Recently, both on War Thunder's official website and the official YouTube channel, a YouTube video titled Answering Your Questions was posted. A while back Gaijin reached out to the community of War Thunder, inviting them to ask their questions about the game - anything from mechanics, economics and balancing to ideas and wishes. This is something they do from time to time and is usually very appreciated by the community. Vyacheslav Bulannikiv is a War Thunder producer who usually appears during dev streams and other War Thunder related content. In the video he answers numerous questions compared to usually answering them in an article format. This time around though it seems as if we got more than usual out of it. I got the feeling that we were given a bit more background information and Vyacheslav's answers had a bit more of a backbone to them than what we often see in these Q&As. We were also given some inside information about Gaijin's work on the game and their thoughts on how they want the game to work, i.e. what balance is and means, what physics look really look like in real life according to them, and so on.
With that said I want to break down the Q&A and take a deeper look at what was said because I understand not everyone will fully grasp some of the topics that were brought up.
First and foremost, I'll go over a few points that I feel would be beneficial to have stated before we start.
In the following articles I'm going to be utilizing answers given by Vyacheslav to come to more thoughtful conclusions rather than just repeat what he said. I'll analyze his answers to try and get a glimpse of what the producers and developers think about the game and what they want out of it so to speak. His answers will also be used to put some light on Gaijin's operation(s) and to hopefully put forth answers to some of the community's questions, complaints, and similar things that I've heard being used against Gaijin and the War Thunder team throughout the years. Not everything has to strictly be chronological to when it was said in the video, rather I'll most probably add answers/answer conclusions that are about the same topic or theme together. In that case, I'll add them back to the theme they belong in and go to possibly discuss it some more from there.
This article will sadly mostly consist of a lot of text. Reading it all in one large go could make it a bit heavy for some readers. I'll do my absolute best to summarize interesting points in the Post Q&A Thoughts after I finished writing the complete article, though for the best and most detailed information I'll have to direct readers to the different themes and search under there.
It's stated very early on that he hopes that this sort of presentation becomes the norm instead of the text based Q&A, wanting them to be released after each major update. Personally I felt that this was very heartwarming of him to say, since it shows that the War Thunder team does care about their game and its community, wanting them to get their questions answered and for them to state their ideas and hopes for the game ultimately improving the game even more.
War Thunder developers and producers play their game on a regular basis. They allegedly strive to play every day and they see and experience moments of their game just as any other player does. Whenever they come across a specific problem, they try to study and fix it.
When answering a question about the T-34 tank's driver's hatch absorbing shots, it was shown that the producer Vyacheslav has a lot of knowledge about tanks and tank history. The producers are informed in what they're working with and it can only be assumed that they have a legitimate interest for their job and what they do.
Vyacheslav is aware of the specific in-game modeling of friction is not totally physical per real life standards. Once again he proves that they are actually not running around completely blind in this matter, but rather have a few examples of this occurring in real life too. Anyway, what can be taken from this is that the physical real life process of tank friction while on hills should be quite advanced and that the current implementation of this modelled in War Thunder is not quite true at all times and they are aware of it. It can also be understood that this mechanic is sort of used as a balancing tool, hindering in-game tanks from getting to locations to where a real life tank couldn't. At the end of the day they are aware of the problems and agree on that it is an issue in the game. They might work on improving it in the future.
On the topic of the traditional gamemode with 3 capture points, Vyacheslav spoke about how their aim with all game modes is balance and fairness. They've had several events, missions, and modes throughout the years and whenever they tried to achieve a fifty-fifty balance within each mode, the player base complained about unfairness. They clearly listened to the player base's thought and opinions and tried to make something out of it. Here concerning game modes for RB, it is to stick to the traditional capture point game mode, which supposedly frustrates the least players.
In a recent update to the game's economics, receiving score points from taking hits from enemies was removed. He made sure to explain that this feature was originally added to aid newer players in getting points. Since newer players were prone to get seen and hit on a higher basis that experienced players, the War Thunder team wanted to help them by making sure points were given even for getting hit.
Actually adding that feature in the first place in order to help newer players score points was a nice touch from them and heartwarming for me to hear. Vyacheslav let us know that they take their players into consideration when making decisions and all things are not done just "for the sake of it".
It was stated that the War Thunder team is in fact aware of that some - or many - maps look very outdated, especially trees and the overall nature. They were planing to update this in the near future.
