Glen Schofield Interview

Published on September 16th, 2011

GamerZines: How’s your show going?

Glen Schofield, CEO, Sledgehammer Games: Yeah, it’s kind of fun, isn’t it? It’s for the fans, man. It’s fantastic.

GZ: What’s been your highlight?

GS: You know, I haven’t seen a lot, but I think the biggest thing I’m walking away with is that this thing is a lot bigger than I had ever thought – and we were part of the planning! It’s a monster. I think the highlight is just seeing the smiles on the fans’ faces, shaking their hands, saying hello and thanking them for their feedback.

GZ: Are you impressed by the turnout?

GS: I didn’t know what to expect! Seeing the lines? man!

GZ: You’ve gone straight from developing a triple-A new IP with Dead Space to working on the biggest franchise in games history. How are you handling the pressure?

GS: I’ve been making games for 21 years, and I’ve worked on Lord of the Rings and James Bond, Soul Reaver etc. A lot of people go ‘Dead Space was your first one’, but no it wasn’t. I even did a new IP for the launch of the original Xbox that nobody’s heard of called Mad Dash Racing. So absolutely, I try to prove myself with every game because I think you can get too cocky. Dead Space wasn’t perfect, I gotta try and make a better game. I’m a painter so I liken it to painting. Every time I sit down and do a painting, you always say it’s going to be your masterpiece but inevitably it’s not. You’ve got to work really hard, and it’s the same way with making a game.

GZ: Before , Sledgehammer was working on its own Call of Duty game. Was being pulled off of that a frustrating process, that you weren’t able to have your team put their stamp on a game fully created by them, or are you proud to be working with Infinity Ward on MW3?

GS: Oh, I’m proud. We were doing that one and I bet it would have been pretty good. It was actually pretty damn cool.

GZ: Can you talk about it?

GS: Well, it was a third-person action-adventure game. It was a shooter. It was not based in this era. It had a lot of atmosphere like, I should say Dead Space a little bit because you were underground in some places. You know, war is hell, war is scary and that’s what we were trying to get across. We did a tonne of research. But then as a person who makes entertainment, you really just want to entertain as many people as possible, you want to get the biggest venue. And so when they offered this to us we voted with our team – we have a pretty open relationship with them – everybody said yeah, thumbs up.

GZ: So Sledgehammer had a say in whether to work on Modern Warfare 3 rather than just being ordered to do it by Activision?

GS: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. They came to us and said ‘would you guys work on it?’, and at first we told them we’d need to talk to the team and that we’d get back to them in a couple of days. And they were like ‘well, we really, really like you, you’re the ones that Infinity Ward have chosen’.

GZ: Would you like to go back to your original project or do you see the future of Sledgehammer being in first-person shooters?

GS: I want to make at least one more first-person shooter. I want to get really good at it. I would definitely, 100% work with Infinity Ward again because they’re just the best. But I wouldn’t mind giving Sledgehammer a shot on something.

GZ: Infinity Ward obviously went through that phase where they were losing a lot of key people. Was it difficult to work with them and manage the project because of that?

GS: They kept a lot of that internally. They’re a very professional bunch, really good at what they do, I’m confident in their abilities. We didn’t know much either, so we didn’t know who we would be dealing with or not. Guys came in, they know they’re stuff, and so to us it’s Infinity Ward. The hardest thing was logistics; how we’re going to talk, how we’re going to do all this. But they’re an hour away by plane, so we do a lot of plane rides, a lot of conference calling and all that stuff.

GZ: Strike Packages completely alter the tactical side of Call of Duty. What was the reasoning behind introducing something like that rather than sticking to a tried and tested method?

GS: Part of it’s still in there. If you use the Assault package you’re probably still going to play the same way that you always did. A lot of it is listening to the fans. A lot of them are saying it wasn’t as balanced as it could be, and other people were just building up bodycounts; it was just about your K:D ratio while other guys were trying to do the objectives. So it was balancing and listening.

GZ: Do you think an Online Pass system will ever be introduced to Call of Duty?

GS: Gosh, I can’t even speak to that. It would just be a guess, and probably a wrong one!

GZ: The image of the Hardened Edition released by Activision shows the journal open on a page showing squad tactics drawn over a diagram of a plane. Are you able to discuss what that might be about?

GS: No, I can’t speak to that page. I know the journal, I’ve gone through it. Some of them are talking about stuff that has happened in the past and what it’s meant to do is fill in. Some of the storyboards are there where you’ll go ‘oh wow, I remember that from 1′. It’s more about the past.

GZ: So that’s not necessarily related to Modern Warfare 3?

GS: There might be some spoilers in there.

GZ: Will all future Sledgehammer games be Call of Duty projects?

GS: I have no idea. Not because we’re bad planners – we’re actually really good at it – but I don’t see any reason why we’d not want to stay on Call of Duty for a while. I wouldn’t mind taking a formula here and there and tweaking it, but if they came to me and said ‘you’re doing Modern Warfare 4′, I’d do high fives. If they said ‘you’re doing Call of Duty something else’, I’d be pretty excited about it.

GZ: Being an annual series, is there a fear internally that Call of Duty might eventually run out of steam?

GS: Absolutely, we talk about it all the time. That’s why it’s all about innovation. We’re fans of it so we know where we want to take it, we know what would make us happy, and we are listening to other fans out there. But you know what, it’s not right now, it’s growing. You can see it out there. It’s so big, people love it and I get so many tweets from the community. It’s the biggest thing in entertainment. You stay paranoid because things can happen, but staying paranoid actually makes your game better.

GZ: You recently said that “some (ideas) are just too big for the consoles that we have right now”. What did you mean by that?

GS: Yeah, that was me. They took it completely out of context about me saying that about the PS3. It had nothing to do with it.

GZ: So you’re not eager to move onto the next generation necessarily?

GS: The point that they were asking was, do you have more ideas that you can’t get into the game. Yeah, we always do. Sometimes it’s resources, sometimes it’s frame rate, so no, the PS3 is not holding me back. We’ll find new ways to get more out of it. When the new consoles come out, in the very beginning you’re not going to know what to do with them. So it takes a while to get into it. But yeah, I really appreciated that. Luckily I know the guys at Sony pretty well!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 launches on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii on November 8th. You can read our huge multiplayer preview in the latest issue of P3Zine, available to read by clicking the link below.

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