Amy-Lynn "Motormouth" Engelbrecht
Public and Community Relations, Playnet Inc.
I like eye candy. It makes it easier to sink yourself into a game and for a few hours, transport you to a different place and time. Graphics, sounds and special effects are major contributors towards that "suspension of reality" feeling you get from good games. We have long been criticized for neglecting the look of the game in favour of mechanics and so, here comes v1.31 and now there are rumblings that this is nothing but a "lipstick" pass on WWII Online. New buildings, new trees, ragdoll effects, weather & rain... it's all just eye candy, isn't it? Nope.
It is so much more than that. Virtually every feature or upgrade in 1.31 will have some effect on game play. From the addition of more grass fields to rain and clouds, everything effects game play. It's part of the whole experience of playing WWIIOL. When you spawn into 1.31, you will be entering a game world that has more depth and richness than ever before. A world of 3D buildings that offer concealment, shelter, and possibly harbor enemies. A world of shadowy forests with thousands of new trees, grassy fields littered with stone fences, berms and rural buildings. Where rain sometimes falls and clouds cover the sky as your eyes struggle to spot your enemy. When you find him and fire the kill shot, new ragdoll effects kick in and you get a whole new level of feedback from your victory.
Here's review of some of the features coming in 1.31 and how they are expected to have an effect on the game;
Ragdoll, Blood Splatter, Muzzle Flashes
ODE physics will create a virtually endless variety of death animations for infantry. Combined with infantry smoothing, new muzzle flashes and blood splatters on walls and pools on the ground, the results will have you out hunting endlessly for more victims. Even the alterations to the Death Cam will leave you fascinated. In testing, we have found that rag doll is providing more and better feedback about the result of your weapons fire. Seeing your victim crumple to the ground from behind a tree you will no longer have to guess whether he has simply gone prone or has met his end. Game play changers? You bet.
New Infantry Eye Height
The initial infantry model (circa 1999) was created with the eyes closer to the top of the head. The eye height has now been moved to more accurate spot on the head of the character. The infantry model was also updated so that when you aim your weapon, it swings it up level with your eye point from the slightly crouched "combat stance" position. This provides more realistic movement in first person and gives a new level of feedback. Combined with the new combat ready stance, it's looking more natural and makes for a better combat experience.
Beginning with 1.31, we introduce rain into the game world. Rather than impossibly sunny days all year long, a random "weather" cycle will run to add occasional rainfall, reduced lighting and lowered cloud ceiling. A new level of combat will now be played out with rain in your eyes and thunder booming through the sky. Aircraft will swoop in and out of cloud cover with tracer rounds lighting up enemies. New, lower clouds ceilings, reduced lighting and rain sprites are all elements that will change visibility, tactics and the outcome of combat- a major game changer in v1.31.
Upgraded Buildings and Terrain Objects
The last of the 2D (paper walled) terrain objects have been tackled. CRS artists have been chugging away replacing or updating original buildings as well as creating wonderful new ones to play in. Castles, windmills, farmhouses, capture buildings, vineyards, railroad stations, pillboxes, gas stations, petrol tanks, AI towers and pits... they all come together to give you the feel of fighting in a much more realistic and detailed environment. Some changes to buildings and objects should make a significant impact on game play. The new pill-box style infantry pit creates fortified firing positions for defense and berms surrounding towns and cities have been remodelled providing improved staging areas for attacks. New, bush-lined stone walls have replaced many of the generic bush lines providing improved cover for infantry. These are only a few of many changes to terrain objects that will change the way you play.
Persistent Fields, Radial Clutter & Shadows
Not only will persistent, grass fields make their introduction in v1.31, but a new radial clutter system also will be added. Grass fields provide infantry sought-after concealment and radial clutter will improve immersion. No longer will screenshots depict the landscape of WWIIOL as the final 3 holes of Augusta National Golf Course but instead a terrain with fields, short grasses, rocks, stumps and forests. Shadows will add to concealment by providing darker spots amongst berms and tree clumps... again changing tactics for players. While we are providing a way to reduce the impact of some of these features on system performance, some will not have the option to turn off completely. This will ensure a more level playing field for all.
New Capture Mechanics
1.31 will see the end of the infamous "Table Humping" in favor of a new system which transforms the entire building you occupy as the capture "object". We've freed you from having to maintain constant physical contact with a radio table so that infantry can move around inside the buildings designated as "Capture Points". Infantry are also free to move and fire weapons during capture and re-capture, engaging enemies in a frantic battle to gain territory and control the map. New attack and defense tactics will no doubt be perfected as a result of this change.
"No Fire" Zones
In our continued effort to promote fun and fair gameplay, coders and artists at CRS have developed the new "No Fire" zone. This previously unannounced addition to 1.31 means that if a soldier finds himself in an enemy infantry spawn point (FB, Barracks, Spawn Depot) his weapons will be rendered useless. On the multi-story spawn buildings, this will only affect the upper floors where infantry enter the world. Following a warning message on his HUD that he is in an enemy spawn zone, firing of any weapon will be disabled. At best he will have to resort to harsh language and rude hand gestures. Infantry can now feel safe from being ambushed when they spawn inside their own depots.
1.31 is big. Big changes, big gameplay improvements, big visual upgrade, big fun. It also opens the door for a lot of new stuff that will be entering development after it's release. The game play changes highlighted above are only a few of the most obvious we've seen in limited testing. We expect many more to come as a result of one of the biggest upgrades to the game in its history. We also expect some fine tuning to features as more testing is completed. We're excited and we're hopeful that we continue to improve the game for you. We thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm, it's really unparalleled in the gaming world today.