Bspooky is possibly the best-known Armored Warfare blogger, the creator and the owner of the Armored Talk blog and we are delighted that he accepted our invitation for an interview!
Please introduce yourself
I am probably best known in the Armored Warfare realm as the guy who created the ArmoredTalk.com blog. You'll usually find my in-game names being some derivative of Spooky. I'm older than the Apollo 11 mission, but not by much. For the last couple of decades I've held various roles in Information Technology, but right now I guess you could say I am on a sabbatical as I transition to who knows what. I'm from Iowa, which is in the central part of the United States.
You are doing an awesome job with your Armored Warfare blog, what made you start with it?
Hey thanks! I'm not sure it was any one thing. An obvious interest in Armored Warfare itself, but also a desire to be part of the gaming community. I grew up with games and sports of all kinds, and fell in love with perhaps one of the first and best early examples of real time strategy games (Herzog Zwei). So I've spent a lot of time in online multiplayer games, minus a break between Star Craft and WoT while working some tough jobs and not having time for gaming. I've also always wanted to try my hand at writing…so bear with me as I muddle through getting started with that.
How much time a day do you spend working on your blog on average?
Yeah, I am not so sure I want to think about that. To the external visitor doing the blog may not look like it requires a lot of time, but when you want to do a good job and try to pay attention to all the details to have a quality site, it eats up your day. I've put far more time and effort into the blog these last several months than most people put into their full time regular jobs. And they are getting paid as their incentive! I'm not sure what my friends think about all of it, but luckily I have an understanding wife who even gets the chance to play editor at times.
I do strive to have content every day, although with a family the weekends are tough. I dislike just reposting information without adding to it. But even a "simple" post like my Developer Digest: News from the Forums series can take well over 4-5 hours to do. Writing some of the longer posts that require fact checking or analysis can be a whole day in the making. You may ask why it takes so long, and before I did the blog I may have too, but there is always something to do. Whether it is obtaining royalty free images or creating graphics to go with the posts, worrying about search engine optimization, keeping abreast of the game, obtaining content, exploring ways for expanding the blog, dealing with technical glitches, branching out to the ArmoredTalk.com YouTube channel to reach people who do not really like to read a blog…it all adds up. I've enjoyed doing it, it is sort of a labor of love, but the amount of time put in it is too scary to calculate.
What do you think of Armored Warfare so far?
I think AW is already a very fun game to play. The potential for you guys to really take Armored Warfare into areas the tank MMO genre hasn't gone before is enormous. Many players just see the similarities to the other games, but if you look closely enough and follow all the news you can see the shape of what Armored Warfare could become. And large swaths of that future version have areas nothing else in the genre has.
Obviously you are not there yet with a lot of issues left to be resolved. I really hope you are able to solve the spotting mechanics to the satisfaction of most. I don't mind that Tank A is able to shoot enemy Tank C because friendly Tank B is providing the spotting, but I understand players coming from other genres get confused as to why they are getting shot by invisible tanks. You also face the challenge of making different vehicles /classes balanced while at the same time maintaining distinctive play styles. Hopefully you can come up with an elegant solution as you did with artillery.
But it boils down to I want to play this game even now, the way it is, with the warts. I can't wait to play it when it is all polished and shined up.
What do you think of Armored Warfare so far? Do you have any preferred vehicles you like?
In WoT I played all classes and I think my garage has over 140 vehicles, so I am an equal opportunity tanker.
Leopard 1: Going against the grain of what the community as a whole seems to think, the Leopard 1 is one of my favorite tanks. The video I did of The Leopard Way wasn't just a practice video. I truly enjoy this tank. But now it looks to be moving to tier 3, so hopefully it will keep its same feel for me.
MBT-70: The style of tank I play least in other tank games are brawling tanks. That style just didn't appeal to me as much. The MBT-70, on the other hand, seems to make me want to lead a charge and get up close and personal. The armor, while not impervious, is quite impressive. You can bully a lot of tanks, have good mobility for this class in Armored Warfare, and of course you earn more credits. A player could always want more refinements, but with this tank that is just getting gluttonously greedy.
