Some of the biggest Call of Duty news right now concerns the new and enhanced class creation system for Black Ops 2, recently revealed along with other details on the multiplayer mode. Now the game’s developers have revealed some more about how they came up with the innovative new system, which it turns out was inspired by a board game called Carcassone. David Vonderhaar, Treyarch game design director, was chatting with his co-designer Colm Nelson one day by the water cooler. Trying to imagine Call of Duty played as a board game, they suddenly wondered whether there wasn’t something to it. Specifically, they wondered whether they couldn’t visualize the class creation system that way.
The new Create-a-Class screen at the start of Black Ops 2 matches was developed in just that way. Instead of working on their development in lengthy and confusing Word and Excel files, the development team turned their creative process into a card game. They literally started playing a game based on Carcassone with printout cards of different weapons and perks. By turning it into a game, they were able to analyze the new system in different ways.
If you aren’t already familiar with the changes, the new Create-a-Class system allows you a lot more control over the process than you had in the past, with advanced customization. Previously you were given a number of slots to fill for primary and secondary weapons, perks and so on. Now you’re allowed free reign to choose the categories as well as what goes into them—to an extent. While playing the card game, the Treyarch developers realized some categories had to remain. They were able to analyze other issues as well which could impact game play.
“Did they make a class they couldn’t make before?” Vonderhaar asked, providing an example. “Did they manage to create an unrecoverable balance point in the game? Meaning, is this class still counterable? Did they make something so unbelievably good that that’s what everyone will do? And how does this class compare to other classes? Is it giving diversity to the system?”
The result is the Pick 10 system which will be included in Black Ops 2. This system allows gamers to use all 10 allocated spaces as they wish. The system even takes the virtual form of a card game. Gone are the complicated menus and the textual explanations of what you can and cannot do. It’s simple and it doesn’t take long to learn or waste time between matches. Classes are far more customizable, but simultaneously easier to make. There is also a Wild Card, which allows for unusual bonuses. They don’t fit under the usual categories and they allow for advanced customization which cannot be duplicated except by chance. It’s an exciting system, and it also gives us a great glimpse into the creative process which goes on at Treyarch, and how something as unexpected as a card game could revolutionize a FPS game!