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David Vondehaar on gun balance and the IW engine

Smuff October 10, 2012 User blog:Smuff

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Lord David Vondehaar recently talked to Official Xbox Magazine about his issues with the fanbase's complaints over gun balance and the evolution of the IW engine.

Responding to people complaining about gun balance, Vondehaar stated, "I have the fortunate or unfortunate position of being judge, juror and executioner on all those decisions, and it puts me in an awkward spot. Because I have to look at people who think very passionately that [the Millimeter Scanner] should pulse faster, show targets for longer, or maybe it shows them even when they're moving ... All these are things we can tweak and tune, and they're telling me this, and I'm looking at them, saying: 'I appreciate your feedback young man, but the data shows the truth about this.' And that's game design and part of being a game designer, and it's fucking hard."

Overall, Vondehaar says that the gun probably is balanced and that, "There's always a balance between your emotional and visceral reaction for how something feels."

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Vondehaar states that the Millimeter Scanner is one of the attachments gamers want to be improved, though claims doing so will make it too effective.

In addition to thinking Call of Duty players need to get a little perspective on gun-balancing, Vondehaar reckons people are still too hard on Call of Duty's long-serving engine technology, the IW engine. Both Infinity Ward and have claim to have made "significant upgrades" to the much-upgraded Infinity Ward engine, which launched way back in 2005 with Call of Duty 2, with Black Ops II's iteration being the first to support DirectX 11.

"Anybody who comes at the engine needs to remember it's the 60 frames they love in the first place," Vondehaar reiterated. "And we can make it beautiful - that's through years and years of working with the engine, improving upon it and improving the pipeline and improving our approach, our lighting rendering. Lighting was described by Treyarch devs in previous interviews as the polish which makes the game look its best.

The 60 FPS argument is debated by many, with some gamers complaining that they can easily tell the difference between 30 and 60 FPS, while others claim that the eye cannot differentiate anything beyond 24.

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The IW engine has served as every main installment of the Call of Duty franchise since the Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 2 first released in 2005.

"At this point that engine doesn't resemble anything like any engine - we've ripped out the UI system, the rendering and the lighting are all new, the core gameplay systems are all new," Vondehaar stated. This goes hand in hand with what Mark Rubin stated before Modern Warfare 3 was released; "There's nothing left in the engine from Quake any more. We've continued to re-write every section. We do a lot of re-writing the tools, re-writing lighting calculations. It doesn't sound very interesting. It's very literative."

"To me, it's like I never really understood," Vondehaar confessed. "It runs at 60 and it's gorgeous. What exactly is there to be upset about with the engine?" Indeed, the current generation of consoles are beginning to reach the end of their lifespan, with the Playstation 3's 48nm Core processor going into it's 7th year. Should and when the console market be thrusted into the 8th generation however, more complex engines like Epic's Unreal Engine 4 will likely become available.

Back in May, Treyarch head developer Mark Lamia defended the IW engine, saying you don't need to build a new engine with every new game. Call of Duty: Black Ops II's new engine does indeed come loaded with a bunch of new features, such as Reveal Mapping, new lighting effects, realistic shadow layering and DirectX 11 support for the PC version of the game. Playing devil's advocate, we've also discussed the other engines the series could use in future iterations.

For the meanwhile, however, it doesn't look like either the Xbox 720 or Playstation 4 will be under your television anytime soon. The engine is good at what it does, delivering a clean experience for you to enjoy, and although tradeoffs like no destruction in multiplayer maps are present (yet again, if there was destruction in maps then everyone would be using an RPG as a secondary, so it's perhaps for the best), whether you want it or not, the engine will do nicely for now, and will have to for some time to come.

While it's fair for Vondehaar to have his opinion, in the end it is you, the consumer, who pays for and plays the game, so lets us know down below how you feel about the subject.


Do you think Call of Duty needs a new engine?
 
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The poll was created at 18:06 on October 10, 2012, and so far 319 people voted.

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