Sheridan: I didn't start playing this until EA3, but I like it quite a bit. You can't take hits with it, but I like tanks with mobility that hit hard.
FV721: Eagle-eyed readers of your patch notes noticed you listed this a week or so back. I've had the chance to play it an all I have to say is I thought I liked the VBL's speed! And the Fox, which looks to sit between the Swingfire and the VBL, can have both the autocannon and missiles equipped. Did I mention the speed to relocate already?
Playing the BMPT Terminator this weekend has been an eye opener as well. This may be making it to my short list permanently with the amount of damage it can do in a hurry. Plus it is relatively tough to pen if you don't know where to shoot it.
What would you improve on Armored Warfare if it was up to you?
I mentioned above I hope you can conquer the spotting and balance mechanics as well as you did SPGs. But can I have some procedurally generated maps please? Fog of War? Ok, fine. Maybe in Armored Warfare 3.0. How about until then we get a LOT of maps to compensate? And I mean a LOT of maps.
This is sort of a pet project request, but I also think this game would be better, especially once it gets into eSports, if there was an option to turn the score along the top of the screen to show many tanks are left for each team vs how many tanks have been destroyed. This removes the emphasis on the latter while making it easier to determine the disposition of the enemy when you look at the minimap. Players can use simple arithmetic, but I want to instantly know how many enemies may be down that street when comparing the score to the vehicles that are already lit on the minimap. Having to count slows that process down and detracts from the game.
How do you like the current PvE system?
I was actually skeptical of PvE when I first heard about it because I haven't been a fan of AI bots in predictable spots in games. Assuming this is the first phase of a long line of enhancements coming though, I actually like the idea of PvE now and think it can be a winner. Even in the current state it provides a nice break from PvP play. No matter who you are, we all get in ruts and losing streaks in PvP. When this happens I'll jump into PvE for some different style of gameplay. With additional maps, more robust missions or raid-like scenarios, RPG elements, and maybe diverse bot intelligence, PvE could end up being just as big as PvP in Armored Warfare.
How do you feel about current Armored Warfare information policy?
The information shared with the community is great. You are more open than a lot of developers and game studios. The lack of censorship when dealing with the products of your competitors is refreshing. And I don't have a sense that any of this is just marketing speak or you are paying lip service to wanting to be open.
But here comes the but. You could be more open. There are all sorts of reasons to not share information, from you don't want competitors knowing what is coming to sometimes you have to make course corrections. But companies should not let that deter them or paralyze their communication movements. Sharing information that changes can cause a ruckus, but more often than not it creates a bond with the customer. Humans focus on the negatives so a company's staff remember the few bad times where they wish they had withheld information, but they forget the 100 times it helped gain more customers or the 1,000 times they didn't even know it helped them gain customers.
I'm not talking about naming a date for OBT…doing dates too early in an IT project is just asking for trouble. But let the information roll on retrofit a month back, keep the community abreast on what you are planning for bases even if it is just weighing different options that may never come to pass. If you need a blog to host some more informal discussions on what may be coming in the game I may know somebody :)
How do you like the AW community? What is your opinion?
The Armored Warfare community has been great. What used to be a village is now a small town and will soon be a booming metropolis. We have a great bunch of players. In-game we may be fierce competitors, but I hope in the community at large we can all work together to help each other out, discuss meta game tactics, mentor beginning players, and generally keep our small town feel no matter how big AW becomes. You will always have detractors, but life is too short to be pessimistic.
Is there anything you'd like to tell Armored Warfare players?
Yes, I want to remind all players it is against the rules to shoot anyone named Spooky…that is buried deep in the terms of service. Seriously though, if there is anything I or Armored Talk can do to help the community please feel free to contact me. The contact form under the “About” dropdown is probably the best method, but there are numerous other ways too.