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February 10, 2020

Sub_Octavian (World of Warships Executive Producer) Q and A February 10th

Q:

Sub_Octavian Q and A #24

Hey Guys, 

This week I will be answering your questions about the game here. My name is Phil (IGN: Sub_Octavian), I'm executive producer for World of Warships in WG Saint Petersburg studio. Unfortunately, over 5 years in the team and with new job duties coming steadily it has become harder and harder to do AMAs, but I'm always happy to find time for one, and thank you all for your participation and passion for the game!

Question: Is there a Bug with aiming at the moment? Me and many other people, including streamers have noticed a lot of shots going short for quite some time now.
If so, is there an ETA for it getting fixed?
It´s quite annoying to have every other salvo fall short, especially in BB's where you don´t have much fire-rate to begin with.

Answer: Hello. When we received this question a while ago, not only we checked the code, but also performed a series of automation tests to see if there is any change or issue. We even tested a ship with nearly lazer accuracy synthetically and did some other experiments to be on the safe side. And so far we don't have evidence that there is any bug that causes the shells to behave differently. I have to outline, that according to the normal distribution, the shells CAN land like this from time to time. That's..normal, if it does not happen systematically (more than it normally should). There are a few tests still running, so we will wait for these to have the final conclusion.

However, while investigating, we found some room for improving the aiming system. What we noticed is that, when firing at large distance and trying to hit the ship under waterline, if you take aim too low, because of the distance and your view perspective, you will effectively target the water too far from the ships broadside. It is not a bug or something - it was the case from the start, but we believe playing around the settings can make such aiming better (by reducing "sensitivity" of vertical aiming we can make the aiming point shift less with the same distance covered by the aim if that makes sense). Anyway, we've put this task on to do list, as we believe it is a good QoL change. I think, from what I see now, that most of these "shells fall short" feelings come from this aiming nuance.


Question: I have to emphasise that these issues were not common more than roughly a year ago. There are plenty of video proofs that shells land short on a target that is less than 10 km. That's why it is so obvious.

Here are 2 examples from Yuro's vids:

https://youtu.be/D9-Oy1mAGIs?t=493
https://youtu.be/MT5GtyBer2k?t=197

It might be a good idea to check on what changed in the game around the time when this issue started to happen.

Answer: A video clip of shells landing short is not a proof. Shells can land short from time to time, that's how dispersion works. The more you play the game (like a streamer), the more chances are that you will encounter various cases, like that one. That does not make them abnormally frequent by itself. As I've said above, there were no changes to the dispersion mechanics, and the automated testing of this is nearly complete (hence I will give it a benefit of doubt until we have the final results). But so far, looks like the issue is with aiming - that one we see and understand. Cheers!


Question: Anything new on the IFHE/cruiser armor rework that was posted quite a while back?

Answer: There will be news pretty soon :-) Sorry, I can't say more at the moment.


Question: There appears to be a lot of T4 CV activity. I have a couple of friends who I persuaded to try the game. However as soon as they started encountered multi CV per side games on a very frequent basis, they have lost interest. They simply cannot see what the game is trying to teach them, with virtually no AA at T3 and T4, and lots of apparent T4 seal clubbing CV play, the new player experience is suffering. Do WG recognise the issue and is anything being planned or proposed to address this?

Answer: New players will most likely not meet the seal clubbers because of the separate MM queue. But anyways, we recognise the issue of 6-CV-battles, and we're working on the solution. I expect a devblog post with some details about this in 1-2 weeks.


Question: My question is probably outside your area within the company, but I would like to ask it anyway: Are you guys happy with the current process of announcing/testing ships? I was in CST for a while and I noticed that you guys catch a lot of unnecessary flak from the community at several points along the process of developing new ships.

You often post stats on the dev blog well in advance of the ships reaching the live server for CST and CC. It’s impossible to judge a ship based on purely numbers but still people try and sometimes there are even changes announced before live testing starts.

CC gameplay NDA drops just a few days after CSTs get the ships and well before any balancing changes are made so often everyone's first impression is of the ship in its earliest form. This is further compounded because ships often take 2-6 months to get from first live server tests to actual release. It seems to me like you are wasting any momentum that you could generate this way.

When I joined CST I thought that the team really valued our opinion as we are more clued up on the game than probably most of your staff. However, after a few months it felt like it was impossible to be heard over that thousands on twitch/forums/reddit. These guys should be heard because they represent the player base much better than CST or CCs do but it should only be after there’s been 1 or 2 iterations so at least the style of the ship is nailed down.

