Interview with Maxim Chuvalov (product manager)

From Polish game news portal GameZilla, translated by Vlad.

– How many battles do you have on your account? – Not that much on the RU server, about 7000. I also played on EU, NA and ASIA, and have a total of about 12000.

– Which stage is the Polish tree currently in? – We collected many information on Polish tanks. There are many variations. What is limiting us however is the lack of higher tiers. The lower and medium tiers are filled, though not all vehicles are unique due to presence of modified Soviet vehicles, but that’s not very critical. But the high tiers are a serious problem, especially tier 10. That’s why we did the Swedes since they did not have such problems with top tiers. Of course we want a Polish tree in the game. We’ll work on it but are not sure what the final product will be. Either an own tree or Polish tanks as part of a tree with several nations.

– But not all is lost? – No, we’re working on it. We don’t want to promise anything though, currently.

– Now about the Swedes. Their tree has the Stridsvagn 103. This vehicle was produced in 1967 and is quite modern. Now, what’s the border in terms of time for WoT tanks? – From the start, we’ve aimed for a period starting from the 20s to the late 60s. We try not to violate this too much.

– Is there a possibility for the return of Historical battles? – We’ve thought about it. Back then we couldn’t realize everything we wanted, so they turned out not that great. Now we’re thinking about how to make them historically accurate while not spoiling gameplay. Currently, we’re in concept phase.

– Do you think it would be necessary to change the game engine after all these years? – If you were to compare the game as of 2010 and as of now, the result would be that the engine is almost completely different. WoT is difficult to move to a new engine in one leap. We have too much content. Maps, physics, balance… So we’re consistently improving the engine. Recently, we’ve optimized the spotting system, implemented new movement physics. So all in all we don’t want to change engines.

– There are many concerned comments about the coming “global rebalance” in WoT. Can you comment on these changes? – No one should be afraid. We do, however, require help in testing. Play on the Sandbox, which is on a separate test server. The first version brought much feedback. Nothing will appear in the game if the testing results do not create positive feedback from the players. Currently, the community reacted to the changes with caution and, partially, negativity. This is not surprising since the game was very different on the test than on the live server. So now we’re planning to implement changes gradually. We’ll conduct the second phase of testing this year and invite everyone to participate. The final product depends on the players’ feedback.

– But there are millions of players, how do you decide which feedback is relevant? – We collect feedback from the forums and social networks, evaluate our “public opinion leaders”. This can be youtubers, professional players and clan members. Those for whom tanks are work or a deep passion. The community feedback is always a double-edged sword. On the one side, there are content players, on the other is the fact that you can’t give millions of players everything they want. So we cautiously approach player feedback and don’t blindly implement everything they ask for. Nevertheless, we take into account that without their participation and feedback, nothing would change. We like it detailed and constructive. They have much more impact than “game’s dead” and “that’s all crap”.

– On the 100th anniversary of the participation of a tank in battle, you created a new game mode. Why do these events not stay in the game permanently? – Well, firstly, we introduce such events to brighten up the monotony of random battles. To play without looking at the stats, the grind to the next tank etc. We don’t want these events to become mundane. Their real goal is to test new game mechanics and the players’ reactions to them. During the “Convoy” mode, we implemented physics for movement of wheeled vehicles. Now we’ll analyze how it worked and will possibly use it in the future.

– What if some events are very popular, would it be possible to implement them permanently? – I think so, but we would have to make more content, missions, achievements for players in the case some particular mode proves exceptionally popular. We react to that and implement it in some form and not instantly. For example, tank football.

– What do you think about modifications in WoT? In regards to the statements which mods can and cannot be used? – Some modifications are prohibited, for example “smart auto-aims”, or mods showing the tank positions based on tracers. We positively regard mods which, for example, improve the interface. There was a mod which added another row of tanks in the hangar. We liked it so much that we’ve implemented that in the game. But there are also really harmful ones. You can’t call them cheats, but they present unfair game advantages. We’re fighting them. And this fight goes on forever. We prohibit and block them, and modders invent ways to circumvent this. But if we block absolutely everything, we would lose many great ideas made by fans. Thus, we’re working on a complex solution. We want to preserve the possibility to create mods but don’t want players to have an unfair advantage. This will be a platform for mods where we can test them ourselves. For example, augment or improve them, so they don’t impact the game performance negatively. And the players will have the possibilty to easily download and install them without having to visit some shady websites.