Treyarch discusses the ‘Ray Gun Mark II’

ray-gunray-gun has just posted a Q&A with Treyarch’s Zombies Design Lead, Jimmy Zielinsk. Check out what he has to say about the new Ray Gun Mark II that’s arriving on the Vengeance DLC July 2nd.

About the Ray Gun Mark II:

It’s a re-imagining of the original Ray Gun with new functionality. We looked at what the original Ray Gun did, which was an explosive projectile weapon. We decided to make a real laser beam gun that goes through everything, and that’s what we did.

The original Ray Gun would shoot a projectile and make an impact at that place and explode. The Mark II is actually a laser beam, or bolt, that does a triple burst and fires down range through walls or zombies. If the wall’s not too thick like cement, it’s going to pass through – and effectively hit – as many zombies as you have lined up. It’s in the box and you have a chance to pull it. It’s also been added to all the previous Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies maps.


The final design of the Mark II:

The original designer of the art for the first Ray Gun, Max Porter, also made this design. It still bears his name. We just kind of talked about it and he just went away and did the art.

It’s cobbled together with parts of the original Ray Gun, plus some new bits. It’s an original creation that really harkens back to the old design, and it can be Pack-A-Punched just like the other weapons.


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Call of Duty Co-Creator Jason West Has Left His New Studio


Jason West, a co-creator of Call of Duty and co-founder of video game studio Respawn Entertainment, has left the company he helped found, two sources have informed Kotaku. The departure was amicable.

West, who left because of family issues, has been gone since last May, according to one reliable source who asked not to be named.

West, along with fellow Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella, helped found the studio Infinity Ward back in 2002. As a subsidiary of Activision, Infinity Ward turned their first-person shooter series Call of Duty into a worldwide phenomenon. West and Zampella were fired from the studio in 2010.

In recent years, West and Zampella were tangled up in a massive lawsuit involving Activision, EA, and possible subterfuge.

According to our reliable source, West has been gone since the lawsuit was settled in May of 2012.

West has not been involved with the development of Respawn’s first game, which will be published by EA. Respawn has teased that they’ll show it off at this year’s E3 in June.

We reached out to Respawn Entertainment, but they would not comment.

UPDATE: Respawn has confirmed the news:

Jason has left Respawn to take care of some family issues. We have worked together on some amazing accomplishments over the years, starting with an early Segasoft project that never shipped. It is sad to see things come to an end, but there are times when change is best for growth, both personally and professionally. I wish Jason the best and send my best wishes to his family. Respawn continues to amaze me, the team here is resilient and talented. E3 will be therapeutic for us, as we finally get to start showing our work again. I know the team was excited about the response we got from just admitting we were going to attend.


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Nvidia launches Geforce GTX 760 touting Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty


CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia has launched the Geforce GTX 760 as a replacement for its popular Geforce GTX 660.

Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 760 is the high volume graphics card in the firm’s latest crop of cards rebranded as the Geforce GTX 700 series. The firm’s specifications sheet for the Geforce GTX 760 had been widely leaked and it is, as expected, largely a rebranding of the Geforce GTX 660 with some minor changes.

Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 760 has 1,152 cores, with most board vendors opting for 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Gigabyte’s GTX 760 will run the GPU at 1085MHz, which will be boosted to 1,150MHz. The firm has clocked the 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 6GHz with the memory connected to the GPU via a 256-bit bus.

Nvidia was originally scheduled to launch the Geforce GTX 760 last week but delayed the release without an explanation to its card vendors, though it is most likely due to the firm’s announcement that it will license its Kepler architecture to third parties. The firm is hoping that with AMD keeping its powder dry on retail Radeon HD 8000 series cards, it could get away with a week’s delay in launching, especially when it has chosen a very agressive pricing strategy.

Nvidia touted improved performance in games such as Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts as a response to AMD’s aggressive partnering and bundling of games with its graphics cards. The problem for Nvidia is that while it certainly can compete with AMD’s graphics cards on the present crop of games, there is a question about its ability to compete with AMD at similar price points in the future as game developers heavily optimise titles for AMD’s GPU architecture that will power both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 (PS4).

Nvidia’s graphics card partners have priced the Geforce GTX 760 from £200 upwards, which is just £20 shy of a few Radeon HD 7950 boards.

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Black Ops 2 – Double XP is Coming This Weekend


Black Ops 2 players will be getting a dose of Double XP this coming weekend in preparation for the launch of Treyarch’s third DLC, Vengeance.

