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Call of Duty XP Blog

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Superior communication won the day—and $400,000 and what is likely the heaviest trophy in competitive gaming—for USA's team Optic, who remained cool in front of countless cameras, thousands of screaming fans and and the internet masses, and will go home as grand champions of the $1 Million Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Tournament.


Infinity gave up the first round, Capture the Flag on map Dome, to Optic 4-1. Optic's point-man Merc was on a roll in the second round, Domination on map Resistance, contributing to a decisive 208-128 slaughter after each team played both sides. Team USA's war merchants were now up 2-0, and the U.K.'s Infinity risked elimination.

Arguably the most skilled squad in the tournament at Kill Confirmed, Infinity came roaring back on the Village map, leading from the start and never relenting, ultimately confirming 10 more kills than their opponents and notching a round victory. The overall now stood at 2-1.


Optic controlled Arkaden's Search and Destroy from the start, picking off Infinity team members one by one to tally a 3-1 round total. They needed one more round to win it all, but Infinity successfully defused an Optic bomb to score a second S&D victory. Even Infinity must come to an end at the world's greatest Call of Duty fan spectacle, however, and Optic dispatched the British squad after six rounds of Search and Destroy—winning 4-2, taking the overall 3-1 and leaping from their seats once they realized they would be Call of Duty XP's first tournament grand champions.


The crowds cheered Infinity as well, who earned second place and $200,000 to divvy up on the flight home. Congratulations to teams Optic, Infinity and all the competitors here at Call of Duty XP, who over 48 hours showed the millions-strong Call of Duty fanbase what it takes to be the best mutliplayer warriors on the planet.



Team Infinity looks on from the big screen as Optic reacts to their $400,000 win

Congratulations to Optic Gaming for taking first place in the $1 million Modern Warfare 3 tournament!


Enjoy the prize money, boys!


Optic Gaming2 .JPG


Stay tuned for the full recap!


Finalist team Optic (USA)


Finalist team Infinity (U.K.)


After two days of combat, across five of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's most treacherous multiplayer maps, in front of thousands of attendees here at the first-ever Call of Duty XP, history repeats itself as the Stars and Stripes will challenge the Union Jack for global supremacy in the $1 Million Tournament final.


Optic, lobbing Semtex with brutal accuracy, opened their semi-final bout with a win over Infused in Search and Destroy, and took a commanding lead in Domination to go 2-0 in the overall. Kill Confirmed revitalized Infused—their unwillingness to be drawn into the open and picked off while hunting tags led to a win in the 10-minute round, with 38 confirmed kills to Optic's 33. Infused continued to rally in Capture the Flag, up 1 at halftime. But the the big guns on team Optic ultimately proved too strong for the British—Optic swiftly tied in the 2nd half, then logged a stunning capture in the final five seconds of round, taking the map and the overall win 3-1.


IcoNs and Infinity kept each other honest, trading bullets and the overall lead for the entire match. Search and Destroy went 3-3 before IcoNs edged out Infinity to take the 4th round and go1-0 in the overall. Infinity took their revenge in Domination, tying the overall at 1-1. More strategic play in Village's Kill Confirmed pushed the balance back in IcoNs' favor—the American squad was now leading 2-1. Infinity took the next map, Dome's Capture the Flag, which led to a frantic 10-minute round of Team Deathmatch to snap the tie. Infinity's Gunshy dominated, recording more kills four minutes into the game than the entire IcoNs squad, and with three minutes remaining, the U.K. outfit held a 22-kill advantage and promptly went into seclusion, watching and waiting as desperation collapsed the U.S. side's tactics. Infinity claimed the overall 3-2.


They face Optic in the grand final on the XP main stage. The live stream of this must-see battle is anticipated to begin around 6:15pm.



Infinity (left) locks and loads for the TDM tie-breaker that would lead them to the final

Call of Duty XP attendees are not limited to the action on-screen. Some decided to take their FPS skills to the next level, playing paintball on a real-life recreation of Modern Warfare 2's Scrapyard. Let's check out what it's like!



