World of Battles Interview: RTS Just Got Served
Questions by Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Vladimir Titarchuk, World of Battles game designer
Real-time strategy is a game genre that's rare to see in the online gaming scene and it seems that somebody took another shot at it with World of Battles. The game is off to a good start and we got a chance to talk to the people behind the game and here's what they have to say about it.
OnRPG: When I was visiting your site I couldn't help but notice the catchy- old school cartoon-like game music. Is this the official World of Battles song? Where did you base the song?
Frogwares: You should definitely listen to the music inside the game. It was created by Frogwares' artists, and there's several tracks, none of which can be called "an official World of Battles song". Right now there's no content in "sound and music" page of our web site, but soon it will be included in the multimedia section. Every World of Battles fan will be able to download and listen to them.
OnRPG: When it comes to RTS games, one of the concerns is the game's balance. With nine races to choose from (plus three alignments) how do you balance each unit in each race found in World of Battles?
Frogwares: The difference between races and alignments isn't the most important one; our units also gather experience, and their stats change with upgrades and equipment. To balance all this, the system of AP (Army Points) was created, measuring each and every unit's battle efficiency. AP of an army equals to the sum of units' AP; thus players can compare overall strength of their army to their opponents'.
Dark Elves on Mounts
OnRPG: With players able to acquire special units using cash in the game's item mall, what's your plan on trying to keep the balance between those who chose to avail the premium units and those who are playing for free?
Frogwares: All special units have their own AP cost, different from costs of basic units - we include not only unit's battle stats into it, but also unit's special abilities. So, if one player fields an army of special units, another one can oppose him with a larger army of normal units with the same AP cost!
OnRPG: With only 16 active units for a player's army. How big do you expect are the battles in the game? There's a possibility that players may in fact find this number too small. (Will future patches increase the number of active units a player may have?)
Frogwares: 16 units is hard enough to control, if you take into account the fact that they should be micro-managed in order to avoid crowding each other, and all of them can take part in intense action. Large battles in our game take place between four, five or even six players, and this number will be increased with future patches! So, right now you can easily find a battle where about 50 units face each other - and that's a lot of bodies, because each unit numbers from 12 to 20 soldiers!
OnRPG: Why is the number of active units only limited to 16? How are the reserve units part of the player's fighting arsenal?
Frogwares: Our game have no buildings to build or resources to gather during battles - it's all about the battle itself, and controlling 16 units during intense action is a hard task even for experienced generals! Sometimes it's easier to manage a smaller army, moving part of units to reserve; then, when preparing another battle with the same opponents, you can change the composition of your army, selecting units best suitable for your task and moving them from reserve back to roster.
Army of Amazons
OnRPG: The game allows customization both as a strategic advantage and for aesthetics. Does that mean that players can actually see the weapons and equipment your units have? Up to what extent can players customize their units?
Frogwares: Unit equipment is divided between weapons, armors, helmets, greaves, etc. When equipping a unit with new item, player will see the difference on the unit figure immediately. Each race have thousands of possible equipment combinations, thus making customization a very interesting process. Fully equipped army of many units make a fantastic sight on the battlefield!
OnRPG: World of Battle utilizes a lot of tactical strategies for players to use. Where did you get the strategies found in the game? Will you be including more in future patches?
Frogwares: There's a wide variety of tactical strategies in the game. There's tactics on the level of general's decisions during the battle - how to attack this particular unit, which unit needs to be surrounded to defeat it quickly, whether to send the cavalry into a charge through enemy ranks or use it to sweep the enemy rear ranks... And there are unit abilities such as charge, standing ground, square, cohort or wedge formations, all of which are based on historical analogues. Some special units have more unusual abilities, which allow to influence several units at once, attack multiple enemies or help multiple friendly units. New special units are being released constantly, which brings even more tactical strategies into the game.
OnRPG: Can you elaborate on the ELO model system you use in terms of the rating a player's army? How does it determine a player's battle prowess?
Frogwares: ELO rating system is based on the one which is used in chess tournaments. Each player starts with basic rating of 1000, which can be decreased by defeats or increased by victories. Increments or decrements of the rating are determined by the rank of your opponent - so, if one wins a battle against high-ranked opponent, he will receive more rating than if he'd win the battle with a low-ranked army.
OnRPG: What's your expectations when it comes to PVP action? Have your expectations been met?
Frogwares: PvP action is what our game is about, and players recognize that as soon as they learn the basics of it. There are one-vs-one duels in Arena mode are feasts of tactical genius. On the other hand, there are massed Deathmatch battles where slain armies respawn, putting players into real large-scale action! Both of these modes are loved by our players, and a new mode will be released soon, integrating a concept of flags and domination!
OnRPG: How big have the battles been in the game? What's the biggest battle recorded as of this moment in World of Battle?
Frogwares: Up to now players were unable to create battles bigger than 3 by 3 players, with total number of units more than 64. This limitation was imposed by the game mechanics, and a lot of such battles had been recorded since the release. Even now, our design team is improving data transfer mechanics to allow for even larger-scale battles - 4x4 and above!
OnRPG: Can you elaborate on the Quest battles in the game? If it's a battle between good and evil what happens to those who are neutrally aligned?
Frogwares: Quest battles are special scenarios where forces of Good and Evil meet each other, and global number of victories is recorded for each side. Side having more victories at the end of Quest Battle term wins this Quest and receives appropriate benefits. In large-scale conflicts like Dominion Campaign which takes place right now, the goal of Good and Evil armies is to conquer all regions of opposing side, while Neutral armies receive benefits from maintaining the balance between these two powers. So, if the Good side wins, Neutral armies should better support Evil legions, and vice versa.
OnRPG: Isn't the load a problem for the servers when big battles happen in game? Are players free from worry that the game can't take the load of huge battles?
Frogwares: Game servers can process several hundreds of battles simultaneously without overload. This is due to the architecture of the game, which places most of the calculations on the most accessible and most powerful PC of the group of players, making him the "host" of the battle. Battle results are saved regularly, so even if a crash occurs on host's PC, all players will receive their hard-earned battle rewards.
OnRPG: What do you think is the game's advantage over other MMORTSes out right now? Why do you think so?
Frogwares: No other games combine massive PvP action (up to 3x3 players) with permanently growing and progressing armies! Armies of different levels can compete with each other due to AP system, different game modes and playing in a team of 2 or 3 players! Also, our game makes emphasis on battles, not on buildings and resources!
Defending Against the Enemies
OnRPG: What's the defining feature that World of Battle has that can be said as the game's signature?
Frogwares: Perhaps it's collector's approach to player's armies. Player can have several different armies of many units, each of them able to use different equipment, and thus being amazingly visually different. To see them all at the battlefield is truly a magnificent sight! It brings World of Battles closer to tabletop wargames, where hundreds of detailed miniatures are prized possessions of their owners.
OnRPG: What's in store for players in the coming months ahead?
Frogwares: First, completely new class of units will be released, totally dominating the battlefield! Second, new gaming mode will be introduced! Third, game interface will be remade in modern style, for better usability and more style. And, with constant releases of new special units and maps, you see there's a lot of things to look for and to prepare your armies for!
OnRPG: Thank you for your time!
Frogwares: And thank you too! Come play with us in our game!