Report lists Steam’s most popular (and most untouched) games
Have you played every single game in your Steam library? No? Neither have I and that accomplishment is apparently just a small sand grain in the over 288 million games in Steam collections that have never felt a press of the Play button. That's a surprising figure from a new report by Ars Technica researching the most active and popular games on Steam straight from the recorded statistics of some of the platform's 75-million-strong community. Ars' method for its number flood involves sampling registered games and their played hours via profiles and their unique Steam IDs. With the help of a server for computational muscle, Ars randomly polled more than 100,000 profiles daily for two months to pull together an idea of which games see the most time on everyone's monitors. In other words, your Backlog of Shame (don't deny it, everyone has one) probably took part in some SCIENCE at some point. Exciting. Some caveats exist, though. The data Ars looked at for its research only extends back to 2009, when Steam brought in its "hours played" tracking system. Owned and played/unplayed games are thus slightly skewed to not account for older releases from the early noughties, and any length of time spent in offline mode wouldn't get picked up by Steam either. Still, Ars claims its results deliver a good picture of Steam gaming trends for the past five years albeit with some imperfections. Predictably, Valve's personal products stack high on the list in terms of ownership and most played hours. Dota 2 takes the crown with an estimated 26 million players who ganked faces at some point in the MOBA, but free-to-play FPS Team Fortress 2 follows closely behind with a little over 20 million users. Counter-Strike: Source rounds out the top three with nearly 9 million players, but it's also collecting dust in over 3 million libraries. As for non-Valve games, Skyrim wins in activity, barely edging out Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with 5.7 million estimated active owners. Civilization V kept 5.4 million players hooked for Just One More Turn, and Garry's Mod boasts 4.6 million budding physics artists. Want to know what the most unplayed Steam game is? It's Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, the Source tech demo given free to pretty much everyone on Steam who bought or fired up Half-Life 2. It hasn't been touched by an approximate 10.7 million players. I guess that old fisherman is feeling pretty lonely right now. My favorite stat is the total of played hours divided by game mode, more specifically the separate multiplayer clients of the Steam versions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops. The single-player campaigns for each respective title sits modestly within the mid-20-hour range, but the multiplayer side balloons well into the hundreds of hours. It's a pretty obvious indicator of where the biggest chunk of popularity resides in FPS gaming, but it's not like you wouldn't get weird looks for claiming you play Call of Duty for the story anyway. See more of Ars' results in both number and pretty orange graph form in its report.
Call of Duty “has almost ruined a generation of shooter players,” says Tripwire Interactive
Tripwire President John Gibson holds an M1 Garand inside the team's studio, one of the guns carried by the Americans in Rising Storm. Earlier this month I visited Killing Floor and Red Orchestra 2 creator Tripwire Interactive to play Rising Storm, the upcoming standalone expansion to RO2 (look for a preview on Monday). After the demo, Tripwire President John Gibson and I got talking about the state of first-person shooters, and Gibson laid out a detailed criticism about the way Call of Duty "takes individual skill out of the equation." Gibson also expressed frustration over how difficult it had been trying to design a mode for Red Orchestra 2 that appealed to Call of Duty players. PCG: How do you feel about the state of FPSes? John Gibson, President: I think that single-player shooters are getting better. I think they’re finally coming out from under the shadow of the Hollywood movie, overblown “I’m on a rail” linear shooter. I’m talking about Call of Duty-style shooters. In the late ‘90s, you had the original Deus Ex, which was an RPG-shooter. And those kind of games almost took an eight year hiatus. And I’m so excited to see them coming back with interesting gameplay. Like the Fallout games, even though their shooting mechanics could really use some improvement, just mixing a really cool story, but not a linear story, one that you create yourself. The melding of RPG elements and shooter elements has been great. I’ve seen this reflected in a lot of the reviews, it’s like, “Okay guys, we’re tired of this on-rails experience.” On the flip side, I’m really discouraged by the current state of multiplayer shooters. I think that, and I hate to mention names, because it sounds like ‘I’m just jealous of their success,’ but I’m really, I feel like Call of Duty has almost ruined a generation of FPS players. I know that’s a bold statement, but I won’t just throw stones without backing it up. When I was developing Action Mode , I got a group of people that I know that are pretty hardcore Call of Duty players. And my goal was to create