THE GAME MAGAZINE NOT JUST ABOUT REVIEWS
How a studio comes back from the ashes to finish out a trilogy.
// DROP THAT BEAT A look back at how soundtracks were created.
// INSIDE BLIZZCON What does Blizzard Enterainment have in store for the next year
PLUS HALO CE ANNIVERSARY 343 Industrdries Brings Back the Classic
from the editor
FEATURES Sony Pictures
The movie giant buys up the
Modern Warfare 3 looming
At a recent wedding where I was playing the
movie rights for Assassin’s
visit Sledgehammer Games
usual role of Plus One Who Knows Nobody I
got talking to someone in a silimar situation
who, upon learning of my job, questioned me
55 Team Bondi dissolves from the Rockstar
343 Industries takes us back
in time with the future
Rooster Teeth strikes again
Drop That Sick Beat Looking back at how soundtracks were made
Enter the Wong Dynasty
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A look at Freddie Wong and his magic camera
EDITOR Q AND A MUSIC ART VIDEO
about second-hand sales killing the industry.
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out?’ at least. My opinion at the time was
It made a change from the usual ‘which is
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Down Under Fallout
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the better console?’ or ‘when’s the next COD surprisingly unformed. I’m not against people offering or purchasing pre-owned titles. I understand the benefits for both retailer and consumer.
I’m also aware of the negatives. To be honest, I don’t purchase a huge number of games. Many simply land on my desk.
However a recent visit to a high street shop to buy a game dragged me from being merely
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interested to being... well... let’s say ‘irked.’ Editor Kevin Bragers
Creative Director Kevin Bragers
Art Editor John Smith
Editorial Director Glenn Page
by offering me a second-hand copy at the
copy is priced at only a few bucks less; an
Production Editor Richard Hill
Senior Sales Executive Ross Franklin
act cunningly disguised as a favor to myself,
it’s clear who the real winner’s going to be.
Technical Editor James Webb
Account Sales Manager Jasmine Troung
Hint: it’s not me and my extra dollar.
choice I had already made. One that I had
Online Editor Andy Gattis
Production Co-Ordinator Mia Gordon
Staff Writer Ryan Perera
Campaign Manager Brian Johnson
Designer Kevin Bragers
Trade Marketing Manager Liz Flores
New Media Editor Lance Morris
Chief Executive Amber Alexander
As I said, I’m not anti pre-owned. However, I’m really not a fan of staff actively attempting to talk me out of mypurchase register. Especially when the second-hand
ultimately betrayed by a saing so small that
I wanted a new copy. This was my ample time to mull over while searching the spins of games wedged into the modest number of ‘new game’ shelves that were situated next to a large wall of front-facing pre-owned titles. Bring on the next wedding, I say. Enjoy the issue,
for infinity ward, iT was the lowest point In the studio’s history. for sledgehammer games, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. gamescape heads to foster city in san mateo to visit the studio responsible for bringing the world’s biggest game back on track
THE ART OF
Article written by Games™ magazine.
Infinity War’s studio probably doesn’t look quite as you’d imagine it. Located on the north slope of the Santa Monica Mountains in the hilly Los Angeles district of Encino, you likely envision a building of glass and fanciful architecture; of marble floors and sleek leather furniture; of high-tech work stations populated by a hubbub of developers hurriedly moving to-and-fro as they work frantically on the latest build. What else would you expect from the team working on what is arguably the most anticipated game ever created. The reality is altogether less overwhelming. Infinity Ward is an almost windowless place, a dark rabbit warren of corridors and enclaves, more reminiscent of a warehouse than a development studio. Small teams work away without natural light. There’s a sense of clutter rather than organization. The floors aren’t marble but layered with concrete - a modification made so the staff could quickly traverse the studio on scooters. But even this hopeful indicator that this is a place of fun can’t displace its lack of atmosphere. The criss-crossed tracks and scuffs on the cement may suggest that this was once a busy place populated by many, but in its current state Infinity Ward feels empty.
by Adam Soderbergh
they bring it with a great attitude.
It’s a ship abandons, the majority of its crew
it got us a lot of attention and a lot of
leaving with Vince Zampella and Jason West
opportunities were presented. A lot of
following their dismissal
big franchises across the industry were
who’s been in the games industry for
looking for teams that could deliver
twenty years and is an Academy Award
something great for them. So when we
winner. We have a very senior engineering
hollow studio, one in need of aid if it was to
had the opportunity to work with Infinity
safe comprising guys like Erik Strickland
ever achieve its aspirations. “Obviously whe
Ward, arguably the best first-person
who may be the most talented core-
something like that happens, any time you
developer in the last decade, on Modern
focused engineer that I’ve met in my
lose a member of your team, it’s impactful.
Warfare 3, the biggest franchise of all
entrie career. We have a world-class
Especially when you’re all such close friends,”
time with the biggest fanbase… that was
design team led by Bret Robbins [creative
The mass exodus from Infinity Ward left a
says Robert Bowling, Infinity Ward’s creative strategist and public face of the Modern Warfare series. “But then, as a team, there was still that core group of guys who had his big vision for what we
pretty exciting.” Activison made a big investment in sledgehammer’s state-of-theart studio, offering the best tools to its developers as well as a cutting edge theatre room.
