Interview: World Of Tanks (Yes!)

By Jim Rossignol on June 7th, 2010 at 8:00 am.


World Of Tanks! Three words that just make so much sense. It’s a free-to-play MMO that’s already doing well in Russian-language lands, is heading Westward. It really does sound splendid: a garage full of tanks, destructible surroundings, a global map for clans to fight over. But what of the details? Fortunately we’ve got some of those, right here. We recently spotted Mike Zhyvets, the game’s technical director, coming over the horizon and so we positioned our self-propelled 40mm word-cannon to land questions squarely in his mind. Read on for a full examination of his response crater.

RPS: Tanks? Really? How does that work? Do players have garages full of different tanks?

Zhyvets: The choice of the concept for World of Tanks wasn’t random. We knew that millions of tank enthusiasts around the world were looking forward to playing a team-based MMO featuring authentic panzer models, something that could fully feed their tank driving thirst. So here we are with World of Tanks focusing on tense online warfare and historically accurate models of fighting vehicles that were designed and produced from the 30’s and up to the Korean War. We’ve chosen that era as it’s the most interesting period of tank building history. And 20 thousand beta testers we have so far in Russia prove that we were right with both the concept and the setting.

World of Tanks gives players a chance to command nearly 150 historically accurate models of fighting vehicles from America, Germany and USSR as well as explore their strong and weak points in battles. We will gradually add panzers from other nations like Britain, France, Italy, Japan. All in all World of Tanks will include about 500 models of fighting vehicles.

By the way, it is not only the tanks that the game features. Anti-tanks and SPGs are also included in World of Tanks. Moreover, we are planning to add rocket artillery after the release. Our first attempt in this direction is the premium RBT-5 Soviet tank — the light tank that hosted a pair of large artillery rocket launchers.

The players can fill up their garage with all these toys, drive different panzers and see how they work on the battlefield. The garage can hold from five to dozens of panzers. Avid tank buffs can get up to 100 tanks in their collections.


RPS: Can you tell us a bit about what the tanks get up to in World Of Tanks? I understand that it’s PvP-focused, but how is that packaged for the player?

Zhyvets: Your tank is the main character of the game. One panzer refers to one player on the battlefield. Thus, you are a tank commander of your steel monster, fighting shoulder to shoulder with your brothers-in-arms against your enemies in intensive team deathmatch battles. That is why team cooperation and tactics play an immensely important role for success in every fight. World of Tanks is not just a run-and-gun game, although solo players will be getting tons of fun and thrill in duels as well.

The gameplay differs depending on the type of a fighting vehicle a player commands. You can choose a light tank and help your team as a scout by breaking into the enemy’s rears, spotting the enemy tanks’ positions or destroying SPGs. Medium tanks are ”jacks of all trades” while heavy tanks like IS-4 or the Royal Tiger represent the team’s crushing power. Tank destroyers are perfect defensive units. With powerful weapons and thick frontal armor, they are capable of engaging enemy vehicles from relatively long distances. The role of SPGs is slightly different. They work in tense cooperation with light tanks that scout the map and unveil enemy vehicles for them. Their extremely powerful weapons may cause a one-shot lethal outcome for any opponent.

As I’ve said, the basic mode is the team deathmatch, however, more exciting modes like Survival or Garage Wars will be added as well. We didn’t intend to introduce AI, except the training mode only, as it is always much more challenging to fight against real players in online wargames.


RPS: How do modifications to tanks work? (And how do players progress?)

Zhyvets: A player will start with a small and funny 1st level tank, which will be Leichttraktor for Germany and MS-1 for USSR. By taking part in battles the player earns experience and credits to modify his tank, research and buy a fighting vehicle of a next level. Every unit has got about 10 modifications with different historically grounded specifications (sorry, no chance to install a turret from Tiger on your T-44). An average tank normally has 2 modifications of turrets, 2 versions of tracks, 3 engine models and 2-6 modifications of the main gun. Having obtained enough credits and experience, the players can buy new vehicles and place them in their garage. There’s no limitation on nations or types of panzers to have at one’s collection. The German SPG “Hummel” can be a neighbor to the Soviet T-44 at your depot.

Your tank crew levels up as well. With every new battle, your crew members gain more and more experience, which improves your panzer’s performance in the battle. For example, with a veteran gunner aboard, your tank will be more accurate in shooting, while an experienced loader will increase the panzer’s firing rate.


RPS: The destruction model looks fun – are there any practical limits to what you can blow up?

