Treyarch studio game designer David Vonderhaar has recently shed some light on the gun design process for Black Ops 2. With the game coming out next month, it’s in the finalization stages, and that means finalizing weapon designs as well. Treyarch receives a ton of feedback from alpha and beta testers and fans about how well they think weapons handle and how they could or should be improved. While Treyarch takes the feedback into account, they can’t take every suggestion or they’d create weapons that are unbalanced.
“In Black Ops 2 right now, people are saying that the millimetre wave scanner isn’t strong enough,” Vonderhaar explains, providing an example. “Again, we’re in alpha, we’re still tuning, that’s important – but if you walk around the emotional reactor, some people think the scanner needs to pulse faster. ‘I need to see guys through walls better.’ 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.”
This is certainly very true. There are always guns that feel satisfying in any first-person shooter but don’t necessarily provide you with nearly the tactical advantage of other guns that may seem less exciting on the surface but are actually quite useful. Usually we learn this as we go when we play.
Plus, if you overpower weapons too much, you can drive bad behavior from players. If you can see through walls too well, you might never come out from behind those walls. That could drive up camping behavior, something else that Treyarch receives a lot of feedback about. That’s why the concept of balance is a critical one. It keeps the game fun for everyone. Eliminating camping is a huge priority for the development team, which is why Treyarch has also revised the Kill Confirmed mode to try and drive even more improvements in team play.
“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.”