before. We’re moving into the heart of major cities. We’re taking the epic, cinematic set-piece moments that you love, that immersion that you love from Call of Duty, and you’re seeing it in places you’d never expect.

You’re seeing things happen in these locations that feel safe and familiar, and to see that is one thing, but to be interactive and be a part of that is completely different. And that’s just on the single player side. Spec Ops is their dedicated co-op mode–which you can play solo as well–but what we’re doing really well is we’re blurring the line between the experiences. We’re taking the stuff that’s fantastic in multiplayer and we’re bringing it in to co-op. And we’re taking moments from single-player and aspects that you love there and we’re bringing it into co-op. 

(MORE: ‘Battlefield 3’ Producer: ‘Controversy Is Not a Mature Way to Sell a Game’)

A lot of new players continually complain about not being able to enjoy the multiplayer…

Bowling: What we’ve done this year really allows you to get experiences that the more casual player doesn’t get from multiplayer. Even if they are playing multiplayer, it allows you to have experiences that you may never see as a casual player, but now you get them in a place that’s more fun and comfortable for your skill set.

So it’s all about opening it up to allow you to have fun the way you want to have fun. And that’s the biggest challenge with having an audience of 30 million people: 30 million people have a wide spectrum of taste and a wide definition of what fun is. Our job is to give you a platform to have fun the way you want without hindering someone else.

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