Look for it this Friday, June 28 at 10am PDT until Monday, July 1 at 10am PDT on all platforms.

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Black Ops 2: Vengeance drops July 2 on the Xbox 360 first with four new multiplayer maps, a new zombies experience and a brand new zombies weapons.

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Titanfall: the creators of Call of Duty reload the FPS

There’s an interesting bait and switch in Titanfall, the first-person shooter from the people who made Call of Duty what it is today.

It begins with a rodeo, as the 70 developers at Respawn Entertainment call it. A Pilot, the game’s agile, double-jumping, jet-pack boosting soldier class, leaps, perhaps from a rooftop, onto the back of a Titan, the game’s lumbering but powerful mech class, rips off a panel and shoots its brains out – just a bit.

Inside of the Titan, the heads up display flashes a warning: “foreign body detected.” The player panics, anticipating imminent destruction, and ejects.

Outside of the Titan the Pilot has already stopped shooting and is waiting patiently for the victim to emerge from their protective shell. When it does the Pilot fires and the switch is complete.

This scenario, described to me by Respawn lead artist Joel Emslie, who followed Vince Zampella and Jason West out of Infinity Ward having worked on Call of Duty from its second incarnation, reveals a subtlety to Titanfall that its ear-shredding debut at the end of Microsoft’s E3 press conference betrayed.

What that demo did show us – fast-paced shooting, explosive action, silky smooth 60fps visuals, experience points and responsive controls – are exactly what I expected from the studio founded by the people who made Call of Duty the biggest game on earth. I’m more interested in what the demo didn’t show us, or, at least, what wasn’t obvious at first glance. This Pilot on Titan bait and switch is just one example of Titanfall’s nuance.

“There’s all kinds of layers of crazy,” Emslie enthuses. “I come from a real hardcore FPS background. I’m very tactical. I like to chat with my buddies. I like to run parties with my friends who I trust.

“Now we’re getting to Titan tactics, where you’ve got a fire line of Titans in the game and you’re ducking behind a building. That’s the stuff that gets my juice going. It’s really cool.”

“We will do whatever it takes to run at 60fps. It is the ultimate goal of everything we do, to have that fluid gameplay, that low latency as little as it can possibly be. Hopefully zero.”

Respawn lead artist Joel Emslie

You’ve probably heard all about how Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game with elements of single-player thrown in. Respawn calls this “campaign multiplayer”, a phrase used to describe how players encounter moments usually found in single-player portions of shooters as they’re blasting each other to smithereens.

Central to this concept is AI. Each map is packed with AI controlled characters that do more than just shout when they see you and shoot you when your back is turned. Respawn says it’s making use of Microsoft’s 300,000 server cloud to help compute AI and physics (a somewhat woolly statement we had a chat with a number of developers about last week), and how dedicated servers mean matchmaking is a breeze – irrespective of your NAT settings.

But Emslie mentions ambient AI when we quiz him further. As players are knocking lumps out of each other, the AI will get on with its own business across the map. You might stumble upon a group of AI huddled in a room, for example, before blasting them to bits. AI soliders will make an assault on an enemy position and demand your attention. As Emslie describes how Titanfall’s AI works, I think of them as creeps; the more I learn about Titanfall’s fast and frenetic team versus team plus AI gameplay, the more I think of League of Legends and DOTA.

“Those ambient AI plays into selling the idea you’re in a living, breathing world,” Emslie says. “I don’t know if it’s never been done before, but we’re trying to do that really well. We’re trying to make that multiplayer environment feel great.”

Titanfall’s initially confusing fusion of single-player and multiplayer rekindles memories of Sega’s Vanquish and, going back further, the best of the Star Wars: Battlefront series. But I can’t deny Respawn its claim of innovation. You get a story cutscene as your dropship approaches the battlefield, and, during a match, “heroes”, as Emslie describes them, pop up in windows in the upper corner of the HUD to bark orders and set objectives – an attempt to give the competitive carnage some fantastical meaning. You can follow this story through an entire campaign and play it from both sides.

Outside of campaign multiplayer and inside what would traditionally be viewed as competitive multiplayer, Respawn strips away the story and single-player elements for “full on sport multiplayer”. It’s in this mode that I see Titanfall gaining the most traction, and I suspect both Respawn and publisher EA are hoping the eSports community embraces the game. Given the overwhelming popularity of the MOBA genre in the eSports space, an FPS that borrows lightly from that genre has a great chance of gaining a foothold with professional players.

