Armored Talk Q&A with Richard Taylor

Obsidian Entertainment and are happy to present the newest Armored Talk stream issue by Spitfire, Fiaura, Lightfoot Freddy, H3dsh0t and Italken, this time with a special guest - the project director of Armored Warfare, Richard Taylor!

During the stream, Richard Taylor answered a number of player questions regarding the upcoming changes to the game.

What role will Tank Destroyers have in Balance 2.0?
Some of the original classes, like the MBTs or SPGs, match their real life counterparts. The Tank Destroyer and AFV categories, however, were made up to represent everything that's not an MBT, SPG or a Light Tank, which is why the vehicles of both classes are very diverse. Originally, the Tank Destroyers were heavy gun vehicles while the AFVs had lighter guns. The philosophy of both classes will shift somewhat in the future. For one, we are not sure whether Tank Destroyers will be called Tank Destroyers in Balance 2.0. The tanks need to be scared of them. In Balance 2.0, ATGMs are turning into the main threat on the battlefield – it's possible that the current ATGM TDs will become the true Tank Destroyers, while the gun Tank Destroyers, which often suffer from a low caliber gun for the tier, may be reclassified to Fire Support Vehicles - mobile flankers and snipers.

Is there anything you haven't revealed yet about Global Operations?
We have revealed pretty much everything about the current version. In the future, the most innovated aspect will be the Wildcards. The second Global Operations map may use the same Wildcards in order to get it out as quickly as possible. But, for the future, we are experimenting with other ideas, such as off-map artillery, sustained zone denial, different aircraft (gun-based strafing run) or radar jamming. Everything is experimental at the moment. Different maps will see different numbers of objectives per phase and there will also be different weather effects. We want to introduce more mechanics to make gameplay diverse. One thing we are actually working on is adding Custom Match support to Global Operations along with some toggles, such as limiting the number of respawns.

Can you reveal more about the upcoming changes to gameplay in Balance 2.0?
Some changes have already been implemented – for example the ATGM and smoke changes in Update 0.17. We want to make the smoke mechanism play a bigger role, as the armor will be rebalanced to better reflect the real life values and it is going to be a little less invincible on high-tier MBTs than it was in the past. To counterbalance that, MBT players will have the smoke ability. As you come under fire, you might want to deploy smoke and relocate instead of just standing there and bouncing one shell after another. Hard cover will have to be used more. We are making adjustments to maps to allow more hulldown positions to reflect that.

The armor and penetrations are both getting adjusted across the board. We are moving away from pixel-hunting tiny weakspots on high tier MBTs. Weakspots will be larger. We are, however, also changing some of the hit resolution mechanics, such as the normalization and ricochets, to make armor angling more relevant. Side-scraping will become a usable tactic. A lot of these changes are driven by real-world mechanics of shells and armor. ATGMs will be more viable. We are looking at their velocity.

We are also looking into accuracy on the move. Right now, Light Tanks are getting balanced to be really accurate on the move. That will be their niche and thin armor their main drawback.

Autocannons will also be rebalanced. The current autocannon bursts result in kill times being too short, much shorter than we want them to be. In exchange, the autocannon-only vehicles will receive guided missiles wherever possible. There are a few outliers without ATGMs, like the LAV-150, but past Tier 2, the autocannons will only be viable against light armor targets. In the past, we buffed autocannons to be viable against everything, but this did not create a good gameplay experience.

One of the big changes will be hitpoint scaling and damage scaling. Hitpoints will not scale very much over the tiers. The reason behind this is to make lower tier vehicles more viable when fighting higher tier vehicles – currently it is too hard to fight higher tier vehicles. Instead of the massive jumps, hitpoints will be based on vehicle tonnage and size and Tier 1 hitpoints won't be all that different from Tier 10. The damage will scale with weapon caliber, so all 90mm caliber weapons will do approximately the same damage and the same goes for all 125mm weapons etc. There will be variables based on shell types or age, but overall the scaling will be flatter.

What will happen to the M1134? Currently it's not very viable, it gets killed between firing missiles.
Yes, that's one of the Tank Destroyers that will be rebalanced to truly fit the missile Tank Destroyer role. There are other issues with ATGM-only vehicles, such as the current state of APS. We haven't finalized the APS plan yet, but I'd expect a general toning down – probably longer cooldowns. We talked about making APS manual, but I wouldn't count on it – we don't believe we need more button presses in normal gameplay. And last but not least, the ATGM warning will no longer be baseline ability for all tanks.

What about the armor degradation that was mentioned in the past?
We were experimenting with it before we started to shift the armor and ammunition to their real life values. Right now, we do not believe it would be beneficial to add that mechanic. So it's on hold pending evaluation. The MBTs will be more vulnerable in Balance 2.0 anyway. Having their armor deteriorate would be overkill.

On the North American server, at one point there was 5 vs 5 matchmaking possible. Will it return?
That was a short-term experiment to see what the feedback would be. The real problem were the platoons, which imbalanced the teams a lot. One of the ideas we are working on is a small team mode with smaller maps and with specific matchmaking to deal with the platoon issue. This will not appear in Update 0.19, but it should come together pretty quickly. Of course, our long term goal is to get the numbers up for the NA server as well.

