World of Tanks is undoubtedly one of the most successful free-to-play games in the history of the genre, and as it approaches it release on Xbox 360, the gaming industry waits patiently to see how a game like this one can perform on consoles.
Consoles are not just a different device for which developers can express their work and visions on, but for the most part, they have an entirely different group of consumers.
To discuss today's World of Tanks launch on Xbox 360, Examiner.com had the chance to speak exclusively with TJ Wagner, who is the executive producer and creative director of World of Tanks. We asked him about the user interface and how the menus have been blended into the console version of the game.
"You guessed right on the user interface. World of Tanks is a deeply complex game and we had to make our version of it work at TV resolution with a controller from 8-10 feet away. Every pixel and line of code for the menus and HUD had to be created from scratch.
"We were all still learning the game at the same time and I’ll be honest, user testing sent us back to the drawing board more than once. It’s still a challenge as we are going to be constantly adding features as the game matures on Xbox 360. Where do we fit them all? How do we give the players all the information they need without walls of tiny text?
"UI’s job will never be done on this game and that’s possibly also one of the greatest things about World of Tanks on the 360. We get to listen to and watch players, constantly refining the user’s experience as the game grows," Wagner said.
He then talked briefly about one moment that stood out to him and really made him believe they could bring this game to the Xbox 360.
"On a whim, we developed an 8v8 tank demo in our Despair engine in Chicago in just three days with only a few developers to show the Wargaming group. It blew them away and started the whole deal that led to us becoming part of the Wargaming family.
"We kind of had the feeling at the time that the demo was about to change everything. That feeling still exists today for the 100+ of us at the Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore offices now that we are on the brink of release," Wagner said.
From the game being ready to go and the team just working on the servers to make sure they are stable, to whether or not they had a struggle with turning a free-to-play game, into a not so free-to-play game.
"At this point the release version of the game is already through certification and in a limited soft release for testing. We’re making sure all the servers and services that support the game are running as expected and ready for the crush of release.
"Meanwhile back in the development studio, everyone is working hard on the future of the game which is really exciting. You’re never really done on a game like World of Tanks.
"An Xbox Live Gold membership is required to play any multiplayer game on Xbox 360, but fortunately we were able to get approved for a free 7 day trial for all non-gold members. I don’t believe that’s ever been done before and as an added bonus, users that upgrade to Xbox Live Gold from the trial get an exclusive tank, The Pz. II Aus J, all for themselves," Wagner said.
Finally, we asked him about what he would think about potentially bringing the game to the Xbox One, as well as what sort of support players can expect post-launch.
"Xbox One builds on top of a very successful platform. The developer tools keep getting better and honestly, everyone knows it’s one of the best platforms to make games on.
"This is even truer for a massively multiplayer game like World of Tanks. That is to be determined, but based on Wargaming’s continued success; I’d say anything is possible.
"New Maps, new Nations, new Tanks and of course new features. We have a ton of new things in store for all the Tankers and soon to be Tankers on Xbox 360," Wagner said.