Not that much was said about crew voices specifically. Seems to me as that there are no real plans to update the already existing crew voices we have in game - or not in the nearest foreseeable future at least. It was however stated that such plans and operations were a constantly ongoing project for the team.
Here we get to know that the top BR is increased - and decompression is achieved - whenever a vehicle is added that seems to force it basically. There was also a statement about how some very effective aircraft have difficulties fighting at their battle rating, since they are overperforming. What would this even mean? Is this simply a confirmation that battle rating compression is a thing and that they are aware of it?
Our producer goes on to explain some of their views on BR brackets and their purpose; session intensity, queue timers, and diversity are all on the producers' main agenda for the purpose of BRs. Expanding the BRs would lead to higher queue times due to how spread out the vehicles would become. They want sessions to be intense, which I guess means that the time between them should be relatively low and that they should be action packed. Lastly Gaijin wants to have diversity in matches. Meaning that they want for a player to be able to meet several different enemies and friendly vehicles at one BR instead of versing essentially the same enemies each match.
Once again, this time when discussing changing the BR spread from 1.0 to 0.7, it was stated that the BR spread of one whole point was strategically chosen. With a decrease in this spread, queue times would increase and the diversity would suffer. This 1.0 difference is also implemented as a countermeasure against very effective vehicles, making sure that they verse higher end vehicles as a balancing factor. I have to give them credit at this point. It is true that some or many ground vehicles in War Thunder need to face enemies with a whole BR point of difference to be opposed. The developers want matches to be diverse and offer an interesting gameplay experience. Again, versing the same set of vehicles every game at a BR is no fun for most people.
Spawn costs for aircraft depend on how broad the weapon loadout is/could be. Examples brought up by Vyacheslav were guided missiles and armor-piercing ammo, where all of these and similar features "add up" to the total spawn cost. Ammo price is allegedly not included in helicopter cost at this time, leading to it being cheaper to spawn a helicopter than a jet.
Gaijin collects statistics from the radars of self propelled anti aircraft guns in game to see how, from where, and how often planes show up on them/destroy them. These show that planes more often than not attack self propelled anti aircraft guns from a very low height, from very far away, or flying very high and attacking from what was referred to as the "cone of dead zone". The maneuverability of a plane compared to a helicopter was brought up and it was concluded that planes were a lot more effective against enemy self propelled anti aircraft guns than immobile helicopters were. The conclusion as well as the reason for the huge spawn cost-difference, would be that the ability of an airplane or jet to choose the location for an attack and to move quickly across the battlefield should be reflected in the spawn cost. Helicopters should therefore be much cheaper to spawn than a jet, for instance. This makes sense if you ask me. The higher the possible damage to the enemy team, the higher the demands for that should be. Gaijin doesn't want aircraft to be cheaper than helicopters, which are more effective.
Due to the complex calculations of penetration and non-penetration in the game, many players often see a totally correct non-penetrating hit as a bug, glitch, or simply as a problem with the calculations. What could be brought from this statement is mostly that Gaijin knows what their doing most of the time and that some occasions, which players would view as "problems with the armour calculations", actually are perfectly correct according to the way Gaijin models their game and the armour aspect of it. I don't think it should be said in regards to this that Gaijin doesn't know how armour works and such, as I think that Gaijin actually very much knows what their doing and how to do it - most of the time.
However. Vyacheslav said that there were some issues with armour in game, namely joint plated armour. Hit processing on a joint plate is allegedly simplified, which makes it so that ricochets could be impossible at some times.
This was concerning the now more occurring problem at the higher tiers, where pilots feel as if they are unable to do anything due to incoming surface to air missiles as soon as they spawn in their aircraft. This was addressed with the opinion that aircraft and helicopters are very powerful and potent spawns and should be able to be hard countered at all times. Because of this, a flak will always be cheaper to spawn-in than an aircraft. After all, a pilot should have to care about flak and not just wipe out grounds targets. Many air targets can, when left unopposed, easily massacre half of the opponent ground team. The game producers obviously want to limit the danger of close air support and aid ground targets in eradicating the enemy air capabilities. No fundamental change of the system was planned.
