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Old 08-29-2013   #1
Eyes In The Skies
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Sea Snipers COD Ghosts Strategy Guide

Sea Snipers COD: Ghosts Guide Trip

If you've been wondering where some of us were and what we were doing, now you know. BradyGames and Infinity Ward had requested our presence and skill set to deliver content for the COD Ghosts Strategy Guide. We were hired to help write and illustrate the multiplayer portion of one of the best CODs to date. If you've never been to Infinity Ward, take a look at what its like being part of their team for a week.

Break room/Kitchen

The Pit and Break area

Day 0 (Prologue)

With Sea Snipers coming from all over the country, we arrived in CA on Sunday to get some sleep before plunging into the newest COD. The first to arrive on the battlefield was [SS]Grunt. He decided to do some recon and scout out the area to see what type of facilities this part of LA had to offer. The answer is…EVERYTHING.

I (Sabotage) was the only member of the guide team on this trip of who hadn't been on a job. I nervously wandered into the hotel lounge to grab a drink, and overheard the Brady team chatting about video games, so I introduced myself, finding [SS]Rator there just a few minutes later.

From left to right; Rator, Tim (project lead), Phil (MP author) and Jason (MP assistant)

Everyone was hanging out in the lounge catching up on what we'd all been up to. [SS]Hobo had been running a little late, but he showed up not long after we had arrived.

Left to right; Rator, Hobo, Sab, Grunt. (And Sab photobombing someone's nap)

As I said, this was my first guide and even though I have met some of my [SS] brothers, I had not met anyone on this trip. The flight down to LA from Sacramento, CA was not a long flight, however I was anxious as hell and the flight seemed to take forever.

I was nervous, I was anxious. These guys were my brothers, but they were also my heroes, so needless to say it took me a little bit to get comfortable around them. I had to nerd out for a minute, before I calmed myself and came down from my fanboy high.

Day 1 (Tour and Game Test)

First day, we all met in the hotel lobby at 0900 and I knew that there was much work to be done over the next week, but forgetting that no one had been to this new studio I asked what I should expect. Without hesitation, everyone started to try and explain the studio they had been to previously.

Around the table left to right; Hobo, Grunt, Jason, Sab, Phil.

At this point we were on our way to the IW studio and the team started talking about what we might expect of this new one.

You'd never find it

The first thing and the coolest thing I noticed was right next to the front door of the studio, the trophy case containing a plethora of awards from Video Game Awards to E3 awards and signed Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360s. However, there was one thing that caught my eye and it was truly an honor to see; in the trophy case next to the Xbox 360 prominently displayed was the Sea Sniper throwing knife that we presented to Infinity Ward after a previous trip that the SS attended.

As soon as we got past the front desk we were greeted by Producer Pete Blumel, who pretty much ran everything for the project. Pete gave us the full tour of the entire studio and introduced us to key departments and devs that we would be working with. Before I go into too much detail about the studio and how amazing it is, I’m going to let our friend from Infinity Ward @Teanah show you all around.

After our tour I went right to the caffeine to fuel up and get ready to play the brand new Call of Duty: Ghosts. We were shown where our work area would be and I couldn’t decide whether I was comfortable or not with Captain Price making sure we didn't slack off.

The Captain Staring down Wally and Hobo

The whole team jumped on their respective consoles and got straight to seeing what this game had to offer them. Needless to say, we were extremely impressed with the new installment. (don't ask, we won't tell!)

The entirety of the first day was dedicated to feeling out the game and getting to play through as much as we possibly could before we could come up with good content for the guide.

Hobo (left) Grunt (in front) and Rator (in back)

Today was the first 12-14 hour day we were going to pull for the rest of the week. Honestly I think it went by too fast, but that’s why I love this job. To end the work day we thought it might be a good idea to actually see if our bodies would move after sitting and working all day, and broke out the ping pong paddles. It was Rator and Hobo Vs. Grunt and Myself, it wasn’t long before Hobo's ample frame began to hog the table and steal Rator's shots, bashing his mapping hand in the process. We all had a good laugh while the Fleet Admiral threatened to demote Hobo to recruit. This doesn't really feel like work, but it was early in the week.

Sab, Rator, Hobo. Grunt after attempting a diving save

Around 2200 we all headed back to the hotel to decompress and relax before heading to bed. We hung out in the hotel lounge and ordered a few drinks. One of my goals ever since I joined the Sea Snipers was to grab a drink with every one of my brothers, I was happy to scratch three members off of that list.

Day 2

I started my day with hitting the gym to get some of the jitters out, the hotel had a nice facility, and I think most of us made use of it throughout the week. Except Rator, robots don't need to work out.

