Infinity Ward Talks Call of Duty: MW3 Content Collection 1 – and Double XP

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Infinity Ward Talks Call of Duty: MW3 Content Collection 1 – and Double XP
Infinity Ward Talks Call of Duty: MW3 Content Collection 1 – and Double XP

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Collection 1 arrives in the PlayStation Store today, and it brings with it a whole weekend of double XP. This is the biggest DLC collection in franchise history, offering four multiplayer/Survival mode maps – Piazza, Liberation, Overwatch, and Black Box – as well as two all-new Special Ops missions, Black Ice and Negotiator. That kind of content doesn’t just make itself, so I asked Mark Rubin, Executive Producer at Infinity Ward, for some insight into how the studio approaches making add-on content for MW3.

Dan Amrich: Everybody has different tastes in maps. When you put together a collection, are you trying to please different groups of fans with specific maps, or do you try to make every map have something for everyone in it?

Mark Rubin: Any map can come up at any time in any game mode, so we never want to make a map that leaves players thinking “this isn’t for me.” Even when we design a map like Liberation, which snipers enjoy with its long sight-lines, we still create areas for players who enjoy, say, close-quarter combat. The central bridge and underground bunker in Liberation are a great example of this. It’s something for everyone, but we try to really offer something of value to each subset of players.

The locales represented in Collection 1 are literally all over the map – a seaside village in Italy, a swanky neighborhood in California, and the heart of Manhattan. How do you choose where a map will be located, and does that location determine what kind of gameplay works best there?

It’s a brainstorming process. Sometimes we think about the single-player campaign and ask “What’s going on a few blocks over? What’s happening that we aren’t currently seeing?” Other times, it’s dreaming up environments that offer the most tension and danger; it’s hard to beat Overwatch for that in Collection 1 – gun battles on a skyscraper are definitely dangerous. Other times we go for locales we’ve never seen before, or something that the art team wants to try out. I’m really proud of them on this collection; it’s worth stopping and looking around a map like Piazza to appreciate just what a good job all the art teams have been doing. And every now and then, someone will go to a great vacation spot somewhere around the globe and think, “This is gorgeous – and it would be a great CTF arena!”

I know each map goes through a revision process. How long does it take to make a map, generally? And with constant iterations, how do you know when you’re done?

We start a level by prototyping the map geometry. Before we decide on a final theme or setting, it’s more important that we get the level layout locked down – it needs to flow correctly, it needs to offer a lot of interesting engagement points. And that can take several months, with playtesting and polishing. As for how to know when it’s done…it just feels right. When the team agrees, from playing it, that things feel balanced, we know it’s ready.

What makes a map fun?

Player interaction and variety. When you spawn on the map, you want to run into other people – that’s the interaction. Maps with interesting choke points and clear pathways feel very satisfying to most players, because they know they’re going to get into battles in those areas. The tight corridors of Air Force One in Black Box are a good example. Yet elsewhere in Black Box, you have completely different environments – inside fancy mansions, a few construction areas. They look and feel different from the airplane sections, and that’s where variety comes in.

Which map in Collection 1 is your favorite to play, and why?

This is like asking someone to choose between their children, and I won’t fall into that trap. I hope everybody enjoys all four of the multiplayer maps. That’s why we made them.

Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer, and Raven Software all square off in a MW3 lobby. Which studio wins?

Do you even have to ask?

Somehow I knew the answer to that last one. Content Collection 1 is available now in the PlayStation Store for $14.99, and double XP kicks in on Friday – all players, all modes. Enjoy it!

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46 Author Replies

  • When you ask for change…what are you really asking to be changed, and why? For instance, sitcoms — would anybody really say “You need to get rid of that lead actor, they’ve been around for the whole series”? Nah. Someone recently said “needs new engine” and I asked what it was they didn’t like about it. They immediately said “I don’t know.” So…you need to know, you know? There needs to be a good reason to change something that major.

