Developers Answer: Maps and Game Modes

Captains!

Last May, we held a special Q&A session on the official World of Warships Discord server where members could ask their most their most desired questions on the topic of maps and game modes. We’ve compiled our dev team’s answers to your most popular queries right here in this article.

Want to take part in future Q&A activities and more? Sign up to our Discord by following the instructions here.

Why are new maps so rare?

It’s true that the rate of introduction of new maps used to be faster than it is now. The main reason for this change of pace is that shortly after release, World of Warships had relatively few maps, so we needed to expand the pool as soon as possible. Currently, since we now have a good number of varied maps (34, not counting those linked to temporary events), and since we are constantly updating existing maps according to newest graphics technologies (like updating maps to HD), the production of new ones is no longer as high on our list of priorities. Regardless, we will continue working on releasing new maps and are currently planning to release them at a rate of 1–2 new maps every year.

For example, Update 0.11.5 will bring Faroe Islands—a map with a visual theme that was chosen by players in autumn 2021. Also, in our recent roadmap publication showcasing our development plans for summer–autumn 2022, we announced another new map that will be developed this year.

Will Epicenter be reworked / reintroduced?

From our point of view, the main issue with Epicenter is not the pace of the battles, but the fact that all 24 ships converge on one point. This, in turn, significantly lowers the variety of gameplay and increases the density of interaction between ships, making this game mode unsatisfactory for the majority of players.

The ending phase of a battle in the new Arms Race mode is, in a way, the successor of Epicenter—players have to conquer one Key Area in the center of the map. However, Arms Race doesn’t carry over Epicenter’s gameplay issues—the Key Area appears only in the final stage of the battle, when players are already spread across the map, and the number of the ships still afloat has decreased significantly.

To answer your question, we do not currently have any plans to rework and bring back Epicenter. We are now focused on developing new game modes.

Are there any statistically unbalanced maps? What about Ocean?

The “Ideal” winrate for each spawn in Random battles is 50%, and on most of our maps, it’s more or less what we have. For example, in the last month, the maps with the most significant winrate variation according to spawns are “Northern Lights” and “Ocean,” where the northern spawn has a 51.8% winrate. However, such a difference in winrate is statistically insignificant because the winrate of a certain team is not carved in stone. Fluctuations according to certain spawns, even up to 2–3%, are within the norm in terms of game balance.

As for the competitive modes, the situation is not fundamentally different, and the fluctuation in the winrate of the different spawns is no more than 2% which is within the norm.

That’s why we don’t currently have any maps with one spawn in Random Battles having the upper hand. We will of course continue to monitor these stats and make changes to maps if it’s deemed necessary.

Will the game’s engine ever be swapped for another?

We are constantly improving our engine. For example, the water system, the forest system, and the visibility system have been completely rewritten. An underwater world appeared. The game switched to DX11. Now, a new animation system is being implemented. In fact, there are no systems that have been left unchanged, and it’s already basically a different engine than the one we started with.

There are still more technological changes in various stages of readiness that will further increase performance and take the game’s visuals to the next level.

We recognize that incremental changes may not look as spectacular, but it’s our position to bring improvements to players as soon as they are ready.

The development potential of our engine is still great. At the moment, we see limitations not on the engine’s side, but in the need to support the full range of hardware available to our players. Many effective solutions are not available on GPUs or CPUs older than 6–7 years, which is a significant part of the World of Warships audience’s hardware.

When it comes to comparing the World of Warships and World of Tanks engines, there are significant differences, primarily due to the scale of the maps and the fact that significant resources are spent on rendering the ocean in World of Warships. These key features affect the rest of the solutions used in our engine and differentiate it from the World of Tanks engine.

What happened to the Breakthrough mode and the map Bering Sea?

This map was originally developed and tested with the express aim of having it host a non-standard battle type where both teams spawned in close proximity to each other, thereby promoting aggressive tactics in battle. However, testing results and player feedback showed that, at the time, this concept was not very suitable for our game. As a result, development of the map itself was halted. Perhaps in the future, we will return to work on this map and implement the ideas mentioned above.

Was Dirigible Derby successful? Will it ever appear in Random Battles?

We used several indicators to assess the success of the mode, including the number of players who took part, the time spent in the mode, our own assessment, and the feedback we received. The results of Dirigible Derby were quite positive, and players have warmly embraced the mode. We are currently planning to bring it back to the main server as a temporary mode towards the end of year, and if its second appearance is as successful as the first, we will definitely consider adding it to Random Battles in the future.

Do you keep competitive play in mind when creating new maps?

