Designing a Call of Duty Game Mode

Hello all, I wanted to post today to share an exercise I worked on over the past week where I designed a Call of Duty: Cold War game mode.

My goals with this design were fairly simple:
A multiplayer game mode that I could realistically see implemented into CoD CW based on 3 major factors:

  1. it’s use of the game’s already present mechanical affordances, therefore simplicity of implementation
  2. it’s uniqueness amongst already established game modes
  3. the ways in which it encourages the purchase of premium content, and opens opportunities for further customization

Night Ops

A Call of Duty: Cold War Multiplayer Game Mode

by Aidan Takami

The Basics

In each round, for a total of 2 rounds, teams take on the role of either Assassin or Survivor. The game is won by the team who survives the longest amount of time while playing as the Survivors. The Assassin team works together to hunt down the Survivors. The game is played on an extremely dark map. The Assassin team are afforded a better sense of surrounding/ability to traverse in the dark (night-vision goggles, strong flashlight, etc), whereas the Survivors are mostly unaided in their ability to navigate the darkness. Teams consist of 20 players.

Assassin Team

Survivor Team

Night Ops Game Specifics

  • Rounds capped at 15 minutes
  • Tiebreaker comes down to total scoring of teams based upon stats:
    • Players Assassinated
    • Assassins Killed
    • Assists
  • Map Setup
    • Open spaces are few and far between, and small in size
    • Most of map consists of small, easily missed, “hiding spaces” that fit no more than 2 players
  • Experience Goals
    • Assassin team: Elite, powerful, fearless but tactical.
    • Survivor team: Uneasy, hunted, hyperaware.
  • Further Design Goals
    • Give more use to the new Melee weapons being added into Black Ops Cold War (my personal favorite mechanic) such as Sledgehammer or Wakizashi.
    • Lowering the lighting of the scene & the amount of visibility afforded to the Player in a multiplayer FPS is unique (to my knowledge)
    • Use of night vision fits the time period of Cold War, & could later be used as an additional layer of customization.

Example Game Scenarios

Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Scenario 3

Required Assets

  • A game mode built for the win condition of most time survived, which allows Assassins to respawn and doesn’t allow Survivors, and also allows Assassins only melee weapons
  • “Night-vision” full screen camera effect/shader (or equivalent light source asset) for Assassins
  • Lesser strength light source asset for Survivors
  • Assets for unique map
  • Audio specific to the tactical/quiet nature of Night Ops
    • Ambience audio
    • Audio associated with “night-vision” effect
    • More concealed versions of existing audio (to give effect of perceived stealth)
  • A map designed to be played with minimal to no lighting, with spawns together for Assassins & separate for Survivors
  • A comprehensive & specified scoring system to serve as tiebreaker

Tunable Values

  • Team size
  • Number of rounds & round length
  • Strength of light given to bothe Assassins and Survivors
  • Respawn delay of Assassins

Possible Issues

  • Playing with darkness can be tricky to get right. The amount of vision given to the players is a core feature of the Night Ops game mode, but if this isn’t done right it would be extremely frustrating to players. Darkness also may compromise the integrity of playing Night Ops competitively. A solution: by finding the right way to afford both teams vision, independently, the game darkness could become equally disadvantageous to all players on the same team.
  • Melee weapons are really fun, but Assassins may find it difficult to surprise Survivors/get the upper hand since Survivors have access to all their normal weapons. A solution: Increasing the speed of the Assassin team, or at least including it as a tunable value separate from the speed of the Survivor team, would perhaps lessen the difficulty and aid in the Assassins experience goal.
  • With minimal repercussions for dying, the Assassin team may abandon any attempts to be subtle/hidden. A solution: add a win state where the Assassin team runs out of a pool of lives, similar to Control, and must then forfeit the game.

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