    Call of Duty is, realistically, always going to be about action-oriented gunplay. I don’t think that is likely to change — and as a fan of Call of Duty, I don’t want it to. “Gameplay mechanics” play a big part — I like the way CoD games “feel,” and I would not want a dramatically different gameplay mechanic. I want to fire weapons and capture flags and save the world by running, shooting, jumping, ziplining, whatever. Is that fun gameplay at 60 FPS really what should change?

    What I support is the idea that you can innovate within that framework; that things can improve within the broad boundaries that a game establishes. (See also: Uncharted.) I think there is innovation within each game series, but sometimes people don’t want to notice it.

  • The biggest problem with this game, and I think we can all agree on it, are the connection issues. No other game I have played feels as terrible, unreliable, and inconsistent as this one. Other than that the only other issues are minor balancing issues, and bad spawns. But the lag is by far the worst in the series. One match it takes two bullets to kill an enemy, the next match takes a clip. You can put all the beautiful looking maps in the world in the game, but what good are they if the game doesn’t play well? Nerf this, nerf that, what good is it when the lag makes the game unbalanced for you no matter what?

  • @Dan – Sorry you have to put up with so many negative comments. I think that it stems from the fact that MW3 players have been left in the dark as far as what is being done to fix obvious issues with the game i.e. lag, hit detection, increased lag with parties, etc. When we bring these up and ask in the MW3 forums I think the majority of us just feel ignored.

    Having DLC releases to Xbox then PS3 a month later left a lot of people whining, adding ‘Premium’ to the mix just exacerbated the problem. I wonder how many people, like myself, won’t be purchasing any DLC as a result. One month was worth waiting, but two months+ after the Xbox release and I just feel like I’d be at too much of a disadvantage, so why bother? I have to imagine there will be some lost for IW as a result, but maybe a lot of mony to me is a drop in the bucket to IW.

  • That Norway Killer said Modern Warfare helped him train to kill those kids, score one for Activision

  • Don’t like that I can’t edit my post. I meant to say revenue lost and I realize there is an ‘e’ in money.

  • I have to agree with DannyT. We need information regarding the lag issues. The forums are like asking a wall for information. I don’t want the core gameplay mechanics of CoD to change. What I want is for them to run like a AAA title should. It is not the gameplay itself that is hurting the series. It is the networking that is turning CoD into a hate fest. The hardcore competitive players do not feel like this is a game they can play in a fair, consistent, and competitive manner. How do you think it feels for players who take the game seriously, pay good money for it, and end up at a disadvantage? Rage ensues, hate comments pour in, metacritic scores go down, overall sales go down, etc. etc. Keep CoD alive! Don’t just let it die! Customers just want a fully functioning, smooth playing game. Say what you want but right now, that’s not what people are getting.

  • Dan. I will tell you what needs to change. ELITE. Great idea done all wrong. I paid for the Elite Premium and am I a “Premium” user. NO, because I have to wait for maps that non-Premium XBOX users can download before me. I don’t care if XBOX premium users get it before me, I get that. but it really sucks that the XBOX non-Premium users do as well. Also they need to fix things like make it so we can see the clan a user is part of from their stats screen and provide us with Clan v. Clan competitions. Taking Lone Wolf operations and regurgitating them as Clan Operations is kinda dumb.

  • <<<< Elite Secondary member like all the other PS3 fools that bought into Elite

  • I’m referring to the time between when Xbox elite map packs are released to the time PS3 non-elite. As we near the release of the next COD, many players are less likely to purchase DLC for the current game, which is why I didn’t purchase elite, which by the way has had some pretty major struggles of its own to warrant the price.

    I mean, we buy a game that doesn’t work to its potential and then are asked to buy Elite which didn’t/doesn’t work properly, which will save us a few bucks on the DLC and given the state of the game and Elite this too could have questionable quality.

