Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ Behind The Scenes Studios

I’m here at Infinity Ward to learn about the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. We’re going to talk to the studio narrative director, the campaign gameplay director, and the studio art director of Infinity Ward to learn all about the new game. (upbeat music) – So when we started this game, we wanted to bring Modern Warfare back. We kind of looked at it like a Casino Royale or a re-imagining of the universe and we wanted to make it more relatable, something that you could kind of take for granted because you see it every day.

It should be part of our world today. It’s a very contemporary take on the Modern Warfare universe. – [Patrick] In terms of representing that in a game then how are you getting these visuals to make it look you know, the way it actually looks in the real world? – It’s crazy, the process has started three years ago and we went heavy into photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is a process of taking hundreds of pictures of an actual physical object in the real world and then feeding those images into the computer, into some software and then we’ll kick out like a mesh, a model that represents that real-world asset.

We went from making things up, like actually looking at an object and then trying to interpret it by hand into the game but now we’re doing things like we have to make the design physically and you know dirty it up, maybe it’s a pair of old shoes, we would want to buy the shoes and then wear them out and then you take that into the studio, we give it to our scan team, which we also had to develop. So it’s a really, it’s an insanely layered process of getting really good at reality capture and then getting really good at getting it into the game and making it look right so what you get is a really believable immersion of the environment.

So one of my questions was then if it is photorealism and that’s how you get to, how do you also make it artistic because it’s your interpretation of what these things are at the same time right? – Yeah, I mean it’s as artistic as any prop designer or production designer would be in Hollywood. You know it just comes down to what’s the tone and taste of the story, the universe that we’re creating and you know, you do tend to take some artistic liberties and once in a while, we’ll embellish something on a costume cause we want someone’s face to pop. It’s really fun to have physical restrictions of the real world and work within those I think that’s when art reaches its highest level when you actually have some boundaries around you and you’re having to be very creative. I think some of the best forms of art always kind of happen under a little bit of adversity.

For a game like ModernWarfare, that’s you know, trying to rip from the headlines and trying to make it real and gritty. I mean how important is it then to have that type of photorealism and have the technology to be able to do this now? – It’s crucial, you know. If we’re actually going to make something new but it’s something that you know and love, you have to be able to really raise the bar and we did that with the visuals and I think that was key to actually delivering something that was really fresh and exciting. – Now Joel we talked about a lot of the stuff but you also have these beautiful monitors and all this awesome artwork. Is there any way you can show us some of the stuff you’re working on?

Yeah actually, everything starts from sketch so there’s usually, we doa lot, a lot of meetings and when we’re trying to figure out what to do, it’s usually great to just kind of jot it down and everybody starts agreeing with it. Then you can start building it. So what we have here is a place where the player can kind of put together their loadout and all the gear and stuff that they bring into their experience, like their multiplayer experience so they can do it all here on this bench and we started the process by just trying to figure out how would this process work? How would you look at it? And then you end up with a set like this.

So this is the initial sketch here? – [Joel] Yeah, it’s just one of the first sketches. So what we have here is the actual 3D set right here and then when I punch into it, you can see that it actually rotates and moves. I can even punch in on the objects on the table and then kind of zoom around. These packs right here actually, things that we built and scanned. We made this prop itself and scanned it and actually this is the result that you see right here. This is actually another set that we were working on and it’s a place, we go up to a real Hollywood set.

we lit it and we captured it and it’s a three-dimensional environment, this is where the player actually chooses characters to represent themselves in multiplayer or in other parts of the game. So they all have different personalities. We do a whole process of actually scanning their faces, scanning different phones and different facial expressions on them, you can bring it in here and we do all these different blends on their faces and things. This is actually the ghillie suit that we made 10 years ago and we contacted our military advisor back then and he still had the ghillie suit so we brought it back in and scanned it and there it is, it’s in the game. So it’s an homage to the original ghillie suit that was in the game. One of the new things in this game is having this cloud simulation on this character. Having that move naturally and float around like that.

That usually looks reallystiff and uninteresting and kind of fake but youget these great results with this stuff, it’s really fun. And then you being able to really zoom in on the character’s face andsee these facial expressions. It’s really cool. I mean you get right downto the patina on the boot man and all thesewrinkles, it’s all captured and brought in here. We’re trying to representrealism with these characters, we’re not having characters running around in g strings and likebathing suits and stuff, which I think is kind of like cheap. – [Patrick] Yeah. –

So we tried to look, we took a good look at how female operators are in the real world and what they look like and how they know, how they’re represented and it even takes us down to Farah’s character in the game, which is really crucial, it’s the first time we actually in Modern Warfare played as a female protagonist. I mean when you see the characters in Modern Warfare, that’s the actors and actresses. Like they’re doing their thing and we’re capturing that. And then the characters look like them. It’s a very interesting experience building this game, I mean we’ve just gone and captured the real world and brought it into this thing to make it feel completely immersive, and then it’s come off pretty well. –

[Patrick] Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is back. I have played ModernWarfare as have most people on this planet at this point. – Well it’s been eight years since the last installation of Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 3 came out. Things like that where the war has changed and the methods of the war have changed. And our game sort of reflects that change. – And additionally, from a gameplay perspective, when we look at just giving the player new experiences that they’ve never had in Call of Duty, being the underdog making improvised weapons, using the terrain and your knowledge of the environment to ambush the enemy, these are all types of experiences that haven’t really existed in Call of Duty and are a huge part of what modern warfare is.

So we also wanted to give the player all sorts of new gameplay experiences they’ve never had before. – This new version ModernWarfare also has I think you call them freedom fighters and there are characters from the West, we might see as the opposite side of the conflict, it’s obviously a lot more nuanced than that but you’re giving a look and an embodiment of those characters. What was it like and how did you make sure you got those types of characters correctly translated?

Well, we’ve worked with consultants and we’ve always worked with consultants on Call of Duty but for this iteration, we also worked with consultants who are experts in the Middle East because we felt that to only show one side of war which would be sort of traditionally western soldiers going over to a conflict zone, you know, thousands of miles away from where they are from to only show that side of the war, to only represent those stories with you leaving out half of the story. – I think when people think of the Call of Duty franchise, they think of lots of things. A lot of it is the gameplay,

a lot of it is multiplayer but with Modern Warfare especially, a lot of people talk about the story and how deep the story was and engaging the story was. How important is the narrative to not just Call of Duty but your version of Modern Warfare now? How much impotence was put on you know, we need to tell a good story, we need to have an engaging narrative? – I mean it’s incredibly important, you can’t separate one from the other. I mean Jake and I have been making games for a long time where we believed that story absolutely critical but it can’t separate from the gameplay experience. We are always trying to putour players in the shoes of these soldiers and toput them in situations where they can have empathy with them, where they can identify with them, and where the stakes for the player of actually completing amission or getting through the game should feel as important as the stakes of that charactergetting what they want.

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