This is a transcription of the Q&A (with MrConway & SubOctavian) of the Carrier rework from a WoWS stream.
what about the rumours?
Well, they’ve been working on it for quite long, and they were reaching the point of first external testing, yet not in time for Gamescom, but yesterday (Sunday 2/9) they got the first stable build, which is ripe for displaying. Supertest starts tomorrow (4/9).
What is the philosophy/thoughts behind it, and why are you doing it? What were the problems with the current one
The problems are high skill, low popularity, high impact and strange AA-mechanics. It’s a game-in-game, not really linked to how the game is played. In paper this concept of an RTS seemed cool, but it didn’t work out. The skill-gap between new players and experienced players is too high, with the steep learning curve made that there was virtually no influx of new CV players. A CV has an enormous battle-impact (high alpha-damage potential) paired with a huge recon-value. This all lead to a non-popular class with only a few hundred players. The AA is also skewed, either you shoot down a lot of planes, or hardly at all. If you get roflstomped by a carrier as a DD, your AA is not strong enough to cope with that mass of planes, thus you won’t shoot any down due to how the mechanics work. Autodrop & manual-drop are 2 different worlds, not scaled to eachother.
what do you want to achieve with the rework?
They want an adequate complexity-curve, where new players can get better (if they want to do it), and encourage smooth development of skill, and attractable gameplay for all players (more action-based that strategy-based). Also more ways how a CV and its targets can interact with eachother (not just “push def AA and be done with it), and a better balanced class. When you have so few carriers in the roster, the ships with the best AA are suffering from it as well, since they can’t shine in the department they’re “made” for, like a DM that is spec’d up for AA, then 5 battles without any carrier, that can only be remedied by divisioning up with a carrier. So people spec away from AA, and then they meet a carrier. It is less predictable performance of AA-ships.
what is going to set the new CV apart from the old CV
The main difference of the new system is that right now you control 1 squadron at a time. While it may sound boring, the difference is that it is direct-control (with WASD), with speed affecting turning cirlcle, you can manoeuvre, there will be consumables. When you attack, you have to actively dodge AA-bursts. Each plane as individual hp-bars. The squadron size will increase, with separate wings separating from the main squadron to perform an attack. If you have 12TB’s, you get 4 runs of 3 planes each. The devs concentrate not on fighter-gameplay, but more on plane-vs-ship gameplay. Fighters are now a control-factor, and a squadron of AI-fighters will be deployed to a sector, and will pursuit them and engage enemy planes if they encounter. There will be rocket-armed groundpounding planes that can finish off low-health targets. They will have a decent fire-chance as well. The aim is also that CV’s can’t be deplaned anymore, there is an “infinite” number of planes, but you’ll receive penalties if you’re reckless with your planes in terms of reload of the squadron. AA is reworked as well. Close-range is virtually the same, but now to individual planes instead of the squadron (guaranteed damage). Long & midrange AA will lead the target, with explosions that actually do damage now, and if you hit planes with it, you can do massive damage to them. Priority-target (clicking on a squad) of AA is reworked, and now it will be “switch AA sectors”, with “focus left or right”, and that switch takes time. You can bait AA to lay away the focus from the initial attack. The longer you stay in the environment of your target, the more accurate your attack will be. You’ll start with a wide torpedo-spread, but with proper preparation and anticipation, it will turn into a full narrow spread.
The scheduled roadplan:
There is now a closed testing with staff & supertesters, after that CC’s & known carrierplayers will join, and after that a CBT-for-CV-rework will happen to which everyone can join.
will there be a refund for CV’s?
If the rework happens as it is, but there will be some refund/compensation to any CV-player (premium ships and techtree ships). It’s a huge change, and a totally new concept, so it’s nothing more than normal.
what happens when the wave has depleted all its attack-runs?
The planes will automatically return to the carrier, and are “invulnerable” since they fly high. A new squadron will launch and the process repeats itself. You can auto-send your remaining bombers home before they have depleted all their runs. It allows you to utilise some tactics in terms of flight-time, reload time,… to make the most of your attack potential.
what about fighter gameplay
In current implementation, it will be an “ability”, you can summon a fighter-squadron and it starts patrolling that sector, and will auto-attack if it sees enemy planes. They’ll attack on a 1-1 basis, so a 4-plane fighter-squadron attacking a 10-plane TB squadron will remove 4 torpedo bombers from that squadron.
will there be a “big wave” attack possibility, with all planes attacking at the same time?
They want to get rid of excessive alpha-strike, so probably not. But they’ll plan to support “multi-torpedo/bomb” strikes by planes that were capable of carrying more than 1 bomb/torpedo. The shift will move to more “damage over time” instead of “huge alpha potential”. And isolated targets will still suffer hard, since AA will shoot down some planes, but not all, so you’ll still do reliable damage. They don’t want to nerf carriers, but they want to bring carriers closer to the game & battle.