    Don’t get me wrong, I play an hour or so most nights of the week and enjoy the game when it works, but there have been so many frustrating moments with this title and as I said before, no one comes forward to let us know what is being done to correct the issues.

    Thanks again for speaking with the community today!

    • Well, that’s apples to oranges in that case. Elite on one platform vs non Elite on another is not a fair comparison to make in my opinion, as you are comparing two different delivery systems altogether.

      As for the tech issues, the devs are listening, even if you don’t get a personal response.

  • Why can’t I post on the MW3 forums at all?

    I have made an account, and there is no option to reply, post threads, or vote in polls.

  • lol.. vote this dwn a 1 star.. these guys are going to change the game to better it.. Listento the he dont activision is greedy.. I mean comeon now if it wasnt forps plus you 20$ for the map packs.. Be lucky guys like myself and many other fought to something like ps plus on here for the brand of ps..

    And yes activision is greedy didn they nt kill g-hero when the slaes decline of it, they will do the same with cod brand, didnt they kill tony hawk games, when the sales declined of them.. they will do the same for cod games.. Yea every company is out to make money but they the biggest objective in buisness should be putting a better product each time regardless of the profit in a innovative way to to keep fans or consumers happy with the brand. Not just to make 100 million in 90 days..

    Vote this dwn a one.. You dnt give us fair shake with fixes and content ,the ps legioniarre group is not giving you fiar shake on the votes onthe blog.. Do right by us.. not just tlk it ..
    DO IT!!

    vp psn legioniaree group

    • “Didn’t they kill the series when sales declined?”

      Well, realistically…if something does not sell, that means the market is telling you, very clearly, that they are not interested in it. So you put it on hiatus. As a business, why would you make something that people are not interested in buying? What you see as a cruel or greedy act is exactly the opposite — it’s paying attention to the reality of your situation and responding accordingly. When your customers say “We don’t want that any more,” you stop trying to give it to them. And when they come back and say “We want that again,” then you look into it again.

      You make it sound like a game series is “dead” when it’s inactive. Tell that to Street Fighter — that franchise went years without new games, but when it returned, the ideas were right and the time was right. For Guitar Hero, same thing. And Tony Hawk is returning this year with THPS HD, which has a lot of TH fans very excited.

      I agree with you that the goal is to put out a better product every time.

  • BajaNorth.. you and me both. I even contacted Activistion support and we both couldn’t get me working.

  • I made a video of the stuff I did not like in MW3. It has a flaming title, but it shows issues with damage, tubes, and finally hit detection. In the opening scene I shoot a guy a few times, he shoots me twice. In the next few scenes I tube enemies who are engulfed in flames, but they live. Finally, I shoot and knife a guy while he is typing and can’t get the kill.

  • So, I LOVE THIS GAME, I REALLY DO, I downloaded the new collection today which I pre-ordered a few days ago, and installed it but it’s not working for me and I don’t know what to do, I’m not an Elite premium member yet but I will be soon, I would really appreciate it if you can help me in any way, I’m just frustrated at this point because I’ve been looking forward to the new maps.

  • BESIDEMEYA_BONES do you have the Elite Playlist? Also, make sure that it says DLC Disabled (i know its a bug) when searching for a lobby.


  • Yeah, just ignore everything I’ve said. It’s cool, everyone involved in the development of CoD does it. Nothing new here.

  • Just go exclusive. Treating the ps3 coumminity like this (later maps, inferior ports, later patches (WTF)) is the reason is didn’t buy it this year, and probably never will buy another.

    • I have not seen any significant delays in patches on MW3 between consoles. What do you mean?