something that was accessible enough for them to enjoy the game—not turn it into Call of Duty, but try to make something that I thought was casual enough but with the Red Orchestra gameplay style that they would enjoy. And we iterated on it a lot. And just listening to all the niggling, pedantic things that they would complain about, that made them not want to play the game, I just thought, “I give up. Call of Duty has ruined this whole generation of gamers.” Red Orchestra 2. Gibson says he's "discouraged" by the state of multiplayer shooters on PC. What did they complain about? Gibson: It’s the gameplay mechanics that they become used to. The way that players instantly accelerate when they move, they don’t build up speed. “The weapons really don’t have a lot of power” . They’re all very weak. The way they handle... They’re like: “I hate Red Orchestra, I can’t play it.” Well, why? “Because the guy doesn’t move like he does in Call of Duty. Call of Duty has great movement.” Why is it great? “Because it just is, I just like the way it works.” So you don’t like the momentum system in Red Orchestra? “Yeah, it sucks, it’s clunky, it’s terrible.” Well, why? “It’s just because I’m used to this.” I make it sound like there was a combative conversation, probably because I get a little emotional when I think about it. But it was really a calm discussion of, “What don’t you like?” and “It doesn’t feel like Call of Duty.” Almost every element boiled down to “it doesn’t feel like Call of Duty.” And really, watching some of these guys play... one of the things that Call of Duty does, and it’s smart business, to a degree, is they compress the skill gap. And the way you compress the skill gap as a designer is you add a whole bunch of randomness. A whole bunch of weaponry that doesn’t require any skill to get kills. Random spawns, massive cone fire on your weapons. Lots of devices that can get kills with zero skill at all, and you know, it’s kind of smart to compress your skill gap to a degree. You don’t want the elite players to destroy the new players so bad that new players can never get into the game and enjoy it. I’m looking at you, Dota. Sorry. "If there’s no fear, there’s no tension, the victory is shallow. We want there to be some fear." But the skill gap is so compressed, that it’s like a slot machine. You might as well just sit down at a slot machine and have a thing that pops up an says “I got a kill!” They’ve taken individual skill out of the equation so much. So you see these guys—I see it all the time, they come in to play Red Orchestra, and they’re like “This game’s just too hardcore. I’m awesome at Call of Duty, so there’s something wrong with your game. Because I’m not successful at playing this game, so it must suck. I’m not the problem, it’s your game.” And sometimes as designers, it is our game. Sometimes we screw up, sometimes we design something that’s not accesible enough, they can’t figure it out, we didn’t give them enough information to figure out where to go... but more often than not, it’s because Call of Duty compressed their skill gap so much that these guys never needed to get good at a shooter. They never needed to get good at their twitch skills with a mouse. Players like Elliot and I, back in the Quake and Unreal days, you know, we had to get good at aiming. These guys don’t have to anymore. The skill gap is so compressed that like, “The game makes me feel that I’m awesome.” These guys, when I actually watch them play, they’re actually very poor FPS players. And I don’t think it’s because they’re incapable of getting good, I think it’s because they never had to get good. They get enough kills in Call of Duty to feel like they’re awesome, but they never really had to develop their FPS skills beyond that. And it’s a shame because when you do that, when you create a shooter like that, you’re very limited on the amount of depth that you can give the game. It’s all gotta be very surface level, like I’m sitting there eating cotton candy and I never get any meat and potatoes. And it’s frustrating for me as a designer to see players come in and they’re literally like “In Call of Duty it takes 0.15 seconds to go into ironsights. In RO2 it takes 0.17 seconds to go into ironsights. I hate this.” Gibson fires an MP40 during an audio recording session for Red Orchestra 2 in the Nevada desert. Gibson is frustrated by the way that Call of Duty has "taken individual skill out of the equation" for many modern FPS players. Do you think it’s a matter of patience? Have these players lost their sense of patience? Gibson:I think that’s part of it. The game is kind of spoonfeeding them, and making them feel great when they’re not. And like I said, that’s smart business, and I don’t blame Infinity Ward for wanting to do that. They’re selling millions of games and they have lots of people enjoying it, but I think there’s a depth of enjoyment there that a lot of these players are missing out on. And when you try to get them to branch out, their knee-jerk reaction is “The training wheels have come off, I’m gonna fall!” And I hate to see that. It’s this weird dichotomy between, you know, single-player is getting much more depth, and players are just eating it up. They’re loving that. They’re buying these FPS-RPG single-player games like crazy. But