Nous avons pu discuter du présent et du futur de Call of Duty: Warzone avec Taylor Kurosaki, directeur narratif chez Infinity Ward, et Amos Hodge, directeur créatif de Raven Software.
Could you introduce yourself quickly?
TK : My name is Taylor Kurosaki and I’m the studio narrative director at Infinity Ward.
AH : I’m Amos Hodge, and I’m the creative director at Raven Software.
First of all, where are you and how is the lockdown going for you and the teams?
TK : I’m doing great. So Amos and I work in different parts of the country - I’m in Los Angeles, and Amos is in Wisconsin. So, we’re a little bit away. What’s really cool is for the development of Warzone, Raven and Infinity Ward were able to work really closely together so in a sense, this lockdown is just an extension of what we’ve already been doing. It’s just that now everyone at the various studios is in their own homes. But we were accustomed to playtest between the two studios remotely for months now, so it’s kind of business as usual in terms of how Amos and I are interacting.
AH : I’m doing pretty well. I’m in Wisconsin, and we haven’t been it with the coronavirus as hard as some others are. We’re told to stay at home, but things are pretty relaxed and less stressful as in populated areas. Like Taylor says, we’re used to video calls, video chat everyday between the two teams. It’s still working out pretty well for us. I’m surprise at how productive we’ve been able to be at working home [...].
For those who didn’t try Warzone yet, what are the current story elements in Warzone, and how is it linked to Modern Warfare?
TK : At high level, when we set out to make Modern Warfare - this is going all the way back to the end of 2016 - we were absolutely set on having a singular experience for players, no matter what mode you were playing in, whether it be campaign, or Spec Ops, or Multiplayer. The goal was that it was a universe that abided by the same rules, that have the same mechanics, across all modes, and that the fiction in the story was consistent among all these modes, so any progress that you made in the campaign would transfer to the multiplayer and vice-versa, that you felt like rather than be three disparate games in one, it was a massive world that you could play in multiple ways.
Taylor, as a narrative director, what is your job in a Battle Royale game? Are you only working on story elements, or are you part of the big plan for the future of the game?
TK : I’m not part of the design crew on Warzone, that’s really Patrick Kelly, our studio head, Amos and all the guys at Raven. My job really is to make sure that the feeling in Warzone is exactly the same as Modern Warfare. So you have narrative threads, you have fiction, you have faction and characters that span both modes, and not only do they have to feel like the same people that are in the same world, but designwise, the things they say have to be clear and have to kinda just continue that Modern Warfare tone. In other words, this is one of the ways we’re extremely different from a game like Fortnite for exemple - this is a realistic, military genre - despite both of them having a Battle Royale mode.
How is the work on Warzone divided between Infinity Ward and Raven Software? Are the tasks clearly dispatched or did you werge part of your teams to form a new one?
AH : It’s not really an Infinity Ward versus Raven scenario, but it’s really one team. It was actually a natural thing for Raven because we worked on every Call of Duty for the past ten years, so we’re used to partnering with the studios. We playtest together, we do daily calls, it’s more like one large studio - we’re all Activision, we’re all on the same tech, we all want the game to be fun, so it’s more one team than is two separates.
The lockdown certainly had a huge effect in terms of popularity for Warzone. But are there some elements or ideas that you had to postpone because of changes in the way you work?
AH : There’s a lot of stuff we want to do. Warzone is like it’s own product, so we want to support it like a full product with new game modes and updates. Some things are just harder to work from home, we have a lot of some of our heavy hitters live out in the country with no Internet connection, they can’t really connect, and that slow us down. We all playtest, but getting the feedback is hard. Usually we get in a room together and we discuss how the game went, what was good and bad, and why you thought it was good or bad, the thoughts on particular feature, and that is much harder on Slack when you get like 70 people arguing at the same time [...]
Some of the larger modes or larger changes we want to make are just hard because of the feedback, the people without Internet connection. So we really had to focus on what’s important. We still hope to keep supporting the game, but it’s a little difficult, to say the least ! The communication is the hard part on feedback, and that’s making the playtest slow.
