This time, Maksim Chuvalov is getting questioned.
Q: Why was Frontline an event, and not a permanent mode?
A: We wanted to try it out at all. Long have we checked how this idea will be received, eg. on the sandbox. It turned out the mode is worth trying out, and it made the recipients curious. The next step was implementing new mechanics, (9 sq. kilometers, like 9 normal maps), and checking if both the client and server will manage. The tech side was complicated, and we didn’t have time to tune the meta of this kind of gameplay, nor to balance it enough to implement it permanently. This was a very good trial for us, and gave us a lot of valuable feedback and data necessary to fine-tune the mode.
Q: So it’s 100% sure it will return?
A: Yes, it’s decided. Frontline will make a return, hopefully this year, although we can’t be sure. We want it to be an alternative, but not as something readily available, but maybe in seasons, once a month, or more… Everything is still to be discussed, and we’re sure the concept has a lot of potential. We know about balance (A-D line) or optimization problems, and we’ll focus on those.
Q: Why do you think this event gathers more attention than the others?
A: It’s totally different. We have a lot of players and enormous maps. Creating such a big map is one helluva problem from a gameplay quality perspective. Besides the maps have to be optimized for all the things that happen on them. We also introduced a lot of new mechanics, like repairs, respawns, progression system, battle skills, skill enhancements… It’s probably the most new elements we introduced at the same time, and it worked!
We know what we must fix, and definitely improve the clarity of the rules. It’s good if the players won’t suffer a lot in case of a loss, take revenge on those who destroyed them. This is what kept people in this mode.
Q: Second topic – Polish tanks. What can you tell us about them?
A: The biggest problem were the top tier tanks. That’s why it took us so long to form the final tree. We had a lot of candidates for the low and medium tiers, but the highest were super hard to find, because we didn’t want another clone tree, like part of the Chinese ones.
The tree was supposed to be unique, with memorable gameplay, unlike others. Nevertheless, we’re close to implementing it. It will appear late summer, and have 10 tanks to research in three classes. The tree is logical, and gives an idea of what will await you at later tiers. The meds won’t be super fast, but they will have good alpha damage and armor, which is something the top tiers also have.
Q: Who would you recommend the Polish tanks to (outside of course the interested Poles)?
A: The end of the line will be something like a compact, dynamic superheavy. The small size will help hide from arty, blind fire, or poor aimed shots. The hull will be small, and the turret well armored. It will be possible to hulldown and depress the gun well. It will give a lot of pleasure to players who know how to use the environment. Hills, walls, and ledges will be a help. And of course people who like a high alpha damage will like it. You can’t keep a high DPM all the time, but people with a good timing will love the gun.
Q: You said you didn’t want to introduce clones, like the T-54. Can you tell how you dug out these tanks. A part of the community thinks it’s important to know.
A: We had a lot of candidates for tiers I to IV. There were a lot of mass produced tanks. It would be the most logical thing to pick the FT-17 for tier I, since it was popular in Poland, but we decided to avoid clones, and thus we began the tree with original Polish tanks. Finding the first four was easy. Medium tanks didn’t enter mass production, there were a few units, or prototypes. The top three tiers are engineering projects of young, talented people, which didn’t even have prototypes or models, not exiting the planning phase. Our historians had to work hard on expeditions to Warsaw and other places in Poland to find the projects and a method to put them together into a gameplay uniform line.
Q: So despite not being built, they are still grounded in reality?
A: Yes, definitely. They are base on real plans and technological prowess of the Polish designers of that time. There are a lot of throwbacks to USSR and German technology, but characteristics that would give advantage in Polish environment were sought after.
Q: How does a tank appear in game?
A: The process is very complex, and depends on what information we have about a tank. In regards to whole nations, our historians are working all the time behind the scenes, and communicate with other historians, museums, and archives all over the world. They have a database of hundreds of tanks of all tiers and nations. Then they try to combine those into a proper tech tree, or at least one branch, or even just single premium/reward tank candidates. Creating a final, playable tree is however a lot more work.
