MW3 .. PC Interview

HellBilly

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#1
We recently had a chance to sit down with Infinity Ward's main PR guru, Robert Bowling. Our topic of discussion? The PC version of Modern Warfare 3, and all that it entails. In this frank discussion Robert shared with us information on the new system specs (higher than before), the improved cheat detection, the choice to return to dedicated servers, and a whole lot more. If you're a PC gamer who is interested in Modern Warfare 3, this is the interview for you.
 

HellBilly

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#2
GameSpy: What sort of connection options are PC gamers going to have? Are they going to have the full server browser as well as matchmaking?

Robert Bowling: Yeah, so in Modern Warfare 3 you have the matchmaking that we introduced in MW2 so you have the party system, the lobby system, all that stuff. That is standard fare for it, but you also have a server browser so you can search, browse, filter, rate, and favorite dedicated servers or set up your own dedicated server so you have full control over ban lists, game setup rules, all that stuff that we know our PC players said they wanted coming out of Modern Warfare 2.

GameSpy: With the server browser, are you going to be able to sort by region or is it ping based?

Robert Bowling: Right now I think it's just ping based.

GameSpy: Have you made any changes to the matchmaking algorithms this time around?

Robert Bowling: Yeah we have. We always do a lot of work in that, especially speaking specifically to Australian gamers, we took a ton of feedback coming out of Modern Warfare 2 on how we could optimize matchmaking for local regions like what it prioritizes, because you can't prioritize across the board, saying this is how matchmaking works for everybody. That inherently isn't fair because everyone doesn't have the same sort of connection. An Australian player playing with a US player isn't the same as a US player connecting with a US player.
So we've changed the way things are prioritized so it's not just based on ping. It should allow people in Australia or another country to have a better experience, rather than being at the will of one American host who comes in and takes over everything

GameSpy: Sure. Now you mentioned there that users can set up their own dedicated servers. Will they still be ranked servers or are they unranked?

Robert Bowling: That's something that hasn't been decided yet. It's something that we're working out.

GameSpy: It's kind of a big deal for you guys to go back to a dedicated server model after Modern Warfare 2's system. Can you give us some kind of insight in the decision making process that went behind that? Were there a lot of discussions around this choice?

Robert Bowling: There were. I mean, in every aspect of Modern Warfare 3 it was about looking at our player feedback, what they wanted. More importantly, in every aspect from gameplay to dedicated servers, it was about giving more options, more control to our players, to have the experience that they want to have. So coming out of Modern Warfare 2 it was pretty clear what our PC audience was looking for and what direction they wanted us to go in. The conversation was pretty straight forward because we knew what they wanted and we wanted to execute on that.

GameSpy: Was part of the decision to go with the Modern Warfare 2's model to do with piracy? What was the driving force behind removing dedicated servers?

Robert Bowling: In Modern Warfare 2 it was multiple things. As our first time going to Steam, it was our first time doing a lot of different things like adding in the matchmaking. It was about trying to control the experience ourselves, doing things like VAC and introducing things that we thought would be the first step in improving the experience overall. We wanted to unify the experience across every platform but it was always intended to be the first step in a series in what IWNet would become. So we looked at how that performed and regretfully there were a lot of things that it didn't achieve that we wanted it to achieve. Things like making it as secure as it can be - Modern Warfare 2 had a lot of problems with cheating and hacking, especially on the PC, that VAC didn't fully take care of. As a result we've done a lot of work on Modern Warfare 3 on the back end. We are still using VAC in Steam but in addition to that we've done much more work on the backend, locking down our stuff to make it more secure, to make sure we have more flexibility on addressing things like that ourselves rather than just relying on some third party anti-cheat program.

GameSpy: Heh, you're taking my next question which was about the cheat prevention this time around! How have the processes and technology changed for Modern Warfare 3 when it comes to preventing cheats?

