Original Call of Duty working title was "MOH killer"
Former Infinity Ward artist Justin Thomas recalls development on 2003 FPS and competition with Medal of Honor.
Activision's Call of Duty franchise has not always been the industry-leading series that it is today. That designation was previously with Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor series. Speaking with MCV, former Infinity Ward artist Justin Thomas, who also worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for EA, recalled the first days of what would become 2003's Call of Duty.
"The project was actually named 'MOH killer' until an official name could be found," Thomas said. "We were focused more on fun than success, with the idea that if it was fun, it would be successful. We were just going to make a great game, and do the things better than we did on previous projects. The great thing is that a team learns from previous projects."
Thomas explained that one of the challenges associated with building Call of Duty was making sure it did not too closely resemble the Medal of Honor series.
"The challenge was not to duplicate Medal of Honor," Thomas said. "We also wanted to find a way to tell different game play stories without having a 'super soldier.'"
This resulted in a game that featured a James Bond-like character, who undertook a secret mission to stop the Nazis during World War II. However, the game's design shifted when Infinity Ward decided to make a game from the point-of-view of three different characters--something that would define the series going forward.
The three-pronged narrative approach did not come from Infinity Ward, but rather Spark Unlimited, which at the time was working on Call of Duty: Finest Hour. This did not mean Infinity Ward would need to start over on Call of Duty, because it was able to adapt what it already created for the new concept.
"We took stuff that had been intended to be a part of that American spy storyline and we found new uses for them," ex-Infinity Ward designer Zied Rieke said. "Then we designed some missions that we could have only done as the British or the Russians."
Thomas and Reike are just two of numerous former Medal of Honor developers who would later move to Infinity Ward to work on the Call of Duty series.
Though Call of Duty is the top FPS series in 2013 and Medal of Honor is out of rotation indefinitely, EA has a formidable shooter lineup that includes Battlefield, Titanfall, and Star Wars: Battlefront.