Sarcan’s World of Tanks Interview
Console Version Rebuilt from the Ground Up
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MMORPG.com on june 04, 2015
The Evolution of World of Tanks is upon us with its metamorphosis from the limitations of the Xbox 360 to the abundant horsepower of the Xbox One. Wargaming has taken their highly successful game World of Tanks and rebuilt it from the ground up. Xbox One has more Horsepower to add more detail and textures to the tanks. Tanks now look glorious with scratches, bullet holes and more detail which makes the tanks a work of art. With more memory to work for sound, higher sample rate, higher bit rate, more DSP, more real time effects, just more more more new effects for variety to the ambience. The transformation from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox one is truly stunning to see and hear.
World of Tanks released on the Xbox 360 in February of 2014. Since then they have had over 4 million unique players that have logged over 40 Million Battles and over 60 Million hours of game play. The average play session is 4 hours and 20 battles. Impressive stats considering World of Tanks was the first free Massively Multiplayer game on Xbox and is currently the most successful on any console in popularity and revenue. With the launch of World of Tanks on Xbox One, Wargaming not only brings the game to a new console, they also are pioneering the technology to allow for a single account between consoles that lets you seamlessly switch between them and play between them. The World of Tanks world on Xbox is a single world that queues and fights together. While the Xbox Live servers are separate, Wargaming was able to develop all the backend for communication and matchmaking keeping everyone together.
I had the opportunity to visit the Chicago office of Wargaming where they have been in development of World of Tanks for the Xbox One for the over 8 months. The studio was extremely excited to let us get our hands on the game and play against their internal QA team who play on both consoles. After just a small taste of what is to come in the upcoming launch, I got to sit down with extremely passionate individuals as they describe to me what they are you most excited about in bringing World of Tanks to the Xbox One Console.
TJ Wagner – Studio Lead
On the Xbox 360 the focus was on the Tank Experience and we wanted to improve on that by changing the FOV to give you more of a Shooter look action game. We added effects to make the main characters of the game, “The Tanks” even more awesome, modeling every individual piece of the tank up to 4k textures, improving the wiggly bits (attachments) like gas cans, sleeping rolls and log animation. But we didn’t want to stop there, making the Environment come alive with volumetric smoke, real time particle lighting, HDR skies, 3#d modeled vistas, natural flow maps for water, wind, rain, dynamic weather changes, battlefields that transform over the course of the map getting darker, dimmer, more smokey. Then give the players access to the social features, Twitch Live streaming, Twitter, Facebook, screenshots as well as player made content tools that Xbox One provides natively.
Mike McDonald – General Manager
When new hardware comes out especially in the console world, it is exciting to see what you can exploit and do with it. Major enhancements to the rendering engine allow the lighting models to make games look dramatically different and how everything looks natural when pushing the polycounts. A cooler visual experience for the players, neat atmospheres with advanced lighting, weather effects, getting things into CG quality and audio taken up a notch by recording new audio. Enhancing the physical interactions through the physics to make things more interesting for the players. The social aspects Xbox One natively supports allowing players even more ways to express themselves which gets more people seeing World of tanks and draws in more players. We also have discovered that a number of innovations for the Xbox One can be incorporated back into the 360.
Andy Dorizas – Art Tank Lead
The company passion to model the level of detail and accuracy that goes into each and every tank, down to the serial number is badass HD Content. Xbox One lets us take the gloves off and have 2k textures for all the tanks, even the wiggly bits, the hull, turrets, guns, each up to 2k. The tanks are the characters and they are supposed to look awesome. No other game is running as many polygons as we are, 360 was about 14k and we are over 40k now on some tanks, the tank tracks alone could be that many which puts the total per tank at over 80k and that is just the pristine state. We used images of real tanks from the war to determine how and where to levels of detail to make the tank ultra-real. Plus the Environmental updates, Xbox 360 only had 120-200 polys per tree and 20 for a bush. The Xbox One we can have 2-3k per tree and 1k for bushes. Completely remodeling of every single tank in the game (over 400).
Brendan Blewett – Sound Designer (Loves to capture funny noises and present them to audiences)
When you are in production of a normal game there are a lot of unknowns but with Xbox One, there are no unknowns. We know what the game will be, what the needs are, what the maps will be like so it gives us a lot of lead time, we are not reacting, we are acting. The cool thing is we could come up with a plan to get out and capture new sounds specifically for the project. We set up a series of trips to capture ambient recordings of nature on all types of surfaces and things like explosions and live tank recordings. We were able to capture all kinds of different sounds to bring the tank alive, ammo cans, fenders, all the external parts as well as the mechanical components, engines, suspension, tracks. We took the tanks out all day everyday, doing a series of maneuvers and capturing the sound. Now we can process all these new sounds and put them into the system. Having six different tanks all numerous terrain types (gravel, sand, mud, snow) provided a great update the supplement the overall sound library. Revisions are in the work for the entire pallet of sound, all in house recordings that will be a symphony of sound effects.
The Xbox One brings the capabilities to throw 10’s of thousands culturals (flowers as an example), 3D modeling of trees and bushes, millions of particles, biometric smoke and fog, realistic flames and explosions, turrets blowing off in high fidelity. The 3D modeled vistas, true HDR lighting, Flow Map Technology and more put you in the driver’s seat and on the battlefield. The potential with so much power and replay ability to showcase your epic moments is what will set the World of Tanks on Xbox one apart without leaving your Xbox 360 friends behind. One world of World of Tanks, two consoles, two levels of visual fidelity but still on equal footing when it comes to damage models of fun. If you are an Xbox One owner, you are in for a treat. If you don’t own an Xbox One and enjoy World of Tanks, you may find that once you have seen it in action on the Xbox that you will NEED to upgrade your console, you have been warned LOL. I am even considering it and I am a PC player.