Zhyvets: We have to put up with some certain technical limitations typical for MMO games. Moreover, we are very precise about the ballistics in the game which leads to additional loads on the server. Players can’t destroy absolutely everything in World of Tanks, so landscapes remain practically untouched. Still, all other components of the ingame environment will be totally destructible — cars, hedges, trees, etc. Buildings can be ruined into splinters with some showy effects as well.

Concerning fighting vehicles, we have implemented multilevel damage system that accounts for tank models’ various parameters like armor thickness, amour slope, “soft spots” typical for a particular panzer, etc. However, there are some modules like tracks or guns that can’t be knocked out completely. We have added the repair function to prevent nasty situations when two damaged tanks are stuck on the opposite sides of a map having no chance to engage each other.

In case the engine is 50% damaged it works at its half power. The same refers to other modules and your crew — damaged tank radio will provide a reduced communication range, the loss of your gunner will lead to firing accuracy decrease. We will add repair kits that can be used only once per battle in order to keep the proper game balance.


RPS: Just how many players can you have on a battlefield at any one time? Any problems with lag with high numbers? (And how big are the battlefields?)

Zhyvets: At the moment, the number of players in a team is limited to 15 and will be increased to 30. Thus, up to 60 panzers can clash in tense fights on the World of Tanks battlefields. The size of a standard map is 1 square kilometer. Maps’ size is specified by technical and gameplay demands. However, a desert map with lack of huge objects on it may be much larger and we will definitely add such locations into our game.

We had no serious lags so far. The closed beta we held in Russia helped us reveal some bugs and errors that will be removed by the start of the European beta.

RPS: Can you explain a bit about how the global war part of the game will work? What would an RPS clan get out of playing together in that mode?

Zhyvets: To make a long story short, let’s imagine a global map with persistent world divided into hundreds of provinces. At the very beginning, we will start from the eastern boards of Germany to Volga and from Scandinavian countries to Romania. There are several economic categories of provinces, from basic ones to “capitals” that will give most monetary benefits to their owners. Once per day clan masters declare attacks on neutral or enemy provinces and a corresponding number of battles are scheduled and take place accordingly. The bigger your clan is, the harder it gets to repel attacks and expand your empire. Clans can sign treaties, non-aggression pacts or become vassals. Having a couple of solid alliances will help protect the clan’s flanks and rear. But we also expect a lot of treachery, changing alliances, double-agents, stubbing in the back and other political tricks. New clans enter the map by having a chance to fight a battle for one of the “coastal” provinces. If they kick the owner out, that province will be their new home, from where they will expand deeper into the continent. The more panzers you have, the more powerful your clan is, but in order to start fighting and capturing the provinces you should gather a team of 15 players. Clans can also participate in clan tournaments that will last for much shorter time: from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

I’m fairly sure that RPS clans will have some hilarious time in World Tanks clan wars. Just interesting to see how good they are at diplomacy and tactics against hundreds of other guilds fighting for global domination.


RPS: So fun and games, but how much real history is in there?

Zhyvets: We have no story-driven missions. But we definitely will introduce historic campaigns — series of battles set up on the maps close to their historical prototypes where only specific models of tanks will be allowed.

Historic Campaigns have the same mechanics as in Clan Wars, however, they will have less diplomacy and building options. Holding such events on the regular basis, we will give players a chance to recreate the history of WWII and we are looking forward to seeing how they’ll deal with that.

RPS: I understand the game is free, but with micropayments? What sort of stuff will players be asked to pay for?

Zhyvets: World of Tanks is based on the free-to-play model. Download the client, install it and join tense online warfare straight away. We believe that the majority of players will be getting tons of fun from World of Tanks without investing a penny into the project and we are calm about it. The leveling-up doesn’t take ages and lasts extremely fast comparing to other MMO projects. However, the player will have an opportunity to invest money into some bonus content. First, this is a premium account, which gives +50% to credits and experience per battle to the owner. The premium account is a very comfortable option for players who don’t have enough time for their favorite game, therefore, it will give them a chance to progress faster. However, this account will not give you any advantages in battles. The only advantage here is your saved time. Second, players will also be able to purchase premium tanks. We are very cautious about the game balance and will prevent “war of wallets”. That’s why we are not offering top-level tanks as premiums. These are some special tanks with prominent history like Churchill or Matilda in the Russian tech tree or Lowe for Germany. These panzers will be jewels in the crown of any tank lover’s collection. And finally, we will offer our players to use some custom features for their pets like personal drawings, insignias, clan emblems or custom camos.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Expect a beta this summer, with the full launch to follow by the Autumn.

