Interviews// Call of Duty: Black Ops - Josh Olin

Posted 26 Aug 2010 18:15 by
Games: Call of Duty: Black Ops
SPOnG: What was behind the decision to bring this game forward in time from WWII? A lot of people were expecting it with World at War. What drove the decision?

Josh Olin: It was really the need to provide some fresh, new experiences to the players. Like I was saying before, there's a long lineage of great Call of Duty games. With that it's done the World War II thing, it's done the modern thing, we really needed to pick something that players hadn't seen before, and this Cold War era is perfect because we dug deeper we found out that these black operations took place - teams like SOG, the studies and observations group - the kind of missions and operations they carried out, it all cried 'this is Call of Duty, this could be a great Call of Duty game'. It's something players have never seen before. It has a variety of locales, a variety of weaponry, a variety of tactics and mission types that these Black Ops guys would go on.

SPOnG: Has it been difficult, crafting a game around such a different kind of conflict - one that's not as cohesive as World War II? How has it affected the narrative?

Josh Olin: Yeah, it's different. More than anything, it presents more opportunities for us, because we've got creative liberties, creative freedoms. When you've got a game that's set in history you can't really alter that history too much. But even with World at War we told our own storyline, it was fiction, but there was still this big setting of World War II.

With Black Ops the settings that we're using in the Cold War. Some of them you've seen before but others you've never heard of. The others, they are the denied operations, so really anything you can imagine could have happened.

We talked to actual veterans from those teams - Major John Plaster from SOG, we also talked to Sonny Puzikas from Spetsnaz, and they would tell us first-hand anecdotes about the stuff they did, so we're able to create these missions and these scenarios that are inspired by very real events, and some of the stuff they were doing was unbelievably ballsy, unbelievably risky and brave and it's true Rambo shit, I'm not even kidding. Some of their stories had us in awe of stuff they'd actually done for real.

SPOnG: And how does it affect the missions that we're seeing in the game?

Josh Olin: You're not just a regular footsoldier, you're not just a run of the mill marine in the army. You're part of this elite team. You're the biggest, baddest bad-ass there is on the playing field.

So, you could literally single-handedly change the tide of war one way or the other and that's a first for the Call of Duty franchise. [We've given] the player a voice so you'll also speak in our game, you'll know what your voice sounds like, what your face looks like. It adds to the immersion, it really does. The character development, that immersion, that level of plot narrative, it's important for us. We know players want a complicated story, we know they want a very rich story, so we give it to them.

SPOnG: So, as far as you're concerned is World War II done now?

Josh Olin: For us, I don't think we would go back because we've done a lot of World War II. I'm not saying that the genre's done. It would be important that, if there ever were to be another game set in the World War II era, it would have to be something that's fresh and new. You still have to by that code and do something players haven't seen before.

So, World at War was one example of that. We brought the players for the first time to the South Pacific to fight the imperial Japanese army. It was a different game to the other World War II shooters in the franchise. So, as long as there's new experiences people will still play them.

It is sort of refreshing to be in this new locale where we have all these new toys that we can play with. We've been making World War II shooters for a long time.
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Games: Call of Duty: Black Ops

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