As World of Tanks took the online world by storm, the chaps at Wargaming.net did not rest on the laurels and are set to bring us the upcoming World of Warplanes. I interviewed Anton Sitnikov, Producer of World of Warplanes to see what the skies have to offer. I will be providing a full sit-rep as I have a crack at it myself in the closed beta over the next few days. In the meantime, here is the interview in full.
How big is the map in comparison to World of Tanks?
Each map in World of Tanks is about one square kilometer, with the urban-based maps being slightly smaller. WWII era tanks do not require large spaces to make maneuvers, ambushes, and conduct flanking attacks. Gameplay in World of Tanks is moderately paced, giving players enough time to really plan their tactics a step at a time. Couple this with the wide array of terrain options, like hills, mountains, buildings, and more, and you have a formula for some very deep and engaging gameplay.
Air combat is, in its own right, an exhilarating experience: fast paced, competitive, unpredictable, and challenging. Maps in World of Warplanes are definitely larger, with the typical size of about 220 square kilometers. However, we are not talking about a fixed size, since different warplane classes require different map sizes. Lower tier aircraft don’t need vast amounts of open space due to their less powerful engines, while high-powered jets require much more freedom and lots of space in order to be fully combat effective.
Maps sizes, though, won’t equate to a player taking half an hour of real-life time just to reach an enemy base. Players will have plenty of opportunity to engage in combat with the enemy, but also find that they have enough airspace to plan and execute combat maneuvers and tactical decisions.
What methods of deception can be deployed, such as cloud cover etc.?
The deception system includes many different elements: sun position, clouds, and unique terrain features of the landscape.
The sky offers few places to hide, but players can take advantage of naturally occurring elements inherent to air combat, such as the clouds and the sun. Recently, we introduced a new cloud system, and together with the sun, they are key components of the game’s deception system.
For example, it’s possible to hide in clouds and in the sun’s glare if you approach a target from the correct angle. The player will actually be invisible to an opponent until firing a shot, letting him pull off surprise attacks. Players can even use the sun’s glare to shake bandits off their tail in case they find themselves being pursued.
In the game, dogfights take place at a much lower elevation than they would in the real life, providing players with a more intense and tactical experience that incorporates direct interaction with the environment and geography of each map. Every warbird has its own optimal performance altitude range, which is defined by its real-life historical characteristics. So, players can take this factor into account when choosing their class of warplane or when modifying the ones they already own.
Additionally, we’ve made sure each map is filled with a very detailed low-level terrain, so players can strategically plan stealth missions, slashing ground assaults, and sneaky bombing raids. The landscape becomes a key part of the combat, whether you’re flying between mountain ranges or evading an enemy through the twists and turns of a canyon.
We are also considering adding various types of weather conditions, such as heavy rain or dense fog. Both would ultimately reduce visibility range and could be used as a strong tactical advantage.
Will the maps be based on real-life locations during different war periods or randomly generated?
Currently World of Warplanes features five maps. While these maps are already available in the game’s closed beta, we will be adding more content post-launch. All current maps have no direct connection to real-life WWII locations. However, there are some ideas to introduce historical battles as a separate game mode.
What types of missions will be available, will it solely be air dogfights or bombing runs on ground targets as well?
World of Warplanes is a dogfighting-focused game, however, it is also about assaulting ground targets and intercepting ground-attack aircraft and bombers.
When developing the game we discussed and generated over a dozen possible game mode alternatives. After numerous debates and endless prototyping, we ultimately decided that Superiority would serve as the game’s central mode of focus. In Superiority, players can win by shooting down all enemy aircraft or destroy a certain percentage of their ground targets. The player’s role in combat depends heavily on the specific class of plane they choose. If you jump into the cockpit of a fighter, prepare to take part in high-speed dogfighting. If you choose a heavy fighter or a ground attack plane, you’ll spend most of your time taking out ground targets like anti-air defense guns, vehicles and naval vessels. Lastly, if you choose a carrier-based aircraft, you’ll be able to excel in dogfights and be adept at reconnaissance missions to spot enemy warbirds and locations.
We test new modes all the time and have plans to add even more into the game over time. For example, the next possible candidate is what we’re calling Escort, where one team is tasked with escorting a group of AI-controlled bombers to a certain point on the map, while the other team does their best to destroy the bomber formations before they can reach their goal.
What kind of aircraft will be available and from which manufacturers (Focke-Wulf, Messerschmitt/Junker, Supermarine, Grumman etc).
All planes in the game are organized into four main classes that lend themselves to different combat strategies. Numerous fighters feature agility and extreme maneuverability, making them a perfect choice for furball dogfight. Heavy fighters are airborne snipers capable of hitting light and heavy aircraft from afar. Ground attack planes are designed to prowl at lower altitudes, hunting down hostile ground forces and facilities. Carrier-based aircraft can easily conduct bombing and ground assault raids and demonstrate high efficiency in dogfighting, as well.
Every aircraft is designed with its historical strengths and weaknesses in mind. In the game you’ll be able to choose from some of the most iconic WWII-era planes to ever take to the skies, all the way to prototypes and other oddities that never got off the drawing board. Our historical consultants provide our developers with a wealth of information, allowing them to really craft plans that are true-to-life based on their design documents and blueprints.