Competitors first watch an introduction video, which instructs them on the rules and regulations of the paintball match.


They then put on their gear. Gotta protect those sweet COD:XP t-shirts!


Next stop is the Weapons Barracks, where competitors are assigned their standard issue paintball guns.


The team in tan look like they're ready to go...


But the men in black are prepared as well.


With that, the teams head off to their starting positions in the "Respawn Zone".


The tan team start off with some impressive teamwork.


The black team are no slouches though, as a group of three attempt to flank.


The action can get intense...


And few come out unscathed...


But hey, there's Mountain Dew Game Fuel waiting for all of the competitors!

Zipline to Burger Town

Posted by DanNoel Sep 3, 2011

After a few heart pumping Modern Warfare 3 matchups, only the most exhilerating of activities can possibly burn off all the excess energy. Conveniently, this zipline exists for that very reason.




After speeding down at a pace of over 60MPH, the hunger starts kicking in. And that's where Burger Town comes in.




That's a lot of hungry people about to eat a lot of delicious burgers. They'll need the energy for all the action going on.

The multiplayer team leads from Treyarch offered fans a funny and insightful panel about the making of Call of Duty: Black Ops’ multiplayer mode at Call of Duty XP 2011 – including rare looks at levels and game elements that never made it into the final game. The panel -- officially titled The (Mostly True) Inside Story of the Behind The Scenes Making of Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer That Does Not Fit in 140 Characters, featured David Vonderhaar, Design Director; Phil Tasker, Senior Level Designer; Alex Conserva, Lead Programmer; and Dan Bunting, Online Director. Geoff Keighley presided as the moderator for the panel.  




Vahn stole the show by wearing a helmet with his gamertag attached over his head…and then wearing a trollface mask while he mocked both the audience and his fellow panelists with taunts of “Cool story bro” and interrupting other people’s responses with “Too long didn’t read.” After the often rude messages he gets from emotional players on Twitter, perhaps this was his ultimate jokey revenge. The audience, of course, ate it up.  


It’s probably best to just go over the coolest things I learned from this panel:  


Nuketown wasn’t built in a day.

Actually, it was built in two. Nuketown was a happy accident and was never officially planned. According to Dan Bunting, Vahn saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull one night and came in the next day saying “We need to do a map like this!” So the team looked at old nuclear test footage -- “we watched movies of towers been blown to smithereens and it was really inspiring.” The map was rapidly prototyped in two days while the creative fires were burning, and quickly became an official map. Dan said Nuketown’s evolution taught Treyarch a good lesson: “Ideas generate other ideas, and sometimes you have to let someone not do what they’re supposed to do.”




Most levels take a long, long time to build. 
Nuketown, however, is not typical of MP level development. Most multiplayer levels are designed and refined over a period of months, if not a full year. Levels go through multiple stages, and most start on paper. Over time, the development includes a blockout phase, where the buildings and paths are more or less locked down, and a detail phase, where textures are added and the levels start coming to life. Level designers have a lot of elements to balance in their work; according to Phil, they are “three parts designer, one part artist, one part architect, and completely insane.”  

Mapmaking has rules.
Phil says the primary two rules of level design are you should always be able to see your exit when you enter a room, and paths in should lead players to collide. As you soak up double XP this weekend in Black Ops, look for those design principles at work.  


Coward’s Way Out was originally a lot more graphic.
If you’re downed in Second Chance, you hold a button to voluntarily die and respawn. Originally, this featured an animation of the player pulling out a pistol and shooting themselves under the chin – nasty stuff. The animation was actually in the game and submitted to the ESRB…but they have strict rules about depictions of suicide, so even though the team really liked it, it had to be removed. (Yet, as you can see, even the screenshots make fun of Vahn.)




Second Chance: They know.
Speaking of which, Vahn called Second Chance “a totally valid gameplay mechanic that can go horribly wrong in practice. We totally get it. Please, stop yelling at me.”  