      The timing of map releases is due to this partnership announced in 2010: I would encourage you not to take it as any sort of value judgment about PS3 gamers. For instance, I certainly didn’t take it personally when Kratos only appeared in MK on PS3, or when Dead Space 2 got an exclusive game in the PS3 package, or that PS3 supports Valve’s Steam network, or that the Joker playable levels were only available on PS3. Those were all partnerships that Sony & those publishers created together to encourage people to want to be a PS3 gamer. And that’s all the CoD window thing is. Of course, the big difference: Everything I just mentioned that is exclusive to PS3 is exclusive forever, while the CoD DLC is a short period of time between releases. Ultimately everybody gets everything when it comes to CoD. Not so with the other stuff.

      Clearly, those deals are great when they work in your favor, but I didn’t take them as personal insults, and I don’t recommend wasting energy and emotion trying to make them seem that way.

  • Mecha75, there is no Elite Playlist anymore on mine it just shows Standard, Advanced, Community and Collection 1 playlists and where do I look to make sure it says DLC Disabled? The message I get when I try the the Collection 1 Playlist is this, “DLC content is required. Required map Piazza is missing or damaged. Gain access by purchasing a subscription or map pack.” I have downloaded the Piazza over and over again and it still tells me the same thing.

    • Drop CS a line — @ATVIAssist on Twitter, /activisionassist on Facebook, or They are there to help you when things go crazy like this.

  • Wow.. I feel just as ignored as PARTEE. DAN it is not apples and oranges when you are talking about release times. You could have held off on giving the XBOX content drop 1 until after the PS3 Elite members got all 4 maps and the 2 spec ops missions. That is not a technical issue between two platforms, that is a CALENDAR issue.

  • BESIDEMEYA_BONES. Wow that royally sucks for you. You now have to re-install your PS3’s OS and then all your games and any patches.

  • I agree with mcbuttz78, people wouldn’t get tired of Activision’s games if they didn’t keep making the same thing over and over again.” Let’s just get rid of overused franchises instead of trying to make them better.” 1 star.

  • I’m pretty happy with the first Content Collection. I prefer larger maps so Overwatch and Liberation were welcome additions. Hope to see more maps of varying sizes in the future, oh and at least one small map like Shipment – need something for when I play FFA :D; Dome just doesn’t cut it!

    • Oh, I love the smaller maps. Dome and Piazza are both faves of mine. As we’ve said a lot here today, to each their own — I am glad you like the bigger areas.

  • Yeah, because post #66 says everything we need to know about the network performance.

  • I am sorry Dan, but I really don’t understand that explanation for what I am saying. I don’t mind that the XBOX PREMIUM get it before the PS3 PREMIUM. I am saying that its not really PREMIUM for us PS3 users when the XBOX NON-PREMIUM get maps before us. Pointing to the DLC deal with MS does not good because I know I got Liberation and PIAZZA before the XBOX NON-PREMIUM which tells me that the deal doesn’t truly apply here. However they got Overwatch, Black Box, Black Ice, and Negotiator before the PS3 PREMIUM users. And that just ain’t right and really shows that we have been royally shafted.

    It comes down to timing, It is obvious to me that you could have held off on delivering the DLC content to the XBOX NON-PREMIUM users until after the PS3 PREMIUM users could download it. But since you did not do that, it really isn’t Premium for us PS3 users. It is Secondary. Now you still haven’t announced when you are dropping the next Content Drop for XBOX non-premium users so you can adjust this ridiculousness for that time. The question is, will you do so or continue to give us the Shaft?

    • I don’t agree with your outlook on this one, sorry. I think I have explained the forces at work here, but to reiterate: There is always going to be a delay between consoles, and a delay between Elite and non-Elite within each console. If you want the content as soon as it’s available on your platform, you will want to look into an Elite premium subscription. But PS3 is on its own schedule, and 360’s schedule, while parallel, doesn’t match up. It never could, due to the deal that existed before Elite did, but the timing within each parallel track should be about the same, barring unforeseen circumstances.

      I’m sorry, but you’re asking for something that does not make sense to me. PS3’s getting Elite content as it was promised — you will get it first on your console, as the FAQ states: “All Call of Duty ELITE Premium members will receive a steady stream of content released monthly for 9 months through the Content season, and they will also receive their Content before non-premium members on their console.”

