Most people have experienced driving a car, or at least riding in one. So when Wargaming set out to make World of Tanks, it had a point of reference for how players should feel when driving a tank. Tanks are big, heavy machines, and people want to feel the weight of driving what is essentially an oversized, heavily-armored car. "It's easier to make the car analogy with a tank, so we wanted to recreate that experience," says associate producer Christopher Stott.
Not as many people have ridden large boats, though, and even fewer have driven one. This made World of Warships a bit trickier to design.
Like World of Tanks, players pilot a machine in fast-paced multiplayer battles that feature guns and explosions. Unlike World of Tanks, World of Warships deals with full-sized warships comprised of more than 500 individual elements. These aren't just tanks with a turret. They're unique battleships armed with weapons that can fire at a 40 kilometer range.
"Honestly, a battleship is like building a skyscraper," Stott says. "It's a self-contained city on the water. So [when we're designing], we have to rethink what makes sense. These ships have thousands of interworking parts and thousands of people on deck at once. We're trying to do all sorts of different things.
"I think one of the biggest challenges is we can't just copy what we did in Tanks because they're very different machines. How do we recreate that whole experience of being on a battleship with people running around and things exploding and aircraft flying by?"
The developers had to make controlling a battleship feel right for players, even if most players had no idea how driving a battleship actually felt. It had to meet expectations players didn't know they had. This meant the ships had to feel weighty, powerful and complex. Going against historical accuracy, they also had to be exciting to maneuver and the combat itself had to be action-packed.
"We've taken some liberties in how the combat happens, but honestly, our combat engagement ranges are not so absurd because things like the curvature of the earth come into play when you're firing at crazy distances like this," Stott says.
"And when you think about real naval combat, it can be very boring: You're sitting in the ocean probably for hours and hours, days, or even weeks, and you find a guy in the middle of the ocean. Much of it is about making sure you're scouting very efficiently across the whole ocean. That's not fun. So we want to pack the ranges a bit. We also wanted to make the guns and the historical parameters of the ships as accurate as possible."
In World of Warships, players will often fight in battles that take place among island clusters, which Stott says would not have happened in real life. While the game, like others in the series, prides itself on historical accuracy, the tweaks made to the design aim to capture the right feeling for players, even if the design itself doesn't reflect what would have happened in real naval combat. Players fight in closer quarters more than they would in real life, the battles take place in more interesting and complex environments, and the ships are much easier to drive than the real thing.
"When you start out, you're on top of the ship with those guns, you feel like you're there on the deck of the ship," Stott says. "That's something we really wanted to capture."