War Inc. Interview
Questions by Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Sergey Titov, Executive Producer
Matt Candler, Executive VP
Hess Barber, Senior Designer
Currently in Open Beta and showing lots of promise, War Inc. Battle Zone is a free-to-play third person shooter. Set in a not so distant future, War Inc. Battle Zone promises to include a ton of features you would not find in any retail war shooter, but without the retail asking price.
Want to learn more? I got a chance to chat with the fellas at Online Warmongers Group Inc. to find out more.
OnRPG: Hello there. My name is Michael Sagoe, writer for OnRPG, but you can call me Mikedot. Before we begin, would you care to introduce yourselves to the readers?
My name is Sergey Titov , and I’m executive producer for the War Inc. Battle Zone.
My name is Matt Candler, and I’m executive vice president for the War Inc. Battle zone.
My name is Hess Barber and I’m senior designer for War Inc. Battle Zone.
OnRPG: Now then… Let’s get some of the obvious questions out of the way: With so many war shooters titles out there, what makes War Inc. Battle Zone so special?
MC: As I’ve said before, our goal was to bring traditional RETAIL production value and a quality to the Free To Play game. We are gamers ourselves and we feel that there are basically two camps – on one side we have several fun to play games, but they have really dated graphics and really low production values. Then on other side we have Battlefield and Call of Duty which are very high end, very solid games, but they require players to pay $60 or more to obtain them and after that players must grind endless hours, days and months just to unlock a few decent new guns or features.
We wanted the best of both worlds in War Inc. Battle Zone. We wanted to play a game with premium quality, modern graphics and nice production values, yet we wanted to have all the perks of free to play gaming. We wanted to allow for players to have the opportunity to speed up progression by spending a little bit of money and we wanted to be able to bring in our friends, without forcing them to pay $60 or more just to play.
This is basically what War Inc. Battle Zone is all about. We offer a retail quality game in a free to play form that not only delivers in quality but also expands the fun for all players in multiple ways.
OnRPG: What made your group decide to go with creating an in-house engine instead of using pre-existing engines such as Unreal or Cryengine?
ST: There are a couple reasons for that. Number one – our parent company, Arktos Entertainment Group has been in game technology and engine development business for quite a while now, so we already had access to an engine that maybe wasn’t as widely known as Unreal, but offered much more features and more importantly flexibility than commercially available engines. Plus as a free bonus we have direct access to engineers who’re working on the engine right now.
The second reason is more important; while both Unreal and Cryengine are good client side solutions, when you’re developing persistent online multiplayer game, 80% of the platform is networking, servers infrastructure and architecture, backend solutions, databases, tools for administrators, etc. Those are simply missing in the case of Unreal or Cryengine. Ie – you have to license those expensive engines, and after that still you need to either license a third party solution and try to merge them together, or you have to create your own engine based on Unreal or Cryengine.
OnRPG: With the game currently in Open Beta phase 2, how has been the overall reception from your players?
MC: We have had awesome feedback and response from our beta users. I can honestly say that the development of the game has been helped greatly by the constant feedback and requests of our players. The team has spent a lot of time integrating these ideas and requests into War Inc. Battle Zone.
OnRPG: With only three game modes currently available, what other modes do you guys have planned?
HB: At the moment we’re not planning on adding more game modes. We have our core game mode – Conquest, which is similar to the conquest mode found in Battlefield, we have team Deathmatch that is appealing more toward players who play games like Call of Duty, and we have an extremely competitive cybersport oriented mode called Sabotage. In fact we’ve developed this mode in close cooperation with leading counterstrike teams specifically for World Cyber Games, (War Inc. Battle zone has been promoted to official title for Russian World Cyber Games in 2011). By offering a rich gameplay experience in each of these three modes, we are able to offer something for all FPS players to enjoy and not be pigeon holed into one experience, making us unique.
OnRPG: What other features are you currently focused on bringing to table?
HB: We are always creating and expanding the game with innovative and exciting new features and have some major new features in the works that will be released during the first quarter of this year. We are spending a lot of tweaking and perfecting our new FPS mode and also have plans for vehicles to be introduced soon. We are also in the process of implementing brand new weapon sounds to go with our new weapon customization feature.
OnRPG: The game already has an extensive amount of weapons, but is there any plan for weapon customization?
ST: We are adding a very deep weapon customization system which will allow players the ability to choose from a wide variety of attachments. Players will also be able to try the guns out on the firing range before they even buy them. Once players own a weapon they will even be able to upgrade each weapon individually. This will allow players to find and keep favorite weapons and use these weapons continually as they rank up in the game.
OnRPG: A bit of a personal question: With the skill point system, players can spec themselves to with different skills instead of a straight up class system where players are stuck with particular set of skills. While you can spread skill points out to give yourself some variety, is it possible to max out every skill set, thus allowing you to create an UNSTOPPABLE war machine?
ST: Now that we’re shifting to a class specific specialization system, players have unique tree’s for each of the four classes – Assault, Medic, Engineer, Sniper – so its hard to become ‘unstoppable’. You could, of course, become a skillful Sniper or expert Engineer, but none of the skill upgrades are particularly overpowered. True skill will continue to distinguish the best players.
OnRPG: I noticed that there was no (playable) tutorial available for newcomers. Any chance there will be a playable tutorial mode in the future?
HB: We are a working on a tutorial feature to guide new players through the menus and into the game but we are being very careful not take away from the experience or create walls that stop the player from getting into the action.
OnRPG: An essential part of any online multiplayer shooter is voice communication. Will War Inc. feature in-game microphone support?
HB: We don’t have plans for this in the near future but it is something that has been requested and we do plan on looking into the possibility of implementing it at a later date.
OnRPG: How’s the balance between players that use WP (War Points) and GC (Gold Credits)?
ST: This is the hardest thing we had to solve and I really hope that we’ve almost finished with this task. Basically when playing War Inc. Battle Zone players always have a choice between spending time on the game or spending some money. Our monetization is built upon the concept that players can become more powerful, either by investing their time and playing the game more often or by spending a little real money to get to the same level of power without the time investment.
In addition to this, our paying users will also enjoy more convenience perks – they can create highly customizable private games (basic users have a limited set of options there), they have early access to new guns and gear, they have access to some unique items that won’t improve their stats but these items will help them stand out in a crowd. They also will have more cosmetic character customization options and so on.
It’s now clear to us that our design works since around half of the top players are free players, while the other half are paying users.
OnRPG: When can we expect War Inc. Battle Zone to go into full service?
MC: War Inc. Battle Zone officially launches into full service on April 15 2012
OnRPG: Any final comments you’d like to make?
The team at Online Warmonger is a solid group of game creators who are gamers themselves. We know that players will find War Inc. Battle Zone to be a fun and challenging game that will offer both quality and experiences that are unmatched in the free to play game space.