WORLD WAR II ONLINE- 2003 IN REVIEW
2003 marked the single biggest year in the brief history of the award-winning MMOG, “World War II Online” with major features added and thousands of new players joining the game. 5 major feature updates and more than 20 “point” releases were introduced as part of every players' premium subscription to the game. Following is a summary of these updates with many not making the list for the sake of brevity;
21 new weapon/vehicles were added in 2003. New aircraft, tanks, armored cars and ships were all introduced this past year. The highlight was of course Destroyers and Freighters which brought a fresh gameplay focus to naval units in the form of moving and protecting infantry and armor over the Channel and North Sea.
A full audit of all flight models was done in '03 bringing even more fidelity and accuracy to our award winning flight model. Damage fidelity was added to flaps, landing gear, engines, and canopies during this development period with both audio and visual cues added to these damage states allowing pilots and aircrew to see and hear when their plane receives damage.
Custom convergence settings was added for aircraft guns as well as new weight and drag calculations for external and internal weapons giving pilots much more flexibility and realism in their ordnance loadoat.
Infantry remains the most popular gameplay in WWIIOL. Because of this, bringing compelling and cutting edge infantry play is always a focus of the development team. While the nature of troop combat is very different from first-person “twitch shooters,” we have always held that WWIIOL’s infantry should benefit from as much state-of-the-art FPS features/technology as possible. This past year we were able to really get some feet under that mandate and deliver great strides in trooper gameplay, feel and functionality.
New trooper models were added to bring better detail and fluidity of motion to the infantry. Many new animations were added to these new models and support for the display of spent shell ejections and reloading give the troops even more immersive behavior and effects. New photo-realistic faces were added to all troops, and a random selection allows for a large variety of faces to be encountered on the battlefield.
Light machine guns were added this past year to troopers, along with a re-supply loadout item for Riflemen. These two features allow for the deployment of “LMG”s in the field. Knives were added to trooper loadouts as well for close-in stealthy attacks. Smoke grenades were also introduced and give the troopers a vital tactical tool for concealment. This feature has proven to be most effective for anti-tank ops, and breaking through sieges.
New “ATP” levels were added that give troops more dynamic and better manageable energy resource that has even more affect on how fast a trooper can move, and how well he can aim his weapon.
Riding code was improved and new feedback added so that troops hitching a lift are not only safer, but the drivers and riders are all identified making comms much easier on the way to the front. The ability to ride (and walk on) ships was added as well. Now troops can be transported over the water more efficiently, and can fire their weapons while riding (something that the captains might take umbrage with!).
We added the ability to spawn troops into contested towns with new 3D depot buildings created and placed in-game that support troop spawn lists generated by connecting armybases. This suggests a foothold in a city once the connecting depots are captured and helps shorten time to combat on city assaults.
Research Development Production
It was strategic bombing campaigns that eventually wrote the closing chapters on World War II in Europe and the Research, Development and Production (RDP) system brought that function and gameplay to WWII Online this past year. In-game factories were added that power the RDP system outputting the means necessary for vehicle and equipment choices on spawn lists. This system is interdictable by bombers, and can stall out a side’s ability to bring new vehicles into the battle. RDP has given the players a whole new strategic game to play within WWIIOL. With it’s effects visible on the web and updated dynamically, now players can see the state of the strategic campaign right on the front page of the World@War Gazette.
In excess of 100 new cities and towns were added this past year giving more depth to the map in the east and west. The Zeeland Islands were populated with towns and now form a challenging strategic sector in the North. In addition, our terrain team redesigned approximately 150 existing towns and cities bringing them up to the standards set by the newer additions.
New 3D versions of the most-used buildings in-game were added. This is the tip of the spear of a campaign we have put in motion to replace ALL of our “paper walls” with 3D buildings as fast as we can.
Many gameplay changes were added in 2003. Reserving vehicles, new depot spawning, and better firebase functionality all combine to make battlefield choices both more rewarding and critically important. Having an offensive posture with the new firebase ruleset gives the attacker a much needed advantage, but it is harder to maintain in trade. Coordinated attacks are even more rewarding, and a well-planed defense can be even harder to penetrate.
New reporting and help commands were added in-game to give players more support with in-game functions as well as a way to report bugs and bad behavior. The report function outputs a log file that CRS production and live team members review and respond to. This feature alone will undoubtedly increase the visibility of in-game issues that may not be readily seen in the closed beta.
Players that are new to the game will have a better chance of getting some help now with “green” icons attached to all 1st rank personas. The “green horns” can now be ID’ed and the more experienced players can get new guys the help they need faster. Rank icons were added as well to show personas’ rank levels.
Deployment primitives were added that allow the HQs to move bomber and destroyer units. These strategic moves can only occur in RDP cycles and lost or overrun facilities levy a cost to re-deploy the units that were there. This gives even more control over to the HCs and paves the way for a complete deployment system.
Dynamic light sourcing was added to the Unity Graphics Engine, and features were quickly implemented to take advantage. Bombs, muzzle flashes, explosions and fire all emit light sources, making night battles more realistic and intense.
Many more effects were added including enhancements to smoke, fire and sparks as well as flying debris from aircraft and ships when they are hit. Vehicles now throw exhaust smoke, and trail dust as they move. Tanks blow up a dust cloud when firing their main guns. These effects give the battlefield a dynamic and chaotic feel that add to immersion.