WoWS "Developer's hour" Q&A

By WoWS developer Vladimir Grisyuk, and translated by Vlad (yes 2 Vlads 😀 ):
Q: We’ll begin with a traditional question. Vladimir, who is the “lead game designer of ship balancing”? What do you do in the project?
A: Well, basically, the balancing of ships, as the name implies.
Q: The balancing of each single one or the balancing within the framework of a single battle?
A: Very often, when talking about balancing, it’s mixed up with the matchmaker. I handle the ship’s characterstics, combat system, the selection of ships for branches etc.
Q: On the forums, information appeared that in 0.5.3 the Lexington will be stripped off a fighter group. Why? The Lexington is not easy to play as-is, and in my opinion such an action is illogical.
A: A fighter group will in fact be removed, but only from the stock configuration. The Lexington has multiple options regarding planes and the stock setup one of the groups has to leave. Instead, but this will be considred only after the public test, its bombers will probably recieve better bombs. As of why we are doing this is because the stock setup seems quite uncontested by the others, and we want to give the players a choice.
Q: Why doesn’t any of the American CV’s have one of the most famous and successful deck-based fighters Grumman F6F Hellcat? Are they unable to be balanced or will there be CV’s with them in the future?
A: In fact, the Hellcats were held back because they are this popular and we didn’t want to implement them that soon. But now we will review fighter groups in the near future, as they currently are a legacy of alpha and beta. In the nearest version we would like to get rid of anachronistic planes: we currently have planes in the game which were used sometime as experiments. We’d like to have a little bit more historical setups. This might reduce the visual variety. In particular, jet planes and weird triplanes will leave, also some biplanes. We’ll work towards more historicity of planes.
Q: While we’re at it, how are ships’ characteristics changing: what are such changes based on, what are you guided by?
A: The main task of balancing is to give players more or less equal chances of winning disregarding the equipment they are using, because a game is first of all just that – a game. This slighly decreases the game’s possibility as a competition because after some time, there would be a dominance of “right” ships and all others would be practically useless.
Q: That means it’s basically the same as with tanks – if a ship spikes in the general victory statistic, it has to be slighly nerfed?
A: Basically, yes.
Q: Is only the win rate considered, or are there other parameters?
A: Mainly the winrate, but there is also the mean kills per battle statistic which directly influences victory chances. A ship which slays everything and doesn’t win too often would be weird.
Q: A victory is the merit of not only a single ship.
A: It would seem so, however on a wide range of battles, personal achievements of the players aren’t so visible anymore. One good player can have a good win rate on any ship. But he is a single player, and the ship will be played and lose battles by many other players, especially if the ship is difficult to play. We have some concept of skill dependance: there are ships who do not easily achieve victory, but if you learn to play it properly, the victory percentage would rise above the average one.
Q: But what is then to think of recommendations on the forum which say: “I have achieved my 20th Kraken on the Cleveland” and people start hissing: “psst, the devs are reading and will nerf it!”.
A: Well, first of all, the devs do play themselves. One task of balancing is to anticipate any possible exploits, unfair usage, or any fair one but in some particular situations…
Q: Can you provide a case, maybe at least some “spherical vacuum” one?
A: Well there is one, not even spherical: people oftentimes complain about high-tier DD’s, in particular about some Shimakaze playing invisible but has many powerful torpedoes. If a squad of such DD’s is to enter battle, their enemies will most certainly not have a good time, and the only counter against such setups is currently the CV’s, which however do not appear in every battle and not always want to explicitly spot these DD’s. That means that as soon as we lack reconnaissance, these DD’s can dominate, and we of course don’t like such scenarios.
Q: And what do you do?
A: Well, currently nothing, we just can’t do anything yet. However, cruisers should recieve a means of fighting these DD’s, since we are working on new equipment for cruisers.
Q: And thus, Vladimir answered the next question: what he wants to apply a grinder on to create ideal proportions. (Seb: grinder = nerf)
A: Please note, no grinders are associated, this is a new tool to counteract the enemy. In fact, the game becomes more diverse.
