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T-34 vs. Tiger: Dev Team Interview

IDDK ( www.games.iddk.ru ) and G5 Software ( www.g5software.com ) announce a new tank simulation to be set during the Second World War. “WWII Battle Tanks: T-34 vs. Tiger” tells the story of the great triumph of the Soviet Army during the summer campaign of 1944. “Operation Bagration” in 1944 was one of the most significant Russian campaigns during the struggle of Soviet and German tanks in Belorussia. The player will be able to experience “Operation Bagration” in two playable campaigns – a Russian campaign and a German campaign, where he can take control over the Russian T-34 or, respectively, the German Tiger. We caught up with the dev team to get some more intel.

TANKSIM.com: The development team: who are they and do they have any insiders, specialists, veterans, historians aboard so that they know what to do when digitally bringing WWII tanks (and tactics) to life?

Dev Team: G5 Software is one of the leaders in Russian game industry. It is an experienced team realized a range of successful projects known both in Russia and abroad. And simulation projects lie in the root of this success. Right now we apply our experience of sim development as well as NAPALM Engine specially developed for such challenges in the project “WWII Battle Tanks: T-34 vs. Tiger”. It is obvious that we need some consultations with specialists to make the project realistic as much as possible and mind every detail. To reconstruct the events we speak to both Russian and foreign historians. We create all the vehicles and armor using descriptions, drawings, speaking with veterans to make tank appearance and movements more precise and detailed.

TANKSIM.com: Describe the combat environments planned: cities, forests, plains, villages, rivers, etc.

Dev Team: We plan to generate the episodes on the open ground. And here we will create valleys, hills, hollows, forests, groves, rivers, etc and common elements of the country yard. As we intend to place most battles in the country as it is demanded by the chosen time period we are planning to create villages and hamlets with country houses, huts, wells, corrals. In mission implying traps we pay close attention to forests, trees and bushes. And the gamer should mind that the battle environment may seem quite different in daytime, at dawn and so on. So I guess that players find much fun having opportunity to crash every tree and every village hut by his tank moving on some extensive territory.

TANKSIM.com: Scaling of battles - how big in size can battles be, how many units/vehicles included? How large in size is the battleground per mission?

Dev Team: Scaling of battles is a sort of a very complicated phenomena in the sense that it is almost impossible to satisfy the demands of both players of the genre and beginners. Tanksim players always head in the very hell of the battle with as much units in fight as possible. For beginners it takes time to get used to some new environment. And in such a situation grading approach is the only way out. That is why the player may begin with some traps for the enemy and in the course of the game take part in large local battles with up to a tank battalion from each side fighting. And the number of units from each side is also a good question. The supreme task here is to avoid the chaos and mess and keep the right balance. From our experience we understand that it is quite enough to place 15-20 units on the battlefield. I mean tank units not mentioning troops and artillery. And the battle field is a 80 square kilometers map with unique landscape. I guess that it is quite a good game balance indeed.

TANKSIM.com:  Describe the AI. Will it be able to react independently to player's action, or scripted to predetermined mission flow?

Dev Team: AI acts in accordance to the general task but it always reacts accordingly when the player makes the situation change and it is up to AI whether to decide to retreat or to attack with more forces. From the other side if no unit preserves AI from performing its general task it will fulfill the task in accordance with the script. For example, if the gamer will try to hold waiting position AI will attack or defend independently, form battle disposition or re-form in convoys. So we are quite sure that AI operating the allied forces will fight adequately and pay attention to the player’s activities. Add what is of much importance we have created the system of grading visibility of a unit. That means that a player can hide in trees and bushes trap in such a way that the enemy unit will hardly see him from the distance. And using this the player can hit the enemy practically point-blank.

TANKSIM.com: Will the campaign be a set of scripted missions or will it be a dynamic campaign? How much randomness will the units have in starting location and inclusion?

Dev Team: Campaigns are formed as script missions describing the most important and striking episodes of the “Bagration” operation with tank participation in summer 1944. I can tell with much certainty that randomness will have its place in the game. But it may be not exact in the places you stated. As the number of units and their disposition is stable at the beginning, their next acts are always will be contextual. We put randomness within the game exact in this sense – the manner in which AI units will act after the mission start, the approach they choose, etc.

