Electronic Arts has been trying hard to wrangle the title of "best-selling FPS" away from Activision. Games like Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 introduced new engines that leaps well ahead of what Call of Duty has to offer visually. However, Black Ops 2 developer Treyarch doesn't believe the annualized franchise needs a "new engine." Mark Lamia, studio head at Treyarch, argues that "engines" are simply a "buzzword," and talks up the "significant" work that went into creating Black Ops 2's visuals.
Lamia describes an engine as the foundation of a house. "I liken it to people who live in an older house that has been remodeled. Just because you’re remodeling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don't tear out the foundation," he told One of Swords. "There's a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn't get rid of, and we don't."
Treyarch's games have been using modified versions of the same engine used in 2007's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4. While gamers have accused the franchise for resting on its laurels instead of pushing technology, Lamia argues that the fixation on new "engines" is simply marketing. "I think the whole thing about a new engine... sometimes that's a great buzzword," he said. Because so much of the engine has been altered, he questions the validity of labeling something a new engine. "Where does it start and stop? Elements of the code, you can trace back for a very very long time... but whole parts of the code are entirely new." He points to lighting as a feature that received a "significant amount of work."
Once again, Lamia reiterates that Call of Duty must run at 60 frames per second, and won't sacrifice that for new graphical features. "We're not willing to do that if we can't keep it running at 60 frames per second."