From Cairo to Cuba
At one point. Black Ops was going to feature levels set in Egypt, and a multiplayer level was created in the same environment. When that content was cut, the team was left with a multiplayer arena in Cairo, fully dressed and designed for the Egyptian theme, and no game context for it. Rather than cut it, they were able to redesign it with a Cuban theme and named it Havana.  


Level names change all the time.

Hangar 18 was originally Area 51, until the lawyers stepped in and said that name couldn’t be used. Other times, names change because their themes change (as with Havana) or they simply have too many levels that start with the same letter, and they want to make it easier to tell them apart. A few working titles of interest: Convoy was Gridlock, Summit was called Mountain, Jungle was once Havoc, and Launch was originally Cosmodrome – a name Alex said the team particularly liked.  


If the fans don’t want remakes, that means they want remakes.

Dan said the fans made it clear that they wanted all-new maps and no remakes of levels from World at War, so the Treyarch team designed accordingly. Then, once the game came out, fans started asking why they didn’t revisit any of their favorite maps. So, Hazard – originally simply called “mp_golfcourse” – was created as a revised and updated Cold-War version of Cliffside from World at War. Said Dan Bunting jokingly: “The lesson we learned from this is that we will never listen to you again, so stop tweeting us.”  


War Museum: The Lost Level

Along those lines, Treyarch created an update of Castle called War Museum, which is exactly what it sounds like. It got as far as being fully decorated but was never released – though it was shown to the crowd in a video walkthrough. It’s incomplete and is not slated for release, but the team couldn’t say if it would never return in some form.  




Treyarch vs. Quickscoping
“If you believe what you read on the internet, you would think that Treyarch hated snipers,” said Alex. “The internet is wrong and the truth is less glorious than the reality. We try to create gameplay separations between our long-range weapons and our close combat weapons. By nerfing quickscoping, people thought we also nerfed regular sniping, and that was never our intention.”  


Treyarch vs. Naughty Emblems

Dan Bunting said Treyarch kenw what they were getting into by offering players an emblem creator --“we went in with our eyes open – but the beauty is always more important than the ugly.” Even though Treyarch needed to hire people just to police the emblems that the community found offensive, they would do it the same way again – the creativity of the fans that they saw on display was worth it. In fact, they chose some of their favorite fan creations to display to the crowd.  




The Legend of Tanbor Fudgely
According to Vahn, Tanbor Fudgely is the fictional creator of FPSes and now part of Treyarch culture – “a reminder to all of us that making games are supposed to be fun. Tanbor keeps us grounded and reminds us that we are just making a game – and he should remind you that you are just playing one.” Among Tanbor’s wisdom, according to Vahn: “Tanbor said ‘I don’t know the path to success, but I know the path to failure is trying to please everybody. Failure is a microevent; it’s not a person.’”


Women are different than men. 

An audience member asked why there were no female player avatars in Black Ops multiplayer. Hitbox detection makes for a restriction, so different player avatar sizes and shapes suck up memory and can affect balance. However, that’s not to say Treyarch hasn’t tried: “We tried to make women,” said Vahn, “but they wind up looking like men.” Added Alex: ”They wind up looking like Vahn but with more hair.” That led to more Vahn trollin'.




Vehicles don’t always work in multiplayer.
According to Alex, vehicles haven’t had a strong presence since United Offensive because “you have to make a lot of vehicle gameplay decisions that affect gameplay negatively.” You need big maps, for one thing; a drivable tank wouldn’t be much fun on Nuketown, and a lot of players prefer smaller combat arenas. The RC-XD Killstreak came out of the desire to add vehicles in some form; Treyarch realized that they could scale the car down for the size of the battleground to give people a fun driving experience on every map. And speaking of vehicles, Vahn wanted a kamikaze bomber pilot Killstreak for World at War – and it was playable at one point, but it didn’t make the final cut.


Whatever other secrets the Treyarch team was willing to reveal, we may never know, as the panel ran out of time -- but that was a lot of info to cover in just an hour.

