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World of Tanks Blitz’ Roman Kuzmichev on bring bigger and better cosmetics to mobile

The 3D artist from World of Tanks Blitz’ creative team answer our questions on making a mobile port and pleasing players
World of Tanks Blitz’ Roman Kuzmichev on bring bigger and better cosmetics to mobile

World of Tanks has been a major PC hit, and World of Tanks Blitz on mobile has managed to follow suit in making a popular, portable adaptation of the tank battling game.

With recent, major collaborations such as their Holiday Ops and Terminator 2 events, Wargaming has managed to bring in some major new looks and feels to the tanks featured in the game. Most recently, World of Tanks Blitz experimented with the addition of new dinosaur-themed cosmetics, featuring impressive 3D effects that have become increasingly prevalent in-game, standing as a stark contrast to early paintjobs and colour schemes.

We put some additional questions to Roman Kuzmichev, one of the principal 3D artists on World of Tanks Blitz, to learn more on how a mobile adaptation of a hit game takes shape and the unique ways that they've been able to customise the WoT experience. First question, why include cosmetics and events in a game that - at the end of the day - is all about tank combat?

Roman Kuzmichev: Customization and events are always engaging for our players, so we try to satisfy the tastes of everyone, regardless of their preferences. A constant stream of new events and cosmetics are important tools for player retention, in parallel with other mechanics such as the battle pass.

How has the team on World of Tanks Blitz helped differentiate the game from its PC counterpart?

Fortunately, World of Tanks PC and World of Tanks Blitz do not have much of an overlapping audiences. World of Tanks Blitz is about playing on the move, anywhere: short game sessions, dynamic vehicles, special game modes, tanks from other universes, and the ability to play from any device ends up creating its own ecosystem.

Is there a major difference between event cosmetics, based on a pre-existing franchise, and those developed from an original concept in-house?

We don’t follow any strict checklist but try to create cosmetics expanding on or supporting the universe of World of Tanks Blitz. So we have no restrictions on the sort of content or ideas we can implement within this design frame.

What's the biggest hurdle that the team at World of Tanks Blitz has had to overcome in the design process?

To create complex skins such as the dino skin pack, we had to improve customisation functionality. Usually, we add additional skin elements only to the tank model itself, but this time we wanted to create an entirely new look that was not disturbed by the original tank’s accessories (such as machine guns, shovels, cables and so on). To do so we had to add object-hiding functionality, that’s how we quickly managed to hide unnecessary elements in the tank.

But that created a problem: how do we bring them back when players remove the skin from the tank? So we managed to configure the models in such a way as to avoid rework on the engine side and save time for people on other teams.

Tell us what the process is for making a new camouflage in World of Tanks Blitz

In total, the creation of a 3D skin takes about one and-a-half months. The creation of any cosmetic starts with an idea, almost every tank has its own unique look and feel and it's not always possible to find the right theme the first time around. With this recent collection we were lucky, we had a huge selection of real-life dinosaurs to pick from.

After describing the idea, next comes the concept artist, who puts the description to paper. As a result, we get three or four rough concept designs for each tank, then we choose one layout and the artist finalises the concept; adding details, effects etc.

Then the 3D artist receives the final concept and starts transferring the concept image into digital form. They create polygonal models, bake textures, and cut lodes. Next, it's up to the animator to add life to the cosmetics, additional animations always make them more unique. After the model and animation are completed, we move the cosmetic into the engine, adjust the materials, prescribe the logic of the animation and more.

Creating FX is a whole other story, based on the finished skin and the concept of FX, the artist begins his work by adding various effects, from flashing lights to the appearance of holograms on the tank. And the final, but no less important stage is testing. Before the cosmetic is complete we put the newly created asset into the technical build and the guys from the QA team carefully test everything up to the smallest detail, so that the players get the most out of the new skin.