      So, PS3 is PS3, and 360 is 360. Other than the established delay in release, one does not influence the other.

  • Ok, Thanks Mecha75, Thanks Dan Amrich, will do both, hope it works out for me cause I’m eager to play the new maps

  • @Mecha75 You reasoning is flawed when it comes to the release dates for the drops. Lets say that they go with your idea and dont release a Mappack to standard users until AFTER PS3 Elite members have all content from the pack. 360 Elite would get all content, then one month later PS3 Elite would get all content then LATER still 360 standard would get all content, now tack on another month wait for PS3 Standard to get all content that would then translate to a 2+ month wait for PS3 standard from the announcement of the maps. They have a contract, they are working with time frames that revolve around said contract.
    Honestly why does it bother people that the 360 gets the content early? Your playing against them you get content early in regards to your console with Elite so you get the advantage over your group that way.

    Did you download all pieces of Content drop 4,5,6? Theres an activation code in there that might be causing you issues. I would suggest Deleting the game data and downloading all the content again. There is no need to rebuild the database/OS. Just delete game related data and reinstall that and you should be working again unless the problem is more serious that just the game itself

  • Dan, I don’t like Dome but I do like Piazza

  • **EDIT*** Honestly why does it bother people that the 360 gets the content early? Its not like your playing against them, you get content early in regards to your console with Elite so you get the advantage over your group that way.

    • This is how I see it too. If I’m enjoying a meal at McDonald’s, I’m not going to let what’s going on at Burger King affect my meal.

  • Please stop giving horrible not stable framerate sub hd worst graphics port from the 360.

  • Scavengre… I am not saying the XBOX non-premium has to wait 1 month after the PS3 Premium. It can be the same day for all I care, but to get it before me is like spitting in my face after forking over the $45 bucks.

  • Guys, timed exclusives are just an industry reality. And in this case CoD4 is an America-centric game built for an America-centric console. It is the McDonald’s of video games, and the Xbox is manning the drive-through window.

  • sorry $50 bucks. I was thinking 3 drops at $15 a peice.

  • Dan I feel so bad for you man. I know your just trying to do your job and you have tons of people bash you and your company every time you post here. I just wanted to say that not everyone acts like that (I’m sure you’ve figured that out) Thanks for the information about double XP weekend and have a nice night.

  • @79 Yeah, but Mcdonald’s doesn’t tell you to come back in a month for your burger because you have a red car. Oh I’m sorry sir, I know you are a regular customer and spend your hard earned money here, all year, every year, but your either going to have to wait a month, or come back with a blue car.

  • DAN, has double XP weekend started? it says so on the Elite Webpage.

  • Thanks Dan! Do Elite members get to keep their maps if they unsubscribe? If so, this is a good purchase for me.

  • @Mecha75
    Why, you still get it before PS3 standard. Like i said earlier, your not playing against 360 users so when they receive content has no impact upon you aside from ‘a sense of entitlement’. PS3 Elite members have been receiving DLC since February so in reality you did have content before 360 Standard it just wasnt all of it. Still when they get it, it doesnt affect you or your gameplay so I dont understand why you are so bothered by someone whom you will never play against playing something earlier than you.
    You argument amounts to ‘They have it so I should to!’ People play games/content earlier than others all the time. Do you think that players in EU like the fact that alot of western games release at times almost a week earlier here in the states? What about Japan getting content/hardware a month or more before you. Its trivial to worry about, you get the content earlier than some and later than others.

  • Dear Dan why does Activison treat PS3 users like second class citizens, I heard sales are down? Maybe they should rethink treating the community poorly with crappy ports and DLC exclusivity. And when you make a game for “casuals” they are going to leave at some point wile hard core players on on BF3!

