Checkpoint: Middleware Edition


For the past few days (especially after the release of the PS3 demo), I’ve been keep my eyes on this Crysis 2 thread on NeoGAF.

I’ve been following the Crysis 2 situation for two reasons:

  1. I want to know how the retail PS3 version fares
  2. I want to know how viable CryEngine 3.0 is as middleware.

I want Crysis 2 for PS3 to have a good showing for selfish reasons. I just want to be able to play it against other controller warriors. I actually like the multiplayer despite it being another Call of Duty clone.

With many folks out there having early access to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the retail game, things aren’t looking too rosy (or clear) for the Sony version. For those who are curious, apparently the Xbox 360 version is running at 1152 x 720 while the PS3 version is keeping it real sub-HD at 1024 x 720.

Now onto my second point regarding middleware. Ideally, a multiplatform engine would produce near identical across both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. And even now in 2011 there are still issues with platform parity.

However, there are some noteworthy efforts which I’d like to highlight here.

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Modern Warfare 3 Developed By Not One, But Three Developers

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activision-logoAccording to an LA Times blog post, Modern Warfare 3 is being worked on by three developers including Infinity Ward, Raven Software and the newly created Sledgehammer Games. This isn’t too surprising since Infinity Ward was decimated last year.

Of course, I’m curious how all of this will turn out, but I’m more interested in the responsibility breakdown. Who’s handling what?

Raven Software has experience in multiplayer, so they’re responsible for the most popular half of the title. Meanwhile, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games are working on the single player campaign.

Sledgehammer Games was working on a Call of Duty game of their own, but after the Infinity Ward debacle, Activision redirected their efforts towards the annual moneymaker. Sledgehammer Games was formed by the two former Visceral Games (Dead Space) leaders, so I guess you could assume they have knack for single player campaigns.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very curious how this triple-team effort will turn out.

Infinity Ward Exodus List Thus Far

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Update: Added two more.

NeoGAF member Akia assembled a list of folks who have left Infinity Ward as of late.

Here’s the list thus far:

  • Jason West — President, Game Director (fired)
  • Vince Zampella — CEO, Co-Founder (fired)
  • Francesco Gigliotti — Lead Software Engineer
  • Jon Shiring — Lead Programmer
  • Chris Cherubini — Lead Artist
  • Bruce Ferriz — Senior Animator (joined a start-up, Big Red Button Entertainment)
  • Todd Alderman — Lead Designer
  • Mackey McCandlish — Lead Designer
  • Steve Fukuda — Lead Designer
  • Zied Reike — Lead Designer
  • Rayme Vinson — Programmer
  • Mark Grigsby — Lead Animator
  • Paul Messerly — Lead Character Animator

Many designers, but most importantly: most of them are leads. Leads are pretty influential people.

If the Penny-Arcade comic from 2003 is accurate, approximately 20 people left 2015 to form Infinity Ward. Will more break away from Infinity Ward this time around? Who knows? All I know is that it’ll be absolutely amazing if Respawn Entertainment’s new game ends up breaking Modern Warfare 2‘s sales record.

West & Zampella Form Respawn Entertainment

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A little over a month after being fired from Activision for “insubordination“, Jason West and Vince Zampella have resurfaced with Respawn Entertainment.

Today’s the company’s first day. They don’t even have an office to even conduct an interview from. As of right now, only the two former Infinity Ward leads are on the payroll.

Needless to say, they are hiring.

While the details of the deal with Electronic Arts are scarce, one thing is certain: Electronic Arts cannot buy Respawn Entertainment. Zampella and West are in complete control of their future intellectual properties and studio. The only thing Respawn Entertainment needs to do is develop an undisclosed number of games for the publisher.

It is amusing to see the two of them “return” to Electronic Arts. They left Medal of Honor and 2015 studios to form Infinity Ward discontent with how Electronic Arts were treating them at the time. Now they’re back with a different Electronic Arts of year’s passed and under their own terms.

I am excited to see what these guys come up with next. I may now have been Modern Warfare 2’s biggest fan (especially with how the multiplayer turned out), but there’s no denying that these two people have talent and attract talented people. Everything they touched for the past decade or so has turned into gold.

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