Addressing a recent and popular video that apparently states that the ground-to-air missiles from anti airs are wrongly modeled in War Thunder, Vyacheslav once again shows the work that lies behind much of the producer's and developer's work. This problem should also concern the effective range of several high tier anti aircrafts in the game. With the help of documents showing graphs and statistics, he explained physics behind guided missiles and how they're implemented, pushing back on the claims that such missiles were completely missmodeled. He also showed graphs covering the effective range of anti air missiles to push those claims back.
He did however admit to one issue with the guided missiles from ground anti air, namely that they are still working on the modeling of said rockets in game. He was sure to mention that the problem this caused was not as bad as the one shown in the aforementioned video covering the subject, but still a problem that they're working on. It seems as if the War Thunder team knows the properties of such missiles, but have yet to fully be able to model it in the game. During the writing of this article however, an update to guided missiles was brought out. This update might have solved the issues with the guided anti air missiles that were brought up.
Gaijin's main objective of economics "is to provide a smooth process for a player based on the speed set by the game design. In other words, it shouldn't give access too all the content in an hour, but it shouldn't make you wait years for it either." (Translated from Russian; not my translation.) That is essentially they way it should work and I'm happy that Gaijin also seems to want it that way. For now though, Vyacheslav simply said that they fix and change economics over time with the help of statistics to try and keep this balance healthy. He also said that economics work as they are designed to at the moment.
Here we get quite the interesting view point of the producers' view of War Thunder as a game. Completing the game, "finishing the game", is when you reach the top tier of one nation. Period. That's how Gaijin and the producers view War Thunder as a game. This means that any nation different from the one a player has as their "primary" tree, is simply viewed as a "parallel economic game" (not my translation). This would also mean that War Thunder would be several games all under the same selling name, namely War Thunder. One positive aspect of this large game would however be that one unlockable (say vehicle) can be used in another of these several "games" not to mention stuff such as premium time, which works across the board regardless of nation or battleground. For us players and I guess for Gaijin's part too this would mean that grind is not all too bad. Grinding to the top of one single branch in one tree does not take years. (Yes, I am aware of the fact that taking other aspect of life in to consideration might possibly change this statement.)
Taken into consideration that vehicles get added into tech trees constantly, which increases the time taken to finish the game, the producer remarks that RP and SL costs for vehicles have been and are being modified - adding a table to the screen adding to his claims. What we ultimately see is that stuff are being done with the grind - and no, I do not just mean that it is getting increased. The problem between the producers and the player base seem to have to do with the perspective of things: players want a reduction in the grind overall, across the board, because they take on War Thunder as a whole. From the perspective of the producers, the player base would then be taking on several full games at once, complaining about it being difficult to reach the top vehicles in every game at the same time/at a reasonable rate.
It has been confirmed a few times in the past, but I'll add it in here this time as well. Repair costs are used as a balancing tool. The higher effectiveness, (kills, critical hits scored etc.) a vehicle has the higher the repair cost will be.
The game has statistics on how how often planes attack enemy self propelled anti aircraft guns how they show up on the radar put in very simple words. (These statistics would also include how helicopters show up on radar too.) These show that planes more often than not attack SPAAGs from a very low height, or from very far away, or even flying very high and then diving straight down, attacking from what was referred to as the "cone of dead zone".
Gaijin knows were helicopters are used the most. Vyacheslav explained how helicopter usage was higher in arcade battles and tank PvE modes than it was in tank realistic mode.
There are matching settings that, whenever a match is formed with the maximum BR difference of 1.0, limits the number of vehicles of the top BR of that match. Once again, it is shown that the producers does in one way care about the balancing of the matches and that the players should have an OK time while in matches - even in a full up-tier. This setting actually also takes those vehicles into consideration, that previously have been increased as well as lowered in their respective BR.
There are plans to make the naval part of the game more modern though it was said that it takes a lot of work. Many if not all of the more modern ships also have effects and abilities that stretch way above the weight limit that naval is at now, something that will take time to readjust and add.
There are plans to improve the scouting abilities in-game. It wasn't explicitly stated by Vyacheslav, but it was regarding the topic of scouting planes. It was confirmed here once again that previous April's Fools Events have tested this mechanic before and they plan to use it in some way.
The War Thunder team is constantly looking for ways to improve the gameplay and make the gameplay more interesting. This includes adding more minor nations such as Canada, and South- and North Korea. They also seem to always be looking for ways to make these possible nations enjoyable for players. They have for instance given themselves a lot of opportunities for new trees when they decided to make the latest nation to join the game, Israel, a sort of half-nation with barely any low rank vehicles. In a sense they want to give the community what it wants.
