Russian game developer Gaijin Entertainment has been able to bring World War II and Korean War ground and air combat to over 5 million players across PC, Steam and PlayStation 4 with the free-to-play online game, War Thunder. Now the simulation game, which has over 500 authentic planes, is coming to Nvidia Shield Tablets thanks to Tegra K1 technology. Gaijin developer Alexander Trifonov talks about the new mobile game in this exclusive interview.
Where did the idea for War Thunder come from?
We made a lot of WWII flight simulation games and were enamored by this era and its military vehicles. At the same time, it became obvious to that to stay independent and self-funded on current market, we should go to free-to-play online business model. Also, this time we decided to simulate full-scale war and not just aviation, and thus War Thunder was born.
How has this online game world evolved over the years?
MMORPG was the staple of the genre for many years, thanks to enormous success of World of Warcraft. However, no one has managed to replace this aging champion. Instead, we see the rise of other online genres -- MOBAs, shooters, military games such as War Thunder. And we believe that there are a lot of other successful formulas that no one has thought of yet.
What are the challenges of balancing the gameplay across land and air?
It all comes down to accessibility -- players should be comfortable with both types of vehicles and be able to switch between them effortlessly. In the end, we created different game systems for Arcade and Realistic modes that award the skillful players by allowing them to bring air support for their team.
What separates the mobile version of the game from the PC and console versions?
In the case of Shield Tablet, the great thing is that it's the same version of the game as on PC. You can use your existing account and play on the same server with all other PC, PS4, Mac and Linux players. So you can play the game at home on your PC, then switch to tablet with an LTE-connection while you're out.
What are your thoughts on how quickly mobile technology has evolved?
It's really terrific. To think about what we had 10 years ago and the power of modern mobile devices, it was like Stone Age back then. Traditional gaming platforms aren't even close to this pace of evolution. And the games are demonstrating this progress better than any other software. You can play such complex and beautiful game as War Thunder on a tablet that fits in your pocket -- who would've thought of this was possible a few years ago?
What has Nvidia Tegra K1 technology opened up for your game?
Honestly, Tegra K1 is the only thing that made porting War Thunder to Android possible at all -- otherwise we'd have to stick with stand-alone version with much worse graphics and limited functionality.
How does the mobile game compare to the PC or PS4 version?
Like we said, it's the same game basically. But there are some tweaks: simulation mode is disabled, for example, because you need a keyboard for such complex controls, and there are no cabins for the planes, because on such a small screen cockpit-view is unplayable.
What's the cross-platform gameplay experience like?
As a regular player, you will hardly notice the difference. You're playing with thousands of other users regardless of their platform on the same server.
How have you tailored the gameplay controls for mobile players?
Shield Tablet has it's own wireless controller, and it's no different than using gamepad on PC or PlayStation 4. But we had to invent touch controls, of course, when playing with the controller isn't an option.
What have controllers for tablets opened up for your game?
Having a proper controller helped us to port War Thunder to Android in all of its glory. You can connect the tablet to a TV, sit on your sofa and have a full War Thunder experience even if you don't own a gaming PC or a PS4.