Monday, December 10, 2012

Call of Duty History: Prestige

     I think that the changes in prestiging starting with Black Ops have been influenced by Activision.  If you think about what it takes to make the game compared to what it takes to make the map packs it's clear that profit margins on the map packs are huge compared to the game itself.  So how can they get more people to buy the map packs?  Encourage them to play the game further into the year.

     Call of Duty 4 was the first time they implemented the prestige system, and World at War basically just copy-pasted.  With Modern Warfare 2 I think Infinity Ward upped the XP to prestige to accommodate the larger number of challenges they introduced with the aim to keep a single prestige the same approximate length (i.e. number of games or amount of time played) as it was in CoD4.

     With Black Ops I think they were trying to find a way to encourage more people to prestige in the first place by making each prestige shorter, and also trying to get more people to go max prestige by making total XP required lower.

     Even though Modern Warfare 3 needed more XP to prestige my experience was that it took about the same amount of time as Black Ops because there were more challenges and a number of large challenges that were really easy (maxing out secondaries for example).  They added 10 more prestiges post-release in two separate drops which I think was their next attempt to get more people to keep playing and keep prestiging.

     My guess is that they realized during Black Ops' and MW3's years that the people who go to max prestige are highly likely to get all the DLC and keep playing throughout the year regardless.  What they needed to do was give an incentive to the other guys, the ones who level up to 80 and then only play occasionally without getting the DLC, to keep playing more, which leads to Black Ops 2.

     Is there a reason not to prestige in Black Ops 2?  Not really.  You don't lose any progress by prestiging, you're only kept from using certain items for a few levels until they're unlocked.  On top of that there is actually a penalty if you don't prestige because you won't be able to unlock everything at once unless you go all the to 10th55.

     I think They've found the right combination here.  Those who are going to play the whole year and get all the DLC were already fine, they'll do it again this year.  But those who would normally set the game aside after a month or a few months are more likely to keep leveling, and if they're playing longer they're more likely to purchase DLC.  It's a marginal effect on everyone, and if you can move the margin you can move more of your product.

Here are the prestige emblems from all of the games:

In Ghosts you will be able to unlock up to 10 soldiers.  You can customize each soldier's loadouts as well as their appearance.  Each soldier will have its own level, so the more you play with one soldier the more you will level up that one soldier.  You will not level up and prestige sequentially like in previous games.  You can level up each soldier simultaneously through the levels from one to 60 and then prestige all 10 soldiers at once if you want.  So there are still 10 prestiges, but each one is attached to a separate soldier rather than all 10 being attached to your overall profile.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

1st Saturday of Each Month: Play Your Favorite Old CoD Day

I'm declaring the first Saturday of each month to be "Go Play Your Favorite CoD Day" where we all leave the most recently released game and pick up our favorite old one.

It all starts Saturday the 5th of January 2013:

I think the first time should be Call of Duty 4 or World at War only.  Let's go back to the classics.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Call of Duty History: Innovation from CoD4 to Black Ops 2

Text version below the video.

This is my take on the major innovations each studio has brought to multiplayer from Call of Duty 4 to Black Ops 2.  

CoD4 had four major contributions to the series which now are so central to the game they don’t need explanation: the create-a-class system, perks within that system, killstreak rewards and the ranking up system with prestiging.

World at War for the most part copied the core elements that CoD4 had introduced with a few balance improvements like adding Flak Jacket to counter Fireworks and Shades and Gas Mask to counter tactical nades.
Two minor additions that World at War introduced: adding more create-a-class slots with certain prestige levels, and another layer of perks for vehicles.

Modern Warfare 2 expanded on two of the elements that CoD4 introduced:  One is that you could rank up your perks to unlock a pro variant, and the other is that instead of a permanent 3, 5, 7 killstreak setup the game had an array of killstreaks from which you could select up to three, and some of those killstreaks were player-controlled like the AC130.

Black Ops did not have any major innovations to core gameplay.  There was a lot of added personality like CoD points and contracts. To me it felt more different from Modern Warfare 2 than World at War felt from CoD4, but they kept the major changes introduced in Modern Warfare 2, specifically pro perks and selectable killstreaks some of which could be player controlled.  What Black Ops did much better than Modern Warfare 2 was balance the game out.

A few minor additions that came with Black Ops was that killstreak kills didn’t contribute to your next streak reward, and some of the care package rewards were guns, powerful items that you could take with you during normal gameplay.  Also Combat Training.

Modern Warfare 3 had two major additions to the series, Pointstreaks and Specialist.  Up to this point only kills contributed to your next streak reward but in Modern Warfare 3 completing certain objectives also contributed to your next streak reward.  
In my opinion the Specialist Strike Package is a major innovation whereas the Support Strike Package is not, it’s a minor addition to the game.  I along with at least half of Call of Duty players has probably at least once thought how nice it would be if deaths didn’t cut off our killstreak, if we could get rewarded simply by getting a lot of kills in a game instead of having to get a lot of kills without dying.  
Specialist however is rewarding a player who gets on a streak and stays on that streak with more character abilities instead of lethal rewards like a sentry gun or an airstrike.