Q: Dear Vladimir, many ask for a premium CV, even a Soviet one, how soon will at least a low tier ship come?
A: No Soviet CV’s were even looked on yet, at least not this year for sure, since they would come from some very rough paper… Considering premium CV’s, it is a difficult question, we planned to experiment on this one. The CV is quite a difficult class and it’s quite hard from a morals point of view to give a newbie a premium ship in which he would let down the whole team. This would also be bad for the player itself who goes ahead jumping into the premium for his first battle, dying instantly, and blaming everything on the ship: it’s bad, doesn’t win me battles.
Q: So there are too many downsides to such a ship?
A: Well, it currently looks like we could give such a ship out to more experienced players only.
Q: How would this be checked?
A: That’s currently only being considered.
Q: The Kitakami recently was seen in battle. Was it rebalanced and will it come back?
A: That’s no fact at all. It was most certainly being played, first of all by our publishers. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t mean anything since it’s quite a difficult ship which coincidentally holds the highest percentage of teamkills in the game. Many torpedoes do not hit their intended target. It currently looks more like a reward ship, less like a premium.
Q: Vladimir, who decides which ship will belong to branches, and which will be a premium one?
A: These are usually requests by the publisher, by people who operate the game, since there is often a need for a ship as a reward for some events. When the Global Map launches, there will most certainly be high tier reward ships for that.
Q: So you represent the executors of publishing department’s orders?
A: Regarding premium ships in particular, this is often the case. However an order is usually placed as “we need something like this”, and then we find suitable options.
Q: Why do IJN CV’s on lower tiers (5-6) not have strike presets (no fighters at all)? Would the exchange of a fighter squadron for a bomber one cause such imbalance?
A: In fact, it would, and not in favour of the Japanese. They do have quite viable strike options, the players often choose setups with maximum striking capability, and a problem occured: they had no possibility at all to fight back against a CV with fighters, not at all. If they have at least one fighter squadron, there is already a possibility to break the enemy’s defense and bind their fighters in battle. As such, the current solution is more oriented to broaden the tactical component, because adding more torpedo bombers would be too much, and adding bombers doesn’t help as much as it burdens, actually.
Q: When will the Midway be nerfed? How does the AA rebalance affect this point?
A: In the framework of the plane group and AA rebalance, the groups of not only the Lexington, but also the Midway and Essex ones will be changed. As such – next version.
Q: How are the plans to remove imbalance between IJN and American CV’s? Will the changes be global or only affect some “lucky” ships?
A: I see that CV’s are quite a hot topic. Regarding the imbalance – it’s quite a difficult question since there are drastically different opinions. Looking at the statistics, the lower tier IJN CV’s up to tier 8 simply rip the Americans apart. Looking at the feedback, players usually complain that the Japanese can’t do anything against the Americans. Usually, these are different people – the ones who play well do not complain, but in fact the question is not about the equipment, but about different playstyles and different skill requirements, because honestly, the Japanese are more difficult: they have more groups and thus more situations for the player to be controlled. Their attention has to be spread more widely, and this is difficult.
Q: Is this circumstance considered during the balancing of IJN CV’s?
A: Of course. We would not want to make CV’s the same ships for different nations. In fact, CV’s have a problem in particular, where the ships differ but are overshadowed, because they usually just stand somewhere behind an island. From then on begins a very subtle nuance on the difference of the planes – this one is a bit more speedy, this one a bit more sturdy, but this is not that visible. To increase the difference between them, to provide options for those who want to play more relaxed and strategical, and for those who want to “micro” their planes, it was decided to separate them between different count of planes in a squad and different count of squads. Summed up, there is about the same amount of planes in the air.
Q: Will CV’s recieve their own equipment? They are currently the only class without one.
A: Not in the nearest future, but we are considering it.
Q: Will Arkansas remain without AA armament? Are there any plans on this ship?
A: Yes, no AA is planned. There are no grounds for a buff of this ship – it even performs quite well statistically. That’s mainly because it is played by betatesters who have achieved a certain skill level.