Black Ops 2 dev prepared to “kill people with facts” over balancing complaints

Friday, 16th November 2012 00:56 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 2 design director David Vonderhaar is ready for the inevitable complaints of over-powered weapons which accompany any major multiplayer shooter’s launch.

Speaking with Destructoid, Vonderhaar said Treyarch’s Black Box metrics collection system allows him to go straight to the numbers when people complain, so he can verify – or more frequently dismiss – balancing critque.

“There’s a lot of instrumentation in this game, there’s a lot of data logging, so I know exactly what the power band of a weapon is at all times,” he said.

“I can combine how something feels with how it’s actually behaving. I know, I know this is going to happen: a million people are going to Tweet me and tell me that the [for example] ‘PDW 57 is overpowered, Vonderhaar what are you doing?’ What I’ll do is I can go and look at the math and I’ll go ‘Actually, you know what dude? You’re just good with it. Have fun, because the math says that it’s not overpowered.’”

The developer said that if a weapon is overpowered the data means he’ll “know it for real” and averages will demonstrate that much of people’s complaints about certain weapons are emotional reactions.

“Like not because someone said it was, or because I felt it was, or because you sent me an angry Tweet because you got killed by the SRM Shotgun one night 17 times so you’re mad. The data will tell me the truth,” he said.

“I’m just going to kill people with facts [with] this game when they come over and go ‘This thing is OP.’ I’m going to go ‘Actually it’s not OP, you’re wrong.’ I’m not going to yell at them or anything, I’m just going to tell them the truth. I don’t have to hide this stuff from people, just drop knowledge bombs on guys. It’s gotta be done. What people are doing is reacting emotionally, and I’m like a really emotional guy so I get it.”

Vonderhaar added that “you can’t let Twitter design the videogame”, but acknowledged that he understands why fans invested in the game want to talk to him via social media.

“I’m the best guy for them to talk to, someone who can actually make decisions about the game is infinitely better than talking to somebody who has no control over what actually happens. I think it’s better that way, even if it comes with this whole new level of responsibility and possibly headache. It’s worth it in the end. I’m glad for it and I’m glad for them, honestly,” he said.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is out now on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.



  1. mad1723

    Love the way this guy thinks. I know Alan Kertz, lead weapon designer on BF3 had the same way of thinking. He checked the stats and info of the weapon and went “nope, it’s fine” on his twitter feed.

    He also acknowledged when there was a serious imbalance (FAMAS, USAS-12 with Frag Rounds, etc) and explained how he was going to change it, posted it on the forums and waited for feedback from the players to see their input on how they would balance it. That led to a pretty good weapon balance. Of course, some weapons will always slip through the net with as many weapons as BF3, but it’s reassuring to know that they still watch out for those issues.

    That’s a very good way to have constructive criticism and to build a community around your game: communication is key!

    #1 2 years ago

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