multiplayer, “Ooh, don’t take my training wheels off.” I hate that. So we’re trying... we’re giving a little bit of training wheels, but we’re going to take them off occasionally in the shooters that we’re making, and hopefully we’ll get some of those people to branch out. I think for me though, I wouldn’t say I’ve completely given up on all of those players, but I’m not gonna try to make a game that tries to be Call of Duty at the expense of having fun gameplay that actually has depth. Elliot Cannon, Rising Storm Lead Designer: Or creating a game that feels like you might be in a war, and you might die? "One of the things that Call of Duty does, and it’s smart business, to a degree, is they compress the skill gap." Gibson: Yeah. That’s one of the things that we do in our games, and it’s fear. When you play... I know there are modes in Left 4 Dead that are more hardcore, but when you play Left 4 Dead, and I’m really friends with Valve, so I hope they don’t get mad at me, but you do get spikes of adrenaline. But eventually that wears off because you figure out, well, as long as we stick together we’re never gonna die. In Killing Floor, when the Fleshpound shows up, you could be screwed. Half your team is probably gonna die. Your heart rate goes up, you’re freaking out, like “I can actually lose this shooter.” And if there’s no fear, there’s no tension, the victory is shallow. We want there to be some fear. What do you consider your tools for expressing fear? Gibson: Vulnerability is a big part of it, lethality. The ability to lose. There has to be... it’s kind of like, you know, if you’re gambling. If you go to the penny slots, you’re like, “Okay, yeah, whatever, I lost a penny.” But you go to the Roulette table, you throw down a thousand bucks, and you spin the wheel—you’re nervous at that point. So, having the players have to take risks. Risk versus reward. They risk more, but the reward is greater. There’s more depth, there’s a bit more of a learning curve, but when you get that kill at long range with that bolt-action rifle, while the artillery’s flying around your head, and mortar shells are falling and guys are Banzai-charging you in the face, and your guy’s shaking, but you still kill him anyway. That’s an experience. You had some risk there, but you got a bigger reward. The kill wasn’t just handed to you. It wasn’t like “I called in the helicopter and it flew into the level and mowed down half the enemy team while I wasn’t even doing anything.” Check back on Monday for an exclusive hands-on with Rising Storm.
Let’s Reboot … Call of Duty
The quiet rage of a man who can't remember which pocket his keys are in. Call of Duty - what a monster. With clockwork precision a new edition pops up every year and sells millions without fail. It's doing perfectly well, but in spite of an audacious shift to a far future setting in Black Ops 2, it's becoming increasingly repetitive. It's become a slapstick dose of noisy annual nonsense with an arcade multiplayer mode attached. It's a game about gun-lovin' superheroes who are 90% bicep and 10% stubble shooting hundreds of enemies, shouting and occasionally getting into knife fights. Activision have found a golden formula for mainstream success that has changed the genre. Call of Duty perfected iron sights aiming and ushered action movie set pieces into shooter environments, but those set pieces have gradually subsumed the challenge and tension of the series' rolling street battles. The series' ballooning love for noise and bombast masks a dearth of substance, and its ability to deliver those famed set-pieces is increasingly hindered by an engine that's starting to fall behind the pack. Activision and their army of CoD developers are surely plotting a next-gen leap right now, so let's pip them to the post with a few ideas. Changing CoD is a monolithic endeavour, influential as it is, so perhaps it's better to think of this as a wish list for war games. What do we like? What do we hate? What would we love to see from gaming's glorious future? Death to the "follow" blob Follow! Fetch the ammo! Sit. Stay ... stay ... SHOOT THE MEN. Let's consider the process of playing a game purely as a series of player decisions. In a good shooter you're making dozens, perhaps hundreds of decisions per minute. You're choosing targets, acquiring them, pulling the trigger, seeking cover, adapting to incoming fire, grenades and enemy movement. Decisions vary in quality depending on the challenge of the task and narrative context. If you're embroiled in a story and you're attached to a character, a decision that alters their fate can matter hugely. When you're given an objective marker and told to follow it, you have made just one decision - to follow or turn off the game and go away. The longer you're following, the longer you're spending not making any decisions at all. You're no longer playing a game. I went back to Half-Life 2 recently and rediscovered the simple pleasure of navigating an environment designed to coax rather than control. There is only one path, of course, but there's a sense of discovery to uncovering it that's more motivating than any quest arrow. CoD has done this before, it can do it again. An early mission in Call of Duty 2's Soviet campaign leads you into a block, and then gives you enemy emplacements