Sometimes we have a tree, but we lack some tanks, just like with the Poles, so we start searching. We make a plan, we contact even more places, look for any sources. At the same time the developers start modeling the first tanks, and the balance dept. gets on with their work, both teams working in sync. After that we get the first tanks models, just plain shapes without textures, but with a working armor and modules. We test their behavior in-game. After that we check their characteristics and start internal test, afterwards giving them out to supertesters. Next the tank goes through the hands of the CCs, who give their opinions. Finally, a tank goes into the public test, and after some final fixes, it gets implemented in the next update.
Q: So are the Polish tanks on the last straight?
A: Yes, the tanks are ready more or less, we’re still finetuning them, so maybe in a month or so they can be introduced on the test server. We also hope that we can make them playable for Gamescom.
Q: Can we make it so that if someone can’t pronounce the name of the tank, it can’t be shot at?
A: That would be completely OP (laughs). But yes, the Polish tank names are long and hard to pronounce. We have the Markowski, Tyszkiewicz, and Lewandowski tanks.
Q: Do you speak Polish?
A: No, I’m from Belarus, but our languages are really similar.
Q: Do new maps often get released with new tech trees?
A: We have a lot of plans for the second half of the year. Yes, we’re working on a new map, thinking about the layout and name. Soon it should appear for tests. It was inspired by the Battle of Studzianki, although we didn’t work with photos and didn’t try to recreate the battlefield due to gameplay balance. The map will be open, lights and meds will feel well there.
It will play somewhat like Prokhorovka, but there will be more building to hide heavy tanks, so arty won’t be able to punish them too hard. The Polish tanks will of course will be able to use their strong points.
Q: What else do you have in plans, besides Polish tanks and maps?
A: Even more maps, some upgraded to HD quality, some completely new. One is known to the people who are interested in the Chinese server. It’s name is Empire’s Border and is for now a CN server exclusive. As it will be upgraded to HD quality on their server, it will be introduced to others. It’s very similar to other maps from that “climate” like Dragon’s Ridge. We want to check if such a map type will work better than in the past.
We’re also ending our work on another map of which we’re proud – Minsk. After 9 years of work on WoT, we’re finally introducing the map. It’s heavily influenced by the city, but not an exact copy from satellite images. We made that error with Kharkov and Stalingrad, which in turned made them play bad. Nevertheless, the map contains some iconic spots, like the Gorky Park, or the circus.
Q: I asked about tanks, what about map creation?
A: Maps are even harder than tanks. We got two directions. One is upgrading the visuals, because some were abandoned at patch 1.0 or earlier, and the second one is introducing new ones. With the new engine, making a new map took a lot of time, even up to nine months per map. But with time, we started getting better and better, and we made more complicated maps with less time put into them.
After making a map, a lot of tests need to be done, and a lot of map iterations to be put out. Even a public test won’t show all the bugs, like with the new Fiords version. Some people went there for fun, some for the views, and some just to hose others with gold ammo. Only the public server gave us enough data to fix the map balance wise.
Q: Is it easier to make a new map or redo an older one?
A: It actually takes about the same amount of time. Besides redoing the graphics, a map needs to be adjusted to the new reality. So the old maps are basically redone from scratch. Besides, everything is redone anyway, because the new tech is incompatible with the old. The maps aren’t in any way upgraded automatically, each is done by hand.
Not only the map, but also all the objects on it need to be redone. The gameplay was changed dramatically just on a few maps, but the rest stayed more or less the same. We spent a lot of time so the favorite location would be more similar in gameplay to the old ones. Everything needed to be created and hand checked by the devs.
Q: The Polish map will appear around Gamescom, and the rest?
A: Berlin will appear mid to late fall. We’re working on redoing Pilsen, Kharkov, Highway, we’re making a map based on Stettin, we’re trying to revive Ghost Town, and more mirrored maps. We’re also improving Province and thinking about limiting the available tiers. We hope for all of that to appear later this year.