Romero: Call of Duty is ‘expected – you know what the next one is going to be like’

Doom creator John Romero has criticised the lack of creativity in the Call of Duty series and argued that first person shooter developers need to start thinking differently.

Call of Duty is enough of a deathmatch game to keep people coming back to it year after year,” he told MCV’s sister site Develop.

But the design isn’t breaking people’s brains – it’s expected, in the same way Madden is. You see it, you know what it is, and you know the next iteration is going to be like the previous one but in a different location, maybe a different time period. It’ll have guns and a lot of the same features.”

Romero insists that developers have no excuses for running out of ideas.

There are unbelievable amounts of new stuff to do in that genre,” he added. The idea of a shooter is running around with weapons, in first-person, blowing things away. But what are you really doing? What is the world like? Who are you, and what do you care about? What are you doing in the world that’s different?

Take something like World of Warcraft – what if that was a shooter? You have a giant world full of quests, and tons of people with PvP already in the game. If World of Warcraft was a shooter, that would be brand new – nobody would have seen something that big and that cool.

Shooters have so many places to go, but people just copy the same thing over and over because they’re afraid to try something new. We’ve barely scratched the surface.”

Romero also rejected the notion that the huge development budgets of modern triple-A games is stifling creativity.

Look at Minecraft – it’s unbelievable that it was made by one person, right?” he pointed out. And it shows there’s plenty of room for something that will innovate and change the whole industry. It shows that a title doesn’t need to be from a giant publisher like Activision to be called a ‘real game’.

There’s no Call of Duty-Con, but there is a MineCon, a QuakeCon and a BlizzCon. If a game makes a bunch of money really quickly, that’s a testament to the marketing power of the company and not really the quality of the game.

It comes down to design, not technology. New consoles let people create more polygons on the screens. They let you do more with AI because they’re faster. But they don’t make good design. Minecraft doesn’t care about how many shaders or triangles or stuff, because it doesn’t matter. Tetris did not care about how many polygons were on the screen. It’s nice to have the good technology, but people that develop know the tech race is over.”

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