Raven Director David Pellas Goes In-Depth on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

Hardcore Gamer was at Call of Duty XP in Inglewood all week long, immersing ourselves in everything Call of Duty. We’ve already posted our hands-on impressions of Infinite Warfare and a myriad of news, but now it’s time to delve deep into the inner-workings of this year’s releases. After talking with Infinity Ward about Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer and Lee Ross about Zombies in Spaceland, we sat down for an extended roundtable with Raven Software Studio Director, David Pellas, to learn about the process of remastering Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The session ended up being refreshingly candid and brought forth multiple revelations about the development of the title.

Was it basically just due to fan demand or was it always your intention to add everything so that it was a complete game?

[David Pellas] It was always the intention. So what happened when were first started this project, we had to establish the visual bar we were going to hit for this remaster. The team did really did deep dive and figured out what we wanted to do and we were able to achieve that high bar and we started on the next maps. We quickly realized that we didn’t have enough time to do all 16 maps to that visual quality bar in the time that we had left in order to ship day and date with Infinite Warfare. So we worked with our partners at Activision, and we determined that we felt really confident that we could get the 10 maps done and get the bar that we wanted in that time frame. We decided that that is what we were going to focus on, but we had always planned on shipping the additional maps, but the timing just wasn’t right for it.

Are you going to announce the ten maps at launch this weekend?

I can announce them right now. The launch maps are going to be Ambush, Bog, Backlot, Crossfire, District, Overgrown, Shipment, Downpour, Crash and Vacant. So that leaves for December Showdown, Wetwork, Countdown, Strike, Bloc and Pipeline.

Are there plans to add the COD 4 variety map pack?

I think the team would be real excited if we did. Right now we’re very focused on getting this game done on time, so we’re very focused on that right now. And with the announcement of the six additional we’re already working on those. So what comes post launch? We have full intention to support this game post launch in a variety of ways. Some of those ways I can’t really talk about, but the maps are definitely something that we’re going to be doing.

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Onto the process of remastering this game. Did you basically rebuild it from scratch? Did you just mod it in? How was the process of change?

So we started with the bones and we have a really strong partnership with Infinity Ward. We’ve been working with them since Modern Warfare 3 and in fact this year this will be our tenth COD. So we’ve been around the block will all of the partner studios for a very long time. The engine that we used is actually the latest version of the COD engine. Now there always comes a time in development when the lead studio needs to take the current engine and branch off so we can focus on different aspects for our own project. So it’s not the exact same engine being used in any other game but that was kind of the point at which we had to establish what we were going to focus on and what we needed to move forward with. So we started with what was already there, we had all the layouts, all of the source code, all of the materials, all of the textures and all of the models. Everything from the original game we had access to it, and we got that because Infinity Ward was working with us on that. What we did was we started with the gameplay. We wanted to make sure we had the timing down right, we wanted to make sure that feel of it in the engine, because the engine is actually an upgraded version of the one that we had used. It’s really hard to talk about upgrades to engines and give them a name, that’s why they’re really generic with the COD engine.

This engine features a lot of the same functionality that you can find in modern CODs. So staring with those layouts and starting with the gameplay and the timing, our engineers created a system that would record controller inputs and it did a comparison between how much time it took to move from start to run, how much time it took for you to press a button and the action actually take place on the 360 and compared that to what it was on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. So I can tell you that down the hundreth of a second we are identical in timing to things like ADSs and things like mantling. We’ve also made improvements to them so they also look more modern and they act and behave as gamers today would expect them to. For the mantling we added animations that instead of just running up to something, pressing the button, then playing an animation to mantle over, and then picking up and running again. You can now run to it and if you press the button you can now plant your hand on the object you’re trying to mantle, crawl over it like you would in a modern game, and you can keep moving. The timing is exactly the same, but the visuals are the upgrade we did in that regard. The ADSing for the sniper is a really good example in that we used to have an animation that moved about a quarter of the way and it just popped to a screen overlay.

I agree that that’s classic, however, when we popped that in there it did not look good. It really looked dated and it didn’t feel like it belonged in this modern space with this game, especially with all the other improvements we made along the way. So we figured out what the timing was for the ADS and decided we could not deviated from that in our limits. Then we created the animation that moves up and it feels more natural because you connected to your weapon a little bit more and at the last minute if you noticed it, it still pops. We felt that that was an important part, but we ended up doing more of an animation into that. So those are just a couple of different ways we took that.

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