to clear. You can advance on each position in any order, from an angle of your choose, using smoke grenades to mask your advance. There's no instruction beyond the objective markers on your map. The most satisfying form of progress is that which seems to flow from the will of the player, not the tug of a leash. Deadly bullets and guns that feel dangerous Call of Duty could use a dose of Red Orchestra's intensity. Call of Duty is very fond of throwing in a pithy war quote every time you die, so why don't we add this one? "There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all around me, and I felt a tremendous shock - no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shriveled up to nothing." That's George Orwell describing what it feels like to get shot in the neck by a sniper. Note, he did not write this: "There seemed to be loud bang and then there was JAM ON MY EYEBALLS SO I CRAWLED BEHIND A BOX UNTIL IT WENT AWAY." I have nothing against regenerating health as a concept. It's perfect for Halo's attritional, tactical exchanges, but if you're trying to capture the tension of a war scenario the threat of instant and terrible death is important. Red Orchestra did this very well (check out this video). Near misses make a terrifying "zzswhinng" noise. The physical force of the projectile is represented by momentary screen blur and when you're shot, you're down. Sometimes you're left bleeding and shouting for a medic. Sometimes you're done for. The threat of sudden death enhances the tension of every near miss. It's easy to suggest that shooters are limited because a gun is your primary way of interacting with the world. In fact, the ability to fling 100 projectiles a minute at twice the speed of sound is a pretty meaningful way to influence an environment, it just doesn't always feel like it. The motion of bringing up sights and rattling off a few shots already feels snappy and satisfying in CoD, but it'd be good to incorporate some of the terrific sound design that DICE have worked into Battlefield 3. Good physics can really sell the impact of a bullet, whether it's tearing chunks out of masonry or throwing a foe into a convincing ragdoll tumble. Destructible environments also do a lot to create reactive combat zones that truly sell the destructive force of your weapons. Battlefield 3's Close Quarters maps show what an advanced physics system can do. Working battlefields When I imagine the moment of Call of Duty's conception, I see Jason West and Vince Zampella sitting on a couch having a moment. Their beers stand untouched on the coffee table as they watch Saving Private Ryan for the first time. Halfway through the scene where Tom Hanks freaks out on Omaha beach they sit up suddenly, their eyes meet and they say in unison: "LET'S MAKE THIS: THE GAME." They did, and it was good. Call of Duty has always worked hard to make its narrow battlefields feel as though they're part of a wider war. Somewhere along the way, it went wrong. Very wrong. Call of Duty started playing itself. Observe MrBungle as he plays through the Cuba mission in Black Ops without firing a shot, on the second-hardest difficulty setting. It's a sad moment for the series. The signature fury of those shuddering war scenarios were exposed as little more than a dismal facade. Technology has come a long way. Why not drop the smoke and mirrors altogether? We have engines that can handle huge maps and PCs powerful enough to juggle many AI routines. Imagine participating in a working battlefield as one pawn among dozens and of troops, initiating and joining assaults on key targets in scenes that resemble the dramatic troop charges of former CoD games, but with a sense of purpose that reaches beyond the need to reach another objective marker. Smart enemies Enemies that work together? We can dream. Good AI is hard to market. As soon as someone starts talking about neural nets, or a new algorithm NPCs can use to map their routes through a 3D environment most people switch off completely. It's easier to talk about polygons and texture resolution and lensflare because you can show it in a single screenshot, but AI is vitally important. It affects the decisions you're making from moment to moment. It's responsible for challenging the player in interesting ways. Good AI makes games better. Call of Duty's AI is ... not good. At points it's nonexistent. You'll shoot a man behind a box. then an identical man will run out of a nearby door and take his place. Then you shoot him, and another one pops out. Sometimes they respawn endlessly until you've passed through the invisible trigger screen that'll initiate , at which point they'll stop so you can take new orders over the radio. Imagine enemies that actively seek out new positions to get an angle on you. Imagine enemies that can switch weapons and adapt to your position, picking out sensible sniper spots or taking covered routes to close with a sub machinegun. How about enemies that breach and clear a building you're trying to hole up in? What if AI squads worked as fire teams, with individual roles within a well organised group? A pipe dream, perhaps. But consider how much more meaningful victory would be with foes like these. Now how can we incorporate these points into a single idea. Hmmm, let's see... Call of Duty: Rebooted "Stay back, Comrade - the enemy has deployed water bombs!" Welcome to the dreamspace - a place to throw ideas into each other and perhaps imagine games that are better, faster, stronger than ever before. Here we deal only in the hypothetical, but thought experiments are fun, so let's try and sketch out a Call of Duty that stays true to the series strengths and jolts it out of the rut it's been entrenched in for the last few years. Introducing Call of Duty: Stalingrad. You are a soldier in an open battlefield. You begin in command HQ - a reinforced ruin bristling with machine gun emplacements and AT weapons. Beyond, a battle line snakes through the city ruins where Soviet and German forces exchange fire. You're told to grab a gun, get to the line and make yourself useful. How? It's up to you. You can grab a sniper rifle, recruit a small squad and set up a sniper nest in best spot you can stealthily acquire. Grab a machine gun and join the line, assaulting buildings and moving between cover as your comrades advance. Or head into the sewers with a special forces team and harass supply teams behind enemy lines. The enemy will launch assaults of their own. Occasionally, tanks will attack, bombing runs will come in, enemy snipers will turn town squares into death zones. Radio messages and distant flares alert you to hot spots. You can ignore them, or rush over to help. Your efforts will speed up the rate at which friendly troops push forward in each area until you're finally close enough to launch an all-out assault on the enemy bunker. And then it all ends with a quick-time knife fight. Only joking. Lukas picks the worst moment to have a sudden existential crisis. The Red Army missions in Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 took on Moscow and Stalingrad, of course. They were great. The movement of your comrades as they vaulted over walls and advanced the line created a feeling of growing momentum that would be especially powerful in a dynamic scenario. Broad battlefields offered variety, mixing exposed cover-to-cover sections and trench routes. Depending on your position, you'd juggle between your machine gun and a pleasingly accurate bolt-action rifle. It's also a fine example of one of the central tenants of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty games - you are a fragile cog in the war machine. Occasionally an important job will fall in your lap, but you're just another member of the soldiery, fighting for your life in chaotic scenarios. To enhance that tension, death will be final. Bullets are deadly - one or two well placed sniper shots can take you down. If you die, it's over for that soldier, but you will return to command HQ in control of a fresh recruit. You'll find the name and cause of death of your former soldier on a list of the fallen in HQ's admin room. You'll hear officers reading his name from a list of the fallen in radio calls to Soviet High Command. His name will appear on a final list of all the soldiers you've played throughout the campaign. You'll still encounter lively characters as you move along Soviet lines, but you won't be treated with greater respect than any other trooper until you've earned it. Make it through a couple of battles and you'll get a reputation among COs and ground troops. You might even get a nickname. You'll earn an achievement if you can take one soldier through the entire war. The idea would be to offer the variety of Call of Duty's best set-pieces in an environment that you can meaningfully influence. Setting up a sniper nest will feel channel Modern Warfare 4's terrific "All Ghillied Up" mission. You'll perform tank takedowns when repelling German assaults. Fighting on the line will be every bit as furious as CoD's most spectacular army assaults. Looking for a shot of one of CoD's maudlin moments? Snatch up some bandages and become a battlefield medic. Drag the wounded out of open streets, treat them, and get them back to the front line. The more men you save, the more guns the enemy has to face and the faster your line advances. Hey, shouldn't you be be defending Hoth from the Empire? The setting doesn't have to be Stalingrad, but it's a well documented example of close combat in an besieged modern urban environment. The scope of those building-to-basement battles make infantry actions essential for taking territory, which gives a player more power to affect the battle. You can transpose the structure anywhere - into a different modern conflict, or a post-apocalyptic scenario, if you wanted. A multiplayer version of the same scenario? I would pitch that, but Red Orchestra 2 already exists. There's certainly room for a version of the above with a few free slots for co-op buddies though. Working together, you could launch co-ordinated assaults on enemy strongholds or set up a network of sniper positions that stop all enemy movement in wide areas of the map. But those are just a few ideas, easier said than done, of course. But if you held the power of a god in the palm of your hand, and for some reason decided to use it to reboot Call of Duty, what would you do? Don't say "fire it into a black hole so hard it never existed," there's already enough hate on the internet, and you'll only become another tick on a Commenter Bingo card. Ideas at the ready. Aim. FIRE!