War Thunder producer Vyacheslav made a very good job responding to the asked questions per video - even more so than with the text version of the Q&A. We did get answers to several of the community's questions that have been brought up throughout the years. Answers were often well grounded and were backed by more information about the subject. Some answers were very straight forward, while some were a bit more tangled in.
I got a very good feeling from the Q&A video overall. As said, many questions were answered and a lot of Gaijin's and the War Thunder team's behind-the-scenes thoughts were disclosed. Many of them are to be found in the article written above, but some especially interesting are:
The developers play their own game. They want it to improve and since they want it to improve, they listen to many of the community's thoughts and ideas. The player base is the core of the game and Vyacheslav stated several examples of where they listened to the community. This does however not mean that everything was changed and added as the community wished, rather that it was taken into consideration.
Also interesting is that some aspects of the game are seen as perfectly fine and working as intended by the producers while the player base views them as greedy and unbalanced. Yet again showing how the perception of the game differs depending on who you ask.
Did the Q&A bring you anything? Did you find the video interesting at all? Maybe you don't believe anything that a War Thunder producer says... Be sure to comment your ideas and conclusions to the Q&A or start a discussion on the subject on the EverythingWarThunder discord server: https://discord.gg/9sNMNzD6nc
The German SPGs "Dicker Max" and "Sturer Emil" have seen drastic changes to their respective Battle Ratings throughout the years. The 105mm carrying "Dicker Max" has seen its BR been lowered around three times, while the 128mm carrying "Sturer Emil" has seen a reduction in its BR a staggering five times! With the War Thunder Team's desperate attempts to make the two glass cannons viable and fun to play, they are missing a great point. After a ridiculous amount of BR reductions, after which the poor German vehicle's problems remain, it should be clear that the lowering of their BRs won't solve anything.
As of Server Update 13.07.2021, the "Sturer Emil" saw its BR lowered for the sixth time. This time down to a BR of 4.3! While the "Dicker Max" was spared this time around, it has been through it about three times already, and now sits at a BR of 3.7(!). I've for a long time argued that neither "Dicker Max" nor the "Sturer Emil" need any BR reductions, but here it was again, and it struck the "Sturer Emil", which I view as the bigger problem of the two. "Why is this so?" you might ask. Well, everything the "Dicker Max" does and has, "Sturer Emil" kicks it up a notch: "Dicker Max" has a great gun, "Sturer Emil" has an even better one (same goes for ammo types, obviously); DM has 30mm of armour, the SE has 50mm; DM has bad gun traverse, SE has worse gun traverse; DM has a long reload time, while the SE has an even longer one; DM is sluggish with low mobility, the SE is more sluggish and with ever lower mobility, and the list goes on. The War Thunder Team also seem to see the "Sturer Emil" as the bigger problem, since it was introduced with a BR of 6.0 (!) and it has seen multiple reductions since then: 6.0 -> 5.7 -> 5.3 -> 5.0 -> 4-7 -> 4.3 (-> ?). When you thought it couldn't get any worse, a new table of planned battle rating changes was announced and published on the War Thunder Forums, delivering new BR reductions of the "Sturer Emil" and sometimes the "Dicker Max"
One could wonder why specifically these two poor souls have suffered through an immense amount of BR reductions when the 88mm carrying Nashorn (that once separated the two in the tech-tree) has kept its BR of 5.3 through most of its War Thunder career. Well, in reality, the answer is rather simple. They have severe drawbacks that seriously limit their capabilities on the battlefield. These mostly being both SPGs horrible mobility and lack of protection (armour), in addition to their subjectively long reload times. These drawbacks are common in these sorts of tank destroyers, all but the reload, which usually is a bit shorter for open-top tanks and tank destroyers like "Dicker Max" and "Sturer Emil". The drawbacks, I assume in this case specifically the reload times, are what limits the SPGs capabilities and combat effectiveness on the battlefield, making them more difficult to play, and ultimately slaughtering their respective statistics, resulting in a lowering of the BRs. (BRs correlate with in-game effectiveness). And since the drawbacks are even greater for our mister "Sturer Emil", we also see a more prevalent reduction of the BR for this specific SPG.
