Californian studio Sledgehammer Games steps up into the major leagues this year, leading development on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but the developer has a long and illustrious history with COD and with blockbuster games in general.
The studio was co-founded in 2009 by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, who together had created the Dead Space sci-fi horror series for EA. The first game Sledgehammer was working on would have been a third-person Call of Duty game set in the Vietnam war, which adapted the tension and terror of Dead Space for a war game.
"We had spent at least six to eight months on it," Schofield has told Game Informer. "I was really getting into the story. We had some really cool mechanics. We had the underground tunnels. We were definitely getting some Dead Space moments. I don't mean that from sci-fi, I mean that was a war that was scary for the [American soldiers]. They didn't know if in the jungle there was a booby trap, or what was in those tunnels. And there were thousands of miles of tunnel underground. It was a hidden war, right?"
The game was abandoned when Sledgehammer was instead asked to help Infinity Ward develop Modern Warfare 3. "We would've loved to have made [the third-person Call of Duty]. It was in a space that we enjoyed, but how does anything compare to the first-person blockbuster release of 2011?" says Condrey.
However, the team was already realising that while Vietnam made for tense gameplay scenarios, it also opened up murky morality that would have made it a tough sell. "We found out as we were researching it as well, all around the world it's actually known as America's war. Not Vietnam's," Schofield admits. "We were the only ones that called it the Vietnam War. It's kind of unpopular. And we didn't really understand the marketing aspect of that."
The idea isn't completely dead, though, and Schofield insists that the studio could return to a third-person shooter if that's what Activision wants. "If they ever asked us to a make a third-person Call of Duty game I'd go back to what we were doing," he says.