Interview – Vlad Belozerov on World of Warplanes

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WoWPVladIMGGames Arena: When you started on World of Tanks, were you planning on expanding into warplanes and warships? Or, after the game was finished, did you see an opportunity to fill a void the same way WoT did?

Vlad Belozerov: Many people on the dev team are passionate about planes and flight simulators, so the idea to develop an MMO flight-action game was something we have thought about for some time. Back in the day most of us were busy working on World of Tanks and weren’t sure whether the concept behind a flight game would work out very well. Luckily, it did! Deciding on the next game to develop was easy; we had the dream to focus on air combat, and when we discovered most of our tank-loving players were also keen on warplanes, it incentivized us to bring the project to life. We had ground battles covered by World of Tanks, and World of Warplanes was designed for the skies. The only setting left was sea, so making a naval MMO game seemed like the next logical step.

GA: World of Tanks has a lot of depth to it, yet it is very easy to get into. World of Warplanes on the other hand, due to its nature as an air combat game, is a bit more challenging to get a handle on. Do you see this as an obstacle in the game’s ability to reach the larger audience?

VB: You are definitely right; flight combat is a bit trickier than ground battles. It requires good positioning, skills and quick reactions that come with practice.
We designed a few different flight model prototypes and controller systems, struggling to find a fit accessibility/realism combo. We tested out a few until we came up with the current setup that seemed to click right in place. To make the transition to air combat easy for beginners, we ensured the learning curve is smooth, and that inexperienced fliers have enough time to adjust to three-dimensional arenas. The game already supports several controller options, so everyone can choose a comfortable layout that fits their play style and level of expertise. Players who attempt warplane combat for the first time will be offered mouse controls, similar to the control scheme in World of Tanks, to provide maximum comfort.
World of Warplanes will feature a series of flight tutorials that guide casual gamers through piloting fundamentals and help them learn basic flight combat tactics for each warplane type.

GA: World of Warplanes offers a lot of control options, my favorite so far having been the World of Tanks style mouse control, since my joystick has seen better days. What have you found to be the preferred method of control by the players? And how difficult do you find it to balance all the options in such a way that they all offer a level playing field?

VB: The default “World of Tanks mouse” control scheme has become a well-received option for novice pilots. The second mouse option is trickier and less popular than the first one, since players need to move the mouse to specify the direction their aircraft will travel. Those who enjoy more of a challenge use a gamepad. It combines elements from the keyboard and mouse, and is a bit easier to master than a joystick. The joystick is the controller of choice for hardcore players; as it offers maximum control over the plane.
Controls are one of the most challenging parts of the game. Each control scheme is constantly being refined, and we’ll continue to rework them based on feedback from our Closed Beta testers. Right now, we are focused on making minor adjustments to the current flight model, improving the mouse/keyboard aiming controls, and hand-coding the AI for joystick use. We also plan to gradually add new options for unusual joystick models, TrackIR pedals, and more.

GA: Are you planning on additional game modes, or low visibility conditions for maps?

VB: World of Warplanes already features Standard (Superiority) mode, where two teams fight for air supremacy by destroying enemy planes and ground targets. We are working on an extensive Tutorial mode intended for beginners, and another full-scale battle mode called Escort Missions is being developed. In this mode, one team will escort a heavy bomber to a specific point on the map while the opposing team will try to destroy the bomber and the squadron supporting it.
The detection system incorporates different variables; players should consider the position of the Sun, enemy viewpoint, clouds, terrain, crew skills, and canopy type. We’ve already introduced volumetric clouds, and will add dynamic weather next. We are also working on adding Night Battles, but it won’t be added to the game anytime soon since this particular game mode requires balance testing which won’t start until Open Beta.

GA: Will you try and maintain historical accuracy, or would you be inclined to attempt some more fictional scenarios, such as assaulting fleets of zeppelins? I ask because, well, it creates a very visually striking image that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since Crimson Skies.

VB: World of Warplanes and World of Tanks will get a Historical mode, where players have the chance to re-enact legendary ground and air battles. This mode will be implemented sooner for Tanks than it will be for planes since we still need to polish the core World of Warplanes gameplay before enriching it with new modes.

GA:Have you determined a date for the open beta phase of World of Warplanes?

VB: The Closed Beta has been extremely helpful for us. We’ve received a lot of substantial feedback which will allow us to make improvements before the game enters massive testing. We’ll continue to refine new game features until we’re confident the core gameplay experience is polished and that the game offers up enough content to keep players engaged for a very long time. At that point, we’ll proceed to open beta and start working on perfecting the game balance.

GA: When all three games are available, do you plan on interconnecting them in any way?

VB: The company announced the Wargaming.net Service last summer. It will unite all our projects within one portal (www.wargaming.net), while the unified user account will allow players to transfer their earnings—in-game Gold and Free Experience points—across the different titles. We also intend to bring the three games together through Clan wars, and organize cross-title events, contests, and specials.

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