Mark Rubin: Console Dedicated Servers, Spawning, Knifing and More…


In an interview with Infinity Ward’s Mark Rubin, he answered a lot of coummunity questions regarding dedicated servers on consoles, spawning in MW3 and knifing.

Dedicated Servers on Consoles

So why are dedicated servers not on consoles in Call of Duty? It has been asked a million time and it’s something you should’ve heard people talking about.

The answer is simple: it’s a big technical and expensive issue.

It’s easy for someone to say, ‘I want servers on console’. I don’t think everyone understands exactly what they are asking for. What that would mean, would be opening up data centers in every single city across the world because this is such a huge game of 30 million plus people. We have more than 33 million people playing Modern Warfare 2 all over the world and even more play Black Ops.

There is a statistic which states every one of four households in the UK own a version of Modern Warfare 2. Similarly, one in eight houses own a copy of Black Ops in the US and in that region 13.7 million copies were sold until the beginning of March.

Rubin provided more detail about the current situation which puts things in perspective.

So now we have to open up data centers in every city in the world, that has severs. And we are not talking five or six severs, and we aren’t even talking ten to twenty servers. We are talking about more severs than all of World of Warcraft in every little data station. Each one can only have three to four games on it at a time, at most. It just becomes this nightmare of trying to spend four billion dollars on trying to create a server structure.

If we were a small game, servers on console might be something more achievable. We might be able to do a west coast server, central server and east coast server and that might be fine. But for us, if we actually did that, if I put a server in each region and you are somewhere in between you are going to connect to that sever and have horrible latency. In our game latency is important and you should be matchmaking with people close to you. So the actual thing here is that our style on console works better than dedicated servers from a latency standpoint. We know this is true; we have tested it from a numbers standpoint. The reality is that people think that is what they want, but they don’t understand the actual challenges.

Obviously, if you live near one of those data centers you will have epic connection but a majority wouldn’t be living near. With Call of Duty sales growing larger than ever before, devs are working hard to improve matchmaking. They sure as hell should.

Search Preferences / Host Migration

Rubin confirmed that search preferences, like local matchmaking would be returning to MW3. Also the ability to migrate hosts at any time during the match can occur regardless of the host player leaving or not. If his ping starts to drop, the switch will occur. Plus once you’re back in the lobby after a game ends, the system goes through and reselects a new host. It doesn’t return to the same player.

Spawn System

Rubin stated that there were significant improvements to the way spawning functioned, and IW has the ability to tweak spawns post-launch via updates and hot fixes.

There are multiple things that come into effect when you have spawning. There is obviously the shape of the map that determines how spawns feel and work. We have always in the past tried to make the maps so spawning works better, but it is one of those things that is just a difficult thing to just get right. It’s a constant learning process and it’s sort of trial and error. Usually when we are testing these modes we are testing where the spawns are, and we are making sure you aren’t getting spawn-trapped or spawning on top of yourself. Because the game is so fast paced and I can hit the button and get right back in the game, spawning is obviously a huge hurdle to get over.

Will you never see someone spawn? We can’t promise that, but we have reduced it as much as we can and there have been improvements to this game. One of the big improvements we did for this game was in Modern Warfare 2 we sort of got you too close to the battle. You spawned almost right inside the battle sometimes. So we have eased it out a little bit and tweaked those numbers, and you will find spawning is much better than last game.

In addition of being able to hot fix spawning, Mark has stated that over the past two years, they have been focusing special attention on developing the ability to tweak key aspects of the game post-launch. This includes balancing weapons, maps, spawns, game modes and more. IW didn’t have these hot fix or post-launch abilities for MW2.

Knifing

A final question asked was the knifing mechanics for MW3. Knifing remains an one-hit instant kill, but it was inquired what the changes were made and if any possible mechanics got scrapped.

We have paired it down significantly from the last game. It’s not the knifing fest it was in Modern Warfare 2. There is no lightweight and no commando perks. Knifing now is more if you come around the corner you can tag a guy really fast, or you can sneak up behind and finish him that way. As for a new mechanic, it has been talked about but we never got far enough into a good solution to replace it. That is really where we are at. It might be something we look at though because, to be honest, I’m not a fan of knifing.

And some other stuff…

Rubin also said Mod Tools for the PC were still in determination, the maps shipping with MW3 are new to the game and there is a possiblity of bringing back old maps.

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