Some minor things introduced in Modern Warfare 3, support strike package like I said before, a create a class tweak so that your streaks are tied to your class, another layer of perks that apply to your primary weapon which they called proficiencies, and streak rewards that wrap, so if you get all three rewards and then keep killing people you can get your killstreaks again even though you didn’t die.

Black Ops 2 is the first modern game by Treyarch that contributes major innovations to the series.

Scorestreaks.  On the surface it looks like Scorestreaks is a tweaked version of Modern Warfare 3’s pointstreaks but the way I see it Scorestreaks are to Poinstreaks what Modern Warfare 2’s selectable Killstreaks are to Call of Duty 4’s permanent 3, 5, 7 setup.  It’s a big enough leap forward to count as a major innovation even if it’s not a completely new idea.

The second major innovation is an overhaul to the create-a-class system which they called Pick-10, and I’m not going to try to explain it because you probably already know how it works.

Black Ops 2 has some minor but still significant contributions as well:
Black Ops 2 is also the first game to take a step back and simplify a bit.  CoD4 introduced perks, Modern Warfare 2 put another layer in those perks that had to be unlocked through challenges, and Modern Warfare 3 added weapon perks (proficiencies) and split killstreaks into three strike packages.  Black Ops 2 takes perks, the pro variant, proficiencies and weapon attachments, and reduces it all into simply perks and attachments which is exactly what we had back in CoD4.  Black Ops 2 also didn’t continue with Modern Warfare 3’s strike packages, opting instead took the single killstreaks list from Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops and converted it into Scorestreaks.  But lest you think everything is simpler, they did add another layer of perks that directly affects how you can set up your class (Wildcards).

Another significant change is with the leveling up and prestige system, in that now when you prestige you don’t lose your progress in challenges and weapon leveling anymore.

Details on how perks and streaks have progressed through the series (warning: these are very disorganized):
CoD4 and WaW
MW2 and Black Ops
MW3 and BO2

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Flattening of the KDR curve from MW3 to BO2

10% to 90% in skill level in MW3 had a KDR spread of 0.4 to 3.0  but in BO2 the spread of the same skill levels is 0.6 to 2.0 basically a flattening of the curve.  This picture illustrates it:

People at the low end in skill do better on average, and people at the high end in skill don't do quite as well.
I think this is because streaks are quite a bit more lethal, and I think Treyarch justified making streaks more powerful because they lowered the reward that streaks give.
In previous games getting one kill with a predator missile gets you one kill closer to your next streak. In BO2 though getting 3 kills with a hellstorm only gets you half a kill closer to your next streak.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Ideal Call of Duty


You have to play through once in regular story mode.  After that one playthrough you unlock the following features:
  • Create-a-class
  • Arcade mode (like in CoD4)
  • Challenges (like in BO2 or any multiplayer)
  • A campaign profile to rank up (like in multiplayer)
  • Special Ops missions
The intel are located throughout the campaign and the Spec Ops missions, and they complement the story (extra videos, text) and/or complete challenges to rank up your single player profile.  Once you find all of the intel you unlock the cheats like in CoD4, but more:
  • Slow motion
  • Infinite ammo
  • Speed
  • Super jump
  • Cluster bombs
  • Bad day (enemies turn into tires)
  • A ragtime-warfare type visual
  • All specialist and/or chaos mode perks
The Special Ops missions complement the campaign story in the same way Milehigh Jack and Hostage Taker complement MW3's story.  They are either from the enemy's POV or an extension of the story.


All of the multiplayer maps playable with bots in an offline profile that can be ranked up and prestiged with challenges, pointstreaks/scorestreaks, create-a-class, just like in multiplayer:
  • All multiplayer modes with bots
  • Survival mode
  • Chaos mode (xp = score/1000)
  • You receive more XP with higher difficulty bots
  • A private match type of mode with everything unlocked, no XP earned, but lots of options for customizing survival and chaos (you choose the wave contents)
  • 4 player survival and chaos
And it's gotta have specialist.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Head Glitching in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Head glitching is possible in Black Ops 2 and every Call of Duty game because the first person animation and the third person animation do not match up.  This video shows how this works:

To see the details you should probably watch in 720p.

Essentially the third person's animation is hunched down compared to the first person's.  This makes the head and gun lower in elevation so that when directly behind an object the gun and head are not looking out over top of the object, but rather are below the surface of the object.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Call of Duty Films

These aren't all a story together or anything, just good videos based on the Modern Warfare franchise.  Some are better than others, with No Russian being by far the best of them (and the live action shorts being both surprisingly good and yet not nearly good enough).  I'll update this post when/if videos from MW3 show up.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Extended FNG training mission


War Pig


Modern Warfare Villains: Khaled Al-Asad

Modern Warfare Villains: Imran Zakhaev

Between CoD4 and MW2
Operation Kingfish

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2




No Russian

How MW2 Should Have Ended

Modern Warfare Villains: General Shepherd

Between MW2 and MW3
For a different feel, open up the following link and pause it at 24 seconds, then play it along with Find Makarov,

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

MW3 Campaign Cutscenes (no gameplay)

Modern Warfare Villains: Vladimir Makarov

Multiplayer montage with campaign cutscene intros

Misc (I know)