What about AP & HE bombs?
The video is about settings & concept. All this ammo-types is for the future. They can do AP-bombs, maybe a nation-flavoured thing (IJN used them).
How does the CV defend itself against ships, planes,…
Tricky question, in this concept, you can only plot your course on the tactical map, and that’s it. But that’s not set in stone, they’ll first focus on squadron gameplay, and after that it’s not impossible that a direct CV-control will return if it’s needed, and it shows in testing. It’s not hard to implement it, so…
How will DefAA work from now on? Will it just increase the ROF of the guns, or?
It’s being discussed now. They now have all new parameters at their disposal right now to work with, so it can be higher ROF, higher damage, bigger splash radius,… But the concept of DefAA remains the same: your AA will better.
will planes, with their individual HP, can collide with stuff?
For now: no, the planes are coded to avoid contact-damage. It’s a huge coding-effort, but it can be added in the future. For now it’s very low priority.
rocket barrage against enemy planes?
For now only against ships, maybe later it can be added. Rocket barrage is just for finishing off low-health targets, trading damage-potential for steady aim. It’s basically “big HE”, which will damage modules, set fires,… It’s basically a salvo of HE.
can attack-runs be aborted?
There is a timer, once the timer runs out, the planes are committed. For now, an attack run can be cancelled when the drop is halfway in process.
Can you div up with carriers again, and will there be more than 1 carrier/team for high-tier battles in the future
That can only be determined by testing, but it’s possible. With this way the new CV’s work, it’s possible to have up to 3 CV’s/team without being too OP. The plan is to remove all current limitations for carriers.
What about Tone & Ise
If the rework is successful, the probability will grow. But they’re not working on it right now, and it’s not a priority right now. But ships like GZ, Enterprise,… will be rebalanced as well, so they can be reintroduced to the shop as well.
is there a distinction planned between nations, like a certain flavour?
Yes, in terms of design, they are working hard on a national identity for IJN, USN and “a yet to be announced nation” (read: British) CV’s. They have a LOT of parameters to work with, with health HP, squadron size, speed,… so that shouldn’t be an issue.
What about kamikaze-planes?
No, that won’t happen, despite the historical significance, but it was a special tactic, so they’re not considering it, and it’s also not a pleasant mechanic to introduce.
What about captain skills for CV’s?
It’s too early to talk about that, but since the CV gameplay is reworked, a rework of those skills will also be needed. If the changes are big enough, they’ll offer respecs,… to offer a smooth transition.
CV-divisioning, again huge alpha strike then with 2 or 3 strike wings?
That’s what testing is for, it might see some limitations.
Why will carriers not be deplaned anymore, it’s not realistic
Yeah, and so are torp-reloading destroyers, or the infinite-ammo of the ships. The devs want to avoid that carriers become useless cargo-ships. So there are now infinite planes, but your squadron-reload will suffer if you play bad/reckless.
Will there be a manual adjustment of the altitude of the planes?
For now, it’s a raw prototype, and the altitude is controlled automatically, and planes adjust their altitude depending on the needs/circumstances. For now the devs don’t see what manual height will bring to the table that can be useful. But if testing shows that it has a use, why not? This is not a first prototype they are working on it, they even had one where one could actively dogfight with planes, but they stripped that away: focus on the core first, the rest might come later.
can attack-wings be detached from the main squadron, so the main squadron remains out of the main AA-bubble?
They are looking into it, it’s a very valid remark, as it indeed looks strange. It’s an early prototype, so the squadron is now “glued” together, but it can be reworked in the future.
the ability to provide vision/spotting for the team all over the map, will that be reworked?
For now they don’t want to have dedicated spotting-planes (consumables). They are still tweaking all those things of “can a fighter spot torpedoes, and if so: from what height/distance”. It’s all work in progress, so…
how is this all going to affect regular consumables like fighter/spotter plane
Spotterplane will remain the same, the fighter will change a bit in mechanics, and will work like the fighter-squadron in the prototype. But no dramatic changes planned here.
will jets return in T10?
For now, it’s out of the question, but they’ll see in terms of balancing. But they couldn’t keep their specs in check with regular prop-planes, so: probably not now.
Can you assign fighters to another sector once you’ve deployed them?
No, they want to remove the overall presence of planes over the entire map, so a carrier can be at A, B & C at the same time. Now it will be just 1 location.
How can the bombs/torpedoes be countered? Flooding, fires can be too dangerous now?
They are aware of it, and shall be balanced by several factors. The AA-power on this demo is not actual, it was just for display purposes. Aim needs space, so a a follow-up attack will need time to form if you want it to be accurate. It will be possible to outplay a surface ship and deal perma-floods, but it can be actively countered by manoeuvring, AA,… they want more interaction between the carrier & the surface ship.