Is there a marketing plan to increase the playerbase?
I am afraid I can't answer that, but it's obviously something that needs to be addressed.

What happened to the self-propelled mortar vehicles? Some of them were even in the old game files.
This idea comes up every now and then, but they are not currently planned. It's a tricky problem. Indirect fire is very treacherous ground in general. Our vision for them was the ability to switch between direct and indirect fire – a hybrid of sorts. The problem was that the mortar shells weren't really viable against armor – instead, they'd spam HE rounds and the current HE isn't really a fun mechanic.

Please implement the Dutch flag!
I'll bring that up internally right away. It shouldn't be too hard to fix.

Will there ever be a system, in which players would submit decals or camouflages, which would let them be publicly available?
I'd love to do something like that, but right now it is a long way off. I can imagine a contest for such a purpose. We do have improvements to the current decal system in the works, more flexibility in terms of scaling, rotation and things like that.

Does it make sense to introduce more vehicles from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s? The game is supposed to take place in 2030s or so.
From the narrative point of view – probably not. But at the same time, there were a lot of cool vehicles in that period that we are eager to introduce. They can serve many purposes, mostly from the gameplay perspective and not necessarily the narrative. They give players a sense of progression – you can observe tank evolution as you progress through the lines. There is also the variety. Starting from the 1980s or 1990s would be challenging in terms of variety.

There are two big tank games out there already – World of Tanks and War Thunder. What unique aspects can Armored Warfare offer to their players?
With Balance 2.0, gameplay will be very different to what there currently is in the genre. Missiles, smoke, things like ERA, APS – all these things can't be found anywhere else. Additionally, the evening out of tiers and fair gameplay will be very appealing. In the last few weeks, we've been testing tiers 1 to 3 of Balance 2.0 and I can say, it's been a lot of fun. Players will see the reason to try that out. Another big thing to check out is the Global Operations mode – we are very proud of it and we have a lot of cool stuff lined up for the future that people will want to check out.

Why did you use CryEngine and how well can it be optimized?
We looked into the options when we first started working on the concept four years ago. We knew we wanted detailed exteriors on large maps and we needed vehicle physics. This limited the options available – CryEngine was pretty much a no-brainer. It offered a lot, including physics, and the map designers were able to get to work immediately. Optimizations are something we are constantly working on. It's one of those things where the work is never complete. We ironed out the most obvious areas and at this point we are putting in a lot of effort for smaller gains. Bigger performance gains will take longer to implement – we ran out of areas where big performance gains could be obtained in a short time. That being said, Update 0.18 introduces a low spec renderer for minimal specification PCs and laptops, but the visuals do suffer. We are also working on visuals and performance increases for high-end PCs that can handle them, that's also something we spend a lot of time on.

Aren't you concerned that Lords of War along with Global Operations will spread the PvP population too thin?
As there is no Lords of War mode in 0.18, there won't be any competition in that particular Update. During the initial launch, the Global Operations mode will use a separate queue so that players can check it out. Later on – especially on the North American server – it is possible that the mode will be included in the standard PvP queue. If that happens, there will be a preference toggle, which players can use to tell the matchmaker that they would prefer Global Operations over standard PvP. It's a preference though, not a guarantee that these players will always play Global Operations. In any case, we are trying to be proactive and are keeping the North American situation in mind.

Regarding the Global Operations maps, the second map will be even bigger but the third map will be smaller – we are looking into converting the Frontline map into a Global Operations map, which would make it the smallest Global Operations map we'd have early next year. The idea is for the map to support smaller team sizes and still be competitive.

Are there any new full lines in preparation?
Not in Update 0.19, but very likely the patch after that. We actually have a large inventory of vehicles we've been working on that were set aside to work on Balance 2.0. As soon as Balance 2.0 is implemented, we'll be opening the floodgates and I'd expect a high volume of new tanks early next year.

Are you planning to introduce realistic environment destruction?
Not in the near future. As you can imagine, this presents a major challenge when it comes to optimization. When it comes to physics, we are focusing on vehicle movement for the near future, especially that of wheeled vehicles. Another thing we are looking into is the destructibility of trees, which could look a lot cooler on higher end machines.

Can you tell us something about the upcoming French Main Battle Tank line?
It's too early to say. We are aiming at next year for those vehicles. They are a little bit further off due to the introduction of Balance 2.0. We will, however, find a unique role for them in Balance 2.0.

Are there any plans for historical battles in PvE?
Not in the near future, but I think that is a really cool idea. It's been on the table, but right now it's not in production.

Are there any plans to use Global Operations elements such as Wildcards or bunkers in standard PvE?
Yes, we do have such plans for both new missions and old mission overhauls. The elements that have a high probability of appearing include Wildcards like the air strike and, potentially, the resupply mechanics, but this is further off.

Any plans for more game modes beyond Global Operations?
Yes, but it's too early to go into that. In the next few updates, Global Operations will be our primary focus.

That's it for today! See you on the battlefield!

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