Modern Warfare arrives in less than a month on November 8. Ahead of the release of what's in all likelihood going to be the biggest entertainment launch of the year, we sat down for a chat with Glen Schofield, general manager and co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, the new Activision studio initially formed to take the series in a fresh direction.
Things didn't turn out as originally planned though, as staff departures at series creator Infinity Ward resulted in Sledgehammer taking on Modern Warfare 3 co-development duties. In part one of our interview, former EA Visceral Games GM and Dead Space executive producer Schofield explains how the unlikely marriage with Infinity Ward came about, and how gameplay innovations will make Modern Warfare 3 the most accessible Call of Duty game yet.
What stage of development was Infinity Ward at when Sledgehammer became attached to Modern Warfare 3 as co-developer?
Well they hadn't kicked off, they were about to kick off. They knew they had to get started on it but they had personnel issues, so before they could get started and feel confident they were going to make the game, they needed another team to help them out.
What were the core design principles for the single player campaign?
Basically, we sat down, talked to each other and one of the things we came out and said was: 'We want to tell a story. We want to tell a good story, we don't want it to be confusing, I want to know who I'm playing.' We came in and said here are some of the things, as a fan that we believe should be corrected. And they were pretty much like, 'You're speaking to the choir. We agree.' So that was like a big touchdown, first day, goal. So here's a big win on day one, sort of agreeing that we need to do that. There were so many things that we were agreeing on in the first few days of meeting and talking.
You said the game's going to wrap up the first two Modern Warfare titles nicely. Is the Modern Warfare series designed as a trilogy?
No. No, it's not a trilogy. The idea was that the other two were left on cliff-hangers - doing it again felt wrong. As a matter of fact, it was like, we just escalated this thing from the first game to the third game to World War Three. We could leave it hanging, or we could do an Iron Man and wrap it up. You feel good, you know. Is there a glimmer of something that says the series isn't done, if we wanted it that way? Yeah, but not in terms of a cliff-hanger, more in terms of the universe has blown up, if that makes sense.
Can you say how long the single player campaign lasts?
I don't know.
Compared to the other games?
I've played each level four to five hundred times. You're just playing it and playing it, and I've been playing it since it was just boxes. So I don't know. All I can tell you is that from a design point of view, we sit down and write a story. We don't ever say 'Write a five hour story,' we just write a really great story, and at the end of the day if it comes out and it feels too short, we don't want to just add stuff. With that said, I don't think it's too short. It feels like a great story. The right amount of time. You and I are going to play it at different speeds.
Do you have any data on the percentage of players who complete the single player campaigns?