What would be the pros of reducing these German vehicles BRs? Would it even be beneficial at all? Seeing how the BR reductions have just kept on coming, I have a hard time viewing these "helpful" measures as helpful at all. As their BRs get reduced, now even approaching tier-II BRs, the SPGs obviously see a change in what enemy vehicles they get to fight. The lower the BR, the smaller and more nimble are the tanks, and for anyone who has paid attention, smaller and more agile enemy tanks are not what these two slow, German, hard-hitting misters would want to go up against. Not to mention how ridiculous it is for a prototype 128mm German K.40 cannon and for a 105mm K.18 cannon to be shooting (not to say wasting ammo (in-game sense)) on early T-34s, Shermans, Churchills, normal Valentines, Chi-Nus, and early French AMX-13s and ARL-44 heavy tanks. Most of these vehicles barely possess enough armour to ignite the fuse of these two German monster guns, all while most of them easily out-manoeuvre the slow "Dicker Max" and the even slower "Sturer Emil". Now this problem I just mentioned, mostly regards the "Dicker Max", since it sits at such a low BR to be facing exactly these vehicles used as examples. The "Sturer Emil" is at a, slightly, higher BR - but also with an even better gun, so the problems practically follows the German SPG up to here as well, just with different enemies.
What to do then? Lowering their BR evidently does not solve any of the prevalent problems. My suggestion is to increase their BR. Stop lowering it! Increase it! "Increasing a vehicle BR whenever it's underperforming certainly does not sound like a good idea." you might think. When I recently brought out the two German SPGs in preparation for writing this article (with their current lowered BRs), I obviously had to put them both to the test at this higher BR that I'm speaking of. While playing the "Sturer Emil" it hit me. This German experimental self-propelled anti-tank gun, with its Rheinmetall 128mm cannon, is incredibly similar to the well-known "Jagdtiger", which also sports a 128mm cannon (although a Pak 44 version). If you allow yourself to think about it, the different factors could be different versions of each other - one is heavily armoured and the other one is very thinly armoured. Very roughly speaking, it's the same gun, just fitted in different housings to fit various strategies. And even though this difference in housing technically speaking could allow for a different BR for the two vehicles is obvious, a BR difference of over one whole BR is not accounted for if you ask me. ("Jagdtiger" is currently 6.7 and the "Sturer Emil" is 4.3). Playing the "Sturer Emil" along with the "Jagdtiger", versing the American 6.7 line-up as well as Sovjet IS-2s, T-44s, and SU-100s and SU-122-54s, is greatly more comforting than versing the aforementioned low-tier vehicles of tier II. Arguing for an increase to 6.7 is stupid, and therefore that is not my intention. An increase to a BR of around the 6.0 mark, I believe, would benefit the "Sturer Emil" immensely. It fits in with the pace of the battle a lot better as well as with the size and complexity so to speak of the enemy vehicles it will face here. One simply cannot argue that the "Sturer Emil", with its 128mm anti-tank gun that is very closely related to the one found on the "Jagdtiger", will have problems facing these sorts of higher BR-enemies. This is what the redesigned 128mm anti-aircraft FlaK gun was meant to counteract, and does so very well in-game as well.
The "Dicker Max" evidently did not fit into the 6.7 styles of gameplay. Although not doing horribly here, I still obviously understood that this is not where the "Dicker Max" fits in. Where would it fit in then? A BR of around 5.0, I'd argue be beneficial for the German SPG. Here, it could be used as the bunker-buster alongside the Tigers and other encased German tank destroyers such as Jagdpanzer IV and Panzer IV/70.
The German SPGs "Dicker Max" and "Sturer Emil" have serious drawbacks that severely increase their skill-cap, making them very hard to use effectively. Placing them at a ridiculously low BR as a result of their low in-game effectiveness will not solve these issues. These drawbacks will not be countered by lowering their BR, rather the opposite. Making the two slow, long-reloading, hard-hitting German vehicles face smaller, more agile and nimble tanks, makes their vulnerabilities show a ton more than putting them at a higher BR where they'd mostly face equals and fight with enemy vehicles on equal terms and put their superior cannons to good use. Since lets' be honest here, what is more, enjoyable and makes you want to play the tank destroyer more? Shooting, penetrating, and one-shotting the enemy early T-34 variant from whatever angle you want, or penetrating and erasing that pesky, arrogant, and cocky American premium heavy T29 through its upper front plate from 1500ms away? I know which one I'd go with, and so do you.