Interview with World of Tanks Project Manager Alexander Shilyaev
Questions by Vincent Haoson, OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Alexander Shilyaev, World of Tanks Project Manager
OnRPG: Hello Alexander, thank you for taking time to answering our questions! We know you guys just reached Open Beta for the game? How was the transition? Did you guys have any problems when the game shifted to OBT?
Hi! Thanks for the opportunity! We actually didn’t have any more or less serious problems with launching the open beta, because we had done a lot of preparatory work by its start. We expanded our server capacity to make sure hosted all the newcomers willing to play and divided the server into 2 parts (for EU and NA territories) and let our players migrate to the desired one. In one word, everything went smoothly.
OnRPG: How is the game population now that the game has finally opened its doors to more players out there?
The population of the game is gradually growing – the number of players on the EU server has increased by 50% since the open beta start, the growth of the NA server isn’t that significant, that’s why we are going to undertake certain marketing and PR activities to improve the situation. It’s difficult to estimate the exact number of active players in the beta as we haven’t gathered this data yet, but the PCCU (Peak Concurrent Users) figure for both servers equals 20,000 people – and we are more than satisfied with this result. However, we have a feeling that some WoT players are staying away from the game at the moment and are probably waiting for the “hard wipe” that will come with the release of the game to start playing from scratch.
With the influx of new players, this would definitely test the game’s matchmaking system. As it was mentioned during the game’s Closed Beta, there have been complaints that some players are matched against to 3-4 tiers higher opponents. Have you guys handled this issue?
The work of matchmaking system depends greatly on the number of players on the server – the fewer players stay in the game, the more unbalanced teams are. In nutshell, the system makes up two equal teams taking into consideration the tier and class of vehicles. After the reboot of our servers or during the night hours, there are not that many people in the game, so the situations mentioned above may arise. With the growth of World of Tanks population, they will become less frequent. Secondly, we continue our work on enhancing and tweaking the matchmaking system and its version 3.0 is currently in development.
OnRPG: So getting back into the influx of new players, so it’s definitely expected that more players would mean more unruly people will be part of the game population, how will you guys address this issue when you have not implemented any player ignore system in place? Will you be raising the number of mods or gms?
Well, implementing some sort of ignore system might make sense if the game had 2-3K people on servers during the day meaning the chances to meet a player you didn’t want to see on your team were really high. When there’re 50-60K players online you’ll hardly meet the guy in random battles. However, some sort of ignore list already exists in the game – you can add the bullies you’ve met during the battles to the list and you’ll never see their messages in the chat room. All in all, we are in no way going to somehow separate players from each other; on the contrary, what we want them to do is to make friends and communicate – for this purpose we introduced platoon (up to 3 players join the battle as one unit) and company (the whole team of 15 players consists of friends) battles. For more serious violations of rules like team kill or team damage we are going to introduce an automatic system that will report and ban team killers automatically. Until then our players can report team killers to our moderators providing the necessary evidence.
OnRPG: Aside from the community, one of the bigger issues that are being presented by players is that the balance issue. Some say the artillery’s too powerful, while some tanks are the epitome of “greatness” in their class (panther 2 and t-54s) that you don’t need to bother with the rest. So what’s your answer to these statements and what steps have you guys done on addressing them (if ever you would)
Of course, we are taking steps to make the game better. We have our own opinion on what the balance should be and it’s obvious that a certain part of our community doesn’t share this opinion. If we nerf self-propelled guns, there’ll be thousands of disappointed arty players; if we buff arty, thousands of infuriated players driving medium and heavy tanks will flood the forums. In any case, there would be players dissatisfied with new balance changes. Nevertheless, we are always monitoring statistics to track and fix all major balance issues. I can assure you that some combat characteristics of Panther II and T-54 will be altered and it’s a normal workflow. When new tanks are added into the game, their balance is not finished – we need some time for testing it until it’s adjusted to the gameplay needs. Those players who joined the game with the closed beta know that we are constantly introducing balance tweaks when new vehicles are added.
OnRPG: Another issue that was raised is the “scout” units have the” shortest view range of all the tanks” when in fact scouts should have the longest view range. So what’s your answer to this and will you be working on it? (If you are what steps will you be doing?)
