World of Tanks AR Spectate

During Gamescom 2018, Wargaming presented a prototype system which they call World of Tanks AR Spectate or WoT-AR for short.

The system takes a scripted scenario of a battle that happened in World of Tanks that displays in on any flat surface in your house, like the kitchen table, through an ordinary tablet. WoT-AR can run the simulation using the highest graphics settings, which gives the feeling that the tanks are right there on your desk, and you can reach out and pick them up.

There are many paths this system might take, and the team behind it are currently weighing all their options and working to optimize it the best they can. The graphics demands are so high right now that any small change in the program lengthens the lag time between the tablet’s movements in real life and the what you see on its screen. According to the devs, Nvidia’s new RTX GPUs might help with those demands.

The team did consider using VR headsets instead of the tablet’s AR capabilities. However, the switch resulted in a 100ms increase in lag time, which in turn caused severe VR sickness. Even using a wireless connection results in additional 50ms in lag time and diminishes the systems immersion.

World of Tanks AR Spectate is still in its prototype stages, and mainly used as a proof of concept for this new direction WoT can take. In the future, WoT-AR could be useful to clans for battle debriefings and playbacks, or streamers who want to narrate a battle. There are even talks about using it for military purposes.

The Wargaming team will continue improving this new system, and we’ll keep watching as it develops. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of World of Tanks AR Spectate at the Wargaming business area at Gamescom, and a small taste of World of Tanks VR.

World of Tanks VR

After showing me World of Tanks AR Spectate, the new World of Warplanes and World of Warships: Legends, the guys at Wargaming nonchalantly asked if I had the opportunity to see the new World of Tanks VR version. We responded, of course, a raised eyebrow and a clueless “huh?” So I was sent to Wargaming’s stall on the show floor with a note that said: “let this man play, fast!”

We quickly got to the other side of the convention (no easy task, mind you) where we put on a VR headset. I was immediately awe-struck at what we saw: 4 players, all using VR, are thrown into a small map where they fight each other in World of Tanks, but everything feels real as all heck.

World of Tanks VR, on which development started somewhere in 2006, is the result of Neurogaming, a joint venture of Wargaming and VRTech. The idea behind the enterprise is to create a chain of arcades centered on VR games developed exclusively for it, all part of the PlayVR franchise. Amongst those games, you will be able to find WoTVR,  wild west shooter Revolver VR, and many more.

The next step is creating PolyVR centers, VR arcades where players have freedom of movement – the entire system will be on the players back, inside a backpack. This system will include the ability to stream live gameplay to all the other centers, which allows for real-time VR tournaments around the world, as shown in the following video:

Let’s get back to World of Tanks VR. After playing it, I demanded to speak with the team in charge of developing it. And so, I, GamersPack’s resident tanker found myself talking with Alex Morozov, Neurogaming CCO (Chief Commercial Officer), and the man responsible for this fantastic simulator.

Morozov shared with me the difficulties of developing for VR. When they started the development, the team decided that the player’s view would be from inside the tank’s turret, which made the users feel nauseated. A possible solution was to have the simulation take place inside a moving pod that mimics the movements of the turret. However, that would make the whole thing extremely expensive, so the team decided to experiment with other perspectives.

Eventually, the team found that by placing the player in a high enough point, just above the turret but in the middle of the tank, they can eliminate nausea entirely. Fortunately, the only tank available in the VR simulation right now is the T-44, which has its turret smack in its middle. The next update will introduce some new tanks, so the team is still trying to figure out how to best implement them in VR.

World of Tanks VR

The control over the tank is still minimal. For example, it’s impossible for the turret to aim one way, the tank to drive another way, and the player to look a third way (unlike in real life where it happens all the time). That is one of the things that the team is looking into now, alongside adding vibration to the controls, in the hopes of lowering nausea even more.

Nevertheless, playing World of Tanks VR felt like I’m back at my tank’s turret. When I ran over objects, I instinctively tried to soften the blow with my knees, as I do in real life. When I shot the gun, I half-closed my eyes in anticipation of the inevitable shockwave, and throughout the entire time, wondered to myself where did the G-forces of this 50-ton monster changing direction disappear to.

The team is focusing on improving the current version of the VR experience, with the intention of allowing for more than a 4v4 scenario, improving the graphics and audio, and more. Doing so using feedback from the community and the atendees of the VR centers.

In the future, a personal dashboard will be introduced for every player, which will allow him to gain points and buy new tanks, much like the existing monetization systems in other Wargaming games.

The summer update brings a new map, three classes of tanks and a new Team Deathmatch mode of 4vs4. All the while, Neurogaming continues developing its VR centers, aiming at creating a global network for large tournaments in all of their VR games. Also, Neurogaming going head on developing its PolyVR, which looks incredible, and we desperately want to try it out,

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