Tanks! Tanks! Tanks! The world seems to love a good tank game, and if the 41 million registered users of Tanki Online are anything to go by, AlternativaPlatform’s own iteration of the popular formula is certainly no exception. I got the chance to sit down and chat face-to-face (the wonders of modern technology!) with Rodolfo Oliviera, one half of the two man team who started Tanki Online during its debut in 2009 as one of the first flash-based online 3D games. We chatted about the genre of tank games, the team’s plans for the future, the recent success of localizing the game in Brazil, and what makes Tanki Online so appealing to such a wide market. Read on to hear what Rodolfo himself had to say.
Indie Game Magazine: Why do you believe online tank games are so popular?
Rodolfo Oliviera: Right now it’s a phenomenon also because you have World of Tanks, you have Wargaming there, they popularized the genre. They are not our competitors, but still, they are icons, and somehow the genre is really popular right now also because them. They were kind of pioneers in the ‘tanks’ scene.
IGM: Tanki Online has found great success in Europe, but the American market already has a few titles to choose from. What sets Tanki Online apart from the other games in the crowded tank warfare scene?
Rodolfo: Tanki Online is a pure PvP game, and it’s completely casual. It’s a really fun game, it’s really fun to play, it’s really appealing to all ages, and no matter what kind of genre of game you like, it’s really appealing. It’s really easy to play.
IGM: What sort of customization options are available for the tanks?
Rodolfo: You can choose the weapons, and you can customize the paint. You can also choose the hull of the tank, the turrets, and yeah, all of the weapons.
IGM: Is there a base where players can keep their tank? Where do they start when they jump into the game?
Rodolfo: There’s no base, you start randomly. And every time you die, you start in a different area of the map. When you start playing: First, you customize your tank, and when you are playing, you start randomly on the map.
IGM: Are there different match types or game modes?
Rodolfo: Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, player versus player; the most popular of course, is Deathmatch.
IGM: You guys have a very active clan-based community scene. How have those dedicated fans helped to improve the overall gameplay experience?
Rodolfo: Actually for us, at Alternativa, and Tanki Online, the community is the backbone of our company and the backbone of our game; so their perspective, their feedback, their input is really important for us, and they are really active. They participate a lot. There’s a lot of interaction between company and community, and vice versa.
IGM: Alternativa also has a focus on eSports. How are you incorporating eSports into Tanki Online?
Rodolfo: We have a streaming service; we have a new partnership that’s working out in Russia at the moment, and it’s growing a lot. This will be one of our objectives in other markets, Germany, English-speaking markets, and most recently, Brazil. We want to push eSports, it will be the future of Tanki Online.
IGM: You recently released a fully localized version for the Brazilian market. How has the response been thus far?
Rodolfo: Actually, it’s quite good. It’s growing steadily. [Alternativa has since announced that the Brazilian version of the game has over 100,000 registered users.] It’s a new game, and there are some cultural issues with Brazilian players, and we are fully aware of this. But the game is growing really steadily there, and the response has been really amazing.
IGM: Are there any immediate plans for localization in other markets?
Rodolfo: Definitely, there is. Right now we are pushing Brazil because we just launched it [in April] and it is a priority. Other European markets will follow, I guess Italy is next. Further, we will have Spanish-speaking markets; not all of Spain, but we will also have Mexico and other South American Spanish-speaking countries. And in the future, maybe a US version. Right now, we have an English-speaking version, global English speaking, but maybe in the future we will have a US-focused version.
IGM: I hear you guys are working on updating Tanki Online in a few different ways, including a version for tablets as well as a Unity-based HD version. Can you talk about how the tablet version compares to the web counterpart?
Rodolfo: Actually, 2015 will be our big jump to Unity 3D, and the game will be fully cross-platform: Tablets, smartphones, consoles, browsers. It’s a huge step for us, and the game looks awesome. We already have some previews of the game – I already played the game on a smartphone – the game looks really awesome. If you compare the new version on mobile with the actual version of browsers, the new version looks awesome.
IGM: Are there new features being added to the HD version in edition to the fresh paint job?
Rodolfo: With the future release next year, we’ll definitely have some new content, and some new perks for the players too. It’ll be some really cool stuff
IGM: How often does Alternativa push out a new content update to the community? Is there a set schedule?
Rodolfo: For minor bugs, almost every day. When we release big content, usually every month. It depends, it can be weekly, it can be monthly. If we are talking about a big feature, it’s monthly. If we are talking about a medium feature, it’s weekly. For minor bugs, it’s daily; we have daily server updates.
IGM: What sort of developmental difficulties arose when trying to build Tanki Online in Unity for the HD version?
Rodolfo: We have a really close partnership with Unity. We’ve worked with them in the past on different projects, so we have a chemistry with them; more than partners, they are friends of the company. Yes, there were some challenges, but we were quite familiar with the technology. We are not finding many difficulties in working with the new technology. Our challenge is in making it fully compatible with several devices.
IGM: If you could tell the American audience one thing about Tanki Online to get them interested in the game, what would you say to them?
Rodolfo: Come. And. Play. You need to know the game. It’s really fun to play, it’s casual, you’ll definitely like the game. It’s really engaging. It’s really cool to play against a Russian player, or a Brazilian player, and have those Nation vs. Nation wars; it’s really cool. The learning curve is really short: You just pop in, choose a tank, choose a nice camouflage, call a buddy, and play together.