Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 22, 2011
World of Tanks controls

Picture the following situation: A German heavy tank, Tiger II, bunny-hops past you. Then he notices you, uses his leet mouse-turn skillz to turn around in a fraction of a second, and proceeds to circle-strafe you. Obviously all this would look extremely silly, which is why it can't happen in World of Tanks. There is no jumping, instant turning, or sideways movement with a tank. The controls are a bit more realistic than that.

The strange thing is that in the world of PvP games this is an exception. A plate-wearing tank with a huge two-handed sword in WoW isn't any more realistic than the Tiger II tank with his bunny-hops and other unrealistic moves. But it is what you see on every battleground. In fact, when people talk about how "skilled" they are in PvP, most of the time they are expressing how good they are at moving in a totally unrealistic way.

In World of Tanks you sometimes meet one of these "skilled" PvP players. They are easy to recognize, because they fire their gun in the first second of combat. Because that is what pressing both mouse buttons in WoT will do, not mouse-turn. Apart from the controls being different, the biggest difference is the speed. The Tiger II, with improved chains, will turn at 26 degrees per second, thus needs 7 seconds to turn 180 degrees. His stock turret turns at 34 degrees per second, and thus manages the 180 degrees in 5 seconds. While technically turning the turret could be considered a "mouse-turn" (you use the mouse for it, just without the buttons), it is pretty obvious that your speed in moving the mouse has no influence on the result.

Which means that if you don't want to get shot in the back in World of Tanks, you will have to watch where you are going, where the enemy is, predict his movements, and move in a way that doesn't expose your back to him. And that requires a lot of skill. It just isn't the same sort of skill people talk about in other PvP games. Which is why I'm playing World of Tanks.
So the controls are the same as in every other vehicle-based shooter?
BTW if you're in a hurry you don't rotate the turret only, you rotate body and turret in the same direction, so that the two traverse speeds add up. In a KV with the upgraded turret this makes a lot of difference :)

As for "skill": World of Tanks is just like a WoW battleground, except that things happen a lot slower, so fast reflexes are less important than proper planning. Funny that a game like that provides communication channels (= the "chatbox") which is incredibly inferior to WoW..... the ability to scroll up, or have the sender lit up on the minimap when hovering on the message would make life a lot easier.
Damn, I forgot in the previous message.... and it's the part about "controls" :)

Do you know if there's any way to reconfigure the keypresses so that the turning direction is consistent when moving forward/backward? Right now when you move backward the controls are auto-inverted, which is VERY annoying.
Were I an MMO designer, I would be taking a serious look at the combat in WOT and experiment with it in what I was working on. I think the first thing I would pull from it is slowing the time between ability uses way down, then look at what sort of strategic ability uses I could put in with that new found time to think.
What tank do you play now, Tobold?
A young nephew of mine asked me to show him the game but he struggled with the mouse (he isn't used to PCs)so I split the controls with him. With him driving and me controlling the turret we actually did amazingly well. Without having to worry about driving I could focus on thinking about where I wanted the turret to point to next. He actually had a harder job because he had to try and drive in s straight line while his viewpoint was moving with the turret but it still worked. It made me realise that there is more skill than you would think involved in controlling turret and tank movement.
"Slow" WoT battles are shorter in comparision to WoW combat (especially arena teams with healers). Two equally geared PvPers in WoW, even two DPS players, will dance around for several minutes, CCing one another, regening, evading damage etc. But two level 8-9 tanks will fight for one-two minutes and one of them will die. This is not counting 28 other players around, of course. Two level 5 tanks will decide the outcome in less than 30 seconds usually. Lack of healing adds dynamic, and battles, where 2 minutes after first contact both teams are halved are not rare. Full 15 minute fights are, on the other hand.
Control speed is important, nonetheless. For example, light tanks will die in seconds if they are not able to maneuver around some corner or tree. Controlling 2 enemies positions on the opposite sides of map can be important, too. Battling head to head with random movements can be a cause to your opponent to miss weak spot in your armour, and aiming for the right spot faster is an advantage.
Also, in World of Tanks, if you are dead, you are out of that particular battle. WoW battlegrounds and many other PvP games have respawn, where you can die many times in one battle.
>Also, in World of Tanks, if you are dead, you are out of that particular battle. WoW battlegrounds and many other PvP games have respawn, where you can die many times in one battle.

This is something more MMOs should pick up on! Especially when MMOs now often have instanced combat such as raids and battlegrounds. Understandably permadeath in the main world of an MMO would be bad; permadeath in an instance BG would add another strategy element.
This is a great point. It's what makes it a strategic game, not a twitch-reflex game.

@ Helistar. WoT PVP is not like WoW's battlegrounds. Each unit has different movement speed, turret speed, track speed, etc. in WoT. A Leopard or other light tank can go 60+ kph while some heavies can only do 30 kph. This is a huge issue in terms of strategy. Completely different from WoW where everybody is basically running at the same speed (or so).
Well its just proves that MMO doing pvp should focus on accommodating older audience. Full on FPS style combat is incredibly sensitive to reaction and fast thinking. Its not really less tactical, but everything happens at much faster pace (positioning , future thinking etc -are all very important there as well ,its just they have to be paired with 50 ms execution chain, which excludes older player)

Think is players with good FPS skills can play wot just fine (and many enjoy it ) ,so it means broader audience, larger market - all good.

I personally would like MMO to accmodate both playstyles equally well- fast twitch skill and more slower playstyle in same package. In wow playin mage is no less twitchy than playing rogue (in fact Id say even more so!) And as a healer you still have to have skills above average (for positioning , cc and anti-cc)

If they made so that rogues say would have to play twitch and healer could get away with slower pace play it probably would work for tobold
I guess you've never heard of the T90 before then?
Personally speaking, I think WoT is quite twitchy, especially the peek-a-boo bits ... and how often have you been shot, because you have been a fraction of a second too slow?

But then it is still slower than a traditional FPS or RTS.
WoT is better than Wow BGs simply because there are no stupid abilities like dots, fear, sap, etc. Plus, no respawns make you plot your actions carefully too. Suddenly strategy is important again. Simple design principles but effective.
The main success of WoT is the matchmaking. It is the most even matchmaking system I've ever seen. However I find that only 1 life type deal to turn alot fights simply into a matter of luck. On the fact of luck the matchmaking makes me worry that matches are actually predetermined and have little to do with how you play. Is your bad luck really just the matchmaking tossing a superior team in your face just to bring your win% back down?

Also WoT is very twitchy when you get into close combat. Try an Arty with a light tank rolling up to you and learn just how twitchy it can get.

Just overall I get a sense of I'm getting a system designed to output a 50% win for everyone regardless of what they do. There is no quantitative feedback on whether or not you are actually doing better or not compared to other people overall. Perhaps there is on a pay service associated with the game but i didn't get past the free content personally.
@Shawno, how does CC make strategy unimportant? I would say it does the contrary, introducing more options to chose. Also, WoT does have CC in form of critical hits although it's more twitchy than the "throw a spell in their general direction" approach of MMOs.
I would say that WoT is very different from WoW. WoW is more arcade, while WoT is more simulator. I mean, WoW doesn't even have physics, while WoT revolves around them.

For what it is, I love WoT. I never expected to be hooked by a game the way WoT did.
@Shawno, how does CC make strategy unimportant? I would say it does the contrary, introducing more options to chose.
On paper, yes. But the essence of CC is to reduce the opponent's viable moves; They can either wait or use one of their countermeasures. It's like the check rule in chess; When the king is threatened, the only viable moves are those that defend the king.
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