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Infinity Ward on the 'natural progression' of Call of Duty franchise development


"I can only speak on behalf of Infinity Ward, but I think it's a natural progression of how things have been going in general," Infinity Ward Creative Strategist Robert Bowling explained. We spoke last week during a Modern Warfare 3 preview event in Manhattan, in a hotel about 60 blocks north of the Wall Street setting in the game's campaign. I'd asked Bowling about the upcoming Call of Duty XP extravaganza, the variety of devs working on Modern Warfare 3, and if those things are an indication of a more unified franchise development structure -- a structure perhaps forged out of necessity, given the staff losses IW has seen over the past year.

"We're at a state now in the Call of Duty franchise, where you have several teams working on CoD that have their own very distinct styles on what type of gameplay they deliver," he continued, in reference to Sledgehammer, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Beachhead all working on various Call of Duty projects. "And I think that's a great thing for Call of Duty in general, especially if you're having games come out every year. To have very distinct flavors and to have very distinct styles, it allows us to innovate in different ways and not feel forced to innovate in the same ways and build on the same interactions in the other games."

Infinity Ward was showing off the newly added Spec-Ops Survival mode at the event as well, where I was handily carried on Bowling's back through eight waves of enemies before a juggernaut murdered us both. Much like Gears of War's Horde and Halo's Firefight modes, Spec-Ops Survival is, by Bowling's own description, an "infinite wave-based mode." A lot like the Treyarch-developed Call of Duty "Zombies" mode that has thus far missed inclusion in any Modern Warfare release.

While Bowling won't deny the allure of adding a Zombies mode to the Modern Warfare titles ("It's a stellar game mode!"), he believes that his branch of the franchise wouldn't be the right fit for it. "I think it comes down to design philosophies. Each game has its own personality and voice. Ours typically stick to the authentic/fun aspects, where there's goes in a different directions that's still fun, but unique to Treyarch's voice and their design sensibilities," he explained. He wouldn't outright say whether or not Spec-Ops is exclusive to IW/Sledgehammer, or if Zombies mode is exclusive to Treyarch, but it seems to be heavily encouraged that it stays as such. But then, he's only able to speak on behalf of Infinity Ward.

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