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Treyarch addresses Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer concerns

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Treyarch's Multiplayer Design Director, David "Vahn" Vonderhaar, has responded to a Call of Duty: Black Ops wish list posted by well-known CoD player and Youtuber, Blame Truth. Treyarch's response quells some concerns and is a welcome dose of transparency.

Though we've been unable to locate Vahn's forum post, his response is copied in the description of one of Blame Truth's videos, and we'll assume its legitimacy based on BT's strong reputation. The original video is below, followed by a breakdown of Vahn's response:

The first qualm is with the primitive matchmaking and lack of dedicated servers in Modern Warfare 2. We know that the PC version of Black Ops will have dedicated servers (among other details about the game), but regarding consoles, Vahn responded:

"The cost/reward structure of dedicated servers for console games is complicated as All Get Out. I am not talking about PC games. That's a different, and much easier, conversation. My point is simply that error you see that you think is lag, is not necessarily caused by latency, and dedicated servers won't solve every perceived error you think is lag.

We have a few very specific ideas to improve host selection. Yet, no matter what you do until you can build a profile/library/db of who is a good host and who is not, the first couple of times someone ends up host he is going to be as good of a host as anyone else. The game can't see into the future. His connection might of been awesome at the time host selection was made.

Generally, however, we like the "make matchmaking as fast as possible" approach. When you start adding in matchmaking criteria, such as: "I only want to play with people who think cussing is OK," you end up making the matchmaking process slower."

The non-inclusion of dedicated servers for console versions isn't a surprise, but we hope that Treyarch's matchmaking improvements have some impact on the issues which have affected MW2 and previous CoD games. Vahn also said that he would "discuss" the idea of allowing players to opt out of joining games in progress.

Regarding map selection, Vahn's response was vague:

"We did do some work in this area. Blame Truth wants to go back to the COD2 way. What we have is more simple and requires active participation."

What "active participation" means is up to speculation. Could it be similar to Halo: Reach's voting system?


Above: Shitballs! Not Estate again! Puh-lease let us have a little more control over the maps we're subjected to in matchmaking

Blame Truth also asked for a bare-bones playlist with no kill streaks or weapon attachments. Vahn confirmed almost that, and stated that there will be a variety of playlists, pre and post-launch:

"This can be done right now except for the "no weapon attachments" part of it. I would say that if people want a playlist, then they should lobby Josh. We have features that require more post-launch support than ever before. Playlists can be updated."


Above: Which playlist lets us do whatever is happening here?

The final issue regards weapon balance and challenge. Many (including ourselves) have argued that Modern Warfare 2's weapons and attachments lack challenge, and that too many crutches (deathstreak rewards, grenade launchers, cheap perks...) exist to aid unskilled players. Vahn, again, offered a considered, but fairly neutral response:

"Black Ops is trying to find some place between the skill of World at War weapons with the accessibility of MW2 weapons. Easy to use, difficult to master. I added a guy to my team this year, who is working on this nearly full-time.

We are committed to this idea and committed to fixing what we don't get right. I get a lot of feedback that the guns "should be more like MW2" and are "too hard to use, and should have less kick and sway."

The more focused (dare I say hard-core?) competitive FPS gamer seems to prefer the World at War tuning. I am like you. I also prefer it, but it would be arrogant to complete dismiss and ignore the other 10 million people who are not like us."

Perhaps this full-time balancer and a healthy selection of playlists will make Black Ops work for both "hardcore" and "casual" players. At the very least, the "easy to use, difficult to master" adage must be strongly applied if the game is going to reward those who take skill-building and experimentation seriously. For us, getting better is the most enjoyable part of the game - winning because we lucked-out gets old fast.


Above: This photo is entirely unrelated, but represents how we feel about being nuked in MW2

If these ideas are executed well, Black Ops could be the answer to those disappointed by Modern Warfare 2, as well as those unenthused by World at War's setting and level of challenge. Without knowing much about Black Ops yet, Treyarch's openness is, at least, a cause for optimism.

May 18, 2010

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17 comments

  • geoneo555 - November 4, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    ps! and please dont put us in a game and within 2 seconds the word DEFEAT appears !!!!!!
  • geoneo555 - November 4, 2010 11:11 p.m.