There’s still much to be revealed. We’re not sure of the scope of the battles, and this is a crucial component. Right now it’s six on six, plus the AI, which Emslie says makes for a very tight experience despite the large maps. The developer will continue to tweak this as it tests the game, but he sounds happy enough as it stands. “The AI definitely fills the void,” he says. “You’re never sitting around waiting for something to happen. There’s always something to do.” Presumably the next PR beat will thump at Gamescom in August, and Emslie teases there are more modes to reveal in addition to campaign multiplayer and sports.

“We didn’t have enough manpower and time to start completely from scratch, so we picked the best thing that worked best for us. We’re really happy with it.”

Joel Emslie on the decision to use Valve’s Source engine for Titanfall


Titanfall runs on a heavily modified version of Valve’s Source engine.

If there’s a gaming god tinkering with the fate of the industry, he or she’s having a right laugh with this one: Titanfall, from the creators of Call of Duty and the publishers of Battlefield, looks set to go up against Destiny, from the creators of Halo and the publishers of Call of Duty, in 2014. It’s a next generation shooter face-off of epic proportions.

Titanfall has been compared with Halo and it’s easy to see why. Soldiers and huge mechs battle with and against each other in vast, science-fiction-themed maps, and all the while there’s AI gnawing at your ankle. It’s as if someone took a typical 30 seconds of fun moment from any Halo campaign, with its Spartan and UNSC AI versus Covenant versus, sometimes, Flood action, and made it competitive.

A better comparison is with Destiny. Both offer connected multiplayer experiences and both are sci-fi shooters. For me Destiny is the more eye-catching of the pair. Its fantastical, dreamy environments whet the appetite in a way Titanfall’s somewhat bland, war-torn battlefield does not, and Bungie’s new matchmaking sounds genuinely ground-breaking, whereas I remain skeptical of Titanfall’s use of the cloud, but there’s more than meets the eye with EA’s Halo killer, and more than a few fresh ideas buried underneath its bombastic debut. You just have to look for them.

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Activision Not Concerned With Destiny Cannibalizing Call of Duty


We’ve talked a lot about Halo the past week or so, but really, the battle over time spent playing multiplayer shooters is really going to heat up as the next console generation begins in the fall. There are so many shooters being designed with focus specifically on multiplayer that gamers might be on overload between Halo, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Titanfall, Destiny and more.

Two of those are now firmly under the stable of Activision, annual cash machine Call of Duty, and Bungie’s MMO-ish FPS, Destiny. Both are likely going to be very big titles and available across all systems, but Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg is not worried about them cannibalizing one another, telling IGN they can “peacefully coexist.”

“At the end of the day, it’s a first-person shooter by Bungie. Everyone who loved Halo is going to love Destiny.”

“They’re very different games made by very different creative visionaries…I think that what Call of Duty has done, it’s done better than anybody…What Bungie has done, they have done better than anyone as well. The first-person shooter genre has shown tremendous staying power, as well as tremendous capacity in terms of the appetite people have for it.”

He believes the two won’t interfere with the other within the brand, and I agree with him. Why? Well, any time I write anything critical of Halo, its devotees call me a Call of Duty fanboy. And when I turn the lens toward COD’s flaws, I’m branded a Halo-lover instead. These two camps are very much opposed to each other, at least when you look at their most hardcore fans. And if Destiny is essentially “new Halo” as it’s being advertised, I expect this sort of dynamic to remain in place. Those who avidly play one, generally speaking, seem to have some degree of distaste for the other. This isn’t always true of course, but COD vs. Halo has always been a big divide in the video game world, as both may be shooters but have drastically different styles of gameplay.

In my estimation Hirshberg is right, and since these two camps have been separate anyway, having both under one roof isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it could be the best of both worlds for Activision. The potential for cannibalism would be much more obvious if say, one company was putting out both COD and Battlefield, or Destiny and Halo as a pair, which would be far more redundant. Titanfall, as of now, is a wildcard, and it’s not yet clear if that will pull fans from one camp or the other, as it seems to have a bit both shooter styles contained within.

I think it’s an incredibly good strategy that Activision now has COD and Destiny to their name. COD will be a perennial money printing device for years to come, even if sales finally start to dip, while Destiny very well could be the next big IP available across all the new consoles. That said, it could also somehow fail to deliver, and Activision would be left holding a very expensive bag, as they have a lot sunk into Destiny. That does seem a bit unlikely however. Mostly, I think Activision is in a pretty strong position IP-wise going forward as a result of the Bungie pick-up.

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