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71 Comments »

  1. Jhoosier says:

    This sounds like a good model for operating. I wonder how much money they’ll make however. I’m not a huge tank buff, but it could be a rollickin’ good time.

  2. Sunjammer says:

    So this is the model now is it? World of Slightly Caricatured X?

    Not that i’m against it. I’m ready for World of Ducktales any day now Disney!!111!!1

  3. The Snee says:

    I wonder how it’ll compare to the tense tank battles in Red Orchestra. If it’s anything like that, sign me up.

    Also rocket artillery. Yes.

  4. user@example.com says:

    All I want in life is to drive a tank for mother russia, and possibly tell people that I give no fuck about things in a drunken russian accent.

    RUSSIA STRONG

  5. Lack_26 says:

    It sounds good fun, I’ll see how it goes but there is a chance that I might actually spend some money on the extras.

  6. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Well, I’m still not clear on how it will actually play (how do I tell my tank to fight other tanks etc) but I’m now officially “interested”.

    Especially if I get to drive around a StuG III, the cutest spg/tank destroyer ever. :3

    • The Telemetrics of Robert Francis Bailey says:

      If the impulse proves to strong, you can always pickup theatre of war 2: kursk. Defiantly a diamond in the rough – although i have never been able to complete it. (either due to weird scripting errors or me just being special and not completing missions correctly)

  7. Pmeie says:

    This confused me even more than woodcutter simulator.

  8. The Telemetrics of Robert Francis Bailey says:

    Despite my total incomprehension as to how this could possibly work, it still brings a tear to my eye.

  9. Heliocentric says:

    So, no healing class tanks? Company of heroes repair tank (which can even recover husks) was my favourite thing ever. Also i have an issue with communications being limited by in game mechanics, because any clan worth its sulphur will get a voip server.

    They have my attention and with their attitude about paying for advantages they may well get money so i can trump around in bright pink light tank.

    • JB says:

      Ah yes, the Bergetiger. First time I used it I almost squealed in delight =)

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      The only option to include repair units into this game is to make them graphical effects. We will not do this as there’s nothing more irritating than “immortal” objects in wargames and especially in the warfare action packaged game like World of Tanks.

      Oh, forgot to introduce myself: Jeremy Taylor, World of Tanks community manager. So as long as I’m finally here, feel free to ask questions :)

    • JB says:

      Hi Jeremy, good to see you on RPS. As you can probably tell, a lot of us are looking forward to WoT!

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      And we are looking forward to having RPS clan among our community. Russian players have already formed dozens of solid clans. Moreover, we have two full-blown clans from USA and Europe who managed to start playing in the Russian closed beta notwithstanding the serious language barrier.

  10. Flaringo says:

    REALISTIC DAMAGE MODELS, BALLISTICS, TANKS, MULTIPLAYER, FUCK YES

  11. Snall says:

    Sounds fun, and if cheap enough I would pay just so I could put a symbol on my tank. Otherwise how will they know to FEAR ME?

  12. Alex Bakke says:

    Tanks for the interview, Jim!

    (Ohohohoh)

  13. Lack_26 says:

    RPS tank division, anyone? It could be done.

  14. Wilson says:

    This sounds pretty cool. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

  15. HStrang Design says:

    I hear that Lack. Imagine a battle line sweeping graciously over the plains of mother russia, laying waste to all in RPS’s path…

    Ehem, I’m looking forwards to the game.

  16. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    The backstabbing and politik of EVE, with a more understandable arsenal and free.
    Could be quite the winner. I look forward to RPS making and training a tank “warband” assuming it does actually take that much co ordination.

  17. Don says:

    If there’s going to be an RPS tanker clan I’ll be signing up, sounds like it could all be great fun.

  18. Starky says:

    I will pay 10 English pounds (Worth almost double the Scottish pound) if I can have a teddy bear (preferably a carebear) sitting on and straddling the muzzle of my tanks main gun.

    That is all.

  19. Bob Bobson says:

    I’d be totally up for joining Team RockPanzerShotgun. Not that I know crap all about tanks, but if someone yells at me I can follow orders.

  20. Thingus says:

    If tanks=angry houses, then is a tank team an irate suburb? ’cause if I could say ‘I’m a proud member of Irate Suburb’, then I’d be attempting to play this game right now.

