How to create World of Tanks VR, and why it turned out a completely different game

    Last week I went to visit VR Tech. Together with Wargaming at the end of 2017, they created a joint company Neurogaming. The new company will deal exclusively with the development of games in virtual reality. VR-version of WoT is not limited, but it was decided to start with the tanks.

    The experts from VR Tech in classical WoT do not play much - too hardcore for them. But they wanted to make a more arcade game “about tanks” for a long time. In September 2017, the presentation of the prototype was seen by the guys from Wargaming and decided that there would be collaborations. 8 months have passed, the game is ready, and they are going to start the tournament on May 11 with a non-sour prize pool. The game still continues to refine and release new versions, but the most interesting thing is where the development began.

    Where the legs grow

    It all began with numerous prototypes and hypotheses that should have answered the main question: how to make such a gameplay so that the player is not tired of the game too quickly and easily figured out in control?

    First, simple prototypes were made and experimented with movement speed, detail, and mechanics. It turned out that the more details and the closer the picture to the real world, the less nausea.

    What if this is an ACS at all and we give the player control of the tracks?

    But the idea with a full-fledged simulator quickly disappeared, because "you can not run a person in VR and not give him control in your hands." Imagine what it would be like if a player got inside the tank and tried to control everything there at the same time: he rotated the turret and aimed at the target, drove the tracks, loaded the shells. In a word, it is unreal.

    You can also launch AI-infantry there and let them shoot at it.

    As a result, we stopped at the model, when the player is essentially a tank. But to come to her, it took a lot of experiments. For example, it turned out that not every tank model is suitable for VR: often because of the height of the tower, the front of the tank is not visible and it is not clear which way you are going. This is generally confusing, and some testers also caused dizziness.

    Plus, too heavy and light tanks did not fit because the first ones are not fast enough, and the second ones are too fast. From this the vestibular apparatus is very sausage.

    Modern tanks have decided not to take, so that in general the arcade game is not associated with a real bloody war. I wanted to do first of all a game for fun, not a simulator. The T-34 seemed to developers to be an ideal candidate, but it turned out that the axes of rotation of the tank itself and the turret do not coincide, and this also makes many people dizzy while driving. As a result, we stopped at the T-44-100 - an experienced medium tank in 1943, which is fully suitable for proportions and behavior.

    On the left - the original, on the right - the game embodiment


    Immediately it is worth making a reservation that it will not be possible to download WoT VR and run at home. The game is now available only on VR Tech facilities - in gaming 32 points in Russia. They are mainly concentrated in shopping centers near cinemas.

    At the same time, four people can play on the court (approximately 30 m²): they are put on helmets, given controllers, and driven. Training takes a couple of minutes, and two rounds of four minutes follow. Total one session takes 8 - 10 minutes. Issue price - 390 ₽.

    Maps of the appropriate size - under four tanks. The developers tried to find a balance so that the players did not search for each other for too long, but also so that it was not crowded. There are no completely identical original WoT locations in the VR version, but they generally try to push off and save recognizable elements. For example, in the center of the existing card is a dilapidated monastery, which was once in the prototype World of Tanks.

    Aiming in virtual reality also had to be made more arcade, otherwise, due to the low resolution in the VR helmet, everything would have been reduced to the hunt for pixels. From the information of the sight completely abandoned, and the zoom made very small - x1.5. A sharp increase in the picture and a small change in the angle of view caused discomfort among many in the focus group. And secondly, it immediately made the game less dynamic - it was much easier to stand still and camp, than drive around the map in search of the enemy.

    The damage system is also simplified. The tank in WoT VR has three large zones with varying degrees of damage: the frontal part, sides and feed.

    It turns out that the usual WoT and WoT VR are two different games about tanks, although the developers tried to stylistically adjust the interface to what it looks like in the original version: they took the voice of the hangar and made the hangar as similar as possible.

    Iron and helmets

    In general, to start the game does not need some very powerful configuration. The test booth in the Neurogaming office is equipped with 4 computers with GeForce GTX 1080 on board — one per player — and another weaker machine on which the card runs. A total of five computers.

    To “sympathize” without helmets it was not boring, under WoT VR they developed a spectator, which is sent to the thick of events and displays a picture on the monitors around the perimeter of the truss.

    This is how a test stand looks like at the Neurogaming office in the City on the 42nd floor.

    All PCs are placed in the upper part of the structure, and wires from HTC Vive at the end are already pulled down from them. Vive use plain, not pro. "Proshka" gives not such a big increase in the quality of the picture, but it greatly sags fps. If the standard version is about 90 frames per second, then the Pro to achieve more than 50 - 60 fps did not work, as the game is not optimized.

    VR helmets hanging from the ceiling here and there

    Controllers are standard too. And there is a feeling that instead of them it would be possible to use an ordinary gamepad, since only game statistics are tied to the position of the hands in space. You turn your left hand and see on the clock how much time has passed and how many points it has earned. Shooting and rotation of the tracks are tied to pressing buttons and triggers. But the turn of the tower and the vertical position of the barrel - it depends on the position of the head.

    Something like this looks like people in the thick of things in Word of Tanks VR. Party hard!

    What's next

    Now in “Neurogaming” they are developing a big map, where eight players can play right away. But even here designers use original WoT maps rather for inspiration. In addition, there will be another attempt to introduce the T-34 tank into the game and resolve the issue with the mismatch of the axes of rotation.

    In inhuman conditions, the guys are working :)

    In parallel with the work on WoT VR updates, research on other games and genres will continue. The goal of the developers is to understand how to make people physically tired of playing in virtual reality in 10 minutes, and what kind of gameplay is needed, so that it would be interesting to be in VR for half an hour.

    Subjective feelings

    Here is a recording of the game in which I participated.

    At first, the vestibular apparatus really sausages, because the tank is going, and you are standing still. After a couple of minutes it passes, and strange sensations periodically arise only when you move down a steep hill - then the earth tries to get out from under your feet.

    It was not so easy to aim with the turns of the head, because I could not fix myself entirely. The barrel of the tank now and then rocking, even if you try not to move at all. To hit the target while moving is still a challenge. There would be to understand in general, in which direction you are going, and where the tower is directed.

    In general, the eyes are not particularly tired in 10 minutes, although I expected them to tighten. But I would not have mastered more than three games in a row. If the guys still “move” to HTC Vive Pro with a larger resolution, it will immediately become more interesting, because “these are the pixels on the horizon” that will turn into tanks, and the picture will become a little more real.

    Also popular now: