Retro Studios hires Call of Duty: Black Ops dev

Another dev with major FPS expertise

Retro Studios is hard at work on Metroid Prime 4, and they've brought in a new dev to help out with the title's creation.

As discovered by VGC, The studio has picked up Call of Duty: Black Ops veteran Bharathwaj ‘Bat’ Nandakumar, and he's taken on the title of lead engineer. Nandakumar previously spent 10 years at Activision, working on every Black Ops installment to date. Nandakumar specializes in online, tools and gameplay programming.

Categories: Consoles


Top Rated Comment
Mon Jun 29 20 04:01pm
Rating: 7 (Updated 2 times)

We need to stop having articles like this.

The experience of a dev is important, obviously, but them having worked on game X doesn't mean anything about why they were hired for a game.

Jordan Amaro, the level designer on Splatoon 2, had previously worked on Resident Evil 7, and MGS V. So clearly the experience was more important than any relation between Resident Evil and Splatoon.

"Nandakumar specializes in online, tools and gameplay programming." implies to me that their experience in development is going to be far more important than the fact that they worked on CoD.

It's been almost a year and a half since we got the video announcing the project restarting from scratch and moving to Retro. I wonder how development is going.

I mean we normally don't see games until more than halfway through development so I would hope we wouldn't have seen anything yet. I assume if they are still ramping up staff for the game then development is going well enough.

I just hope it's shown in June and released in November kind of deal. So we don't have a long wait from rereveal to launch.

I mean thats the best case scenario (though big expensive games that get that marketing treatment normally are a February November thing, which is still good). However, when Nintendo markets their most expensive games (your Zeldas mostly), in the past they have often given at least a year in a half to ramp up marketing. With that said, Mario Odyssey being such a larger scale game, and Xenoblade 2 both having only a year of marketing, even with this game being announced all the way back in 2017, maybe they will wait until within a year of release to show it off. I hope they do but I wouldn't be shocked if we see this game next summer for a 2023 release or something like that.

I believe Nintendo's original plan was Zelda-like for MP4. But since it was announced in June of 2017, and the restart was announced in early 2019, I believe they will not want to show it too early. In your February to November scenario, they can rereveal in their first direct of said year, show more at E3 + Treehouse, a new trailer in their late summer/early fall direct and maybe even a specific direct a couple of weeks before launch. It's a lot of exposure in a small amount of time, keeping the hype and we don't actually have to wait that long.

I just don't want them pulling a Sony and having us waiting 2+ years for every major exclusive

In marketing? Probably Zelda in general (BoTW of course had an odd cycle since it was delayed multiple times), yes that was the plan.

My concern is, yes they shouldn't do more than a year or a year and a half, but what if they get panicked about the fact that people have been waiting for more than 4,5, maybe 6 years for this game, and are starting to get impatient. To be fair, they were clearly concerned people would get upset if they announced a 2D Metroid and no Prime in 2017, hence them announcing Prime 4 so early, which is how we got here in the first place, so it could still happen.

(Obviously February to November is more of a time from announcement to release example then actually me saying it will come out in November)

I think it's big enough to release in November, especially if they have another big one for October.
I am not so worried about the wait, because most people are reasonable and the small number of complainers will do so no matter what, and because in the meantime they can do 3 things: port Samus Returns to the Switch, release the Trilogy in HD, make a new 2D Metroid. They could even add GBA to NSO and have Fusion and Zero Mission in there. So there's a lot of potential Metroid content to keep us busy.

I mean its not an issue of whether its big enough or not to release in November, its an issue if its ready to release in a November or if its ready to release in a March. That is, Nintendo isn't going to force the game to be a holiday title if its not ready.

True, but besides the holiday quarter, I don't see it fitting well elsewhere unless they two big games for that quarter and MP4 would come out in August or September.
I don't see it in March because besides launch, that's when we get a "mellower" game, such as Kirby (201Cool, Yoshi (2019), Animal Crossing (2020)

Wed Jul 01 20 08:14pm
(Updated 2 times)

That those 3 games ended up being March was a coincidence, Animal Crossing was originally a fall game before it was delayed and Breath of the Wild was also March. And Bayonetta was February. Metroid Prime 4 could easily easily be a March game and do fine, any game can be a spring game at this point, DMC 5 was a March game. Metroid Prime 4 COULD do well as a holiday game I think, even though prior games have never sold more than 3 million, because of how hard they are pushing it, but it most certainly doesn't need to be. (Even something like Pokmeon should probably start considering not just releasing in the holiday, I think it would do more than fine during the spring and would give them room for more polish)

I agree those 3 can be a coincidence, but it also has the possibility of being a pattern. We will find that out early next year Smile

BotW has much more weight as a launch title than as a March game. It would have come out any other time along with the system.

I was actually just referencing Nintendo developed games. There surely are plenty of successful sales of various games of diverse genres release in march.

MP4 could do well at any time, but it has to have the necessary exposure. It's not an easy sell. To give it a boost I hope they drop the 4 and give it a subtitle.

I agree that more games should release once they are done and be better products. However, we also need to consider the financial implications. Pokémon for instance, is a much tougher game to delay because of all the other sources of income that revolve around the launch of a new game (merchandising, TCG, anime, movies...). There's also sales. If it sold well, they have less incentive to change. That being said, in 2021 we only get DLC for S&S. Maybe in 2021 we get Let's Go Johto and then in 2022 we get the remakes for Gen 4. They will have had a lot of time to improve the performance of the more open areas and have all Pokémon in the game. It's a possibility.