Answer: The point of exec producer position is that everything IS your problem, so the question is fine, as well as many others :D

That's a very good and challenging point you've raised, and the answer is I don't honestly know which way is better.

On the one hand, you're right, and discussing early ships' stats and changes can often go excessively and unreasonably emotional.

On the other hand, we want to be as transparent and open as we can, and we do know that people care for new ships and want to discuss it - even if we stop to provide the information, there will still be leaks and datamining.

So for now, we're not changing the approach and will keep talking about WIP content as soon as it hits the ST stage.

However, specifically about CST, ST and CC - don't worry about these guys not being heard. While the theory crafting discussions are always interesting to watch, when performing the analysis, we of course separate feedback of people who actually tested the content, from the discussions about this content in the community. The point that someone who did not play the ship has strong opinion about it does not make testing efforts any less valuable.

By the way, thanks for taking part in the testing. Cheers!


Question: Do you have any plans to address the DD population issues? It seems more often than not I will see one DD games at high tier (I'm on SEA), and it really effects the meta badly, since DD's have the most essential tasks in the game in spotting, screening, and capping.

I also feel that the population issues are linked to life becoming harder for DD's as the game evolves. There is an increasing amount of hydro, still plenty of radar, CV's can be challenging at times, Italian cruisers and their SAP shells are incredibly impactful, and there are also high dpm gunboats being continually added that specialise in killing other DD's. No one thing on this list is particularly onerous, but added together, and along with the normal challenges of being a DD, it seems to be much more difficult for poor to average players to succeed, and this seems to be the root of the population problem as these players turn away from a class they consider just too difficult.

It feels like we're trending towards the old RTS CV problem (I'm sure it will never be that bad of course), with declining numbers, an increasing skill gap, and a very high impact on the battle for the best DD players.

Note this is not a complaint about me personally struggling with DD's, I am very successful in them, but more so that I am very concerned as to what the overall impact to the game of this issue is. I personally think this is the number one issue in the game right now.

Answer: That's a very big and good question :-)

I am not sure what is your experience with other classes, but what is happening with complexity is, in our opinion, is a slow growth of complexity for the whole game, not just for one class. For instance, cruisers have to deal with more overmatching BB calibers nowadays and they can meet a certain DDs who can actually fight back with their main guns. Destroyers were always difficult to play (low HP, 2 different armaments) and at the same time they have huge battle influence (in terms of win/loss) because of their mobility and interaction with control points. With time, the number of different factors that players have to deal with, especially on higher tiers, will only grow (although we try not to speed up this process or even slow it down sometimes).

We currently don't have any plans to make considerable class wide changes for DDs. Although, I realize SEA may be particularly harder for DD because of increased CV popularity there, we can't perform changes based on one server. On global scale the DD popularity fluctuates at 20-25%. A lot of things affect it, from obvious CVs influence (also, I think I mentioned it last year that quite a few DD players started to play CV, most likely, for the fast gameplay), a lot of popular non-DD ships (not just Smolensk, but a whole lot of various reward and premium ships) and lack of "regular, normal, reliable torpedo-style" DD branches. To be fair, EU DD line currently is our way of bringing back this good old torpedo focused gameplay, which was not in the spotlight for long time.

That does not mean, however, that we won't do any QoL changes. But I would not expect anything on "BB AP vs DD" level in the near future.


Question: Recently my game quality (and many others in my clan, and other people that I know) seems to be getting worse and worse. Games regularly ending in less than 10 minutes where your team either stomps or gets stomped regardless of what you are doing.

So my question is, is it ever possible to get a matchmaking? I'm not talking about a matchmaking that only puts unicums against other unicums, but something that would balance out the number of unicums on both teams so that both teams have equal skill.

Alternatively, do you ever plan to get rid of games ending when points go down to 0? It doesn't feel like it adds anything to the game and it makes games end super fast if one team doesn't manage to get an early cap which makes the game suck for both teams.

Answer: I am not entirely sure what the time frame of "recently" is, but I think for battle duration it is pretty important to look at the data to see the full picture. I've checked the battle duration distribution for T10 Random battles over last few months, and that's what I found:

DEC 19 - JAN 20: https://i.gyazo.com/15726056534108bb508d6ac4c97d3f45.png

AUG 19 - SEP 19: https://i.gyazo.com/b29c9a96c32e0681e2173fa4616a3c9c.png

APR 19 - MAY 19: https://i.gyazo.com/333e48c43762f0dc4030f0b970e037df.png

X-axis is battle time, Y-axis is % of such battles, e.g. on APR-MAY slide, you can read that "8% of battles end with time limit of 20 minutes". This tool was used when we made various adjustments to Domination mode (to reduce the games ending too fast, for example), and overall, the guys responsible for the game modes watch it regularly. As you can see, there are some fluctuations here and there, but overall trend is stable, most of the battle end in comfortable and reasonable time.

