Today we're pleased to bring you an exclusive interview with Wargaming.net project manager Alexander Zezulin, so join us after the cut for loads of details on the game, including the debut trailer from Gamescom. Much like its World of Tanks predecessor, World of Warplanes looks to make squad-based vehicular combat more accessible to a wide audience while maintaining a sense of historical accuracy when it comes to said vehicles.
Massively: Would you say that World of Warplanes is more of a simulation or more of an arcade-style flight experience? How accurate are the flight models to their real-life counterparts and how prevalent are control and aerodynamic components like torque, stalls, performance at altitude, etc.?
Alexander Zezulin: First of all, we do not want World of Warplanes to be a hardcore simulator, nor do we want it to be a lightweight/casual flight shooter. Finding a good balance between realism and fun gameplay [is] what we're aiming at. We'll definitely simplify controls to make the game accessible to a wider audience of players. As for the flight model, the game is still in its alpha version, so it's a bit early to talk about how complex it will be as we are still working on it. For example, planes will most likely not spin, but their performance at different altitudes will vary.
Some of our commenters have expressed disappointment that World of Tanks puts its grouping functionality behind the paywall. Assuming that World of Warplanes is going to use a free-to-play model, will it be similar to that of WoT or will there be any tweaks?
With update 6.6, we've added free platoons for two players in World of Tanks and will most likely introduce the same option into World of Warplanes.
There have been a lot of great flight combat games over the years, but high-quality online flight sims are very hard to come by. Did this relative lack of competition influence your decision to develop World of Warplanes, and are you looking at older titles like Air Warrior or the Sturmovik series for inspiration?
Well, it's not that we were searching for some niche that would let us avoid competition when deciding on the setting of our next game. After making a game about tanks, we thought it looked quite logical to start working on planes. Moreover, lots of our players wanted us to make a game like World of Tanks, but with planes. Of course, we play many online and offline games learning new things, and of course the Sturmovik series is among them.
The jet age dawned late in World War II, and a few jet-powered craft actually saw combat (particularly on the German side). Will aircraft like the Me 262 and others make it into World of Warplanes or are you focused primarily on piston-powered craft?
Work on the list of aircraft that will be added to World of Warplanes' roster is still in progress, but we'll definitely have the Me 262 in the game as well as some other famous WWII jets like the Arado Ar 234. Almost all the top-tier planes will be jets.
The basic concept will be like in World of Tanks –- the player will own a hangar with his planes, each having its crew. Players will earn experience and credits in battles and spend them on researching and buying upgrades, new planes, and leveling their crews. We do not plan to have campaign missions or career mode; however, some sort of personal progression might be possible within the clan hierarchy. We are working on this feature in World of Tanks, so if we decide to introduce it and it proves to be good, we'll add it to World of Warplanes as well. However, we're not revealing the details now.
Can you describe the game's take on player skill vs. character skill? Can a new player who is good at flight sims shoot down a veteran player with superior stats/gear?
First of all, newbies and veteran players will not fight against each other that often in random battles, as we'll have a tier-based matchmaking system like in World of Tanks. Even if they meet, nothing will stop a skillful flight sim player who is new to the game from shooting down a veteran no matter how many successful battles the latter has under his belt.
What kinds of visual customization does the game offer? Pilot uniforms? Aircraft paint schemes, custom squadron insignia, nose art, or kill markings?
We'd love to have kill markings, but there are some technical aspects to consider before adding this feature. As for custom camouflage and squadron insignia, we'll probably do the same thing as in World of Tanks. We'll have a pre-set collection of camo colors the players will be able to choose from.
Battleground Europe/WW2Online but with a vehicle focus?
Planes and tanks will interact on the Clan Wars level only where tanks will control ground provinces, while planes will fight for the air dominance over them. Due to the different scale of maps in World of Tanks and World of Warplanes, it's hardly possible to see tanks vs. planes battles in the future.
How big is the game world relative to World of Tanks and/or a full-scale map of Europe? Can I fly from a base in England to a target in Germany in real-time or are we talking about loading screens?
Unlike in many flight simulators, in World of Warplanes it won't take the player 40 minutes to reach the enemy base. The size of the maps will be around 15 square kilometers or bigger.
Is there support for multiplayer aircraft? For example, can a group of friends crew up a B-17 and fill different roles like pilots, gunners, bombardiers, etc.?
No, one player will operate one vehicle.
The basic mode will feature 15v15 battles. In the future, we'll probably be able to increase the number of participants; however, we are not going to introduce some really massive 50v50 or 100v100 plane clashes as it will be really hard for players to coordinate their actions and they will turn into chaotic free-for-all battles.
Is there any navigational aspect to World of Warplanes, or is everything pretty much handled by waypoints and autopilot?
We'll decide how the system of waypoints, if any, will work a bit later during the alpha. As for the autopilot, we will probably introduce it for low-tier battles.
How necessary is a joystick? Hardcore flight sim enthusiasts will expect it, but is some level of keyboard/mouse control for a more casual crowd being implemented?
The game will support both joystick and keyboard/mouse to make both hardcore and casual players happy.
Lots of people are familiar with the P-51s, the Fw-190s, the Spitfires, and other famed World War II fighter craft. Will World of Warplanes feature any of the more obscure aircraft such as the Italian Macchis, Russian Sturmoviks, and other planes outside of the familiar American/British/German staples?
Calling Soviet Sturmoviks obscure is really brave! There are some "must-have" models of planes that any flight sim should feature because everyone would love to have the Me 109 or P-51, and we'll definitely have these birdies in the game. Apart from them, we'll also add some less-famous aircraft that were not mass-produced or that took part in a relatively small number of battles.
How involved is the bombing component (or is there a bombing component)? Is World of Warplanes primarily a fighter-based dogfighting game?
There'll be dive bombers in the game that will be used to destroy ground targets; however, the focus will be on fighter-based warfare.
Thanks for chatting with us -- we look forward to playing!