Nintendo is the publisher. It doesn't matter who is the developer, Platinum, Retro, or EPD. Nintendo is funding and marketing all of them, and they decide when things release. They decided that Xenoblade would do fine in may or Bayonetta would do fine in February as much as Yoshi and Kirby would do fine in March, (especially something like a Bayonetta which likely had been done for a while and they chose that date specifically, like with Tokyo Mirage Sessions). So I wouldn't put much weight into whether the game was made by EPD or not, those are all Nintendo games, Nintendo is a publisher, not just a developer.

In terms of Pokemon I agree its very difficult to delay those games. I think Nintendo needs to put their foot down and go to all the other involved parties and say "look, we think the games are more important than these other media, especially given that we are the ones that are making the investments into the console games, and we feel that rushing these games is making us look bad, you can figure out how to delay all the licensed material". Because they probably could figure out how to delay the TCG and anime stuff a few months.

We will have to agree to disagree then. I believe there is a difference between a game developed and published by Nintendo, and a game developed elsewhere and published by them. You don't. Let's move on.

And The Pokémon Company will reply that the vast majority of their revenue comes from everything else (almost 80%). Their major issue is not time, it's people. They went basically doing the bare minimum on each arrival at a new portable and then improved a bit in the follow up games on that portable. Rinse and repeat. Suddenly they jump from the 3DS to the Switch. It's quite a jump. They don't have the expertise to develop to comparatively powerful hardware. They should use their move and do what Monolith does and hire more people, especially for the more technical jobs and HD development cycle requires.

Take a look at the Pokémon numbers here, and you will see why TCG has a life of its own. Delaying it a few months can really hurt their bottom line.

Mon Jul 06 20 11:20am
(Updated 1 time)

What I will say about the first point is Nintendo absolutely carries themselves more as a publisher at this point in time, and in terms of what we were talking about, even if there was a difference between the two, release dates are still publishing issue, a game being published by Nintendo is still a game being published by Nintendo. If an external project would make more money than an EPD game in March, they will put it in March. So whether you think EPD's output is or isn't different from non EPD-developed software isn't super related.

I mean again, Pokemon Company doesn't make the games, Game Freak does. Nintendo needs to go to Game Freak and say, "look, we demand you to hire more experienced people, we demand you to spend more time on these games, to TPC, figure out how to delay these things a few months". Will it cost money? Most certainly. Should Nintendo be in a position in that company to be able to do that? Probably. Are they actually in said position right now? I have no idea.

I highly recommend looking at a list of Nintendo published games. There are far more in house games than you seem to think. Unless you're counting HAL, Intelligent Systems, Retro, Next Level Games as not being Nintendo.

And while I agree that the publisher has great input on the launch details, it is not necessarily them alone doing it AND the game has to be ready.

You must be just lovely in the work place demanding stuff around whether you can or not. GameFreak doesn't even have to actually hire anyone to do that. They can simply do what to Pokémon what Nintendo has been doing to plenty of their own games, let Monolith help.

Mon Jun 29 20 04:01pm
Rating: 7 (Updated 2 times)

We need to stop having articles like this.

The experience of a dev is important, obviously, but them having worked on game X doesn't mean anything about why they were hired for a game.

Jordan Amaro, the level designer on Splatoon 2, had previously worked on Resident Evil 7, and MGS V. So clearly the experience was more important than any relation between Resident Evil and Splatoon.

"Nandakumar specializes in online, tools and gameplay programming." implies to me that their experience in development is going to be far more important than the fact that they worked on CoD.

I get what you’re saying, and you’re correct. But knowing what game they worked on isn’t meaningless either.

Regardless of anyones personal opinion on COD, they are well made games - especially from a technical perspective.
Knowing this person worked on COD for years allows me, and pretty much everyone else who has never worked personally with Mr Nandakumar, get a sense of the experience and game developer qualities they are going to bring to the table.

Knowing they “specialise in online tools and gameplay programming” is absolutely meaningless to any of us without a benchmark of those specialities.

For sure, but, the reaction to these articles often goes from "person with lots of AAA experience" to "person who had experience on CoD specifically" and then you see people trying to see how CoD relates to Prime 4, when in reality, outside of both being first person, it probably doesn't. The article itself is fine, it was more of the title that was the issue, again its a phrasing issue first and foremost. Though, I wonder how valuable this article is in the first place given that Retro has been hiring a lot of people in general recently.

Theres nothing wrong with the article as long as it’s factual.

The article itself is factual yes, and I absolutely know nothing here is intentionally meant to mislead in any way, not that I think it was assumed I was saying that, but I do think focusing first and foremost on their experience with Call of Duty specifically, in the way it was phrased, could come off to people as that itself being important, as supposed to the experience working on highly budgeted and acclaimed games.

If you ever have the pleasure of working with statistics or data analysis, you will see how you can use facts to manipulate people. And it's not even hard since most people can't barely read a graph.

I hope they hired that guy to assist development on Donkey Kong Country: Return of the Kremlings for a holiday 2021 release.

Mon Jun 29 20 04:28pm
Rating: 1

I rather have an amazing game than the rushed game people seem to want. I don’t care if this misses switch and is on the next Nintendo console. This needs to be a quality project. That is why they stopped it mid development from whoever was working on it. They want this to be the best we have played.

Who wants a rushed game? Where are these people you speak of?

Wanting, anticipating and looking forward to a game doesn’t mean you want it rushed.


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