Longer Development Cycle
Unlike Call of Duty 3, Treyarch has a full 2 year development cycle on Call of Duty: World at War. Not having to juggle simultaneous development of a next-gen console title and a completely different last-gen console title within an already shortened development constraint (11 months) has provided Treyarch a capacity to focus their team effort to deliver an exciting feeling and impressive looking title.
Based on the Call of Duty 4 Game Engine
Expanding upon the engine used to power the hit game Call of Duty 4 allowed Treyarch the opportunity to play test their model very early on in development. This is great for multiple reasons, the most important being that anything that didn’t look or feel right during development was addressed early on in the project.
Accurate Core Scaling
High end PC owners rejoice, as your investment in quad core technology is about to pay off. An accurate scaling of core performance is one perk of the overhauled engine, so no longer will a dual core outperform your four core machine.
Increased Capacity of the Physics Engine
Some of the most impressive things I saw had to do with the direction that Treyarch has taken the physics processing in World at War. One of the things that I really enjoy about games is their ability to draw the player into them, and in my view it is the little things that make the realism more apparent. Treyarch Technical Director Dave King has worked on implementing and perfecting a number of new features, the least of which is an increased capacity of the physics engine within the game.
Those who have modded the CoD4 game know that material assets are assigned values that determine whether or not that particular surface can be shot through (eg. plaster and tin siding can be shot through whereas a plate steel door cannot). New with this title, the property physics will now not only include handling of destructibility (can you shoot through the material), but also whether the material is flammable (does it burn), whether the material floats, whether the material is flexible and whether the material will break. Also, the engine will compute how each material reacts to different conditions (eg getting shot at, burning, etc.) with all calculations being accomplished on the fly – without the aid of a physics processing chip.
Individually, these may sound like no huge advancement – but imagine crawling through tall grass and having the individual blades of grass and foliage bend away and displace as you advance – very sweet eye candy.
Water Processing Engine
The water handling is realistic, and material interaction behaves as it would in the real world. Models, gibs, and objects float if they have that property, and also react with the waves that occur in the water body. One example showed a grenade being thrown into the water, and watching it slowly sink then explode – creating a shockwave that displaced the water and created an expanding wave in all directions. A burning building (or player) that falls into the water will be extinguished.
Players can swim, and I am happy to report NOT shoot underwater. The view is obfuscated when looking out from the water. Bullet tracing underwater is another great piece of eye candy.
Fire Processing Engine
The fire engine handles all of the fire in the game. The fire is self propagating, and wind is taken into effect. Burning buildings can catch trees, crates, grass and players on fire, and propagate from there. The destructibility of environments just became more intense.
Dynamic lighting has been incorporated and adds another dimension to the immersion into the level. An example showed a light suspended from two ropes and as one rope was shot, the light fell away (gravity via the physics engine) and swung around with the light illuminating its swinging path.
Improved Artificial Intelligence Handling
The AI has had a total overhaul. They utilize more squad based guerilla tactics rather than standing and shooting in a drone-like fashion. They can play dead, hide, run for cover or distract to allow for flanking. The AI can also decide on a course of action based on what they are facing – eg. If their cover is burning away, they will have to decide whether to attack or look for new cover and move. The AI also will recognize that if they are being barbequed because you have a flamethrower – they will be less likely to fight to the death as ‘self-preservation’ will kick in. This weapon or predator recognition is a large step in the AI becoming more realistic.
5.1 Audio System
The audio system is true 5.1 immersing you in a cacophony of sound. The background ambient tracks have been replaced with 96 channels of audio. While more time consuming during the mapping process, as each sound needs to be placed in the area it is to be originating in, the end result is big! The audio culling is great, and increases the projection of realism within the game.
Improved Spawn-logic Handling
The spawn logic received an overhaul, and no longer do you have to spawn into a barrage of bullets because someone has their sights trained on a spawn point, or a ‘frag-fest’ in a spawn area. No longer do you have to spawn at the very back edge of a map with a sniper who doesn’t want to advance, only to have to run all the way across the map to get close to the battle. The squad feature combined with the spawn logic allows for less static spawn locations, increasing game play enjoyability.
The spawn logic will look at the location of enemies, likelihood of a spawn-kill occurring, closest teammate, and other factors – then decide the most appropriate location for a spawn. The spawn handling will in essence say – just because this is the closest spawn location – it may not be the BEST location.
The team at Treyarch is working hard to balance the weaponry. The reintroduction of the flamethrower will play an integral part of not only the single-player and co-op missions, but multiplayer tactics as well.
Molotov cocktails, and a couple of other ‘surprise’ weapons will ensure that you enjoy the gameplay in any event.
Vehicles in single-player, co-op and multiplayer are a nice addition. The multiplayer focus seems to be on heavier equipment (tanks, etc.) while leaving out the jeeps and motorcycles.
Vehicles (as in CoD 4) will be destructible.
DM, TDM, CTF, SD are confirmed, and hints of other games such as DOM, HQ & BAS were injected
Single player, co-op and multiplayer are confirmed
While likely, no details were provided.
Tools & Modding
Our Community Manager within Treyarch, Josh Olin (JDawgg or JD from CoDHQ and the CoD2 total conversion mod 2049:Unbound Forces), is FROM the community – and working together with Treyarch Studio Head Mark Lima, Treyarch Lead Scripter Mike Denny, and Treyarch PC Team Director Cesar Stastny are looking to support the modding community like no other title in the series.
Mike Denny has said they are trying to accomplish a zero day release of the tools, and they may even come bundled on the PC version of the game. The mod tools I saw in use were very similar to the tools being used for CoD4 (Radiant based). Mike hinted at video tutorials, and possibly a walkthrough of creating a map from start to finish. There is also a possibility of a multi-level compiler front end, where new users will have less options to confuse them (click compile my map and that is all they do) to an advanced compile for the more experienced or savvy mapper.
The modeling application that the artists (eg. Treyarch Lead Artist Brian Anderson) are using was Maya V8.5. For textures, Photoshop and Brian also showed us Crazybump (http://www.crazybump.com/
) - for creating kickass normal maps in seconds.
The scripting is similar to what we are familiar with for the entire CoD series, with some minor enhancements for the new/additional features.