    Im thinking surely on black ops multiplay its not heard to give us the option of playing (local,your own country or the rest of the would?? cos to be honest im getting a little bit fed up with getting my A*** kicked in games where the hosts are in france or spain cos of there far better internet speeds!!!!
  • daLadiesman217 - June 20, 2010 8:49 a.m.

    i think they should keep da killstreaks kaz they r worth it nd som r hard to get nd get rid of things dat help BOOSTERS get da nuke by cheating!!
  • flare02 - June 10, 2010 4:26 a.m.

    when making the new game i hope u make the guns harder to use because in MW2 any body could pick up a gun and be amazing with it. And when making the maps in the game dont make any huge maps unless u know people are going to like them. try to make it so u play on different maps, like once i played on the same map 4 games in a row
  • flare02 - June 10, 2010 12:19 a.m.

    what i mean by split screen is being able to level up and get guns off line like on line
  • flare02 - June 10, 2010 12:14 a.m.

    the best way to make black ops fun is to bring back things from mw2 but make them better like perks it was cool being able to master a perk because u got some thing out of it but in cod 4 and 5 u had so many choices but in the end every one used the same perks atleats letting people master a perk made it so u would want to master all of them. it was cool with all the gun addons but what was the point for heatbeat sencer it just made it so crapy people new were u where. i love the idea of killstreek awards but some were so cheep but my favrot part was the split screen because it gave me and my friends some thing to do and look forward to doing
  • LuckyLutgen - May 23, 2010 7:36 p.m.

    Some Ideas. 1. I would love to see a guns and knife only Play list, I don't mind scopes, but no launchers. 2. I would love to see more playlists that are NO respawn. 3. I would love to see a built in 2 man ladder or at least a 2 on 2 play list. (It would be so nice to sit down with a friend and play) 4. Fantasy mode. Since we have yet to see a real FPS-MMORPG, CoD could take a step closer and offer a mode with unique character options and rare weapons, attachments, perks, camos, equipment.. that only get rarely air-dropped that become part of your character, or better yet, are tradeable. And a class building system with choices that stay with. Example let's say you get to choose ONE perk at level 20, 30, 40, 50 and that is what you get. This making players unique.
  • db1331 - May 19, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    I'm not trolling. This is a guy who routinely pays $60 for a $50 game with shitty matchmaking, on a noob-friendly system with aim-assist to make up for the bad controls, and even pays extra money for lame rehashed map packs, and he has the balls to tell us what's wrong with CoD. What's wrong with it is that morons like him keep paying money for shitty games and then complaining about it after the fact. Let your wallet do the talking for you.
  • unholychazer - May 19, 2010 2:45 a.m.

    I just hope they really give you a reason to prestige, like special weapons, or at least let you chose one weapon to keep with all of the stuff you unlocked for it
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - May 18, 2010 11:40 p.m.

    @db1331 lol troll. You are right though, PC gamers don't want dedicated servers, more challenging weapons, and fewer crutches for unskilled players, they just want to curl up with a good football management simulator.
  • Tronto13 - May 18, 2010 11:21 p.m.

    @db1331 theres no real need for the 'holier than thau' approach is there really. Consoles are a huge market nowadays and have just as much leverage as PC and therefore neither should take an overall prefference. Just because you dont play consoles doesnt mean all their opinions are devoid of validity.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - May 18, 2010 11:19 p.m.

    That picture makes me want to kill myself all over again.
  • Amnesiac - May 18, 2010 10 p.m.

    MW2 was too bloated. People asked for more more more, and we got too much. Too many cheap weapons, too many overpowered loadouts, and too many obnoxious killstreak bonuses. As a result, balance suffered immensely. Trim everything back and the balance will be back on track.
  • db1331 - May 18, 2010 9:58 p.m.

    I'm sorry, but having a console player telling me what an FPS needs is like Stephen Hawking having to listen to a retard explain time travel.
  • SumthingStupid - May 18, 2010 9:58 p.m.

    Some stuff I agree with like I want new game modes too! But why do they want to make guns hard to use? You want it to be easy for people to jump into. I also hate when people have to cry about lag like it happens get over it. Get rid of grenade launchers then people will be like they don't add in all the lastest warfare technology, and I like more toys to play with like perks, guns, upgrades anything, give me more. Deathstreaks are little dumb like painkiller, 'ooh i ate this pill now i can't die for ten seconds' and dropping a grande out of your ass.
  • bluscorp - May 18, 2010 9:36 p.m.

    The man seems as genuine as possible. I'm looking forward to it, and think it'll be better than Modern Warfare 2, both online and offline. Good artical Tyler :p
  • fanboyhunter - May 18, 2010 9:33 p.m.

    World at War's best feature in my opinion was map design. The weapon balance was to geared to sub machine guns. However the multiplayer is still my favorite. Not as good as CoD4 but better than the absolutely broken MW2. Just make it simpler with no extreme killstreak rewards and make it balanced and I'll gladly sign up even if it means giving Activision more money.

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