You added Trios a few weeks ago, brought them back, you removed them a few days after, and brought them back again cause the community wanted it. Are they gonna stay now, and how do you see the future for permanent and limited modes ?
AH : That’s something we’ve been working through. We’re trying to work with community, listen to their request, trying to give them what they want, but also keep creating new content. We’re trying to run this like it’s own product : if you look on Modern Warfare, they’re constantly rotating modes in and out [...] so we’re just trying to find our footing on that, what are the core modes and what we can rotate in and out. We want to keep players engaged, making new modes, we don’t want the game to get stale, but at the same time, we can’t have ten or fifteen playlist because people will start to get bad connections, we wouldn’t be able to matchmake - 150 players is a lot. We’re trying to find that balance between the core mode and what we can rotate in and out. [...] When we put out a new mode, we really want to listen to the community - did they liked it, did they not liked it, which mode they prefer… A lot of our live activity is community driven [...].
People want Duos, you introduce them in Plunder for a few days, are they going to make a comeback?
AH : We had Duos on Plunder, but I’m not sure where Duos is, we got some bugs to work out with Duos. But we’re listening to the community - if you noticed, we launched with just Trios, then we added Solos, the we added Quads, so we will get to a place where we add Duos in the future. There’s just no exact time I can give you for now, but Duos is coming. You’ve already seen in Plunder, but there’s just things we gotta figure out, find the right timing and everything else.
TK : As Amos said, it’s a brand new game, it’s been out for a little over a month now. Unlike mature mode like core Multiplayer in Call of Duty, we’re trying to figure out what these core modes are. It’s funny - I know Amos is active on social medias, and I’m as well - when you add Quads, people are like "Where are the Trios?” And then you go to Trios and they go “Where are the Quads?” ! Everyone wants to play the game in a slightly different way, which is really cool and exciting, so we’re trying to figure out what the standard modes are, and what are the modes that works better as sort of a short time, mixing it up kind of situation. We’re listening and continually tweaking it, and like Amos said, we’re supporting this game full force. It’s been amazing to see the power of these two studios fully focused on this game right now.
Taylor, you said to VentureBeat a few days ago that you were planning Fortnite-like events. Are we gonna see some story-driven events, maybe with new elements in terms of gameplay linked to that story ?
TK : I wouldn’t say they’re Fortnite-like events, because Fortnite is such a different type of a game than Modern Warfare. With Fortnite you know that the world is ever evolving and ever changing so much you kind of don’t want to go away from it or you might miss something. It’s the same thing with Warzone. In terms of story, we’ve been setting up this narrative since before Modern Warfare came out. An important point for us is that Modern Warfare exists in a world that operates not unlike the world that we live in. The same thing goes for Multiplayer, Spec Ops and Warzone. These are real factions that mimic the way the world and it’s super powers. They have allegiances, sort of rivalries… The big what if with Warzone is that those traditional allegiances have broken down, and someone is pulling the strings behind the scenes and we, as the Operators in the game, are trying to figure out what’s going on and how to solve it.
You have classic character like Ghost, who have joined the fray, are on the ground, in Verdansk, trying to get the bottom of what’s happening, working alongside Captain Price… And then you see Ghost as a playable Operator, you can be him on the ground trying to get to the bottom of this. He says to Price “Send fighters I can trust”, and what he really means is basically all of you, all of the players, you are the fighters that he can trust, despite the fact that there are hostilities on the ground, friendly fire and things of that nature. At the heart of it, everyone is still trying to figure out what’s going on, who’s responsible for what’s happening in Verdansk, why there’s gas being deployed that’s pushing us together. We’ll continue to give our players more information, more easter eggs, and the map will change and evolve as they continue to figure out this mystery and get to the bottom of it.
So it seems you already have the big picture in mind for the next seasons?
TK : In a same way that when a TV show sets outs to make something - like Lost for example, they know their starting point, they know where they’re going - it’s just a matter of how long the players gets from point A to point B and how long it will takes for how narrative to unfold. Maybe Lost isn’t a great example because it didn’t really wrap up and wasn’t as satisfying as the fans would like, but what’s great is that it kept you engaged every week, you wanted to know more about what was going on and figure out those mysteries and unravel them. What’s great about doing this in a game versus in linear media is not only am I watching, I’m taking an active role as a participant in figuring out these mysteries.
