Treyarch held multiple live streams in the build up to Black Ops 3, from the D.I.C.E. Conference last February (wow, it’s been that long?) to their Black Ops Fridays just before launch. Luckily for fans, they’re back at it again and in the last two months, they’ve had four! But don’t worry, because if you don’t feel like watching the many hours of streams, the summaries have arrived! (Note that I cut out details from livestream two because it was primarily about new Black Market items in the Awakening DLC).
Before I start, though, something you should understand about me is that I didn’t have very fast internet when I was younger, and as such, I was never able to develop any skills. I am, as some would say, a late bloomer when it comes to Call of Duty (especially multiplayer). Due to this, as I’ve recently played Black Ops 3, I gained a new appreciation for multiplayer and the complexity behind it. Watching these live streams has been kind of fun, as they dive into a few things more intricately. Anyhow, if you have any questions regarding the live streams (or really anything), feel free to drop it in the comments and I’ll get back to you!
The host of this DLC 2 live stream (and all recent live streams) was John Rafacz, the Director of Communications, being joined by Matt Scronce (Game Designer) and Miles Leslie (Producer) for multiplayer and YouTuber NoahJ456 for the Zombies portion. The DLC this time around is named Eclipse and as usual, contains four multiplayer maps and a zombies map. It releases April 19th for PlayStation 4!
The first map highlighted, Verge, is a reimagining of the map Banzai from World at War. It’s a post-apocalyptic desolate wasteland where two entities are fighting over the water supply. It has high verticality, which fans have been asking for, as well as a cave system for lots of flanks. Next up was Spire, a futuristic suborbital airport terminal with a white, antiseptic sort of look to it. It has lots of mid-range engagements, but watch your step, as “one wrong move could send you plummeting back through the stratosphere.” Third was Rift, a military complex over a caldera aimed at extracting minerals and resources for the war effort. It forces engagements and makes it so that if you’d like to get anywhere, the way to do so is through the enemy. Finally, there’s Knockout, a privately owned island with a “traditional Shaolin Temple,” but it also has a twist. While the outside is more traditional to the environment and has mid-range engagements, the inside is “tight close-quarters” with “an eclectic 1970’s style.”
The next Zombies installment in Black Ops 3 is Zetsubou No Shima, which Blundell called the Island of Despair, and is described as one of the most scary and disturbing maps to date. There, Division 9 held experiments that could only be described as perversions of nature. On top of the discussion, the in-game intro cinematic was shown, which you can see below! Join the discussion in the dedicated forum for the new map.
Awakening DLC + Game Development
For the Awakening live stream, John Rafacz was joined by guests Dan Bunting and David Vonderhaar, two multiplayer directors inside of Treyarch. The former (Bunting) is a Game Director largely focused on the maps ahead, while the latter being a Studio Design Director who focuses on the day-to-day mechanics of the game. One thing they discussed is something that I see users upset about across all platforms, whether it’s CoDz or Reddit or Xbox or PlayStation. That is, the performance of weapons and scorestreaks in regards to if they’re under- or over-performing (UP and OP, respectively). David Vonderhaar mentioned that if something is under-performing, it’s much easier to beef it up than to “drag it back,” so to speak. He also said that many people may not realize they put out a live update just about every day, but “there’s only so much you can do in a hotfix, and only so many hotfixes you can do.” Bunting added that after game launch, they go into “Live Ops” mode. At that point, their team is dedicated to interacting with fans and whenever issues may arise, get their Q&A team on it to fix them and push them out in the next 24 hours.
They also discussed the Awakening DLC, and DLC in general. While the types of maps that come with the game, the core maps, are the ones that gamers have come to know, they said that DLC was the time for experimentation. Many of their maps have a three-lane structure but one overall environment (think of Aquarium, where you can either go through the center or around the sides, but you’re still at an aquarium). The idea came to them that it would be neat to have an entirely different environment depending on the “lane” that you’re in, and so the map Gauntlet was born! Coming up with ideas for maps after four games and one century spanned can be a bit difficult, but they said that with new gameplay mechanics, it can really open up some doors. That’s where the map Splash came into effect, where the developers asked ‘what goes well with water’ and naturally, a water park came to mind. To my surprise, they said they’ve tried a map like this twice before in Black Ops 2 but it wasn’t coming out as they hoped, so they scrapped it until now! (I have to say, this map looks incredible, so I’m glad they didn’t!)
Discussion on Getting into the Industry
In this livestream (Episode 3), from Friday, February 26th, host John Rafacz brought in developers for a roundtable on how they got to their position and things they’ve learned along the way. The guests included Adam Rosas (Associate Animation Director, cinematics and storytelling), Caleb Turner (Weapon Artist), Sumeet Jakatdar (Senior Software Director, specifically AI), Kevin Sherwood (Senior Sound Designer), and Gary Stelmack (Senior Designer). Each of them explain that they may have got into game development through many different means, but after working in their respective areas with the same people for a while, they all expressed the enthusiasm, passion, and problem-solving-potential to move up (the latter being incredibly important).
Some of them were gamers their entire lives, while others didn’t know they enjoyed gaming until they randomly discovered it. Some of them began in Treyarch’s Q&A department and have thus been with the company for years, while others transferred just recently in from other games. One of the things they all believed was essential, however, was pushing further than what was expected of them. Their formal schooling was important to their success, but they said it was by no means the only thing. For them, school allowed them to learn a lot about a little and figure out where their passions were, but as with most things, they were forced to dig into something deeper and really learn if they wanted to make it. Additionally, they recommended not waiting for the right time to find/do what you intend, but rather just starting. Finally, learn to network! Having a lot of knowledge in the area is great, and important, but someone you know can likely help you in the future if you only reach out (and it may be hard to get the job you want without it)!