DBP Podcast: Designing in Zero G with the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare senior art director
If you’ve been reading Dead Beats Panel this week, then you know we’ve been publishing several podcast interviews we recorded while at E3 2016. All of the conversations we had were great, but in terms of the properties the interviewees were attached to, none were bigger than Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
We had the chance to speak with Infinity Ward’s senior art director, Brian Horton. We discussed the design of the game, what it’s like to work on a franchise like Call of Duty, and how this game differs from the others. And even though Activision didn’t have a booth at E3 this year, its flagship series cast a powerful shadow over the convention. The game was shown multiple times, including during the PlayStation press event, and in private rooms above the expo floor.
We wrangled an invite to the private Call of Duty room, where we saw a hands-off demo featuring a few campaign levels from Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (plus a level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remaster). As a guy that has played every Call of Duty game on the consoles and PC, I was impressed, but cautiously so. DBP producer Tim Johnson, however, left the event considering his first ever purchase of a Call of Duty game (he’s a Battlefield guy).
The game has all the trappings you would expect of a Call of Duty game. You are a one man army, fighting your way through a world on fire. You start at a set point, then make your way through waves of enemy troops and robots. It is very much traditional Call of Duty for better and worse. Then it introduced one of the highlights of the new game: space flight.
The demo depicted a futuristic Geneva, Switzerland under assault from an army in orbit. After battling through the enemy’s ground forces, you reach what looks like a modified jet. You jump in and then go straight up, breaking free of the Earth and engaging in space-based dogfighting.
This is a significant addition to the game, not just a quick one-off mission. You will engage in multiple dogfights, and travel to other planets and moons in the solar system as you battle an off-world threat from human settlers that formed their own army.
Of course, most people play Call of Duty for the multiplayer, which hasn’t been revealed yet. The campaign does set the tone though, in setting, weapons, and more. And that all starts with the art design.
We asked Horton about the challenges of designing alien worlds while finding that balance between realistic and entertaining. We also talked about the series itself, and the process for designing realistic people in games. It’s an interesting look at both Call of Duty and game design in general.