Online Warmongers Interview with Sergey Titov
GameZone: Can you tell us about your backgrounds and different games that your development team has worked on?
Sergey Titov: While War Inc. Battle Zone is the first game we’ve worked on together as a team, our employees have worked on some of the world’s best games — both in retail and the online world, including games such as League of Legends, Gears of War, the Mechwarrior franchise, Star Trek Online, Champions Online, the Call of Duty series, Ghost Recon, Battlefield Series, Aion, Guitar Hero and many other high profile titles.
When I left Riot Games (I served as the Technical Director from when the company was founded until summer, 2008), I decided to concentrate on online and free-to-play markets. At this point, there was a boom of F2P games going on in Asia, Russia and parts of Europe with some very weak “waves” hitting United States. I founded Arktos Entertainment Group — my own investment and online publishing company — bought out shares of my partners in Void Production LLC — a Russian-based, high end, online game technology development team — and set the goal for our CTO to build the best online game engine possible, tailoring it for FTP game needs. By mid-2009 we had a pretty solid foundation, with an extremely reliable and scalable server and backend architecture and client that not only provided fast and very powerful rendering core, but was also lightweight and scalable across platforms. In fact, we had the client running on PC, Xbox and PS3, and by end of 2009 we were ready to make the next step — to actually develop a game using our awesome technology.
It’s a blessing that we’ve been able to put together a star team, and empower them with the best proprietary technology to make a great game.
GZ: What parts of your experience working on other games did you bring to War Inc?
ST: We put together the experience with F2P market and online games from our European team members with the AAA game development experience of our Los Angeles team members. This allows us to be the first company to deliver a premium AAA-quality game designed for the free-to-play market.
GZ: What led you to making War Inc a free-to-play game?
ST: Basically the question was, why not to make an online multiplayer game free-to-play? The definition of a multiplayer game is interaction between human players. Friends want to play with friends. And what would be the best way to get your friends into the game, than by offering the game for free? If I want to play with five of my friends in Modern Warfare or Battlefield, I have to either pay $300 to buy each of them a copy of the game, or they have to pay for the “privilege” of playing with me. That sucks!
Some of the western players perceive free-to-play as more of “pay to win” type of deal. It’s as if you can’t really advance in a game without paying money. Okay, here’s one fact — half of our top players who dominate our leaderboards haven’t spent a dime playing War Inc.
So for us making a free-to-play game doesn’t mean sell ultimate power — it means that if you like a game, you will invest either time (and play for free) or money and play at the same level.
GZ: With so many free-to-play first-person shooters, like Nexon's Combat Arms, what makes War Inc stand out from the crowd?
ST: First of all, there is overall quality of the product. While it’s the norm to have nice character models, nice environments, and nice modern graphics engine for retail product, most F2P shooters, including shooters from EA’s own Easy studio (Battlefield Play4Free, for example), are stuck in the late nineties when comparing their overall production value to modern retail shooters. Our goal was to close this gap and bring premium quality experience to the free-to-play world. We’re world’s first AAA free-to-play shooter. And we’re seeing this as a trend that we’ve kinda started — other developers are following with games like Ghost Recon Online, Blacklight Retribution and several others.
But of course it’ll be lame to say, “okay we have nice textures and shaders in a game, come play War Inc.” What we’re trying to do is to blend the best games in genre, and create an experience that will allow you to change your play style depending on your mood. You feel like playing as silent sniper in an open world, large Battlefield-style map? That’s easy — just create your own sniper class character (we offer a fully custom-built class system) and join one of the Conquest matches. You want to get up close and personal and fight in an urban setting in adrenaline-punching close firefights? Join one of the Team Deathmatch games. And if you’re Cybersport pro, get your team and join us playing Sabotage mode — specially designed in close cooperation with the world’s top Counterstike teams!
And on top of that — play game as either first-person or third-person shooter — no other game in the market offers you this. Change your weapons by adding dozens of attachments, join Clan Wars and tournaments, control UAVs, and drop artillery strikes on your enemy. I mean, there’s so much stuff to do in War Inc. that once again we should ask — why would you want to play anything else, when one game can offer you all you need?
GZ: What do you feel War Inc can offer FPS fans that are tired of the Modern Warfare and Battlefield games?
ST: I’m a HUGE fan of Battlefield. I’ve been playing every single Battlefield game since Battlefield 1942. Half of our team actually worked on several Call of Duty games, and they’re fans too.
Problem for us is that both games are starting to blend together. Battlefield 3 offers more fast-paced combat than before, and the latest CoD games are becoming overcomplicated with features borrowed from Battlefield.
We offer very distinctive game modes, each with very distinctive map design and play styles to cater to either CoD or Battlefield fans. All of this in a single experience, with a shared set of achievements, skills, stats, weapons upgrades, etc.
It’s interesting that right after the launch of Battlefield 3 we expected a drop of users' activity, and we actually saw influx of new users who came to play War Inc. Battle Zone after they had played Battlefield 3 for a while. You expect them to at least go play Battlefield Play4Free — so it was really inspirational for us that they chose to go play War Inc. instead.
GZ: What are some new type of game modes that you'd like to implement in the future?
ST: Right now we’re working on polishing our existing game modes — Conquest, Sabotage and Team Deathmatch. So I don’t expect that we’re going to introduce new game modes any time soon.
Yet we have several really cool designs for game modes that we hope will become very popular at some point. War Inc. is a living, breathing creature, and it’s not even a question if we’re going to add new modes, but question is more like when we’ll do it. Stay tuned close to fall/end of the year.
GZ: I'm a huge League of Legends fan, and I know that you were a tech director for Riot Games. Any chance that Online Warmongers ever puts together a MOBA?
ST: We've actually discussed this idea, so short answer is yes — there’s a chance of that. I don’t think it’ll be game that will be directly competing with League of Legends, but let’s say we have few cool ideas for a future game.
GZ: Lastly, what would you like potential players to know about War Inc?
ST: First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the over one million players from around the world who participated in our beta test of the game in the last 7 months. We couldn’t have done this without you.
We’re preparing a very large game update right now that will officially commemorate the launch of the game around April. This update will bring the first-person perspective, visual customization of the weapons, Clans and Clan Wars, drivable vehicles, and a completely redesigned, very cool custom class-building system complete with new Skill Trees. We’re really excited about this upcoming Launch event, and we welcome everybody to come over and try game right now — and did I mention that we’re going to give away some very cool prizes to every single beta tester once we officially launch game?