After having breakfast we all ventured out to Infinity Ward for day 2. Without hesitation we sat right down and got straight to work. Each night the studio pushes out all of their changes that they made that day for everyone to re-test the next day. Here's Hobo waiting for his console to update.

There was much less "playing" to be done today as now it was time to start bringing content to put in the guide and take what we had learned the day before and turn that into text. As the new guy, I was volunteered to go set up the PC systems and take screenshots of everything in the game to be printed in the guide later.

A few hours of work done and I hear this familiar voice walking up behind me. What do you know, it’s the one and only [SS]Wally! Excited to finally meet another one of my brothers I jumped up and straight away began the tour of the new facility. Wally had been to IW for MW2, but being that this was the new studio he was just as surprised as the rest of us. He even got a little friendly with Ghost.

With another member of the team in the building, I added him to my team of virtual models for screenshots. We got our list of shots we needed and started framing and staging our shots.

This took most of the day as there is a ton of new and exciting maps, weapons, and other awesome things to take pictures of. We were very impressed with what we saw and wish we could share with everyone, but unfortunately they are too good to spoil.

On this day we were also joined by YouTube sensations Tmartn. He was a part of the Black Ops II guide team and he was great to work with.

This was the first trip where we had an even amount of players for both sides. There were four Sea Snipers and four guys from the Brady team, so we decided to split the teams accordingly and see what we were made of. The battles ended in fire as we went back and forth for at least an hour or two before wrapping things up and packing it in for the night.

The entire crew battling

Day 3

Day three, feeling a little groggy and in major need of a cup of coffee I woke up and headed straight for the Starbucks to get my morning magic brown water. This was just the trick to get me started, so I pulled out the laptop and immediately began working some more right at the hotel.

Grunt and Sab

Promptly at 0900 the crew gathered in the lobby, I noticed that we had yet another addition to the crew. His name was Mike and he was a friend of Jason and Phil’s, he was another writer/programmer and made a great addition to the guide team.

So, the whole crew transported over to the IW studio in almost SWAT fashion, the only thing that would have made this cooler would have been if the two vehicles we had were all black well tinted Chevy Suburban SUVs. As our ever growing platoon of Strategy Guide soldiers entered the building, we were familiar with almost everyone. I walked right in, grabbed my first coffee and sat right at the PC station to immediately get started.

Today was just as busy as yesterday, but instead of focusing on screenshot and building classes we thought would be useful on different modes, maps, etc. we had big changes that needed our full attention.

One cool thing about being placed right next to the MP room was that we had full access to them. Being as we were a fresh set of eyes on this game that the studio had been working on for two years, they seemed to appreciate the feedback.

Rator, Grunt, Sab, Hobo

About midway through the day the two Single Player guiders came into the studio to start on their work. Obviously I had never met these guys, so it was quite interesting to see their side of the work that gets done for a strategy guide. Darren (Single-Player Mapper) and Thom (Single Player Strategy Writer) were they guys that joined us. Thom was a local, so he seemed to really know what he was doing, the moment he sat down, we've worked with him (having never met in person) on guides since COD4.

Today went as normally as it could until right after dinner time, when I learned that our new friend Mike was a master Street Fighter player who toured with the US team to battle against the greats. One of the IW Q/A testers was also a big time Street Fighter guy, so a battle royal became our after dinner entertainment for about thirty minutes before heading back to work.

Hobo getting what this chair called a massage.

Mike also made one more man for the Brady team for the end of the night COD war, and we had to run a sub-routine to get Rator out of robot mode to come make our teams even. This final battle was the ending ritual of our nights, and tons of fun.

Hobo showing off. Sab about to crash.

As we ventured back to our rooms Wally decided he wanted to see what the patio situation was like at the hotel, so we joined him and enjoyed a few drinks in the beautiful, warm, LA evening weather.

Somehow Hobo had figured out how to make fire with his thumb.

Day 4

Today started out without any special events, except there seemed to be something in the air, because they breakfast table was very lively and full of jokes, mostly about my mom.

Hobo and Rator

We walked into the studio, again some of the first guys in the building. We knew where we were going and what we were doing at this point, so again without hesitation we got right to work. As we saw Kate, the studio’s Administrative assistant, we all said hi and thanks since she had been taking extremely great care of all of us during the visit. Kate is the one who ordered all of our meals, helped keep our snack supply fully stocked, plus we never saw her not smiling.

