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Call of Duty Black Ops Q&A with ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Multiplayer Developers

In between Call of Duty Black Ops matches, a trio from Treyarch — online director Dan Bunting, multiplayer game design director David Vonderhaar and lead online engineer Alex Conserva — chatted with several members of the Game Hunters community.

Here a Few of the Topics Touched on:

News about the arrival of the first call of duty Black Ops downloadable maps should be coming soon.
Online activity. Black Ops’ first week remains its most active week for multiplayer action with more than 2.5 million unique users at any given time, Bunting says.
Weapon tuning. As the game launched, the multiplayer development team got plenty of notes on Twitter and the Black Ops online forums asking why weapons are not tuned as in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. “We were being asked, ‘Why this gun is not as deadly a gun (in Black Ops)’,” says Vonderhaar. “(Black Ops) requires a lot more finesse.”
Now the comments, he says, tend toward players asking whether the developers “did something to this gun to make it easier?” Says Vonderhaar, “We didn’t do anything. They are getting more proficient at the game.”

Q&A with ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Multiplayer Developers

On advanced skill matching. Black Ops already does some matching of players through its playlist choices: core, barebones, and hardcore. But too much matching “tends to fragment the population” and can slow the pairing system down, Bunting says. “One of the trademarks of Call of Duty is that you don’t spend a lot of time waiting around to get into a game.”
Respawning issues. When players respawn in Black Ops, the artificial intelligence analyzes 60 times per second “which is the safest (spot) for you (to respawn),” Bunting says. The system is programmed to try to avoid players spawning where an enemy is nearby or where a killstreak is active. “If you do spawn near an enemy, it was better than an alternate spawn point,” he says. “At that given point, there’s no better place to spawn.”
Conserva says that Treyarch is looking at trying to find a way to lessen the likelihood of players spawning near an AI helicopter so “a helicopter won’t hit you within a few seconds. We’re definitely evaluating that and seeing if there’s anything we can do.”

Review Of Call of Duty Black Ops

For now, Bunting says, “the minute you spawn you have to have your gun up and ready.”

Map design. It typically takes from three to five months to fully design a multiplayer map, Bunting said.
The first phase “is blocked out for playing a rough geographic version of the map to get the feel of it,” he says. “We play-test and then talk about things we hate about the map and then the lead designer comes up with a good solution. … It goes through the gauntlet.”

The next phase is spent detailing the map, adding the visuals. Finally, there’s a polishing phase that includes lighting “and all the nice touches like foliage,” Bunting says.

Use Multiplayer maps

Multiplayer maps usually arise on their own, but occasionally a single-player environment serves as the inspiration for a multiplayer map. An example, the Hue City (Vietnam) in the single-player campaign was turned into the multiplayer Cracked map.

Earn the Players Additional Call of Duty Points

More contracts on the way. A new feature in Black Ops is contracts that players can purchase and, if accomplished, earn the players additional Call of Duty points that can then be spent on upgrades. For instance, the “Lord of the SMG” contract costs 50 CoD points. If the player kills 3 competitors with a submachine gun before getting killed, they win 250 CoD points.
“Right now, there are 125 (contracts) and there are 400 more due online soon,” Bunting says.

The highlight of the night. Brett’s taking out of the two remaining opponents in a Hardcore search and destroy match with the remote-controlled car.

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