It’s worth realizing that not all modes are designed for competitive activities, and the feasibility of adding a mode to these battle types is not a requirement when creating them. However, if the format of the new mode is potentially suitable for competitive activities, we do consider adding it there in the future. When adapting a mode for competitive activities, we usually do not change the key rules and only change the settings, such as the number and location of Key Areas, the number of points for capturing and holding them, the spawn locations, etc., as is done in Clan or Ranked Battles with the Domination mode used in Random Battles as well.

Will we see night battles like on Operation Cherry Blossom again?

As we pointed out in the last Q&A session, we have some ideas for implementing nighttime as a visual effect on the map.

However, at the moment we have no plans set in stone for nighttime specifically as a “gameplay mechanic.” This is due to the fact that it limits visibility, which is currently handled quite well by the weather system in World of Warships.

However, in the future, we are going to explore ways to add/improve new effects similar to local weather, and perhaps night battles will become a part of those improvements.

Are there any new Operations planned? Anything for Tiers VIII, IX, and X?

This year, we will return the previously withdrawn Operations to the game. We plan not only to return them but also to make them—and the ones currently available—playable for different ship tiers (at first, it will be Tier VI–VIII ships). At the same time, bot ships will not change, but they will get specific bonuses to their characteristics depending on the setup of the player team. If it goes well, in the future, we will expand operations to higher ship tiers. For now, the feature is still in development, so unfortunately, we cannot reveal all the details, but we will definitely share new information with you as soon as everything is ready. Stay tuned!

As for new Operations, we don’t have any final plans yet. We will wait for the old Operations to be released on the Live Server, and then we will collect statistics and player feedback on all of the upcoming changes to determine the fate of this battle type. If Operations are popular with players, there’s a good chance we’ll go back to creating new ones.

Can we expect to see old temporary modes such as Bathtub or Torpedo Beat return?

Speaking of bringing back old modes, it is worth realizing that bringing them back often requires significant development resources to update the mode to the current version of the game, fixing bugs, testing, and gameplay tweaks. This year, we have already brought back Savage Battle, and so far, we have no plans to bring back other old modes. Instead, we are concentrating our resources on updating Operations, as we outlined in our Summer and Fall 2022 plans. We plan to bring back the improved Cherry Blossom, Hermes, and The Ultimate Frontier, and we are also considering bringing back the themed Operation Terror of the Deep as part of the Halloween event. As for the game’s temporary modes, right now, we’re more focused on refining the newer ones like Dirigible Derby and Convoy rather than updating old ones. It’s possible that some beloved old modes will return to the game, but not this year. Stay tuned!

Rather, the challenge for us is that in reality naval battles took place far away from islands, and in creating the look of the map we need to make sure that the islands and other objects on the maps—while fulfilling their gameplay functions—look organic and do not interfere with the atmosphere.

Would it be possible to have a feature allowing teams queued for Clan Battles to see the next map?

We have no plans to add such a feature at the moment. This is because its introduction will cause serious problems for the matchmaker, as teams with different maps for the next battle will be placed in separate queues. For example, in the 17th Clan Battles season, there will be six maps available, and each map will have its own queue, which will increase the waiting time of battles and significantly worsen the gaming experience in Clan Battles. In the Hurricane League, for example, the waiting time for a battle can become significantly longer, as the number of Clans reaching it is relatively small.

Could we have pickable spawn points before battle?

Adding the ability to choose a specific spawn would immediately lead to a number of problems, the most important of which would be:
An imbalance in the number and classes of ships on either flank.
Competition between players for grabbing certain spawn points will become a cause of conflict.This would lead to discomfort for players and have a negative impact on the quality of battles. Therefore, we have no plans to add such mechanics, at least in Random Battles.

Is there a system in place that could prevent a player from getting the same map twice in a row?

In fact, such a restriction is already present in Clan Battles and prevents your Clan from hitting the same map several times in a row. Unfortunately, introducing such a system for other types of combat is complicated by the fact that with it, each player would have a different set of recently played maps. Picking, for example, 24 players for a Random Battle with the same set of map restrictions would be a serious challenge for the matchmaker. As a result, players would have to wait in queue for a long time and ship setups in teams would be less balanced. Therefore, we do not yet plan to introduce such a system for the other main battle types besides Clan Battles

Could we have dynamic maps with erupting volcanos or moving / destructible icebergs? 

Yes, we have planned and even tested a prototype of destructible icebergs and even announced it in the Development Blog. However, the development of such dynamically changing objects was complicated by a number of technical problems and limitations. Therefore, while we are working on the necessary fixes and improvements, the idea of dynamically changing maps has been temporarily shelved in favor of higher priority features such as improved Operations and new game modes. We’ll be sure to let you know when we get back to working on such mechanics.