Robert Bowling: There's been a lot of work put into it. I can't go into specifics. On a general high level area there's so much more stuff that we've locked down and made less accessible than we had before. A lot of stuff that we stripped out, a lot more challenge response things that we're doing in addition to…

GameSpy: Challenge response things?

Robert Bowling: Challenge response things. I can't go into detail on it but it's about verifying what the code is supposed to be and what the code actually is on the client side, and making sure that those are aligned. It's also about our ability to take action when stuff is wrong so we've done a lot of work in our ability to update the game more quickly and efficiently than we have before.

GameSpy: So post launch, are you putting more resources into monitoring for cheats?
Robert Bowling: Yes.

GameSpy: Are you going to have a dedicated team to look after that?

Robert Bowling: We are. A lot of that stuff can be done through Elite that we can review. Then we have tools to report player stuff in game that players can use, and we'll have entire teams monitoring and taking actions on those.

GameSpy: Is this a new process, or was it also used in MW2?

Robert Bowling: Yes, that's new, that's new for us. A lot of that stuff, the monitoring stuff, a lot of that was introduced in Black Ops but with Elite that is launching with Modern Warfare 3, we're taking that in an all new area, having full teams dedicated solely to that.

GameSpy: Modern Warfare 2 was difficult to run tournaments for PC gamers. Are you guys going to be introducing features on the dedicated software such as demo recording, remote spectating, remote server set up and running that will facilitate easier tournaments this time around?

Robert Bowling: Yes, there is stuff like that. We're incorporating the theater mode stuff and we've done a lot of work that allows you to have more control over theater mode than you had before, so yes there is stuff like that.

GameSpy: MW3 is running the same technology as the last couple of Modern Warfare games. Have you increased the graphical detail in any way that will mean slightly higher hardware requirements for the PC version or are they going to be the same system requirements?

Robert Bowling: There is. We don't have min spec yet so I can't go into detail on what min specs are. We were trying to nail it down just as I left the studio last week.

GameSpy: But it's slightly higher?
Robert Bowling: It is slightly higher yeah. It's always important for us with Modern Warfare to make sure we have a good min spec so the majority of our audience can enjoy the game but then also we've done a lot of advancements on how we did things that the higher end machines will be able to take advantage.

GameSpy: Are we ever going to see mod support for Call of Duty again?

Robert Bowling: I hope so. It's a discussion that we're having now. It's something that we want to do. It's something that I loved in Call of Duty 4, especially the total conversion mods that people did.

GameSpy: Like the Star Wars Mod?

Robert Bowling: Yeah Galactic Warfare from the Black Monkey guys. I loved that stuff and it's something I want to see for Modern Warfare 3 so it's a possibility. Again it's one of those things that we can't start working on until the full game's finished, you know? But it's something that we want to do.

GameSpy: What do you think is the reason for the cutback in mod support? Is it concerns about cheating? Is it that you've got to protect your DLC, that people are less likely to buy DLC if there's free mods out there? Or is it that the tools are too hard to create?

Robert Bowling: In general it requires a lot of work on our end to create the tools. In the grand scheme of things it's not a ton of work but it's work that doesn't get a huge priority, we have a lot of stuff to do, so we just have to make the time for it. We will never do anything unless we can do it right.

GameSpy: So what sort of chance is it for mod support? Is like fifty-fifty? Eighty-twenty?

Robert Bowling: I have no clue. Things change so drastically from month to month that I would never put a percentage on it.

GameSpy: Last question, if you guys could get a movie license and make a Call of Duty out of it, what would be the ultimate one that you think Infinity Ward would like to do? Have you ever toyed with this idea?

Robert Bowling: No, we've never toyed with the idea officially. I mean there's always tons of stuff I would love to do. But no. You threw out the best example of Star Wars because I'm a Star Wars nerd. I would love to make a Star Wars game. That's why I loved Galactic Warfare mod so much, it's because it was everything I wanted, you know?

GameSpy: Did many of the IW guys play it?

