Infinity Ward’s Dino Verano on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, producer life and the value of a community beta

Dino Verano has a long career in games, working as a producer on numerous Activision titles. He’s also someone who understands the value of community in helping to polish and balance a game ahead of launch thanks to his prior career in quality assurance. Now a producer and team lead on Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, we spoke to Dino via email ahead of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s successful open beta.
Can you tell us a little about your role as producer on Modern Warfare? What are the challenges of producing a game that operates on this kind of scale?
So as a producer, basically I handle a lot of planning and scheduling. I’m also kind of a connective tissue between a lot of different departments. I’m just one of a huge production team and I think one of the challenges is that this game is so big that nobody really knows everything about it, right? There are so many little details and there’s so many things that nobody can be an expert at everything. And I think this is where it’s extremely important to be part of a really, really strong team. I think that if it wasn’t for the really strong team and the really incredible people that infinity ward, a project like this wouldn’t even be possible.
How does Infinity Ward settle on an overall length for a Call of Duty campaign? What do you think is the sweet spot and why?
So I actually don’t have a great answer for this at the moment because it’s still a bit early. And so we haven’t given any details about what our campaign length would be.
The state of modern warfare has changed considerably since the original MW series. What are the ways the new Modern Warfare campaign reflects this?
So the way that we approached this is we took a look at the actual term Modern Warfare. What does it mean to be modern, to be contemporary, to be in the present day? So I think what you will see is kind of situations and storylines that are, first of all brand new, but they feel like they could be ripped from today’s headlines. I think that’s a very important part is that the essence of Modern Warfare is something that is relatable to people in the present day and something that people could, while fictional, people could imagine happening in today’s day.
The Modern Warfare series is no stranger to campaign controversy, and it presents an interesting problem. How do you tell a hard, confronting war story without crossing certain contextual lines?
Having an incredible narrative team, right? Of course it’s very difficult to not cross certain lines, but we really feel that it’s important to tell a real story, to tell a provocative story where it’s not so clear cut and black and white, where it is a bit morally complex where the storyline and the characters both are real and gritty and again, not so clear cut.
Moving focus to multiplayer and the upcoming beta, this will be the first time the game has been in the hands of a wide audience. What’s the most important factor for you to come out of any pre-release beta period?
For me, I really think that it’s figuring out how people like the game or what they’re liking, what’s working, what’s not. There’s actually a ton of useful stuff that comes out of a beta, right? Everything from tech issues that we have to deal and grapple with, testing around certain features and really figuring out, “Hey, this seems like it works! Doesn’t really work when you put it out in the wild with so many different people, right? We use it as a great opportunity to collect tons of feedback from the community and then action upon it at the end.
Following a game like Black Ops 4 that put such a focus on multiplayer, how does Modern Warfare set its PVP apart?
So our goal for Modern Warfare was really to create the ultimate multiplayer playground, right? We want it to be fun and accessible, but still deep. We wanted there to be kind of a great variety of different experiences of all shapes and sizes for different kinds of players, right? So, if you want something a little more small, a little more tactical, you want 2v2, we’ve got that. You want something more traditional, like COD has always been, we’ve got our more traditional 6v6 size maps and we’ve got larger scale maps for those players too.
Are you able to take us through the maps, modes and weapons that will be available in the coming beta? Which are you expecting to make the biggest splash among the community?
So we’re going to have a bunch of different, again, we’re gonna have a bunch of different samplings from all over MP. We’re going to have several maps for 2v2 several for 6v6, and then there’s going to be 32v32 the second week of the beta. So make sure you come back for that. I don’t have every single thing off the top of my head right now, but I think that it really depends on who’s playing and what part of the community it is. Again, we have tons of different offerings and I think certain modes and certain things will resonate with different people. We really want to have kind of like a big offering and something for everybody, right?
What’s Infinity Ward’s approach to multiplayer weapon balance like? What would you consider the pillars of a well-balanced Call of Duty weapon to be?
Well me personally, I think that a well balanced weapon really does its role well, right? So I think of course everything has to have kind of its strengths and its weaknesses. So like let’s say you have a certain weapon that deals with range really well, right? Then in that case it has to be a little bit harder to handle, a little more difficult to operate up close. Either that or you have to be a little slower and a little harder to move. There has to be kind of a given and take and the player has to make kind of a difficult decision for, well, what type of player am I and what kind of weapon do I need for this engagement? And also we’ve got gunsmith. So there’s again, much more complexity into what weapon you take, how you use it, and how you kind of tailor it to suit your playstyle.
Let’s finish up with a couple of fun ones: Do you have a favourite map within the Modern Warfare series? Which is it and why?
Oh my goodness. I think that if I, if I talk about my favorite map, it might have to be Crash. I’m not even sure why. I think it’s just, I just have some really fun memories playing multiplayer with some friends and for some reason we always ended up on that map but there is also Rust. So it’s kind of a toss up.
What’s your personal, preferred multiplayer loadout look like and how do you get the most out of it?
Oh wow. So lately I’ve really been liking, the AUG and I think it’s really, it really just depends on what you want to do. But one of the preset loadouts that I’ve been using has a suppressor on the AUG, has the perks that I can use to kind of run faster and flank. I like kind of sneaking up on people a little bit and flanking and you know, kind of just taking them unaware, a little more tactical. I’m not as a, I’m not as fast on the reflexes and thumbs as I used to be my younger age. So I got to kind of outsmart my opponents these days.
Our thanks to Dino for taking the time to chat to us. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare releases October 25, 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

David Smith

David Smith is the former games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously written for PC World Australia. You can find him on Twitter at @RhunWords.