    • Please see my response to 60 regarding players moving on, and 66 for the emotional reaction to a business arrangement.

  • i don’t care what anybody says! COD is what started my love for FPS. i can never turn my back on it.

  • while i dont like COD anymore since they are killing the industry… I always come here to see how dan reacts to all the hate their own customers give him… and i sit to think …. if u know u all have been getting the same games over all this years… and u go and buy the game again… WHY would u come here and hate on dan? its ur own fault u have been voting with ur wallets! its not dans fault. He is a very dedicated person on this blogs and i admire that he answer to ether good and bad comments… keep the good work dan… i just wish u worked for other company and not activition :P u should fit perfectly on naughty dog!

    Ok heres a food analogy for you.
    PS3 & 360 both walk into a restaurant. They both are getting the exact same thing. 360 Goes to the counter tells them their name and the clerk hands over the meal to them. PS3 goes to the counter and orders the exact same thing, but this time has to wait until its prepared. The thing is 360 called in the order ahead of time so they were able to get it quicker and be on their merry way, while PS3 needs to be patient and wait for their order to come up.

    @Dan Amrich
    I have multiple console systems what I would love would be able to link them all to one Elite account. Is this something that will be possible in the future?

    • You can link everything to one Elite ID now. I actually do this — I have both my PS3 and 360 identities linked to the same Elite account so I can pop back and forth and see my lousy KDR on both at a moment’s notice. :)

      What you may be asking is “can one premium subscription cover both platforms?” That one’s a no, as you are actually buying your subscription through either Sony or Microsoft — their stores for their consoles, so it’s a transaction through them. Since Sony delivers PS3 DLC and MS delivers Xbox DLC, they each have independent subscriptions.

      So…in terms of tracking your free Elite data, yes, you can have your PSN ID and Xbox Gamertag linked to the same login. But in terms of premium benefits, you would need two pay for two subscriptions, one for each content. (But if you do, you only need one login.) Make sense?

  • um do you really have a contract with microsoft saying that they get all the content early and if so y. n if u dont y do u lik the 360 more just wondering becuz i think sony is a nice company n that u should join them n trust if ur doin this with microsoft just for money then sony has wayyy more just saying in a nice way please reply dan n will we see a black ops 2 at e3 2012

    • There really is a deal in place. I don’t know what happens in 2013, though.

      As I said up in the response to 66, this is just a business deal, and it’s not about “liking one more” or disliking one group of players. I know a lot of people take it that way but I wish they would consider the other perspectives. Every console maker is looking for reasons to encourage people to play on their machine; every game publisher is not, by contrast, looking for ways to discourage people from playing their games. :)

  • btw i will hop on the COD bandwagon on COD for vita! and pls tell activition/sony to create a peripheral that adds the 2 remaining should buttons :)

  • Yup Premium is what I meant. Thanks for the info

  • @Dan you make it sound like everything is equal. I stopped playing when I learned Xbox Blops had extra trophies/Achievements and unlockable in game avatars in the last DLC for the game… And you say nothing about the poor quality with the ports to the PS3…

  • Thank you Dan. I can understand that and you are wrong. One console does influence the timing of the other. The XBOX gets it first and then the PS3 gets it 30 days or more later. I guess I was just completely confused when I got Liberation and Piazza before the XBOX non-premium users. But I see now that Activision has set the XBOX release dates and then went to the PS3 and added 30 days to each drop. So I will forget about XBOX like Activision forgets about PS3. I love being a second class citizen. I will not be buying Elite Premium for Black Ops 2. Activision will see a drop in resubscriptions on the PS3 side of things, that is a given.

  • Dan, that is when I thought it kicked off. but it is right there in the Elite homepage as an Elite update. says starting NOW.

  • Dan… see this thread.
    The double XP hasn’t started but it is being advertised. I figure you have more pull with beachhead then me :P

  • I’ll wait for Black Ops 2. Not including the zombies is BS.

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