SPOnG: Looking back, was there any initial resistance to using a near-future storyline, either from the team or from fans?
John Rafacz: Quite the contrary. In fact, near-future was quite embraced, for a couple of reasons. It all stems back to what we did when we jumped from World at War to the first Black Ops game.
The team had been making World War II games for a while, and the move to the Cold War really came down to two big things. One was the ability to tell a story in a new way - the history that you know, versus the secret deniable operations that you play. The other aspect was new technology, gadgets and, ultimately, gameplay.
It was that sort of approach that inspired the team to move to the near-future. In fact, we had already begun making that decision while Black Ops 1 was still being put into a box! There was a really strong desire to create a memorable villain, in this time-spanning narrative where you could get a deeper look into a Call of Duty villain than you perhaps would normally.
But on another level, we had guys who were thinking about how a near-future environment would factor into gameplay. Those two elements really began to merge very quickly. We had the idea that allowed for the a new type of fiction, and a setting that allowed for new creative challenges. Above all else, we started to answer the eternally-hard question for any Call of Duty developer - what can we give fans that they haven’t seen before?