Massive Assault Network  Interview

Article

posted 10/9/2006 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
I was a big fan of Domination, a turn based strategy game from WarGaming.net. Sure the game had some really rough voice over (comical at times to be honest) but the actual game play was solid and the theatric presentation really added a lot to the game. When you add that the game included well over 100 hours of game play you have a pretty rock solid game. The game did include some multiplayer out of the box but the developers weren’t satisfied there as they have now created Massive Assault Network 2 an online version of the game that lets gamers play against other gamers from around the world. The following is an interview with Mike Belton, the PR Manager people for Wargaming.Net
 
GamingNexus: Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the game? How long have you been in the gaming industry and how did you choose this particular career path?
It could be not fair to introduce myself firstly.   Above all I would mention the company I am employed with. So it is Wargaming.net, Inc.
 
Turn-based strategy games have been company’s expertise by now for over 8 years and it is great fun for everyone involved. The same team of programmers and developers who started the company is still here, working each day to produce even more entertaining strategy games for you.
 
As for me, I was offered a job of PR-manager in game industry not very long time ago.  I’ve got the invitation to work at Wargaming.net right after the university graduation and I’m excited with this job so far.
 
GamingNexus: We were big fans of Domination, are there any changes to the core gameplay in the new game? Are there any new units or map types?
Mike Belton: The core gameplay did not undergo crucial changes; it proved to be well-balanced and entertaining, so we decided to stick to it. Instead, we concentrated on perfecting gaming process iitself: brand new Online Play Mode offers yet unseen turn-based online gaming experience as opponents will both stay in the game, watching each other actions in real-time. Thus online battles can be finished within 20-30 minutes, unlike days and weeks with the previous version.
 
As for new content, we’re to offer 3 all-new maps as well as maps from the original M.A.N and Domination, totaling the number of available planets to 24! Moreover, our team of developers designed 6 brand-new units. Those new are Megabot, Warship, Air Transport, Shark, Lillypad and Vulture.
 
GamingNexus: Have you changed any of the rules behind the neutral companies, secret allies, and guerilla forces?
Mike Belton: We decided to leave the political system, underlying the game-predecessor, as this idea showed itself from positive side. For those, who did not hear about it, I’d like just to tell about it concisely.  
 
The political system in game is based on Secret Allies, with Guerrilla, Revenue and Indemnity in addition. The concept is rather simple for understanding and has proved its incredible replayability. Here is the way how usual battle happens: in the beginning both players have the equal number of countries as Secret Allies randomly distributed on the planet. These countries are not "visible" or known to the opponent, until disclosure phase. And the players begin to disclose them, deploying their Secret Armies. The remaining countries on the planet are neutral and the players are supposed to invade and conquer them. Each invaded country fields a small but mobile group of units against the invaders. Moreover, a neutral country can happen to be enemy Secret Ally, and he can disclose it anytime, raising the regular army also. Thus political system of MAN 2 preserves the intrigue throughout the battle and random distribution of Secret Allies makes any new battle on the same planet unlike others.
 
GamingNexus: Can you talk about how matchmaking is done in the game? How do you ensure that good players aren’t being matched up against brand new players?
Mike Belton: The matchmaking system is closely related with the Glicko rating system in our game. Players are absolutely free to engage any opponent, so they can pick up adversary of any rank and with any combatant skills. However, before creating the game player is choosing the opponent seeing all the stats such as rank, number of victories, and bonus score awarded for victory. So the high opponent’s ranking alarms rookie before the battle of possible defeat. The scoring system is implemented in such a way that playing with experienced players is only to newcomer’s benefit: they will earn some experience points even for defeat and gain really precious lessons that will let them win other players of the same rank.


GamingNexus: Given that MAN 2 is a turn-based game, how many concurrent games can you play at once? 
Mike Belton: The number of games you want to play simultaneously is the self-dependent decision of each player. Personally, I prefer to have around 20 games with “live” adversaries in my reserve. Besides, I play few games with AI to practice my strategies. It is really comfortable, as you have to be always ready to get new turns from opponents.
 
GamingNexus: What makes MAN 2 different than other strategy games out there?
Mike Belton: Generally speaking, we guess that Massive Assault Network 2 will be among those few turn-based strategy games that combine streamlined gameplay with high-quality 3D graphics and effects. One more good advantage of this game is that you don’t need to devote a lot of time to the game at one sitting. You won’t have to spend an hour or three every single night, sitting at your PC moving, or watching your opponent move. You get your turn, watch the replay at different speeds or skip it completely if you desire, then take your turn, and send it off.
 
Besides, our game is not the game you play and then put it on the shelf so to speak. It’s the opposite; you’ll play it for years. M.A.N. 2 lets you step away from your everyday happenings and engage your mind in something totally different.
 
GamingNexus: The main focus of MAN2 seems to be on the multiplayer side, what kind of single player content is in the game to help new players get acclimated to the game?
Mike Belton: If you’re new to turn-based games then Massive Assault Network 2 is an appropriate game to commence with. There are well thought-out tutorial missions in the game, which assist newbie-players to handle the game very fast. Besides, our two rather sexy AI ladies – Kate and Emily – are always ready to teach any rookie the lesson of battle-wise and get them familiar with multiplayer part (since AI is server-based).
 
GamingNexus: Are you planning on releasing any new content for the game?
Mike Belton: At present the work is underway on interface improvement and on informational satiety of the game. By now the game is almost ready, just small details are being polished and finalized by our developers. Furthermore, we try to bring to perfection the system of ranking ladder.  
 
GamingNexus: How many players do you have signed up for the service now? 
Mike Belton: For the time being we’ve got about 7000 beta-testers. Besides, around 200 of them made a decision to get lifetime membership package even though it is still Beta.   And I’d like to thank all the players who chipped in beta-testing procedure. We are highly grateful for their participation and for their assistance in game development.
 
GamingNexus: Is there anything else that we didn’t talk about that we missed?
Mike Belton: Our team endeavored to develop the game, which will be fun to play for any strategy gamer. Make sure not to miss it!