Kate's command center

Today was the hardcore strategic mode day. After pushing the daily builds to all of your machines, we broke out the laptops and started to pick apart every part of the game that we could, finding anything that might be used to take advantage of any situation we found possible.

As the days became greater, my max energy level got lower and lower, so I made more and more visits to what I called the extreme zone. The extreme zone was where everything energy was located; Mountain Dew, Coffee, Clif bars, candy, and anything else you could think of, it was there in the extreme zone.

Wally's lunch

Testing and writing, testing and writing, it seemed to never end, but neither did the cool features in the game. This was day four of five for me, and I felt like I could still spend another couple weeks here drawing as much information possible out of this game for our readers to use, hopefully that tells you the kind of content we found on this trip.

Rator and Soap

At dinner, Hobo challenged me to a game of ping pong. I’m not exactly sure that he said that, but it makes for a better story, so I’m going to leave that in there. We played a few games and I was up 2-0 before we called it quits until the next day.

We went back to work until our ritual final battle of the night. Four nights had gone by and we got used to playing modes and setting that we were not quite familiar with(core), that the other Brady guys were really well versed in. On this night, we figured out what their strategy was and with some minor adjustments we evened the battlefield and managed to get some pretty honorable wins out of what we thought to be not of our territory.

Grunt, Wally, Sab, Hobo, Rator. Grunt, Sab, Hobo

Day 5

Final day of my trip, I was ready to make this day one to remember. I got up and hit the gym bright and early; being sure to have all the energy I could to take it all in.

We always like to take care of those that take care of us. In order to show our appreciation we made an order at a local flower shop and got them to bring in a great bouquet for Kate as a gift from the Sea Snipers.

As I made my final entrance into the studio I made sure to take in as many memories as my already exhausted brain could handle. I said goodbye to Ghost, Soap, and Cpt. Price. For those were icons I feel I have known for years as well. I thanked the entire Brady team and some of the Infinity Ward personnel for the opportunity to come out and work on their game and the guide.

My airport shuttle arrived at the studio promptly at 1400 and I made my final goodbyes and long awkward hugs to my brothers, then departed making my way off of the battlefield.

Day 6

I had left on Friday, and Grunt had to leave early Saturday, but Rator, Wally and Hobo pushed on since Rator had somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 screenshots to take for reference for map textures. We got to talk to Sean one of the artists and exchanged gamertags. He was a blast to play with and jumped in on our nightly sessions, GGS Sean!

We met lots of new faces and talked about the good old days with the familiar ones and have to again give a massive shout out to one of the best teams in the business. The crew at IW is the most courteous, helpful, and generous teams we've ever worked with. They really make you feel like a part of their team. I can't tell you how many times level designers would come over and ask for our feedback on the maps they were creating. Its experiences like that, that we'll take with us forever.

Big thanks to Brady Games, Pete Blumel for the opportunity and hospitality, Simon for the great maps and open ears, Bill for my swag, Kate for the shirts and EVERYTHING else, and the entire team who didn't treat us like outsiders, but like Sea Snipers.

PS: Special shout out to Khyra, from all of your uncles here in the SS we hope you get well soon.

I'm [SS]Sabotage, and thanks for reading.

CO Public Relations

Last edited by [SS]Sabotage : 04-22-2015 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 08-30-2013   #2
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Very nice write up. This game promises some revolutionary features not yet seen in the COD franchise on console. Can not wait to play this on the next gen Xbox One console!

"Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! NOBODY!" -- White Goodman
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Old 08-30-2013   #3
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looks like fun.

you got to spend a week in my world

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Old 08-30-2013   #4
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AWESOME!!!! would be great to be able to experiance that.. good job, cant wait to see the guide:)
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Old 08-30-2013   #5
Eyes In The Skies
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Originally Posted by HardCore View Post
AWESOME!!!! would be great to be able to experiance that.. good job, cant wait to see the guide:)
Thanks man! We had a lot of fun, and cherish every moment of it.

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
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Old 08-31-2013   #6
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Thanks HC, it was cool to be able to just go and talk to the devs or have them come talk to us etc. Seriously, everyone we met was fuckin cool.

I'm gonna ask you questions, and every time you don't give me answers, I'm gonna cut something off. And I promise you...
they will be things you will miss!
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Old 09-02-2013   #7
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lol at that tour video "We have a lot of cool people come in, we bring in Navy SEALs and uhhh, uhhh, uhh, they bring their dogs! So we get to play with them" hah, somebody had a little on the spot brainfart.

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Old 09-02-2013   #8
Eyes In The Skies
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Haha yeah, she's a super cool lady though and does that in a lot of her vids. Not to mention she is cute as hell.

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