As for the match making, it's our current position, and frankly I don't see it changing, that in Random battles, MM will only base on player's ship (tier, nation, class). We don't plan to add any additional layers of MM, like player's skill or consumables. Thus, all current MM improvements are aimed at better balancing across the current factors. For example, last year we've made an improvement that effectively prevents players from getting into uptiered streaks. Now we're working on some next steps aimed at tiers distribution. This MM "quality of life" is all we are ready to work on in this regard, because at conceptual level, Random battles match making works well and it's one of the core mechanics in the game.

There are modes, that approximate player's skill (Ranked battles and Ranked sprints) and there are modes where the MM influence is near zero (Clan Battles and Brawls). These are separate, and we don't believe it would be wise to try to mix them with Random battles.

Finally, as for the battles ending by 0 points. There are some, and we considered this topic seriously. Point is, in such cases (when the game goes this way) the chance for comeback is too low, and we believe for the most of players, it's better to end such battle and move on than to drag the game. We don't think there is universal solution here, and just decided to go with this one.


Question: Wouldn't it be a better idea to delay the content/"content"-churning patches, and first focus on balancing the stuff that has already been released, fix the bugs that are already known and general housekeeping (and restoring the faith lost)? Going by the reception on the latests posts posted here by the DevBlog-bot, the upcoming stuff isn't too well received. And while your at it, also take a look at the events we recently had, as there is also a lot of room for improvement there.

Or is it really the intent of the dev-team/marketing-team to overtake the position of WoT as the most unbalanced and abusive game in the WG-portfolio. Because if it is, I would appreciate it if you would just let us know that, so those who wish so can abandon ship before this naval-themed milking-simulator leaves its downward spiral and inevitably gets piledriven into the rock bottom.

Answer: No, it wouldn't, unfortunately. Content patches are the thing that keeps the majority of both new and old players entertained and drawn to the game (and also win backs a lot of old lapsed players). Despite of having some discussions like "please do 2 patches entirely focused on tweaks, fixes and improvements" this idea is not fully viable because: a. the dev team's internal specializations do not overlap that much to freely allocate resources from new ship making or seasonal events to UI improvements/old ships balancing and b. in a highly competitive environment we always need to be on the radar and bring the content people care about regularly. "General housekeeping" process is not be be underestimated, of course, but any kind of patching means not just fixing old bugs, but introducing new ones:-) So realistically, it's a constant battle for keeping the game technical state on the level where the majority of the players don't encounter issues. And also a constant battle to keep the balance between the new stuff. IMHO, we are not losing this battle (although we will try to do more).

Examples of non "new stuff!" QoL changes (may be incomplete):

* 0.9.0: Old ARP ships becoming premiums, some HDR maps, armor viewer improvements, various bug fixes.
* 0.8.11: Logbook (obviously stuff mostly for veterans), KM BB and Salem buffs, some HDR maps, various bug fixed (including a case of double AP damage to DD).
* 0.8.10: HDR stuff, co-op MM improvements, memorable flags sorting, various bug fixes.
* 0.8.9: gun bloom change, ships types sorting, special perma camo visualization improvement (standard camos are visualized instead of non historical depending on player's filter options), specator mode, camos sorting, some fixes.
* 0.8.8: HDR/Visual improvements, port chat anti-abuse, bug fixes and WGC automatic bug report option.
* 0.8.7: MM improvements to remove uptiering streaks and regulate the uptiering overall % for players, quick commands block option and anti-spam, port UI performance improvements, bug fixes.

I can go on and on, but the point is that every update contains some QoL stuff and "houskeeping" improvements, and while we will definitely try to get more stuff like that in, fact is that this work is being done regularly.

As for the events. Events improvements are a good priority, for sure. We're working on some global big set of improvements for in-game events system in general (as always, Devblog will follow when we're ready, it's currently in late development and internal testing). We're also working to learn from past experience, e.g. making new Dockyard events, but with the problems of PR event in mind.

As for the last part of your question, if I may:
  1. We love our game and community. Both are amazing. As with life, we've had ups and downs, but overall, World of Warships and its players is something that changed the lives and brought a lot of good people together (I man players and devs).
  2. The game is doing great, and it is not going anywhere. We will keep working hard on it and it will be doing great for years more.
  3. Deal with it :3