Would it be possible to have larger maps with larger / more teams in Random Battles?

The limit of maximum 12 players per team in our game is due to a number of factors, the main ones being balance and technical limitations:
All ships in the game are initially balanced for exactly this maximum number of ships in battle.
Changing the number of ships would lead to either an increase of firing density or to situations where the dynamics of battle would be significantly reduced due to the increased size of maps that would be necessary (because, for example, even more time would be required to change flanks).
Every additional ship in a battle increases the load on the server. Therefore, we do not plan to increase the number of ships in battle, unless there is a clear gameplay need for this.Even if we hypothetically changed our approach and decide to increase the number of ships in a battle, this would require a significant change to many of our existing maps, which does not seem to be feasible. Redesigning a map would require moving and reshaping all the objects on it and the map would not look like itself anymore. It would therefore be easier to create a new map for the larger teams’ format.

Regarding creating new maps: We already have experience creating large maps, such as the Polygon for the Big Hunt event.

Therefore, in theory, creating a map specifically for large format battles is not a problem for our team and would require approximately the same resources and time as creating any other map: creating visual style, placing islands, planning key areas and spawns, testing, etc.

However, once again we do not have any plans to act on this front at the moment.

Could we see classic modes such as Capture the flag, King of the Hill, or Last Man Standing in WoWS?

If we consider the modes you mentioned in the context of adding them as main modes, a number of obstacles to their implementation are immediately apparent:
Capture the flag does not really fit into the mechanics of our game—ship speeds and distances are not well suited for it, and the detectability system in World of Warships may further unpleasantly complicate the gameplay in such a mode. Additionally, Capture the Flag would involve ships respawning, which is not present in the main modes of World of Warships.
King of the hill—for the time being, we decided to remove Epicenter from the Live Servers, which is essentially a variation of this mode.
Last Man Standing—this is essentially a free-for-all mode, which does not suit our game very much, as a lot in World of Warships is tied to teamwork.However, despite the obstacles and limitations described above, these are quite interesting mode concepts. We could probably implement them in World of Warships, but only as temporary entertainment modes with special settings. We have no such plans at the moment, but they are great ideas for the future.

Any chance of implementing community-designed maps into the game?

Perhaps in the future we will conduct a contest for new map ideas among the players, but it should be understood that the complete creation of new maps is a complex process that requires balancing and thorough testing using various tools that only the developers have access to. Therefore, such activities require careful preparation and close cooperation between development and players, and we have already tried something like that. For example, players had the opportunity to influence the development of a map by choosing the visual theme for it, as we already did in the autumn of 2021. We were very happy to see the high level of activity and interest of players in participating in the map design process, so we have some ideas for similar activities in the future.

In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that gameplay features of new maps are developed largely on the basis of feedback from the participants in the various testing phases. Therefore, in a way, players are already involved in the creation process of new maps.

How long does it take to create a new map, from start to finish?

Creating a new map is a long and complex process. There are two main stages:

The first is creating a gameplay prototype of the map and testing it. At this stage, the map has no visuals and testing is only for its gameplay, depending on the location of Key Areas and islands. At this point, it is important that the location and shape of the islands as well as the positions of the key areas do not give a significant advantage to either team. This stage usually takes 1–2 months. If initial testing is successful, the map moves on to the next stage of production, and if the concept of the map cannot be balanced or has significant flaws, the development and testing of another prototype begins.

The second stage is the creation of the appearance of the map—the biome, textures, and the underwater world. With our transition to HD maps, this part has become technically more complicated, so development takes about 4 months. The underwater world is created in parallel with the surface world, as this is more convenient, and we avoid the complicated process of combining them, and it is impossible to allocate a separate term for creating the underwater world.

Once these steps have been completed, the map goes through the standard testing procedure as part of the next update, after which it will be released. This means that, on average, it takes at least 6 months to create a new map.

Have maps inspired by historical battles ever been considered?

Right now, we are working on a map idea with a design inspired by a famous historical battle. However, it is still in the early phases of design, and we are now at the stage of choosing a suitable historical event. This is complicated by the fact that we need to choose an event that is easy to identify based on the visual style of the map and at the same time fits well with the gameplay features of our game, such as the number of ships in battle, the size of the map itself, the location of the Key Areas, etc. As soon as we find the right event and decide on the concept of the map, we will share it with you.

Are there any map themes or biomes that have never been used due to technical limitations?

We have no such technical limitations. World of Warships already has a wide variety of biomes representing different geographical zones. Battles take place in Arctic ice, tropical zones, and among desert islands. What’s more, battles have been transported to fantastical and futuristic locations, as well as to a post-apocalyptic world and even into space during various temporary events!

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