TANKSIM.com: Will the voices be correct in both Russian and German or English?

Dev Team: Just at this point of development process we have no such an aim – because we still have some time to think it over. Nevertheless this topic is of much importance. I guess that the test scoring will help us to take the only correct decision. From the historic point of view and from the position of hardcore sims players it is quite a good feature. But this one brings just more and more complications for a player (especially for a beginner) to understand the game process. The second thing to consider is that our tank cannot intercept any enemy talks so the value of using all the languages in one mission is also under discussion.

TANKSIM.com: If your tank is destroyed...can you survive and fight on the ground? Or does that end the mission?

Dev Team: The main question here is the exact way of the damage. The tank can be hit in every spot on the body and this damage does not necessarily imply the death of the vehicle. Say a truck is hit. The player can continue the tank fight right from the spot being motionless. Just one thing – the player in motionless tank hardly can fulfill all the mission tasks and the mission should be replayed.

One more possible situation – after the strike the tank is still in motion but one member of the crew is dead. In this case the player will continue the fight and from time to time substitute the dead member of the crew.
From the other side, we cannot forget that we create namely a tank sim. And all the drive and action is implied in tank battles. And in such a case what good can be 3d shooter realized in a tank sim when the tank is hit? I guess that such feature is of no importance because we cannot speak about any speed and drive as the infantry was of minor influence in the tank battlefield. But of course this statement can be denied by saying that tanks are a mere infantry support. It is far from being the truth. Tank battalions and infantry troops have quite different tasks. And any member of the tank crew cannot fulfill his task in a proper way without his vehicle. And I guess that it is correct within the borders of simulation genre to speak about the failed mission when the tank is hit and fired.

TANKSIM.com: What kind of airpower will be present?

Dev Team: There is aircraft from both sides. From the German side it would be storm-trooper FW-190F and from the side of the Soviet Army there would be the attack-plane IL-2. The main aircraft task is storming the lines and bombing the battlefield area, i.e. aircraft will hardly chase some single vehicles but will certainly strike the positions, vehicle stands, defensive lines. That is why the aircraft role in the game is campaign support from the air and bombing of the areas.

TANKSIM.com: If the tank is disabled can it be repaired? What does the repair process look like and can you take casualties more readily during repairs?

Dev Team: I’m afraid that we cannot repair disabled tanks. I guess such an option is of less use in any dynamic mission in “WWII Battle Tanks: T-34 vs. Tiger”. But quite another thing is for example engine stop after a strike. Such a trouble can be cured. But we cannot repair a broken truck during a dynamic mission. The only way out here is to continue the fight motionless or restart the mission.

TANKSIM.com: Can you make your own missions?

Dev Team: If the player has certain skills in gamedev he can try successfully to modify the existing missions or even rearrange it on a full scale. But the question of generating full-size mission editor is still open. Mission editor is a useful tool for every sim player and we cannot forget about it. But from the point of view of a beginner mission editor hardly preserve such an importance. So I guess considering all the variants we will manage to find a solution.


TANKSIM.com:  What kind of multiplayer is planned (how many players, types of missions, connect by IP or a hosted lobby)?

Dev Team: Multiplayer setting will allow 2-8 people within the game via IP connection without any hosted lobby. The players are free to choose the type of a mission to play. Our plans are to make available deathmatch, duels, and team mode within some mission borders.

TANKSIM.com: How is the Napalm game engine different from the one used in T-72: Balkans on Fire?

Dev Team: The main difference is in NAPALM Engine potential and power. Our NAPALM Engine technology allows us to realize physics and graphics of a higher level. The very tank model will be detailed with every feature. And in the whole this high level of detail is characteristic of all pieces of the environment. NAPALM Engine is capable of reflection about 80 square kilometers of landscape with trees and bushes on it. In short about NAPALM Engine features – vertex and pixel shaders support is a must as well as the capacity of working with dynamic light, self shading, bump mapping, specular maps, glow and bloom effects, stencil shades, special indoor light, mirrors and reflections, water surface. NAPALM Engine potential allows generating high-quality effects of explosions, smoke, dust, splashes, tracers, rain, lens flares.