Robert Bowling: Yeah. I think I probably play it the most out of anyone in the office, I've been playing the beta. Every time they release a new version I've been playing with those guys. I love those guys. So I probably play it more than anyone in the office but I've been getting more people on the bandwagon. I've been getting our producers and stuff on and checking it out.

GameSpy: So we might see Call of Duty Star Wars in the future? (laughs)

Robert Bowling: I think that's up to Lucas Arts!

http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/call-of-duty-2011-project/1196687p1.html
 

steels

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#3
GameSpy: Sure. Now you mentioned there that users can set up their own dedicated servers. Will they still be ranked servers or are they unranked?

Robert Bowling: That's something that hasn't been decided yet. It's something that we're working out.
That is what we have been worried about. Sure dedicated servers, but are they ranked.

I guess we wait and see now........ :confused:
 

triphammer

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#5
Exactly the answers we're used to. This close to release and they don't know whether they're going to offer ranked and unranked dedis to us? Introducing a new system like CoD Elite and they have no idea huh? They know. Bad press before game release is not what they're looking for.. and they know what news will bring that bad press based on their experience with MW2. The old "buy it first and then complain" BS. Nobody gets my money anymore until I see a beta or the game is already released. I learned my lesson too.
 

*goo

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#6
I find it hugely irritating that PR spin is still being used on dedicated servers for PC.

Coming out of Modern Warfare 2 you knew what the PC audience wanted? No, going IN to Modern Warfare 2 you knew what the PC audience wanted - it just wasn't what Infinity Ward wanted.

Having them back is a definite plus but let's not pretend that it's an altruistic decision.
 
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#7
GameSpy: Sure. Now you mentioned there that users can set up their own dedicated servers. Will they still be ranked servers or are they unranked?

Robert Bowling: That's something that hasn't been decided yet. It's something that we're working out.
Don't hold your breath! The answer is quite clear knowing the PR tactics they have used from the past......

Let me put it this way. It would be really surprised if it were ranked servers
 
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#8
Don't hold your breath! The answer is quite clear knowing the PR tactics they have used from the past......

Let me put it this way. It would be really surprised if it were ranked servers
That depends on how you define "unranked" servers. And, depending on your definition, it will either be an issue, or it wont be an issue. So, let's look at the possible definitions of the terms "ranked" and "unranked":

The terms "ranked" and "unranked" have been borrowed from the Battlefield series and used in COD games since COD4, yet for that particular game, the term didn't really make a whole lot of sense - there were no PC leaderboards for COD4. As far as COD4 was concerned, the word "ranked" simply meant "global rank ups and unlocks", as opposed to "unranked" which meant localized ranking and unlocks, particular to the mod folder being used.

Then there was MW2, which also didn't have any PC leaderboards, and "ranked" meant the same as it did for COD4 - global rank ups and unlocks. The word "unranked" was replaced by the consolized term "Private Match", which didn't have any rank ups or unlocks.

The first time "ranked" meant the equivalent of a Battlefield game was with Black Ops, because it was the first time PC had leaderboards. And again, the word "unranked" meant almost the same as with MW2 - you used your "ranked" classes, ranks and unlocks on a "unranked" server.

Now, with MW3 they are saying that, at present, they don't know if dedicated servers will stream stats to the PC leaderboards. But as far as global rank ups and unlocks on dedicated servers are concerned we have 4 possibilities:

1. There will be localized rank ups and unlocks - every time you visit a new server you will have to start ranking up and unlocking again. This would kill the game on dedicated servers, as I believe most people will get too frustrated with having to do it all over again every time they visit a new server.

2. Everything will be unlocked from day 1, and there will be no ranking up. I don't think the majority of PC COD players would be bothered by this option. In fact, I would go as far as to say, it would probably prove to be very popular. There will, of course, be those that like their ranking up and unlocks, but I believe they will be in the minority.

3. There will be global rank ups and unlocks across all "unranked" dedicated servers. This option will be identical to the COD4 definition of "ranked" only applied to MW3's "unranked" servers, that is, no streaming to leaderboards.

