We are very pleased to be able to present you with another World of Warplanes Developer Bulletin article.
This time, the Bulletin will include information on the upcoming, and highly anticipated, changes to the control system in-game… and will therefore be an unusually verbose one, but we will attempt to explain everything in as much detail as possible for you.
After you read through some of the details, there is a gallery filled with some very impressive before and after shots from the latest build.
Unfortunately, it can be quite time-consuming and complicated for members of our Development Team to regularly communicate with players and testers through public channels, but we’d like to use these Developer Bulletins as means for you to all hear a little more of the inner workings and thought processes of the Development Team behind World of Warplanes.
Why the Next Patch will be ‘Patch 0.4.0’: A Bit of History
About six months ago, a separate work group was created to start concentrating on an alternative flight model and control system for the game. There were a lot of controversies, prototypes, tests, and also a lot of variants and variations that had to be thrown out, and we also entered into a number of consultations with other experienced flight simulator developers.
These works continued in parallel to the main project development, and work on new game physics and an improved control system was also included within in the main developmental timeline. For example, over a dozen variants of the mouse control scheme were created, and most of these different schemes did not make it into the Closed Beta Test. However, our philosophy here has been simple: we have both the time and the determination to strive to do everything well, rather than simply trying to complete everything as quickly as possible.
Around the end of October, we looked at the results of this special additional work group and we came to the conclusion that we really liked the results of their work. So, we threw all of our resources into the completion of the new flight model and control scheme variants. And now, we’re very proud to be able to present you with the results of this long additional development process, focus testing and further final polishing.
This new patch contains a lot of new features for both the game client and the server side architecture. Traditionally, serious and profound changes within the game code and related systems were always reflected by changes to the numeric version designation (‘0.3.4’, ‘0.3.5’, etc.)… and that is why we have decided to name the new patch ‘0.4.0’, rather than ‘0.3.6’.
What's New: The Main Aspects
For a full list of changes, you will be able to consult the Patch Notes for Patch 0.4.0 when they are later made available to existing testers of the game.
However, we will attempt to describe the main new features here:
- Redesigned server architecture
- New flight model
- New mouse controls
- New battle interface
- Further graphical improvements
In short, we’ve made a lot of serious changes to the engine code. These changes should be advantageous both to us, as the Developers, and you, as the players.
In order to avoid going into too much detail about “programmer stuff”, we will describe only the two major benefits. Firstly, warplane characteristics can now be much more easily adjusted (by us) – this means that balancing the game will be easier, and that our adjustments can be more accurately applied. Secondly, the new server architecture has become faster – this means that players will notice more responsive warplanes that react faster to all control types.
New Flight Model
The new flight model is faster and more accurate, and flight, altitude and speed elements and factors can be better sensed and experienced.
Warplanes will behave more predictably and will be more controllable – effectively, each warplane’s character will now be more complete. Generally speaking, it’s better to wait and try it out for yourselves, rather than reading a wall of text here.
The New Mouse Controls: A Wall of Text!
Let’s start with a theory that the mouse controls can be roughly divided into two separate groups:
1. The point towards which the plane flies at any given moment (towards which the plane’s nose is directed) is fixed at the centre of the display
e.g. if we turn right, the background will turn left
This is how the current mouse controls function in WoWp
2. The point towards which the plane is headed has the possibility to be moved around the screen
e.g. if we quickly move the camera to the right the plane will start turning in this direction, with said plane’s maximum turning speed
This is another possible mode of operation for mouse controls.
The first variant requires a better understanding of the 3D situation, while the second helps players to orientate themselves more easily.
The second variant is essentially analogous to the World of Tanks controls; in that, the turret will rotate in the direction you turn (although usually much slower). On a warplane, the guns and machine-guns are obviously firmly fixed, and frontally directed, thus the whole plane will turn in the direction you have chosen.
The new mouse control system will have two different modes, both of which have been designed to serve different purposes:
‘Pilot Mode’ – this mode is most convenient for sharp, sudden and complicated manoeuvres, and also provides a very good field of view.
‘Ground Attack Mode’ – this mode has been designed for bomb strikes and for low altitude flying.
The warplane will automatically fly at a set altitude, whilst the player can focus on attacking ground targets, and the camera is fixed in a position a little under the warplane – this should provide a great view for bombing, but it should also be fairly convenient to shoot using the regular armaments as well
Additionally, we should probably also explain that the mouse controls are built upon a certain amount of ‘AI help’.
When a player moves the mouse, he sends information on what to do, but not precisely how to accomplish it;
i.e. “fly towards the top left corner”, but not “while ailerons are deflected, list 60 degrees to the left, and start ascending at a 30 degree angle, and on reaching the required pitching and banking angles, return the elevators and ailerons to neutral”
All of these more complicated parameters will be calculated by the built-in AI (Artificial Intelligence). Incidentally, the AI did function roughly in the same way previously, but has now been somewhat reconfigured.
So, the AI settings for the ‘Pilot’ and ‘Ground Attack’ modes are very different. The ‘Pilot Mode’ gives a lot of priority to manoeuvrability – the AI will always aim to bring the aircraft back to the specified player course as quickly as possible, using the optimal path, even at the cost of height or speed loss. Whereas, in the ‘Ground Attack Mode’, the plane will manoeuvre more slowly, with the AI always trying to retain maximum height and speed.
You’ll be able to feel the difference between the two, we promise!
New Battle Interface
In fact, in the new patch, we will have two of them:
We can, however, focus briefly on the new speed indicator within the ‘Minimalist’ interface. This will have several colour ranges, and you will need to be aware of the colour indicators as they each have their own specific meanings:
- Red – critically low speed value, and players will need to beware of stalling (or may even already be “enjoying” this!)
- Green – normal combat speed
- Light Green – ‘optimal speed’: at this speed, the warplane has the greatest manoeuvrability
- Orange – speed close to the maximum: at this speed the warplane will obviously not “fall apart”, but the effectiveness of the control surfaces is greatly reduced and players will experience decreased manoeuvrability
And yes, before you ask, it will obviously also be possible to select/enable the “old” interface!
Significant changes to the in-game graphics were introduced with Patch 0.3.5, and this work has only continued with Patch 0.4.0.
It is perhaps worth noting that the new graphical improvements are based around four specific areas of work:
- Rendering improvements: these are almost done, but we continue to work on the optimisation
- Improved warplane models: this is not finished yet, and will be even better in 0.4.1 and further patches
- Improved maps: these will be finished later, and are an area in which we will continue to concentrate in the future
- New clouds: this is an area in which we seem to have finally solved the earlier performance problems, and new clouds have therefore been added (with the old ones removed!)
First of all, thank you for reading this huge text! We really are very happy to tell you more about Patch 0.4.0, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve gone into so much detail in advance.
Secondly, please remember that this is obviously still Closed Beta. We’re continually polishing, polishing, polishing… and, even with a huge amount of work already done, we still have a long way left to go. We cannot simply test these things internally if we hope to be able to find all the potential issues…
Which is why, thirdly, we would like to thank you sincerely for your interest in the project, and – to the testers – for all of your forum posts, your feedback, polls, and observations… as well as all the bugs you’ve helped discover.
We thank you for your patience, and we thank you for participating in the development of World of Warplanes.
Just as we promised, here's a gallery showing off some of the very impressive before and after shots with the latest build:
Edited by hobbstrosity, 11 February 2013 - 07:47 PM.