Respawn Entertainment will be at E3 with “no intention of showing up empty handed”
On March 1st, 2010, Activision fired Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West. Things were said, lawsuits were filed, Zampella and West formed Respawn Entertainment, half of the Call of Duty studio's staff walked out, EA jumped in and got sued too, then Yakety Sax played until everyone got tuckered out. Amid all that, Respawn seems to have developed a very blurry game, which may come into focus at E3 according to a pair of tweets from Zampella. I've gotten a 'few' questions about @e3expo plans this year. Yes, we will finally be at E3!— Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) February 25, 2013 I have no intention of showing up empty handed! I can't say anything else right now.— Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) February 25, 2013 The news is notable because Zampella and West are notable, and not just for their role in creating Call of Duty. Before forming Infinity Ward, they were at 2015, Inc., where they designed one of my favorite shooters ever: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The duo is partially responsible for two of the best-known FPS franchises ever, making Respawn's next game potentially a major competitor. But if they do announce a game at E3, just how will they announce it? At EA's press conference? Maybe, but I think it's also likely Microsoft or Sony has snagged the announcement as a card to play in the battle between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox DifferentNumber. Even so, that won't necessarily make it a console exclusive, whatever it is. And by "whatever," I of course mean, "probably a shooter."
Do video games make people violent?
The debate over the relationship between violent games and violent behavior continues inside and outside the United States. In its initial response to the tragedy in Newtown, CT, the US government said it intends to ask the Centers for Disease Control to “study the root causes of gun violence, including any relationship to video games and media images.” Critics cite studies that link aggression and violent games, claiming that interactivity as a component of games makes them unusually potent. One politician labeled games as "electronic child molesters." It's an enormous and serious topic—one that we believe gamers shouldn't shrug off, but take it upon themselves to engage critics and fellow citizens on. In the interest of that, Logan, Evan, and Tyler hopped into our podcast studio (inappropriately, the room that most makes it look like we're inside an insane asylum) to talk about their personal relationship with violence in games.
Activision’s Bobby Kotick shares thoughts on Infinity Ward founder firings
Outspoken Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was recently the subject of an extensive profile by The New York Times which charted his rise as the head of one of the most prolific publishers in the industry. As part of the interview, Kotick said the decision to fire Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella after they were planning to switch publishers in breach of contract was an easy one. "You find out two executives are planning to break their contracts, keep the money you gave them and steal 40 employees," Kotick said. "What do you do? You fire them." West and Zampella, now in charge of Respawn Entertainment, initially filed a suit for $36 million against Activision in 2010 for unpaid royalties from the Call of Duty franchise after Activision fired them. The claim ballooned to an astounding $1 billion earlier this year before EA, Infinity Ward, and Activision settled their cases for undisclosed amounts. Court documents later revealed Activision apparently considered terminating West and Zampella as early as 2009. Kotick also strongly rebuffed several offers from Hollywood studios over the years to create a Call of Duty film, telling the Times that silver screen adaptions of games rarely succeed and could sour the franchise's reputation among gamers. Considering the horrifying movie treatment of games like Alone in the Dark, one of the lowest-rated films on IMDB, Kotick may have a point.
Infinity Ward animator talks FPS design, animations in Reddit AMA
It all started with mirrors. Spurred on by its insatiable hunger for the unknown, Reddit's gaming community flitted between poring brainpower over why reflections don't commonly appear in FPS games, the inevitable meme-orized destruction of the topic, non-Euclidean mind trips, and kittens. Eventually, the Jeopardy-like attention span shifted to first-person animation design. Discussion threads sprouted, recipes were shared, an expert was called in: Infinity Ward animator Chance Glasco who, in a weekend AMA thread, shared knowledge on the intricacies of constructing and positioning some of the most frequently glimpsed weapon animations of the genre from the Call of Duty series. As an animation veteran of numerous multiplayer shooter mainstays such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Modern Warfare, Glasco tweezed tiny finger motion joints and figured out creative magazine ejections of such weapons as Modern Warfare 2's FAL and Allied Assault's Kar98K. We've pulled out a few of Glasco's more noteworthy responses below, but check out the rest of the thread for more info. On jumping: "When the player hits the jump button, he/she expects an immediate response. In reality, if you were to jump, there would probably be a good half to full second of anticipation. Because the server you are playing on isn't psychic, it's going to end up playing the animation from the instant you actually leave the ground. Anticipation is a basic