4. They will find some way to make dedicated servers stream to the PC leaderboards. Everything will be the same as it was with Black Ops, only on dedicated servers anyone can run from any location they like.

I personally think it will turn out to be either option 2 or 3. I don't think 4 has a chance of seeing the light of day because the leaderboards are too open to abuse from hackers, which is precisely why Elite has been "delayed" for the PC. If it is either 2 or 3, as I said, I don't think there will be an issue - most PC players don't give a crap about leaderboards anyway, and I believe the term "ranked" and "unranked" will prove to be meaningless terms, with no one really giving a shit either way whether a dedicated server is termed "ranked" or "unranked". It will be all gravy.

There is, of course, always a chance of 1 - which as I said would kill the game on dedicated servers, and is frankly unworkable. Who in their right minds can play a game where you can never unlock a whole bunch of weapons? It would force players to go play bloody matchmaking crap on Peer to bloody Peer again. So, let's just pray that IW/Sledghammer aren't stupid enough to think this option is workable at all.
 
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zeroy

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#10
1, 2 are simply not going to happen. 3 is a real possibility, but then again thats really tied in with Elite and what they plan for it on PC. Its number 4 or Dedicated wont get ranked at all and only MatchMaking will but this doesnt make sense so really they're going to have to allow us to run Ranked servers on Dedicated. The backlash if they dont would be too great imo.

So i go for:

4. They will find some way to make dedicated servers stream to the PC leaderboards. Everything will be the same as it was with Black Ops, only on dedicated servers anyone can run from any location they like.
 
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#11
1, 2 are simply not going to happen. 3 is a real possibility, but then again thats really tied in with Elite and what they plan for it on PC. Its number 4 or Dedicated wont get ranked at all and only MatchMaking will but this doesnt make sense so really they're going to have to allow us to run Ranked servers on Dedicated. The backlash if they dont would be too great imo.

So i go for:
Its number 4 or Dedicated wont get ranked at all
No, Pal, you've missed the wood for the trees. The debate isn't really about whether we get "ranked" servers or not. It's about whether or not having "unranked" dedicated servers will be a bad thing. I say that depends on how they handle the rank ups and unlocks. If they have rank ups and unlocks which apply on all "unranked" servers, who gives a shit if such a server is classed as ranked or not (i.e. they wont stream stats to leaderboards). Or, alternatively, if everything is unlocked on day 1 and there are no rank ups and unlocks, again who gives a shit? You say that's impossible and such a model wont happen, yet again and again they have surprised the hell out of everyone with their decisions. So anything is possible with these people.

I think it is pretty certain that dedicated servers will be "unranked". But as long as they run just like COD4's dedicated servers, which were by definition really "unranked" servers because they didn't stream stats to leaderboards, and have global unlocks and rank ups, then no one will complain.
 
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Mr.Ray

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#12
I would be quite content with an unranked server with no ties or strings back to the leader boards. Day 1 unlock on all weapons equals a level playing field for all in the server. It matters not one bit to me if players want to come in and have a fun play and then go to other Ranked servers where they have to work at getting the better perks and such.

In our server I think it would reduce the aggravation level of when Captain Gamers come into the server with an elevated rank to simply rip up the place with a high KDR and then leave.

I have no problems with truly great players who climb the boards legitimately for the challenge. More power to them. I also understand that many more players simply want to play the game and have a great time with like minded friends. There is plenty of room in the gaming world to allow everyone what they want. The rest is up to Activision and IW to make it possible.
 

Busterking

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#13
I would be quite content with an unranked server with no ties or strings back to the leader boards. Day 1 unlock on all weapons equals a level playing field for all in the server. It matters not one bit to me if players want to come in and have a fun play and then go to other Ranked servers where they have to work at getting the better perks and such.

In our server I think it would reduce the aggravation level of when Captain Gamers come into the server with an elevated rank to simply rip up the place with a high KDR and then leave.