As for the scouts, the most important thing for them is having a decent radio range, so that they can send the coordinates of the enemies they detect to their allies. Thus, to succeed in battles, pro scouts should have top radios installed on their armored steeds. Moreover, as developers we are trying to stick to historical accuracy and realism as much as we can and what we know from the History lessons is that light vehicles were not equipped with big and powerful radio stations. What is really important for successful work of scouts is good team cooperation – they must be supported by mediums and arty.
OnRPG: Players have been trying hard to understand how the game’s line of sight system works. So far, majority of the complaints is focused on this specific problem. Quoting the forums: “This one bug/feature (Camo/line of sight) is a game breaker. Devs, if this is behaving as intended, then a full explanation is needed so that everyone can understand why they are getting gang killed by 7 vehicles they cannot see…” What’s your answer to this and how are you addressing the problem?
Good question! First of all, there’re some vehicles – anti-tank SPGs – that were deliberately assigned low visibility patterns due to certain gameplay needs. When we changed the patterns to normal (as of regular tanks) during the Russian closed beta, we found out that their popularity decreased drastically. Secondly, trees and bushes reduce visibility – using this option will let you stay hidden. Thirdly, players can use camouflage nets making it harder for the enemy to detect them. Now imagine the situation when your enemy is operating an anti-tank SPG equipped with the coated optics (+10% to view range), has a skilled gunner in it and is hiding in bushes with a camouflage net on it while you’re driving a stock medium tank with no extra equipment… Of course, you won’t see where the hostile fire is coming from. To counter the enemy one should enhance their optics, install extra modules, level up crew and avoid going in the open field.
OnRPG: There have been complaints on the XP gain. What’s your take on the XP gain you have implemented in W.O.T?
We use different criteria and formulas to calculate XP for each battle but we’re not going to reveal them to our players. Among the basic factors that are taken into account by the system are player’s activity (whether he is driving around the map and shooting at enemies), number of detected, damaged (how crucial the inflicted damage was), and killed enemy units, the tier of a player’s opponents (high tier tanks destroying low tier vehicles earn less experience and vice versa), the outcome of a battle, etc.
OnRPG: There was one who observed that the experience points gained whenever you take down a higher tiered tank is similar to taking a tank at the same tier as you. Is this part of the game’s overall design? Why or why not?
That’s not true – for destroying higher tiered tanks players get more experience, however, you’ll earn more for knocking out a 100% strong T-44 than for finishing off IS-7 with 1% hp. XP points are not given only for destroying hostile vehicles, the scale of damage matters as well.
OnRPG: Have there been any updates in the clan system for W.O.T.? Will you guys implement it the game goes commercial? (If not what can you tell us about it?)
We’ve recently launched Clan Wars v. 1.0 in Russia that underwent 3 months of testing. During that period of time we introduced certain gameplay changes to increase the number of players involved and the number of battles fought in the global warfare. Clan Wars will be implemented some time after the release date as it will be a little bit strange to start fighting for world domination on Leichtractor or MS-1 tanksJ. At the moment, we are working on Clan Wars localization for Europe and North America.
OnRPG: How do you guys determine the tanks that you include in the tank roster? What tanks are you guys eyeing to release in the near future?
We have a big team of keen tank enthusiasts working as our game designers who are responsible for expanding the roster. They decide on what tanks should be added after thorough studying of statistics. When some imbalance between the nations is found they are looking for a way to tweak it and add a new vehicle. As for the nearest reinforcements our players can expect, here they are: three tier 8 SPGs: Object 261, Geschutzwagen-E, T92; two premium tanks: Lowe and KV-5 and two tanks from full trees: Pz38 NA, KV-13.
OnRPG: What features have you guys implemented in the OBT?
I guess our players didn’t recognize any changes when the game went “open” as there hadn’t been planned any :). Over the course of the open beta we are going to add some new and some redesigned maps, add new vehicles and tweak the matchmaking system.
OnRPG: So what’s in store for W.O.T. players this OBT? How long will the OBT last till you guys decide to become commercial?
The open beta will last for around 2 months or slightly longer before the game goes commercial. During that period, we’ll be mostly focused on testing the game’s technical features, tweaking the balance and polishing the gameplay. Some major changes like Clan Wars, new modes and new nations are likely to be introduced after the game is released.
OnRPG: A big thank you Alexander for your time, we’re very much looking foward in seeing World of Tanks success continue!