For Old Blue Peter McCabe from the Class of 2003, his degree in Computer Game Technology has enabled him to take up positions across the globe. Now based in California, Peter works for Infinity Ward as a Senior Producer for one of the entertainment industry’s most successful video game franchises, Call of Duty.
It popularity has spawned further instalments, with developers transporting players to historic and futuristic battlefields. Over 100 million people have played a Call of Duty game, equating to a total of 25 billion playing hours.
For this edition of the summer newsletter Pete provide us with an insight into one of the fastest developing sectors in the world.
How did you get in to the industry?
Between my second and third year of university I spent the summer working in Surrey at EA in Quality Assurance, testing Harry Potter and Burnout games. As soon as I finished university, I got a job working for EA in Warrington testing a game that was never released. Working as tester was a great foot in the door, as I got to see how games were truly made. Following these testing roles, I went onto became a QA Manager, then began my climb through the ranks of Production.
What does your role at Infinity Ward entail?
In my most recent role as the Senior Producer for the Central Asset Teams, I was responsible for the weapons, vehicles, characters and all asset outsourcing teams. For the first half of the development, I provided support for the audio, VFX and animation teams.
During the final six months of the project – in addition to my existing responsibilities – I also provided production support for a multi-discipline team to accelerate the finalisation of single player levels.
With such an established franchise as Call of Duty, which has a core group of buyers, how difficult is it to find the balance between developing new content which might interest new players and buyers, and keeping that core demographic happy with classic, popular content?
Every release, we always look to make single player experiences that are filled with exhilarating moments, and multiplayer experiences that are so enjoyable that the player doesn’t want to put down the controller.
It’s because of this that so many people keep coming back for more. A breath-taking fact, over 100 million people have played a Call of Duty game and they have played for a total of 25 “billion” hours over the history of the franchise, so we’re doing something right!
With attention turning to Virtual Reality, what’s next for video gaming?
I personally believe that before Virtual Reality becomes the primary method of digesting video games, which it will, experiential Virtual Reality will be what we will see become increasingly more common place.
Virtual Reality roller coasters are now at Six Flags and Sea World and Museums and Art Galleries are introducing new Virtual Reality for visitors.
Whilst people become accustomed to wearing headsets, technology is advancing towards lighter glasses, like those we use when we see a 3D film at the cinema.
Once you don’t need a headset, and you instead just need a pair of glasses, VR will become a staple of every home overnight.
With games taking years to develop and new hardware all the time, how do you get to make the game you want with increased complexity and pressured timetables?
The project I worked on previously was a 3-year game, and the possibility of improved hardware was taken into account from the start.
During the first 6 months we set a visual benchmark that we plan to hit, based on the hardware specifications that we expect to meet at our planned launch date.
As for the complexity of creating increasingly detailed art, the amount of time to make a character model on the PS1 vs the PS4 is not actually so different, as the tools that artists, animators and coders have at their disposal keeps improving each year.
Excluding Call of Duty what is your favourite video game?
Football Manager. Every year, I sink so many hours into taking my fake team to glory.
What is it like to live and work in California?
The best part of living in California is that it’s sunny and hot 99% of the year.
I tend to spend most of my spare time on hikes, going to the beaches, eating out, watching LA Galaxy,Kings, Lakers or Dodgers, or going to concerts at one of the many huge LA venues.
I’ve been here for over 5 years, and am finding myself nowhere close to being bored.
What kind of Blue Coat student were you?
My year was full of some of the most talented people I’ve ever met, entrepreneurs, dentists, doctors, lawyers, a footballer, etc.
I self-admittedly wasn’t the brightest student, but that was no doubt due to everyone around me being exceptionally skillful.
What advice would you give to Blue Coat students who wish to embark on a career similar to your own?
The games industry has such a wide variety of jobs that require very different skill sets.
I would suggest perusing the job listings at your dream studio and taking a look at the responsibilities and requirements for your dream role. Then shaping your education and work experience path to tick every one of those requirements.