I have no problems with truly great players who climb the boards legitimately for the challenge. More power to them. I also understand that many more players simply want to play the game and have a great time with like minded friends. There is plenty of room in the gaming world to allow everyone what they want. The rest is up to Activision and IW to make it possible.

Unfortunately very few pubs play on unranked servers. This doesn't help clans that are trying to recruit new members. So you have empty servers sitting there.

We are presently experiencing this first hand with RO2, when the servers go unranked (due to bug problems) at the end of the map it states that your points will not accumulate since this is an unranked server, everyone, and I mean everyone, leaves the server.

So if you want to populate your servers, it needs to be ranked.
 

Mr.Ray

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#14
I agree with you Busterking. My BO server is ranked and will stay that way.

We have a lot of regulars that play there all the time but as we come up on the one year mark since the release of BO I have to question is it the ranked status of the server or is it the friendship factor. Could be both. LOL

I will see what my Server Committee wants to do and see what happens.
 

HellBilly

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#15
i miss the days when players played just because they enjoyed playing ...

now we got levels, ranks, unlocks, perks, kill streaks, ect.

i would love to see a cod1/2 remake .. without all the bells and whistles of todays shooters
 

zeroy

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#16
i miss the days when players played just because they enjoyed playing ...

now we got levels, ranks, unlocks, perks, kill streaks, ect.

i would love to see a cod1/2 remake .. without all the bells and whistles of todays shooters
Totally agree but im not sure this model for FPS games would work nowadays with the masses - Joe pubber in particular. Ever since BF2 introduced a global leaderboard the all thing has gone downhill with less teamplay and more bragging rights for single individuals. and lets not forget hackers / boosters of course, leaderboards have always encourage this.
 

Tobi54

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#17
While BF2 might have introduced that, I think the real reason is this current generation of mainstream console gamers, they have taken it to a whole other level, especially now since pretty much everything gets made for console and then ported, that mentality just trickles down to PC.
 

Neil

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#18
Totally agree but im not sure this model for FPS games would work nowadays with the masses - Joe pubber in particular. Ever since BF2 introduced a global leaderboard the all thing has gone downhill with less teamplay and more bragging rights for single individuals. and lets not forget hackers / boosters of course, leaderboards have always encourage this.
To be honest BF2 is looked as a team play game even with all the unlocks, ranks etc. The same with 2142. Problem is as I see it that the rewards and unlock systems are more geared towards individuality play than team play.

COD4 first introduced the unlocks etc but it still had a bit of team play element in S&D in both public and private matches. People would try and plant the objectives. You go into BO S&D and people are more interested in getting the kills.
 
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#19
Unfortunately very few pubs play on unranked servers. This doesn't help clans that are trying to recruit new members. So you have empty servers sitting there.

We are presently experiencing this first hand with RO2, when the servers go unranked (due to bug problems) at the end of the map it states that your points will not accumulate since this is an unranked server, everyone, and I mean everyone, leaves the server.

So if you want to populate your servers, it needs to be ranked.
The situation with MW3 vis-a-vis dedicated servers being "unranked" is this: they MUST either make the unlocks work like they do on a so-called ranked server, or they MUST unlock everything on day 1. If they told us that you can't unlock anything on them, that would effectively knee-cap the whole thing. It would force everyone to play via the bloody matchmaking system in order to unlock anything. If they did that - and with these people anything is possible so I wouldn't put it past them - then there would be as much outrage with it as there was with MW2.

On the other hand, I've heard enough PC players say they don't give a shit about leaderboards to believe that if that is the only thing they are going to "take away from us" (even though we've only had them for 1 game), I believe with global unlocks on an unranked server where literally your stats do count at the end of the game (even though they might not be streamed to a leaderboard), the system would be a massive hit with the fans. And one of the things that will contribute to the success of the system is the fact that the server browser will only show 1 type of server - the unranked! There wont be a tab for ranked or unranked as the browser is only for dedicated servers. So, obviously, if all dedicated servers are unranked, a tab for ranked would be nonsensical and redundant.
 
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