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Wargaming Brings the Battle of Dunkirk to Life

Interviews By Garrett Fuller on July 19, 2017

Wargaming Brings the Battle of Dunkirk to Life

In the early days of World War II the battle of Dunkirk was one of the most climactic battles. It is said that the Axis powers allowed time for the Allies to be rescued from the coastal city which kept Europe from being completely overrun. Now with the new movie coming out this summer, Wargaming is honored to bring this event into their world. Here is an interview with developers outlining the event and the history behind this monumental battle.

For this interview, we spoke with several key players at Wargaming including Dan Wasson, Head of Publishing Production, Aleksandr Nikolaev, Producer, World of Warships, Zachary Eskridge, Assistant Producer, World of Warplanes, and Jacquelyn Guadagna, Assistant Producer, World of Tanks Console.

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MMORPG: The true events of Dunkirk are amazing to read about, what is your team’s approach to capture this iconic event?

Dan Wasson: Wargaming has been working for over a year on the opportunity to tell our players about the amazing series of events at Dunkirk. A challenge early on was to identify what historical content was relevant (which vehicles were there, which of the surrounding events were important to tell). And we quickly determined that Dunkirk was not a classic battle, but rather a complex tale of military decisions, quick thinking, and strategic maneuvering that took place around Operation Dynamo.  Could we capture the events accurately and make it relatable to players, without there being a direct tank or warships battle?  There was a bit more direct action with the air war – there of course were dogfights and battles as the convoys and personal craft tried to ferry servicemen from Dunkirk to England. And there was ongoing engagement between the Luftwaffe and the British navy, but mostly this was one-sided sinkings using U-boats and fast attack craft of the German navy. So we worked carefully with our dev teams and Wargaming historians, and each team stepped up to customize the content to fit the product. As always, our passionate teams threw themselves into the work, and we hope that the results will speak for themselves and bring our players tremendous enjoyment of this historic event.

MMORPG: Can you explain the process to tie Dunkirk into Wargaming’s three titles? Is there a way to overlay everything together?

Dan Wasson: While we originally looked for ways to connect a single campaign about land, sea, and air battles, we realized early on in the process that it would not be so easy to combine dev resources. Our teams are actually very independent and in most cases, there isn’t a lot of engine compatibility or shared resources.  With development in Minsk, St. Petersburg, Kiev, and Chicago, we concentrated on finding the best content per title, and encouraged the teams to squeeze it into their busy schedules!  By working closely with our partners at Warner Brothers and the filmmakers, we were able to tackle the overall themes and content, and let the dev teams find the best path to success.

MMORPG: World of Warships is introducing a new PvE event into the game in support of Dunkirk. Can you break down how the mode will work?

Aleksandr Nikolaev: Scenarios mode with Operations was introduced to WoWS in early June. This is a co-operative mode, in which players team up with friends or other random players to work on a set of common objectives against AI-controlled enemies. Think of Operations as Dungeons for MMORPG titles. In Operation Dynamo (debuting July 19), captains control one of the three destroyers that actually participated in the historical Miracle of Dunkirk – HMS Anthony, HMS Gallant or French Cyclone. Players must rescue soldiers stranded at Dunkirk, escort the fleet of transport vehicles and fight off enemy aircraft, torpedo boats, and shore artillery. To make the mission even harder, we introduced mine fields that require captains to be extra careful with maneuvering and making short cuts.

MMORPG: Many of the efforts were centered on rescuing troops, how will this be incorporated into gameplay?

Aleksandr Nikolaev: In regular mode it might be considered OK to rush into the crowd of enemies and trade your ship for two or three enemies, but not in the Operation Dynamo. To be successful here, you must focus on protecting the convoy of transport vehicles as well as transporting the soldiers on your own destroyer. If one of the allied ships is destroyed, and you have available space, your preferred option would be to pick up drowning people to rescue them from the freezing waters of La Manche. This is a new mechanic that we have never tried before.

MMORPG: We always talk about the Allied rescue efforts, but what about playing the games from the Axis side?

Dan Wasson: Wargaming products have always delivered from an interesting perspective, which is that you’re never really playing either Axis or Allies in most cases. Players will launch into a battle as a Russian tank, platoon with an American and a German tank, and do battle against a mixed team on the other side.  The same is true in Warships or Warplanes when it comes to PVP.  We will of course try to tell the story of Operation Dynamo in our PVE campaign in Warships, so players will end up on a certain side. There will be missions that encourage activities that relate to the historical events at the time. Our policy is to tell the story from both sides, so you may be challenged to take out a set of nation’s tanks, warplanes, or warships in equal measure. But the history is fascinating and not all fans and players may know what really happened in 1940. So after you watch the film Dunkirk, we encourage everyone to explore the details in books such as the classic account The Miracle Of Dunkirk (Walter Lord, 1982).

MMORPG: Will there be additional vehicles or other features added to the games in support of the event?

Aleksandr Nikolaev: As was mentioned earlier, we recreated a number of historical ships in game that actually participated in the rescue operation – British destroyers HMS Anthony and French Cyclone will be available for all players, while HMS Gallant will be offered for purchase as a Tier 6 premium destroyer. A large part of the Dunkirk town with its landscape, structures, ground vehicles and little transport ships are added as a map of the Operation. Also, we released a special Dunkirk port, so players can enjoy the immersion even between battles. Finally, throughout Operation Dynamo, WoWS players will be working on a special Collection of Dunkirk-themed items with historical significance. Completing the Collection gives gamers a 10-skill points British Commander named Jack Dunkirk with unique perks similar to Steven Seagal (who was added in the game last year). Earning him will give players an extra edge with the coming line of British Battleships!

Jacquelyn Guadagna: On World of Tanks (console), we are releasing two brand new Hero tanks: Tier V British Medium “Defiance” Matilda and Tier VIII British Tank Destroyer “Vindicator” Charioteer. These two vehicles showcase historical Dunkirk era camouflage, and a special "En mémoire de Dunkerque" inscription on the Vindicator.

Zachary Eskridge: For World of Warplanes, we’re really excited to add two new planes for Dunkirk, including a Supermarine Spitfire Mk la and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3, which are earnable via in-game missions or purchasable through the premium shop. Each plane comes with a unique pilot with two unique skills and two free skill points. We also have a new hangar, set in the battle of Dunkirk, and to top it off, as part of our documentary series about Dunkirk, we’ve created some really unique videos related to World of Warplanes. We’d love for everyone to check them out:

Flying in a Spitfire: An Aerial Experience:

Flying in a Spitfire: A 360 Degree Aerial Experience:

From Dover to Dunkirk: A 360 Degree Spitfire Experience:

Dan Wasson: Wargaming also created an awesome video detailing the Dunkirk timeline and everything leading up to the historic events captured in the movie. Wargaming, history, and film fans alike will want to give it a view as it’s something that, as a company, we’re really proud to have created thanks to our amazing video producer, Michael Lovan.

Remember Dunkirk: Timeline of a Miracle: