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The Firing Line Extra: producer talks World of Warplanes expert mode, tech trees, and more

Jef Reahard

It's been an interesting few weeks for The firm has re-branded its World of Warships title, acquired BigWorld via a blockbuster $45 million purchase, and hinted at more simulation-style gameplay for its forthcoming World of Warplanes shooter.

I forwarded a few questions to WoWP producer Alexander Zelulin about those very topics, so join us after the cut for a quick look at what the firm is thinking with regard to its next World War II-themed multiplayer title.

World of Warplanes - Russian jet
Massively: The latest dev diary video hinted at a new "expert mode" in development. Previously WoWP has been marketed as more of an arcade-style shooter than a flight simulator. Is this new mode intended to appeal to more hardcore sim fans? Can you give us any specifics on it -- for example are there engine mixture controls, more realistic aerodynamics, stalls, etc.?

Alexander Zezulin: First of all, we're trying to accomplish a number of things for World of Warplanes. At the core of what we're working toward is a deep and feature-packed gaming experience that blends both arcade gameplay with the depth of a simulation. We really want players to feel invested in the game and really feel connected to each plane they take to the skies.

In actuality, World of Warplanes is a game that blends the best of both worlds -- the freedom of an arcade shooter and the detail and accuracy of a simulation, all wrapped up in an MMO experience like no other. As for the "expert mode," we're still exploring that idea and will hopefully have more to share on that in the near future.

Will the different aircraft have different flight characteristics in expert mode (a P-51 handles differently than an IL-2, for example), or is that moving too far into simulation territory?

Pretty much in all of the game modes, planes will fly and behave in their own unque ways compared to other aircraft you can pilot. We want each type of aircraft to have its own unique characteristics and provide each player a customizable and personalized experience.

For example, the P-51 and the IL-2 both control differently simply because they're two different kinds of planes. Even planes in the same category, like the IL-2 and an IL-10, will have their own unique and nuanced characteristics and control differences. However, the diversity in each plane won't complicate the experience for players, as we really want to make sure the game isn't overly focused on simulation.

World of Warplanes - dogfight
There's been some talk of integrating WoWP with World of Tanks and World of Warships in terms of gameplay. How's that going? Is that something we can expect to see at release?

Right now we're completely focused on making sure we make World of Warplanes the best possible experience it can be as well as on working hard to make sure it's released on time.

As far as the integration of World of Warplanes, World of Tanks, and World of Warships is concerned, currently there's integration available through our unified account system. That means you can log in to World of Warplanes with your World of Tanks account and vice versa. In the future we have plans to introduce a unified monetary system as well as the ability to swap Free Experience between all three games.

Both systems are currently in a testing phase and aren't yet available to the public. Our goal, however, is to have this system in place near or at the launch of World of Warplanes, pending further testing, of course.

As for integrating all three titles into the Global Domination map, it's an idea we've been exploring, but we don't have anything new to share. We're incredibly focused on making sure we get World of Warplanes out the door at the best quality possible. And considering World of Warships is still in closed Alpha, we still have quite a bit of time to really investigate how all three titles can be integrated in such a way.

Are there any plans to add more complexity/choice to the tech trees like in World of Tanks?

Of course, in due time, we'll be expanding the current tech trees. Currently we release planes and tech tree options to help give players the chance to try out all the planes they can, and most importantly, get a feel for each one and find their favorites.

In the future, though, the tech trees will become more diverse and complex. In Update 0.3.2, we released presets -- special equipment sets unique for certain types of planes. Each preset was compiled based on the historical configurations of that particular plane. Being based on actual historical planes, a single plane could eventually have up to eight different sub-types available for it.

For example, the I-16 falls into several sub-types, and as a result, can potentially have a high number of different presets available for it. The ability to have a plane and its presets being based on actual history gives the player not only more diversity in terms of outfitting their plane but also the chance to outfit a plane just as it was when it was used in actual combat. That's a feature we find really exciting and hope the players will appreciate as well.

World of Warplanes - biplane
Some gamers have complained about the grind to be competitive in World of Tanks. Is this something that the WoWP dev team is taking into account, and if so, how?

At the moment, players in the game accumulate experience points at a rate three times faster than normal. Obviously, we plan to change the experience and credit accrual rate in the near future and as we get closer to the launch of the game. After the game's release, the in-game economy, the research rates, and the experience rates will be equalized to align closer to what is currently in place in World of Tanks.

Can you talk about potential cash shop items yet? Will we see gold ammo and upgrades similar to World of Tanks?

It's a bit early to say what exactly will be available for purchase for gold in World of Warplanes. Obviously, the economy will be similar to the economy of World of Tanks, but there will be some differences. We're exploring the idea of providing premium goods but want to make sure they don't influence the outcome of a battle. We're actively exploring new ideas for the shop and hope to share new info on it sometime in the future. One thing we can say, though, is that players in the game will be the first to see any new implementations.

Will the recent acquisition of BigWorld affect WoWP development in any way? New tech/features/etc.?

Acquisition of a company like BigWorld will always help accelerate the development process. But those are changes that are going to happen gradually over time. It will take some time to integrate BigWorld into our overall company structure, but in the end, it will ultimately help speed up our production and development.

Thanks for chatting with us!

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.

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