World of Warplanes: A Bigger Budget Than Every Flight Sim Ever — Combined
It seems another potentially big MMO is following the “World of” naming scheme: World of Warplanes, the upcoming arcade flight sim from World of Tanks developer Wargaming.net. At E3 2012, we had the opportunity to chat with Victor Kislyi, Wargaming.net CEO, and Vladislav Belozerov, World of Warplanes Project Manager, about the company and its games as Vlad demoed Warplanes for us.
Check out the full interview, below.
Game Front: What is Warmgaming.net working on that has you most excited?
Today we officially announced the Wargaming.net web service. It’s going to be a web-based portal with hundreds of options which hosts all three games, with statistics, tournaments, notifications… You’ll have a single account. It’s pretty much like Battle.net — with similar functionality. It’ll be a unified service for World of Tanks, World of Warplanes, and eventually World of Battleships.
GF: Will in-game currency be able to translate throughout all three games through this platform?
It’s your gold, it’s the money you invested, so yeah, why not use it for all three games? But what is more exciting for us is the experience points. So if you are an old World of Tanks player, you can get a lot of extra experience points that you don’t need for your tank number 110 — I, myself, have 80 tanks — so maybe I can save some XP, which I earn in battle, and when World of Warplanes comes out, I will immediately level up to a top-tier Russian plane. You’ll have additional freedom about where to earn and where to spend the experience points.
GF: World of Tanks supports up to 15 vs. 15 players; how many players per battle in World of Warplanes?
It will be 15 vs. 15.
GF: What were some of the unique challenges you faced when taking gameplay to the skies?
The biggest challenge for us would have to be the controls — balancing casual versus hardcore. There are a lot of hardcore hardcore flight simulators, but those games really don’t get that many players. But if we go too casual, guys like you and me will not take that seriously. So the biggest challenge was to present a historically accurate aircraft battle sim, but to make it appealing.
For instance, you start off already airborne — why? Do you really want to spend fifteen minutes just taking off, then, after a successful mission, landing? Maybe yes, but we think if you try it this way, you’ll forget about the excitement of landing. We think that in the same amount of time, we can have two or three more battles — the action; firing, manoeuvring, things like this. So we are sacrificing some historical accuracy where we can add a lot of fun elements.
GF: On land, you can design a map that funnels players to certain hot spots; in the sky, how do you get players to find each other?
We have the minimap, we have indicators… There are probably things we still need to add, like the enemy plane’s will be indicated by the arrow on the edge of the screen. There are a lot of indication tricks that we have to try out so that we can implement the most successful one.
The main thing you generally use is the minimap. That shows you and other nearby planes. Then we have a red indicator that shows the direction of the closest enemy, and an orange triangle that shows the direction to your locked target. Also, when you take damage, there is a red indication which shows from which side you’ve been hit.
GF: I noticed Vlad’s wing is damaged — is that just aesthetic?
The damage model affects the flight model. When your wing is hit, for example, you cannot turn that well, as your plane tends to go in one direction.
GF: In what ways does the environment play a part in the action?
Unlike many other simulations, we try to make it a little unrealistically low to the ground. There are hills, canyons, high-rise buildings… We also have clouds. If you jump in the clouds, enemies can’t see you. When you’re facing the sun, visibility is limited. So there’s a lot of tactical environmental elements. We didn’t just make it high-in-the-sky dog fighting. There are also ground targets — like AA guns to take out, fuel tanks, tanks driving on the ground, trains… There will also be different lighting conditions — for instance dawn, or dusk.
Let me tell you this. I truly believe that the budget for this game will probably be bigger than all air simulation games in the history of mankind — combined. We will do whatever it takes to make it the most enjoyable, the most massive airplane game. We’re investing millions and millions of man hours and dollars to make this game the most enjoyable warplane simulation ever.
GF: Maps obviously have to have boundaries; what happens when you reach a map boundary in the sky?
As you start to approach the border, you get warnings. If you keep going, the autopilot starts to gently turn your plane to bring you back into the map. You’ll never see the border, of course — you’ll always see the ground, the horizon.
GF: I noticed that there are AI ships in World of Warplanes, and aircraft carriers in World of Battleships. Will we see a crossover game where players can control either a plane or a ship?
Not in the near future. Maybe a few years from now we’ll think about combining them; however, now, we’re concentrated on making a very enjoyable tank game by providing continued updates that’ll make our players happy, the best of the best warplane simulation experience, and a really great battleship, naval battle environment. And they will all be combined through this Wargaming.net service. Clan war battles are also a priority.
GF: Are you concerned about your games competing with each other?
I can imagine a situation where someone, after two years of playing World of Tanks, may get a little bored, so he’ll be able to switch to Warplanes for a bit. Or maybe during certain days of the week, he’ll play Battleships, or if he had a Redbull, he’ll play Warplanes. We’re not afraid of cannibalizing — there will be synergy, not cannibalization.
GF: Do you think F2P is the way of the future for PC gaming?
Absolutely, and for any kind of gaming. Google is free, Facebook is free, even your cell phone, barring some minor down payments, is free, so yes — it’s the future for all kinds of gaming. The box — retail — will not survive. Downloads for money will not survive. Because of piracy, because there’s so much… Quality. If you look at games coming out of China, you see multi-million dollar budget games that are improved upon every month after launch, and they’re free.
So yes, free to play is the future, and we proudly consider our company to be one of the pioneers in free to play, quality games. In the past two years, the market of global online games has grown like crazy, and we’re part of this growth.
GF: When you first started working on WoT, did you have any idea how big and successful it would become?
Frankly speaking, no. We were so many times surprised about how our business targets were not met — in a good way; they were overwhelmed. We’ve been making computer games for probably the last 14 years; we made 13 titles before WoT, so we earned our way into this successful position.
GF: What were the most important lessons you learned that led to your success?
You don’t do publisher deals. As soon as there’s an independent developer and a publisher, no matter what you sign, very rarely do you become real partners. There are always business terms, and deadlines, and the money involved that they have… There’s always a war — a quiet war or a loud war — between a publisher and developer. So that’s why, with World of Tanks, not only did we develop it, but we decided, “Hey, we don’t want to give it to any publishers, because then it’ll be the same as before.” So you have to be your own publisher. And of course, money-wise, you don’t have to share with anyone. You hold all the risks — the infrastructure, the PR, the marketing — but if you’re successful, then you don’t have to split the shares.
GF: Anything big coming up in the future for WoT?
Yes, World of Tanks 7.4. We finally have two big game modes coming out. One is Assault, where one team is defending, and the other one has to take the base. And the other one is Encounter; there’s one point in the middle, and you have to take it.
You probably have noticed that we’ve changed our logos and branding, with our new motto, “Let’s battle.” That’s what we do. No storyline, no quests… Let’s battle.