Each in-game nation’s tech tree really showcases how the US, Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union evolved in terms of their aircraft production and design philosophies. Each nation has a wide number of planes to choose from, but players will be happy to see the truly iconic warbird manufacturers, including Messerschmitt from Germany, Curtis and Grumman from the US, Lavochkin and Ilyushin from the Soviet Union and Mitsubishi and Kyushu from Japan.
The roster of the battle nations will also be expanded with time. And, along with adding new nations, we’re also actively planning on adding new aircraft as time goes on.
How many players will there be per side and how many teams per match?
Matches in Superiority take place between two teams, with each team having 15 pilots. Each match also has a maximum time limit of 15 minutes. However 15 vs 15 format is not fixed, since other modes will be probably more exciting with different number of players.
How will World of Warplanes be monetised, such as additional planes or equipment? Will there be a danger of “Pay To Win”?
The economic system utilized in World of Warplanes will be similar to that found in our flagship game World of Tanks. However, it will be finely tuned to fit the specific needs and characteristics of aerial warfare.
The game features three primary types of in-game currency: credits, experience and gold. Credits are required for aircraft repairs and maintenances, as well as for advancing and upgrading through a tech tree. Experience is used for researching new plane modules as well as unlocking new aircraft. Both credits and experience are rewarded for destroying enemies or ground-based targets, and the amount rewarded is directly tied to combat performance. Gold, however, is the only in-game currency that can be purchased with real-life money. Gold is used to purchase a premium account, special ammo, fully researched premium vehicles, unlock new aircraft slots in your hangar, as well as purchase premium consumables.
We strongly steer away from the idea of “pay to win”. Paid options are only meant to be convenience purchases and are intended to save players’ time in terms of unlocking items or accruing experience at a faster rate. Real money will never be a substitute for skill, though, so even with real money purchases, a player must take the time to actually get good at the game.
Can more than one player sit in a single plane, such as the Lancaster if it was available?
World of Warplanes doesn’t support multiplayer aircraft. However, some aircraft models, such as ground-attack and heavy fighter planes, do come equipped with tail gunners or flexible turrets, which are operated by AI.
Will there be territorial maps to conquer, such as a map of Europe?
The success of Clan Wars in World of Tanks inspired the World of Warplanes development team. After launch, we’ll be adding Clan Wars to the game, complete with some high-end gameplay modifications. However, that’s about all we can share at this point in time.
In terms of team balance, since teams will be divided depending on vehicle development, will there be other balance penalties in place if the vehicle development split is not enough?
World of Warplanes features a steeper learning curve than World of Tanks. Having a 3D space, along with the unique features of having combat in the air, can make the initial experience a bit difficult to master. For this reason, World of Warplanes features its own balancing system. We want to make sure that rookies never take to the skies with seasoned veterans. This will allow players to gradually get used to the game’s controls, tactics and unique team-based cooperative gameplay, and eventually be skilled and confident enough to advance toward the upper-tiered aircraft and players.
The matchmaking system will be balanced not only along the tier of each warplane, but also their quantity. And, of course, we’ll continue to polish and refine the matchmaker based on closed beta players’ feedback.
What graphics engine is used, is it the same as World of Tanks or have there been any graphical improvements?
Having a game that is focused squarely on a ground-combat and one that was exclusively about airborne fighting required us to make some considerable changes to our graphics engine. But, so far, we’re extremely happy with the results of our modifications. We’ve increased the size of maps to accommodate fast warbirds and even faster combat, and we’ve filled those maps with lots of terrain details. Also, being in the sky, we’ve modified the engine to create things like clouds and sun that actually have a direct role in gameplay.
Our new release for the game, Update 0.4.0, will feature a significantly overhauled rendering system that will really showcase the improved terrain detailing. Plus, it will also add photorealistic water and sun effects and high-res warplane and ground object textures. Overall the update is visually stunning and we’re excited for our test players to get their hands on it.
Will PhysX be employed for realistic plane movement?
PhysX doesn’t properly fit World of Warplanes’ architecture, as all calculations have to be done on the server to avoid cheating. Currently we are considering various options but unless we find a better solution, we’ll continue using our own physics models and technologies.
Will there be a central credit pot for each player if one plays both World of Tanks and World of Warplanes that can be spent on either game?
Last summer we announced the Wargaming.net Service which is aimed at uniting all three of Wargaming MMO titles into a single gaming universe. Part of that service will allow players to switch from game to game seamlessly with a united ID, as well as have a common economic system and free flow of in-game currency between titles.
Are there any plans to combine both universes to create land and air combat?
The new service will also introduce single Clan Wars map where players will be allowed to assist each other in their ground and air warfare on a global map fighting for world domination. The naval MMO World of Warships is expected to join the club in the future.
Will there be plans to promote World of Warplanes as an eSports game and hold global competitions?
We’d love to take World of Warplanes into eSports and we think that it has solid potential to become a mainstay of competitive gaming in the future. However, right now, we’re focused on making sure that the game is as perfect as it can possibly be.