Balancing the multiplayer in a highly popular first-person shooter like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 can be a challenge, especially when you get down to specific weapons and weapon attachments.
Past Call of Duty titles are judged by their attention to tuning and balance, and not every one has gotten it 100% right. There’s always that one weapon or one perk that stands out as either extremely “overpowered” or severely “underpowered,” as the slang goes these days. Luckily, balancing issues like these can be tweaked through post-launch support, which is already said to be the case for Back Ops 2 this fall.
Treyarch’s senior game designer David Vonderhaar recalls his fair share challenges speaking with OXM.
He mentions, “In Black Ops 2 right now, people are saying that the millimetre wave scanner isn’t strong enough. Again, we’re in alpha, we’re still tuning, that’s important – but if you walk around the emotional reactor, people think the scanner needs to pulse faster. ‘I need to see guys through walls better’.”
Of course, along with processing feedback comes the tricky balancing act of comparing it with hard data. In cases like this, it doesn’t always match up.
Vonderhaar continued, “But the data doesn’t bear that out. That thing is badass and guys that use it are badass with it. There’s always a balance between your emotional and visceral reaction for how something feels, and the truth about how much it helps you or not.”
“I have the fortunate or unfortunate position of being judge, juror and executioner on all those decisions,” he added, “and it puts me in an awkward spot. Because I have to look at people who think very passionately that it should pulse faster, show targets for longer, or maybe it shows them even when they’re moving.”
He concludes, “All these are things we can tweak and tune, and they’re telling me this, and I’m looking at them, saying: ‘I appreciate your feedback young man, but the data shows the truth about this.’ And that’s game design and part of being a game designer, and it’s fucking hard.”
If you’ve recently played Black Ops 2 at the Eurogamer Expo, what do you think of the balance so far? Don’t forget to read up on our latest impressions of the game as well!