Alexander Trifonov gives us an inside look into the development of War Thunder.
We recently got in touch with Alexander Trifonov who is the international PR for Gaijin Entertainment to talk about War Thunder. The game is currently in open beta for the PC and is a launch title for Sony’s next generation console, the PlayStation 4. Alexander revealed some interesting details about the PS4 version of War Thunder including information on cross platform play, new expansion pack and how they are using the power of the PS4 to make it similar to the PC version.
"New console generation is radically different from the current one in terms of raw power and also in its philosophy."
Rashid Sayed: War Thunder is releasing for the PlayStation 4 this Holiday season but an Xbox One version is not planned. Can you please let us know the reason behind this decision?
Alexander Trifonov: There are several reasons for this, the main one being Microsoft policy regarding free2play titles and online games in general. For our game we need simultaneous updates with all other versions, cross-platform multiplayer and absence of the entrance fee in the form of Xbox Live Gold subscription. All of this is impossible (at the moment) on Xbox One while Sony shows strong support for our project.
Rashid Sayed: War Thunder reminds us quite a bit of PlayStation 3’s Warhawk, except primarily centered on combat flight simulation. In comparison to PSN back then, what are your thoughts on the overall development of console multiplayer nowadays especially with the upcoming updates that the PS4 will provide?
Alexander Trifonov: New console generation is radically different from the current one in terms of raw power and also in its philosophy. Now everything is connected, and console online gaming is the norm and not some curiosity. All of the platform-holders are also very interested in the free2play-model and we’re glad to be one of the pioneers on this frontier.
"As we’re going to add tanks and ships to our game and make mixed battles between all three, making even bigger maps isn’t wise – the players will have trouble finding each other."
Rashid Sayed: Considering that War Thunder reached 3 million players on July 25th 2013, what motivated the decision to bring the game to consoles where the MMO and combat flight simulator market is significantly weaker in comparison to PC?
Alexander Trifonov: I won’t be so hasty about console combat flight simulators as our team created one of the best titles of this genre, including Il 2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey and Apache: Air Assault. They were met with very positive reviews and were quite successful in the commercial sense –so making a console MMO flightsim was the next logical step for us. We aim to broaden genre appeal thanks to the F2P model – which we have already demonstrated with the PC version.
Rashid Sayed: The average size of map ranges from 65x65KM to 200X200 KM. Do you have any plans to make them even bigger in the future?
Alexander Trifonov: As we’re going to add tanks and ships to our game and make mixed battles between all three, making even bigger maps isn’t wise – the players will have trouble finding each other. But there’ll be new maps and updates to existing ones, sure.
Rashid Sayed: What kind of research did the team did in bringing real life maps that were based on the WWII era?
Alexander Trifonov: As we’ve been making WWII games for several years now, we have acquired an enormous database and sought help from many historical consultants. We studied old photos, documentaries and military maps from that era to make all of our levels believable.
"The complete list of aircraft is significantly bigger, taking into account all possible modifications, armament variations and visual tuning. Altogether, about 5,000 different planes fought in WWII – that’s the number we’re after!"
Rashid Sayed: How many planes and maps will the final version of the game have?
Alexander Trifonov: At the moment we have more than 200 planes in the game, but new ones are added to the game with every major update. The complete list of aircraft is significantly bigger, taking into account all possible modifications, armament variations and visual tuning. Altogether, about 5,000 different planes fought in WWII – that’s the number we’re after!
Rashid Sayed: Can you please talk about the customization of the planes? Will the customization be only at a visual level or can players change engine and other parts which directly affect the handling and aerodynamics of the plane?
Alexander Trifonov: With one of the latest updates our players got a whole new range of customization options, including different offensive and defensive measures. You can alter any plane in your possession dramatically: you can trade firepower for speed and better armor for maneuverability.
Rashid Sayed: Will War Thunder take advantage of any of the PlayStation 4’s unique features such as Cloud computing or the DualShock 4’s Share button and LED bar?
Alexander Trifonov: We’re using PlayStation Eye camera for the head-tracking, so the player can look around his aircraft without using the gamepad.And of course users will be ableto use Share functions such as screen capture or even live streaming.
"We got the devkits in a couple of months before Gamescom, and we created playable demo for the show with little difficulty."
Rashid Sayed: Much debate has been made over how much RAM the PS4 allocates to game development. In the beginning of the PlayStation 4’s release cycle, does it really make that big of a difference for development?
Alexander Trifonov: Actually, we got our devkits only this summer, and they had 8 Gbs already. So we can’t really comment on that. Anyway, you can’t have too much memory!
Rashid Sayed: We’re seeing a lot of primarily PC-based games heading over the PS4. How much easier was it to bring War Thunder to the PS4?
Alexander Trifonov: We got the devkits in a couple of months before Gamescom, and we created playable demo for the show with little difficulty. Overall, it was far easier than with current generation.
Rashid Sayed: Will War Thunder be seeing any new content or modes to accompany the PS4 release? More importantly, will it be free to play on the PS4, thus allowing for those without PlayStation Plus to access the game?
Alexander Trifonov: By the time the PS4 launches, we’ll have Ground Forces Expansion for our game, so console owners will get playable tanks in addition to planes from the beginning. War Thunder for PS4 will be completely free and won’t require PS Plus, but the subscribers will get some bonuses.
"PS4 is a very powerful gaming machine thanks to its closed architecture, and every day our dev team is getting better with it."
Rashid Sayed: Is there any difference between the PS4 and PC version of the game?
Alexander Trifonov: Basically, the game is the same on both platforms (except interface and controls, of course). PS4 version will get the same updates as PC, because one of the main features of War Thunder is cross-platform battles between all users. You can even use your existing account on PS4 and get all your levels, planes, upgrades, etc.
Rashid Sayed: How are you guys using the unified architecture of the PS4 to bring complex aerodynamic simulations?
Alexander Trifonov: PS4 is a very powerful gaming machine thanks to its closed architecture, and every day our dev team is getting better with it. This includes aerodynamics, physics, damage model and many other complex calculations. Thanks to our game being online, we can continuously improve the optimization of our engine to achieve maximum performance.
Rashid Sayed: Have you guys decided on a firm release date for the PC and PS4 versions?
Alexander Trifonov: War Thunder is the launch title for PS4 so it’ll be available to all of the console buyers from the beginning. But the game itself is still going to be in the open beta status, as we have a lot of major updates planned in the near future.
A big thank you to Audra McIver from Plan of Attack for setting this interview up.