More so than Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games looks like the
wanted to see in MW3. So we took a step back
kind of studio you’d
and we collected ourselves and we said, ‘Okay,
expect a Modern
how do we execute on this massive vision?’ It was about looking at it logistically and making it
“DO YOU WANT TO SET UP YOUR OWN STUDIO, AND DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A CALL OF DUTY?’ I DON’T THINK ANYBODY WOULD TURN THAT DOWN’ happen. We looked at our options and asked what can we do? Who can help us with this? And that’s when we met with Sledgehammer Games.” For a studio to be as well recognized as Sledgehammer at such an early stage it its lifetime — and without a single game yet released — is rare. But when the studio in question is working on a series as renowned as Call of Duty it should only be expected. Sledgehammer was founded in 2009 by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, general manager and COO of the company, respectivey — the same roles they held when heading up Visceral Games at Electronic Arts. But why leave a stdio that was already doing so well, especially when the two had achieved universal acclaim with their new IP Dead Space? “Well, Sledgehammer is the reason that I left EA. I wanted to build my own studio,” says Schofield in his bright and airy office at Sledgehammer’s Foster City location.. “It was different at EA because I had inherited a studio, but I wanted to build one. Condrey and I had
talked about it a lot. Activision allowed us to do that, and not only that but they also gave us one of the biggest franchises. When somebody say ‘Do you want to set up your own studio, and do you want to make a Call of Duty’ I don’t think anybody would turn that down.” At that early point, Schofield and Condrey knew they were working on Call of Duty, but not that they would end up working specifically on the Modern Warfare series. Sledgehammer’s first game was to be a third-person action adventure set it the Call of Duty world - unsurprising given the duo’s work on Dead Space. Work commenced immediately in 2009. “We had a third-person shooter,” says Schofield. “It had some really cool mechanics and we were able to stand it up pretty quickly because we had a lot of third-person action adventure experience here. And that’s what we had built - a small demo of about fifteen minutes of gameplay.” Attempting to extract further information is like drawing blood from a stone, with Schofield reticent to reveal more as this thirdperson COD has now been put on indefinite hold. The reason was Infinity Ward’s meltdown - Sledgehammer was called in to save the day, the team drafted in to plug the gap in the LA studio’s workforce. For the first time in the series, Modern Warfare was to be produced via a co-development relationship. “I have a long history with Activision,” recalls Schofield. “It all happened really organically with a good buddy of mine that’s down there. It was a discussion that went further than we ever thought, that’s for sure.” Condrey shimes in. “It was an exciting time for us. We had just finished Dead Space, which didn’t have a lot of believers in the beginning; it sparked from just some passion and some hard work. But when it was done it was something pretty special, and
Warfare game to be developed in. It’s fresh, new and airy, built from the ground up as an open-plan space that has
“We have our audio director Don Veca,
SEQUEL TO SEQUEL
Modern warfare 2
director], one of the
“these are high calibre, highly talented individuals who bring great work to the table, and they bring it with a great attitude”
visionaries on Dead Space. We have the character team with Jenny Ryu and Eric Pavey… it’s deep.” With a core team of Dead Space devs and Modern warfare 3
employees who have worked on projects such as Uncharted 2, Fallout 3, and Call of Duty: World at War, Sledgehammer boasts
and visual hardware, a top-of-the-range
what could be one of the most stellar
theatre, and the best hardware and tools
development groups in the industry today.
available to its developers. “I remember
Everything about the studio is geared
coming in and saying, ‘What PCs should
towards ‘if we’re going to do it, we’re
we buy?’” says Schofield of working under
going to do it great or we don’t do it at
Activision’s independent studio model.
all’. The culture builds on that.
If you put Modern Warfare 2 next to Modern Warfare 3 you would see a huge difference. Look at all the character models, look at all the gun models, look at the reflections, look at the water. There is so much that we’ve added, so when someone says ‘cut and paste’, I don’t even want to talk to them because they don’t know. They just don’t know. They have no idea.
“Activision was like, ‘It’s your studio! We don’t care!’ So they allowed us to build everything out. We just finished the theatre six months ago. They were just like,’Build it. Whatever you have to do.’ Condrey and Schofield didn’t just want the best tools, but the best people. They went about hiring with a specific remit, looking for only the top five per cent of the industry. The result is a studio populated by some of the most impressive people working in the business. “Sledgehammer Games’ staff is rich with talent,” says Condrey of his team. “Myself and Glen, we’ve worked with a lot of developers. We were able to build a network of the best of the best. These are high-calibre, highly talented individuals who bring great work to the table, and
THE GAME MAGAZINE NOT JUST ABOUT REVIEWS
Bring on the Rouges Can Rocksteady Studios match the success with this sequel?
// HOLY OVERLOAD Check out the sneak peek look at the games coming out this month
PLUS 2012 Prophecy Ubisoftâ€™s alternative timline coming true?