TANKSIM.com: Can you give us some info on how you create the sounds.

Dev Team: When we create in-game sound we rest upon sound characters. For example, we mind the difference in sound between diesel and petrol engines. After this we fit the engine tone and its changes when the number of engine rounds alter or some other change takes place. Then we add the characteristic clang when a tank is in motion. As a result the tank engine grumbles and tank trucks rattle depending on a tank type, chosen gear and speed. And such a scheme is applicable to practically every sound in the game.

TANKSIM.com: How and to what degree is the player in control not only of his own vehicle or platoon, but of more, or of all forces of his side? (Has control over other units improved since T-72?)

Dev Team:  In “WWII Battle Tanks: T-34 vs. Tiger” we have shifted our priorities a bit. In first hand we try to concentrate on full-sized system of tank handling, crew management reflecting all the details. Having such an aim we even created fully animated tank crew stations for players. And paying attention to this aspect we do not realize the system of control over other units. Why? At first, we are sure enough in AI controlling the allied units. It is clear that some experienced players are eager to determine the main strikes directions and fight tactics. But the player cannot influence the strategy of the operation, infantry, artillery, aircraft anyway. And if it would be possible I guess it would be quite another game genre. And here we are in the tank sim in which we deal with one crew having their orders but actions of the player’s unit can influence the actions of other forces on the battlefield due to the AI power.

What are the prelim PC specs - especially the graphics board?

Dev Team: It is pretty early to speak about the final system requirements. But we try to make the game available for those with advanced modern PC’s as well as for the owners of simple stations. Minimum demands are Intel Pentium IV 2.0 GHz, graphic card with 128 Mb RAM no lower Radeon 9600, GeForce 6600. And a graphic card is as always the most important question under discussion. 256 Mb on the card of the previous or last generation are always a plus. It allows enjoying the full-scale potential of the game. AMD™ Athlon64 or Intel Pentium IV with NT technology are also welcome.

TANKSIM.com:  Give us a picture of the reputation both of developer and publisher, especially the history of their support for former releases, and their contacts to communities.

Dev Team: G5 Software was created in the year of 2001 and since that time growing rapidly. At the moment G5 Software is one of the leading PC games developers in Russia and definitely the leader in the field of games for mobile phones. We have quite a long history of working with communities and players in many countries on various projects and especially it was of much use on simulation ones such as “Red Shark”, ‘Fair Strike”, “Whirlwind of Vietnam: UH-1” as well as “The Cuban Missile Crisis” and “Hard Truck Tycoon”. It is of no surprise because there are a great deal of details that the developer cannot find even in the most detailed descriptions. And these ones we try to get first of course. So we pay attention to close relations with community from the very beginning of the game development process. It is of much importance for us because simulation games development is one of our principal fields inside the world of PC games. We contact with both Russian specialists and professionals from abroad. We always try to find the ways for constructive conversation without giving any marks and grades to the project. Thus if we have made some wrong steps it is not a problem to improve the game when we hear some serious and decent criticism. And we always glad to hear such comments on every project.

The IDDK Group company has been founded in 1995. Its main specializations are development, production and distribution of multimedia CD and DVD tittles for home use. IDDK Group has got a wide partners network on the software and multimedia markets of Russia and CIS countries. The IDDK Group games department had been created in the year of 2002. A well known "T-72: Balkans on Fire!", developed by CrazyHouse, was first international release. One of the latest finished projects: "REFUZE" - squad-based action. IDDK also made out series of training games such as "Virtual Driving School" (driving on cars, trucks and motobikes), and 3D landscape designer. For the older kids and young people there are a number of games for office and home playing. Easy-to-understand and play "Train Empire" is a 3D arcade railway builder. Red Shark 2 - is a helicopter arcade, a sequel to the first part made in a collaboration with the G5 Software.

“WWII Battle Tanks: T-34 vs. Tiger” is scheduled for release in Q1 of 2007 in Russia.

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