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Call of Duty: Black Ops II does not need new engine, insists Treyarch

Treyarch's Mark Lamia is happy with improvements to the old engine

Call of Duty: Black Ops II hype is building, but naysayers have yet again pointed to the title's usage of the same engine that has been in use since Call of Duty 2 from 2005. Black Ops II will be using a heavily updated version of the engine (which has its origins in the id Tech 3 engine), but many have been critical of the supposed "stagnation" of technical development of the franchise.

This critique, though, does not bother Treyarch, who insists that a new engine simply is not needed to make the game the best it can be.

Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia details to One of Swords that the discussion is much like working on an old house, one that needs to be updated and worked on. "I liken it to people who live in an older house that has been remodeled. Just because you're remodeling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don't tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing," he explained. "You might even go as hardcore as replacing the plumbing, and we will do that sort of thing, as an analogy."

"It's a gross simplification, but it's one way to say that. There's a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn't get rid of, and we don't. We look to advance in the areas that support our game design. Engines, each time they get touched, they change. The creators alter them; they don't modify what they don't need to, and then they alter what they need to. You can't make a competitive product if you're not upgrading that engine along the way."

Many are expecting a different visual feel to Black Ops II, but Lamia offers that the idea of adding a new engine is simply a critic's hype against Call of Duty.

"I think the whole thing about a new engine... sometimes that's a great buzzword. Well, I have a new graphics engine - is that a new engine? Where does it start and stop? Elements of the code, you can trace back for a very, very long time... but whole parts of the code are entirely new. Two areas we did focus on for this game were the graphics and the lighting - a pretty significant amount of work is going into that."

The game is getting a big update though: 60 frames per second gameplay. A demo showcased to journalists recently revealed a game running rather smoothly.

"I think what people are asking for is for us to push," Lamia added. "They want us to make a better-looking game; they want things. I don't think those are things people can't ask for. We asked ourselves that very same question - we wanted to advance the graphics. I think the questions are valid. The answer may not need to be an entirely new engine, but you might need to do an entire overhaul of your entire lighting system."

"The trick is, we're not willing to do that if we can't keep it running at 60 frames per second - but we did that this time. So this is the Black Ops II engine."

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Ben Strauss avatar
Ben Strauss: Ben Strauss is a recent graduate of Xavier University. You can see him ramble on about gaming, gamification, military-related gaming and manly things on his Twitter @Sinner101GR.
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