At the Black Ops 3 reveal event we were given the opportunity to participate in a roundtable interview with Mark Lamia, Jason Blundell, and Dan Bunting from Treyarch. During the course of this interview, the subject of character customization and identity in the main campaign was brought up, specifically to how your individual character would retain their identity in the four player co-op.
While talking about your unique character customization being able to be seen by other players and in third-person view scenes, Campaign Director Jason Blundell revealed that you can select to be either male or female, and they approached the entire campaign in a very gender neutral way so as to make it fit. Here’s the full dialog from this portion of the roundtable.
Jason Blundell: “…each player would see whoever they are.”
Mark Lamia: “By the way, with your specific customizations. That’s all in engine. That’s not pre-rendered. it’s gonna be you, your investment, you pulling that off.”
Blundell: “You can be male, and you can be female. And by the way, that means you’ve got a full female track for the whole thing as well. So male track, female track. Customize that character, change the outfit, weapons, paint job- err, Paintshop, you know, all that good stuff. Equipment that your putting on there. That is all represented in those third-person cameras and you are the hero of that moment.
Chandler Wood: “So it features both a male lead and a female lead for the narrative?”
Blundell: “We had to capture the whole thing, yeah, twice.” Laughs.
Lamia: “Actually, yeah, it’s true. It’s not just a female head on a male body. It’s like a different rig and a different set of animations that they did for the entire game. And then also from a narrative perspective, they’ve also addressed it, but that is different.”
Blundell: “This was an interesting one. So we knew that we were going to do fully unique male, fully unique female, for all scenes, right? And all the customization that goes with both, so thank God we’re on Blu-ray, right? When it came to the script, we said we wanted to do a singular script. A gender neutral script. The anecdote that we talk about is that on Aliens, the script was written assuming that Sigourney Weaver’s character was a man, and then she got cast, and they left the script alone. And so her- the tonality that she brought to it, all those kind of stuff were played up [sic], but the script itself is the same.
“And that’s what we’ve done. So the character always feels purposeful about what’s going on and it’s not like pandering or changing- you know, the guy’s not being more butch or macho, or the female’s not going the other way, right? It’s about what’s kind of going on, the relationships. Because the emotions, the dynamics between characters is kind of gender neutral, and that’s how we approached it.”
They continued by hinting that your character being customizable and not necessarily having a solitary identity (ie. being a specific hero character like Jack Mitchell in Advanced Warfare) is woven into the narrative.
How do you feel about Treyarch’s approach to a selectable female character and character customization in a Call of Duty campaign?