When the planes return to the carrier, won’t they give the position of the carrier if the fly in a straight line
They are aware of it, and they are working on stuff. Like flying so high they can’t be seen or be picked up by radar.
What about the plane survivability?
It’s not tweaked in this demo. You’ve got a healthy plane, white smoke, black smoke, fire,…
Will there be a video about the reworked AA?
Yes, they’ll prepare everything, there will very likely be a CBT-testing so players can test,… you should be very prepared & experienced once it goes live, since it’s going to take time. This is just a concept, it still can be reworked in the future.
Will carriers get manual secondaries?
For now: it’s automatic only.
Will there be a LOS-check so planes can’t spot through islands?
Sub was lost a bit in the last versions of this prototype, but as far as Sub knows it, it is already there, but he can’t confirm it. If it’s not, they want to introduce it. But don’t pin him on it yet, he just doesn’t know.
Will there be fuel for planes?
No, planes will be able to fly forever, and will return to the carrier once the ammo is depleted, not the fuel. There is a “bar” that depletes when speeding up/slowing down, but that’s all.
What about consumables for planes?
For now the focus is on the concept, so maybe in the future. This includes planes laying smokescreens for ships. There is material here for years to come.
With the entire wing now flying over the target, do the non-attacking planes also take damage?
Yes, in this iteration every plane, whether it attacks or not, gets damage. The 3 planes that are in an attack run do get an temporary HP buff though, so there is a reduced chance the attack gets neutralised by strong AA.
The interface, and the icons, will they be representative?
No, they are temporary placeholders. It’s WIP, just to make it work for this video-demo.
Will there be a take-off sequence?
There will be some cinematic views of the take-off, but they’re still tweaking the camera angles and the likes. They just don’t want it to take too much time. For now, there is proper take-off, and it works like the current version.
The AA-visuals as they now are look very alike the ones in CBT. Will all those flashes & bangs have an impact on the people with slower/weaker computers?
They are doing some testing, and indeed it has performance issues now, but that’s mainly down to non-optimatisation. The goal is to have as much dakka-dakka visually as possible without clogging the system down. Maybe they can do something with a slider going from “no AA fx” to “full dakka dakka”.
What about CV-sniping, since there is less defensive capabilities for the CV itself now?
They are aware of that, and are discussing internally. But in public testing it will show how it will work, since players can create situations the devs don’t even think about. But all in all it’s still too early to discuss things like this. This video is mainly here to as a “display of concept”.
What about plane-control when your CV has been sunk?
There is now a window of time where you can still control the planes after your ship has been sunk. It would be weird if your planes would insta-die once your ship gets destroyed. But they’re still tweaking that, the settings. For now, it’s adequate.
Totally offtopic: what is a good Russian beer to try?
In Russia, you can drink anything, just make sure you pick a venue where there aren’t any wasps around. Russian wasps don’t mess about!
(Questions asked to MrConway after Sub left, while messing around with other ships. Some of these answers are his opinions.)
Will the AA pass through hills?
I hope not, but it’s not sure yet. If there is a LOS-thing coming for spotting, so should it be there for AA.
Will premium CV owners be able to join the Carrier-CBT
They’re not going to give a free-pass to every Premium CV owner, but they are trying to get as many people in who want to give feedback. You don’t have to be a good carrierplayer in order to join it.
What will stop carrier-sniping if carriers won’t have DCP?
Carriers have DCP, so not a lot will change.
Will there be a general UI rework, with the new buttons we see here?
No, this is just a WIP-version, a placeholder. The final UI will look alike the one we have now.
Will the planes have individual HP-bars above the planes?
No, that looked really cluttered (it was tested), now there is a general bar underneath the squadron, with individual indicators per plane.
Is a cockpit-view planned for the planes?
Not that he knows off, it would also require modelling cockpits, and it would not fit in with the WoWS-principle, and since no ships have a 1st-person view, why should carriers have it?
Will there be FreeXP CV’s at T9?
Maybe. For now there is no CV-input because WG wasn’t happy with how CV’s now work. If the rework is popular, there is no reason not to have a coal/freeXP/steel carrier in the future. For now: there are very likely no specific plans.
How many CV’s do you want per team, ideally? In an ideal world, there will be no limitations. The reason these limitations now exist, is because the game was broken when they were not there. It will still be balanced like the other ship, so if one team has a T8 carrier, the other team will have one as well.
Will you be able to control the planes via joystick?
It should be doable if you can map your joystick to the A & D keys. Apart from that, there is little movement possible.
British CV’s when? Not before the rework, that I can tell you!
How will carriers be balanced now hangar-size is not an issue anymore
They will find other parameters to balance the ships.
what if after the rework no-one wants to play carriers?
It’s going to be tough to get even less players to play carriers as now, so… but they’re going to make the rework with your feedback, so it should be alright.