You certainly are not allowed to talk about the next Call of Duty game, so I won’t bother you with that. But it’s clearly mandatory it will have some multiplayer elements, free-to-play or not. How are you planning the future of Warzone (and Modern Warfare) with the competition of your own franchise?
TK : We’re in kind of uncharted territories here. Call of Duty has been on a very regular cadence for many many years, and Warzone has made us rethink exactly how best to release new content and how to integrate it. Call of Duty is a genre in itself, there are different branches in the Call of Duty tree, but they’re all connected in some ways. Warzone will be the through line that connects all of the different various sub-franchises of Call of Duty. It’s going to be really cool to see how the different sub-franchises sort of come in and out of focus, but Warzone will be the one constant.
Just a few words about cheating. It seems that banning the cheaters is of your priority to maintain the balance of the game, isn’t it ?
AH : We’ve been updating our banning procedure and we’ve just launched a reporting system just the last week. We’re actually giving players feedback when the person they’ve reported has been banned. It’s one of those things that we’re taking seriously, and that’s just an uphill battle. Every time we do a security update, they’re constantly breaking them, getting into the game with hacking. We’re seeing a side effect on cross-play. When you do cross-play, a lot of the cheating happens on PC, it’s a lot more visible, because now it’s affecting the Xbox and PS4 players, so the community is seeing it a lot more, but we’re actively fighting it. To tell you we’re gonna fix the cheating and no one is going to cheat again is not realistic, but we are making updates and security fixes, with some new encryption. And we’re constantly working to get players feedback - community wasn’t feeling heard, we were saying we were banning players but they were not seeing anything. So now when you report someone and they get banned, we’ll let you know [...]. And we hope to monitor the tournaments a bit better, and sort of ban people on the spot if we can. We’re just trying to make our against security a little bit more public facing.
There was a Stadia Connect broadcasted a few minutes ago, anything planned for Stadia?
TK : We’ve got no plan of porting it on Google Stadia at this time.
Maybe you’re not allowed to talk about it too, but I’ll try : any Warzone or Modern Warfare port on PS5 or Xbox Series X ? Will it only be backward compatible or are you planning « new versions » ?
TK : I know that our plan is Warzone is going to be around for quite some time, so as soon as those new systems are out and available I’m sure we’ll support them.
Maybe to conclude, can you tease us with some incoming stuff for the end of Season 3, or maybe even for Season 4 ?
TK : Players have already discovered that there is a whole other part of Verdansk they haven’t seen yet. They have found clues, and that there is more than meets the eye in this city. Season 4 will unravel some of those mysteries and unlock some of them for our players. As the battle in Verdansk wages on, things will grow more desperate. There are going to be more and more fighters sent in to turn the tide and we’re very excited to get our players to see and join alongside these new great warriors as they continue to fight.
AH : On the gameplay stuff I can tell you that there will definitely be new modes, we’re constantly working on modes. So new modes we’ll be releasing, and we’re working on new content - new items in game that you can put in your loadout. There will be new items to find in BR and Plunder that aren’t in your loadout to add gameplay and a little looting. There will be new field upgrades for example. So we’re working on new Field Upgrades, new modes, new loot in general that you can get in your loadout to add some new spice to the game.
Anything to add to conclude?
TK : Just that we’ve been playtesting for every single day, we have these very large playcount playtest with Raven and Infinity Ward. We have this sort of inter-office competition going on and it’s fun to play with coworkers. It keeps us together now that we’ve been social distanced ourselves. It’s our opportunity to hang out, it’s been really fun. And of course, as soon as we log off at night, we’re all jumping into Warzone with the rest of you. We’re having as much fun as our fans are, and we’re really humble and honored by the amount of support we’ve got.
|Rédacteur préféré de ton rédacteur préféré depuis 2009, passionné de musique qui fait boom boom, adepte de séries comiques en tout genre. J'ai un peu trop joué à Pokémon dans ma vie.|
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