rule of animation, so if you get rid of it it looks awkward. "You also have the issue of looping. If you're jumping off of something, there's going to be a point where you might have to loop an animation until it is told to play the landing portion of the animation. The more you see this loop, the more gamey it feels. Gamey, like a BBQ Duck at Sam Woo BBQ." On invisible torsos/legs: "It's one of those things we technically could have done, but have always found features more important to add. Often, the difference between a good game or a bad game is someone putting the hammer down on cute and fun little features that take as much time as important features that might be seen or used often. That was also a huge run-on sentence." On the FAL animation: "I personally thought my FAL animation was one of my weaker animations in the game, but it was literally saved by the concept behind the animation. People like it because you knock out the empty magazine with your new magazine, not because it was my best animation. There are some things I wish I could have changed/cleaned up in it. It really goes to show you how a good reload idea can really propel a gun into popularity." On Battlefield having the AK-47's ejectors on the wrong side: "It keeps me up at night." On the animation process: "Before I start animating, the gun will be modeled and textured by an artist and then given to a rigger to add bones and skinning (attaching model to bones) so that I can animate it. My animation file will have that particular gun in it with the first-person arms and hands to animate. From there, I basically just start animating every animation you would see in the game. Tactical reload, empty reload, pull out, put away, aiming down the site, etc. Once you've created all of the necessary animations, you need to setup exports so you can get them in game. "After exporting, there are a bunch of technical hoops you need to jump through like converting the animation to the game's animation format, making entries for every animation, and setting up the weapon in an asset manager. I would say about 75 percent or more of the time is spent on doing the reload animations." On balancing realism with flashiness: "This is actually one of the most difficult aspects of my job, especially as time goes on and I've worked with so many weapons. Before I start, I usually research how the weapon is operated if necessary. I do try to keep it realistic to a point. I don't go full realism because it's often boring and flat. If you want to be tactical, for example, you should always keep your rifle pointing forward when reloading, but frankly, that doesn't make for a very interesting animation. "So, often I will meet a weapons expert and they'll tell me that I made a mistake here or I should have done this. Usually that 'mistake' is a creative choice to show off the weapon or make it feel unique or special. I do keep it balanced though, as I don't really add super flashy actions to my animations like twirling a pistol or flipping a magazine before inserting it."
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 in development at IW according to Captain Price actor
The actor behind the most famous walking talking 'tache in gaming, Bill Murray (not that one), has made mention of a somewhat inevitable follow-up to Modern Warfare 3. "Yeah, on Monday I am off to meet Infinity Ward about the next game, Modern Warfare 4, I’m doing work on the sequel to Modern Warfare 3, it carries straight on and I only ever appear in the Modern Warfare games” he told This Is Xbox. It looks like Treyarch and Infinity Ward will continue to share the Call of Duty series year on year. I quite like the idea that Modern Warfare will continue as an ongoing 24-esque action series while Black Ops becomes steadily more bonkers. By 2022 Captain Price will have come back from the dead eighty times and killed every single terrorist in the world and Black Ops will be set on Mars. What would you like to see from Modern Warfare 4?
Modern Warfare 2 Favela map returns
The controversial "Favela" map has been reinstated in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, after being pulled temporarily due to complaints of religious insensitivity. A small update will let the map show up on playlists again, with the offending portions now removed. The patch is only 17 MB, reports MP1st, which is likely just enough to change the map's trouble spots. So far the patch has only hit the PlayStation 3 version of the game, but this should mean we'll see it coming to all platforms soon. The Favela had previously reused assets from a picture frame in a bathroom, apparently unaware that the calligraphy read: "Allah is beautiful and he loves beauty." Activision apologized and worked on patches for both MW2 and Modern Warfare 3, where the map was reissued.
Black Ops 2 launch trailer rocks to squirrel-suits, spiderbots and splodes
Launch trailers usually go up at a game's launch. Not so in the case of Black Ops 2, which has boldly put this video out a whole month early. Unless this isn't a trailer to celebrate the launch of the game but a trailer for the launch event itself, in which case the arrival of Black Ops 2 on shelves will herald no small amount of flaming, screaming death, destruction, gunfire, horses and humourless-looking men throwing themselves off cliffs and out of planes. Most companies settle for free drinks and a tombola, but not Activision. Well, gosh. The promise of more tactical play in the Strikeforce missions certainly doesn't take a back-seat to simple bombastic destruction. But will the focus on rogue robots remove some of the guilty visceral thrill of gunning down hordes of squishy, jam-filled men?