  21. Greg Wild says:

    Sounds interesting. But I’m concerned that it sounds like they don’t have any “collect 10 panzer pelt” quests. and what about bosses? I want to take my guild to farm elite king tigers. the whole thing sounds a bit regressive.

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      No chance for quests in World of Tanks. The game is all about panzers, team cooperation and your individual fighting skills. Concerning bosses… Level up to super heavy top tanks like IS-7 or Maus, and you’ll be the boss in your team :)

    • Heliocentric says:

      What about cod4 style personal tasks like:

      “BARRAGE FIRE: kill 10 tanks without line of sight in one match” +400 xp

      “DALAI JAMMER as a light tank disable 5 heavy tanks turrets in one match”+500xp

    • Tei says:

      In a multiplayer enviroment speed is much more important than firepower. Well.. this on all other games. I will be surprised if the “PRO’s” choose slow tanks.. even if thermobaric tanks are added, that can shot nukes.

      Also wolf packs. The sum is bigger than the parts.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Jeremy Taylor: note that he wasn’t actually concerned and was in fact being ironic. :P

      “Kill X enemies” quests and all other forms of grind should be erased from all games forever.

  22. Doony says:

    Sounds really awesome. Tanks, tanks, tanks…

  23. Tei says:

    Tanks are awesome, because can drive *trought* a house. And destroy trees. And I hate trees. Tanks that can’t destroy trees are pretty ignorable.

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      You will be able to feed fully your trees-houses-hatred appetite :). Almost all objects in the game, except landscapes and high-rise buildings, can be ruined into splinters.

  24. Die Happy says:

    i ve been playing the (russian) beta for some months
    and i m having a blast. the tanks look just great, and there are so many different versions and variations i never heard of.

  25. OctaneHugo says:

    I find it suspicious that he asked if players have garages full of tanks, and that was exactly how things work in the game.

    I’m onto you, Rossignol…

    • Heliocentric says:

      You misunderstand. Jim has an actual garage of tanks so he asked if the game was like his everyday reality.

  26. Finn says:

    Count me on for the RPS Tank Division, provided everyone speaks with a fake russian accent!

  27. JeremyTaylor says:

    “What about cod4 style personal tasks like:

    “BARRAGE FIRE: kill 10 tanks without line of sight in one match” +400 xp

    “DALAI JAMMER as a light tank disable 5 heavy tanks turrets in one match”+500xp”

    We will gradually add more thrilling modes into World of Tanks and who knows, maybe those ones you’ve mentioned will appear in the game as well :). Now we are focused on our primary modes as team Deathmtach, Capture the Flag and Clan Wars – these are modes where players can fully show their team cooperation and individual skills. Experience you gain in battles is assigned for various achievements: destroyed tanks, damaged tanks, enemy fighting vehicles “spotted”, enemy base captured, etc. In outline, players achieve experience for contribution into the team’s victory.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I’m not suggesting a mode. The most popular example i can think of is like xbox achievements. Small rewards for a range of specific tasks which while in the flow of good play will not be common practise for all players and will encourage people out of their safe habits. So, say an achievement for demolishing objective buildings by ramming them, would be easier with a heavy tank and would encourage light tank enthusiasts to try something else.

  28. user@example.com says:

    Will it have raids? Against implausible and unrealistic German supertanks and/or OGREs?

    I’m pretty certain the answer is no, but it would be awesome.

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      WWII history lovers would eat as alive if we introduced ogres or P-1000 into World of Tanks :). However, we are not obsessed with unnecessary realism. We have simplified some tanks’ specs and made them more arcadish for the sake of proper realism/action balance.

  29. Finn says:

    I’d like to suggest the implementation of off map support; let’s say, in a team deathmatch, there are control points, the team that controls one specific point can call an airstrike on a scouted enemy target every X minutes, another point allows air dropping supplies, another point allows off map artillery, etc.

  30. Panzeh says:

    I hope to zoom around in a Stuart for this one!

  31. Andy_Panthro says:

    So let me get this straight…

    There’s a world of tanks moving westward from Russia?

    Crumbs!

  32. Afro says:

    Mr. Taylor, if you are still around.

    How far can you shoot in the game? The maps are about 1 square kilometer yes?

    In Men of War effective range is kinda divided by 10, example as a rifleman can shoot 40m(400m) and a tank 150m(1500m), something similar?

    And this looks really cool, I’ll be grabbing my clanmates from MoW for sure!

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      In World of Tanks, effective range of shooting is close to reality. We account ballistics from 0 up to 500 meters. Principal factors that decrease shell firepower are distance and air resistance.

