The War Z – Interview With Tyler Sparks (JonnyTruant)
The War Z is arguably one of the most discussed topics on the MMO scene at the moment, and after our interview with Sergey Titov we’ve had many requests for another interview to clear up some of the current issues experienced by the player base. Tyler Sparks, known as JohnnyTruant for the forum users, recently sat down and gave us some time to pitch him some questions. The below interview focuses on hotly contested topics currently surrounding the game including the mysterious Tent, the official screenshots, future features and current game mechanics.
Q&A With The War Z’s Tyler Sparks
My name is Tyler Sparks, and I’m the Senior Producer on The War Z. I’m an avid gamer, have been since my earliest memories, and my role on this project is to facilitate development on every front. I’m also here to evaluate the concerns of the community, and ensure constant communication on all fronts.
Q. Server hopping and “ghosting” are considered big problems by many players at the moment. What ideas do you guys have to approach these issues? Can we expect a fix in the short-term or will we be waiting until after beta.
A. Server hopping and ghosting is a huge issue. I know its on the forefront of most peoples minds, and rest assured we’re working on it. We have some innovative solutions that we are currently implementing, however, the effort is ongoing
Q. Many players have expressed concerns that they will be punished for discovering or overusing bugs and exploits, such as the spawn time reset that was recently fixed. What’s your stand point regarding pre-release punishments outside of hacking?
A. Punished?! Absolutely not. The beauty of Alpha is that we have an absolutely amazing community that strives, at every turn, to help us and we welcome any and ALL feedback. Even with our QA team, bugs and the like are often things that aren’t discovered until a large scale group plays during Alpha and Beta.
Q. Certain forum users have figured out a way to explore the unopened parts of the map. Seeing as many screenshots have already been released, could you provide some details on some of your favorite areas of the new zones?
A. Well when it comes to favorite areas, for me, I love those that are only discovered through intense exploration. And we’ll be placing some truly awesome settlements, easter eggs, and unique story elements that will reward players for spending time exploring.
Q. It has been said that driving will be implemented by the end of the year. Could you shed some more light on the systems or mechanics that will be involved? Will players have to locate car parts and find fuel for the vehicles? Can we expect to see different damage models, such as the ability to puncture tires?
A. Implementing vehicles is definitely on the agenda, but we want to ensure that it is a smooth integration. We do intend for fuel to be consumable and able to be scavenged, though we haven’t determined yet what effect the environment will have. As we determine how we will proceed we will be relaying that information to the community.
Q. Does the game engine have the ability to support a much larger number of zombies in set locations? Roaming hordes and the likes have been suggested, but does the game have the capability to implement such a feature?
A. It does! Our engine is truly unique in its capability, and every day we test its potential with a larger eye to overall feel – while a vocal minority may desire one thing, we strive to perfect the average user’s experience. Remember the goal here – Survival in an otherwise unique scenario. And we’ll be pushing those limits as much as we can.
Q. Still on the subject of zombies. Are there any plans to overhaul the AI/ability of the zombies? Currently the animations are easily predictable and the “hop on car” trick seems to remove any challenges posed by the undead.
A. The zombie AI will change as we adjust for game balancing. The thing to bear in mind, however, is that zombies are not necessarily super intelligent, and they lack many of the mobile abilities that humans have (ability to climb, etc.), so climbing on a wall or a car in order to escape is a valid tactic, however it also makes you vulnerable and visible to other players.
Q. When can we expect to see the VOIP feature added to the game?
A. It is definitely on the list and we understand it’s importance, but before we add VOIP (and I know proximity VOIP is another hotly contended issue) we want to polish what we’ve promised thus far. I would say it will be in the first quarter of 2013.
Q. Is the “Play with Friends” feature going to be added with the Clan system?
A. Friends, play with friends, and all assorted features are coming after Clans.
Q. You recently posted that you would consider a new melee slot if the community was supportive enough. Has the response on the poll thread made any changes to your feelings on the idea? (Forum Thread)
A. The response is fantastic. I brought the issue up in today’s meeting and we think we should be ready to add this slot sometime next year.
Q. Seeing as you have access to more concrete data and numbers than the players do, how successful do you think the deployment of your anti-hack feature has been? Have you seen a decreased number of reports?
A. YES! Its been overwhelming, truth be told. We had no more than 0.08% of players hacking, and we’ve demolished that number DAILY. I really have never been more impressed with our code team than now.
Q. How do you feel about the third-person view being “exploited” so that players are able to remain concealed while peering round corners and up stairs? Is it a feature you’ve considered removing or is it here to stay?
A. At this stage both FPS and TPS modes are scheduled to remain as is. We don’t necessarily consider them to be an “exploit,” but more of a feature that ALL players are able to use to their advantage.
Q. What are your current 5 top priorities in regards to new features/fixes in the coming weeks?
2. Server hopping/ghosting
3. Item duplication
Beyond that its all about feature development.
Q. What is your response to the critics that have labeled the screenshots on the website as fake/doctored?
A. Most screenshots that you see for games (ours or otherwise) are usually “staged” by the developers in order to demonstrate in-game scenarios or situations and to showcase features. The screenshot of the character on top of the car with a flare and a horde of zombies around him is a viable in-game scenario. Rather than spawning the character, running throughout the city to “aggro” all the zombies and then luring them to that location for the screenshot, we simply placed him on the car and then spawned the zombies around him in order to showcase that situation, but save a little time
Q. In our recent interview with Sergey it was said that swimming seemed to be in the pipeline at some point, but in your recent Q&A on the forums it said it was not planned at all. Is it something we can expect to see in the coming months?
A. When I say that something isn’t in line or planned it doesn’t eliminate the reality – however, for something like swimming, there’s a number of factors to be considered. Factors I wouldn’t personally be comfortable with the code team tackling until we’ve nailed down some more important features.
Q. Many players have asked for the opportunity to upgrade their purchased packages. I.E From Survivor to Legendary. Are there any plans to make this option available?
A. Totally Hard to deny folks the opportunity to increase their presence. However, I personally believe legend is what legend was. To be legendary. We’ll see what the final decision is there, but I personally feel it shouldn’t go further than pioneer unless you got in when we offered Legendary.(Which was twice, I get that, please don’t crucify me! :D)
Q. Players have asked if the in-game music/sounds (the eery background stuff) is related to any kind of in-game events. Moderators have said this is not the case, could we get some confirmation?
A. Very soon sounds will be informative…especially considering our inclusion of new and as yet unseen easter eggs, special zombies, and my own favorite menaces. Again, though, this is still in the air as we discuss.
Q. Crickets. When can we expect the cricket noise to be reduced?
A.It already is!! Our lead designer (who wears many hats for the sake of the game) is also working on volumes. Like I said, send the feedback my way! I’ll be sure the proper ears hear it.
Q. The Big Foot Zombie. Is this currently in the game? When can we expect to see it released?
A. A rumor, my friend, is only as good as the credence another lends it. I challenge the community keep looking, while understanding more are already either in game or on the way. STAY ON YOUR TOES.
Q. The Tent….Arguably one of the most popular threads on the official forums. Apparently it has been confirmed that the moderator who reinforced the rumors has since posted a picture confirming it was indeed fake and since then subsequent posts have been deleted. Assuming the tent is fake, do you feel it was wise of the moderator to “troll” the community after all the hours they invested into searching?
A. I assure you, the tent is out there! No trolling here
We’d like to thank Tyler Sparks for giving us the opportunity to help answer the concerns of The War Z player base. Personally, I was hoping for VOIP to be implemented a lot sooner than stated above, but at least we know the tent is real and our searching hasn’t been a complete waste of time.