XP 2011 Photo Gallery 3

Posted by oneofswords Sep 3, 2011

Things are in full swing here on day two of Call of Duty XP 2011. Here are some more views from all around the event. Click on any of the photos for a much larger version.


The gameplay floor stretches on for a good quarter mile.



Hastro and Fwiz provide blistering fast commentary for tournament viewers.



Day two in the tournament narrowed the field considerably.



There is smoking in the Zombie compound. Plus, those stations can easily be broken apart and used to board windows in case of a real attack!



Xbox Live's Major Nelson and Acey Bongos are broadcasting live from the show floor. Check out the snazzy MW3 Xbox 360 they have there.



Gamers can get their Gamertag on their XP t-shirts. Represent!



The Spec Ops pods let players get some buddy time in MW3.



The developers are used to dealing with trolls online, but Treyarch's David "Vahn" Vonderhaar trolled his own panel.



You probably can't tell, but there's a guy hiding in the middle of this photo.



King of the Hill battles are intense, Players compete to unseat the player on top.  If you keep your crown 5 rounds, you get a patch.

The Zombies panel packed the house with undead fanatics, eager to hear the behind the scenes story of the hit cult classic game mode. Some of the top talent behind the game mode offered to tell us the story.



Panel: Collin Ayers (Sound Designer), Reza Elghazi (Zombies Producer), Kevin Sherwood (Zombies Music Composer), Brian Tuey (Audio Director), Jimmy Zielinski (ZombiesCreative Director)



Moderator: Major Nelson




As passionate as the community that helped make Zombies what it is today, the development team shared a lot of insight behind the process. They have full creative control behind each map, presenting both a great challenge and great opportunity.


Bigger and Better

Every map needs to be bigger and better than the last. They test every idea against fan expectations and feedback, and rarely throw one away before at least prototyping it to see how things play out. It’s important that the map and story fit well together, and they always stick to the core Zombies playstyle and rulebook that fans have come to know and love.


Giving Characters Life

When it comes to the hilarious, and often times disturbing one-liners, the team splits off from each other for a weekend, puts together an entire list of the funniest dialogue they can think of, and then has to perform it in front of a crowd. If a line’s met with laughter, it’s good to go, otherwise it’s cut. This process continues until each character has 400-500 lines of dialogue per map!




The Easter Egg Bet

When asked about the Easter Egg side quests, the team revealed their personal running bet for how much time it would take the community to complete the riddle. When Ascension first released in the Black Ops First Strike DLC, it took the community two and a half days to discover every step. When Moon released, the riddle was solved within six hours, with the whole community teaming together to unravel the mystery in record time.


Thanks to the Fans

Lastly, community involvement and feedback is absolutely integral to the design of each map. For example, Samantha was originally created due to a fan’s interpretation of a zombie screaming what sounded like “SAM!” at certain swipes, inspiring them to give that character the name Samantha. For Wonder Weapons, they want to make something fun for players that kills zombies in the most satisfying of methods.


Will They Return?

And perhaps the most pressing question on the community’s mind - will we be seeing more Zombies in the future? Can our heroes really be finished after their escapade on the Moon (which, by the way, started out as a level in Paris)?


To which the replay was, “Do you think there’ll be more Zombies?”


Now there’s some food for thought.

While many attendees at Call of Duty XP have been trying out the new Juggernaut killstreak in Modern Warfare 3, some have taken the next step and gotten into the suit themselves! In Juggernaut Sumo, fans slip into a replica bomb diffusion suit and duel it out 1 vs. 1 on a raised ring.



A fan gets strapped up with his protective vest.


While his opponent gets his helmet fitted for battle.


Once on the stage, the Viet Cong referee introduces the two to the XP crowd.


And they're off! The two competitors collide into each other at full speed.


One of them is clearly overmatched though...


And they both get spilled outside of the ring!


They're both fine though, although they will require a strong hand to get back up.


Concentration and great communication elevated the U.K.'s Infinity to the win over Obey


Only four squads—a mere 16 players out of 128 entrants—remain in the $1 Million Tournament. Advancing to the semis are:







The U.K.'s Infinity squelched the famously rowdy Obey team 3-0, while Infused shut down Apex 3-1 in an all-U.K. match composed of players who have tangled in the past on the European gaming circuit. Optic handily defeated MoB 3-0, while U.S. diehards IcoNs sent MythiX into the consolation round after a tense game of Search and Destroy that saw player RJ RJ RJ RJ score a huge double-kill to go up 4-2 and win 3-1 in the overall.


Consolation matches are underway to determine prizing among the bottom four quarter-finalists. The semis are primed to explode—it's the U.K. versus the U.S. in both matches, with Infinity (U.K.) battling IcoNs (USA), and crack shots Optic (USA) going to the mat against the U.K.'s Infused.


Players await their introduction at the $1 Million Tournament arena


Only eight teams remain standing in the $1 Million Tournament presented by Xbox 360, competing right now to advance to the semis and a chance to throw down in the final match for a $400,000 prize and bragging rights as the best Call of Duty players on the planet.


The U.K. is well represented here at Call of Duty XP, with three teams still in play, while team MythiX from France has proven their ability to hang with the big boys. But the United States, with four teams in the quarter-finals, have come up big and it would be quite a surprise if we didn't see a home turf squad in the finals this evening.


Stay tuned for quarter-final results!

As you've probably heard, last night's Dropkick Murphys show was epic. These photos should give you a sense from just how big a show it was! Click on them to see larger versions. 






Spain's team Pain watches the money slip away


Team Apex ousts Italy's team Flash 3-0 to advance to the quarter-finals, where they will challenge fellow U.K. squad Infused, who crushed Spain's team Pain 3-1. Legendary U.S. squad Optic dispatched Sweden 3-0, while MoB eliminated Twisted Method 3-1, moving on to the money round as the only remaining onsite qualifier.


The quarter-final matchups are:


MythiX vs. IcoNs

Obey vs. Infinity

Apex vs. Infused

Optic vs. MoB


Player Gunshy on the big screen leading team Infinity to victory 3-2 over opponents Norway


Team Obey have moved on to the quarter-finals and into at least $25,000 in prize after sweeping We Play For Keeps 3-0. Obey have yet to lose a single map—a promising sign for the high-stakes money matches to come.


IcoNs knocked German powerhouse SK Gaming out of the bracket 3-1 after squeezing out a narrow victory in Kill Confirmed, while Infinity, led by a stellar performance by team member Tomas Jonas, otherwise known as Gunshy, ousted Norway in a hard-fought 3-2 match.


Gameplay maps and modes have been switched up for round two, depositing French team MythiX and U.S. gunners NOX in the Underground map for Team Deathmatch, tied at 2-2 overall. The 10-minute round elapsed with neither squad scoring a single kill. The first 5-minute overtime round ticked away, each team retreating to safety and again playing conservatively, with passage into the money matches on the line. Still tied after one overtime round, NOX drew first blood in the second 5-minute overtime TDM, but MythiX notched some critical kills and overtook their opponents—NOX's days at the Call of Duty XP $1 Million Tournament are done. Teams advancing to the quarter-finals:







Welcome to the Zombie Lounge, home to a plethora of four player stations set up specifically for zombie-killing mayhem.




Featuring Moon from the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops Rezurrection DLC, teams are paired up to compete for the highest round on the leaderboards. Last time we checked, the top round was 25. These teams know what they're doing.




After being overwhelmed by the brain eating undead, Zombies fans are shambling over to the Call of Duty Armory to shake their fists at the terrifying crawlers we’ve all come to know and loathe. Fortunately, this crawler won’t be phasing anywhere; at least, that’s what we’ve been told.



Stay tuned for a recap of the upcoming Call of Duty: Zombies - Origins and Evolution panel, featuring some of the top talent behind the cult classic game mode.