  33. EthZee says:

    Although I probably will not be able to play this game due to my aging rig, I agree with it in principle and wish it the very best of luck. We need more tank-centric videogames.

  34. Strange_guy says:

    Looks really nice, and reminds me a bit of a similarish MMO I used to play, NavyFIELD (as in free multiplayer team deathmatch with realistic military vehicles), but from what I’ve seen so far it has avoided all the issues that I had with it, that eventually led to me quitting. I’ll definitely try this out and might stick with it, so long as my computer can handle it.

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      World of Tanks and NavyField have lots of features in common:

      * Battleground session-based battles lasting 5-15 minutes and involving two teams of couple of dozens of live players

      * Each player has his secure “garage” (ship yard), where he can keep a lot of his various tanks (ships)

      * Tanks/ships do not die forever after being destroyed in battle: you just need to repair them and they are good for the next battle

      * Tanks can by upgraded in dozens of ways: new engines, chassis, turrets, guns, radios, various ammunition types

      * Players can play hundreds and even thousands battles per month

      * There are tank crew members of various nationalities and “professions”

      * Similar “leveling up” and “upgrades system”: there are a couple of nations, each having its own Tank Tech Tree. In each battle players gain experience points and “credits” (money), which are used for unlocking new tank types and purchasing components

      * There are Clans and FIERCE CLAN WARS.

      * Both games are heavily PvP (player-vs-player)

  35. GCU Speak Softly says:

    Dunno about the Churchill and Matilda being diamonds, I’d have the Firefly or Comet if forced to choose a British tank. But of course, I vill be driving der Panzers. Gott in Himmel, Achtung baby, for you, Tommy der var ist ofver, etc.

  36. Lack_26 says:

    @JeremyTaylor, Will there be a T-35 in the game (I’m guessing there will be, and it’ll probably be a paid for tank), and if so, how do you plan to implement the multiple turrets configuration in game.

  37. JonFitt says:

    How will the level of a tank affect game balance? Is a level 3 tank just as useful as a level 10 tank, or does the game have matchmaking to ensure a balance?

  38. Magjam says:

    If you guys like tanks, you should check out WW2 Online. There is no tank game/sim like it!

    They just released a new version 1.31 yesterday on D-Day memorial day June 6th. Includes upgraded graphics and terrain, as well as weather effects explosion/hit effects and rag-doll physics to infantry.

    Check out this player made video, best one I`ve seen yet, and that was from the old version (chinese website, slow feed, but well worth the wait!):

    http://video.sina.com.cn/v/b/25747034-1572153795.html

  39. JeremyTaylor says:

    3d level tanks are simply necessary for successful team tactics. These tanks are perfect scouts and SPG destroyers.

  40. DXN says:

    Ay am een, comrade! We would fack up yevry yenemy now.

  41. Internet guy says:

    60 tanks? Aww, I was hoping I could reenact the Battle of Kursk

  42. Marcin says:

    This sounds brilliant and I hope they can pull it off and live happy lives adding features and raking in the money this rightly deserves.

    Where do I sign up? :)

  43. Idiot Savant says:

    Anyone that actually thinks they’re going to get this project off the ground in a stable and fun way is crazy. They’re promising a million things they can’t deliver on.

    The only chance they have is if they played a lot of WW2 Online and can crib the good parts of tank battles in that game. Otherwise I just don’t see how a small studio like this can make a fun to play game instead of some ugly simulator.

    • JeremyTaylor says:

      We already “got this project off the ground” with 30 thousand beta testers in Russia only.

      Wargaming.net has more than 140 employees in its walls working on one project – World of Tanks. That’s not easy to call us a “small studio”, isn’t it ;)? Not only we play WW2 games as you’ve said, we develop them as well. For instance, triple A title Order of War published by Square Enix.

      I’m inclined to think you’ve taken us for someone else :)

  44. Panther says:

    Wargaming is the key from this carebear nonsense so support this!Wargaming FTW! Wargamer devs you can trust in future!

  45. Helicon One says:

    This beta has singlehandedly bought EVE Online’s 0.0 conflict to an end as half the alliance leaders and Fleet Commanders in the game are playing with tanks instead!

    Will the global map campaign be ‘single-sharded’ EVE Online style with everyone taking part in the same campaign, or will there be multiple incarnations?

  46. Mary says:

    Beta Key giveaway for World of Tanks: http://rating.f2pgames.com/shop/fh.php?aid=7