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TO Insider Series: Meet Vladimir Kovtun

Vladimir “VKSpaz” Kovtun – Lead Game Designer of Tanki Online – “The requirements for a game designer are some of the strictest in the industry”

In this edition of the TO Insider Series, you will be meeting Vladimir “VKSpaz” Kovtun — the man who makes Tanki Online’ heart pound, and its blood flow. Vladimir is our Lead Game Designer. In this interview, he shares with us how at a very young age, he was already crafting ways to entertain his friends with a variety of games, and how he turned this passion into a very rewarding career. Vladimir also gives his insight into what it’s like to take on this challenging role, and what it takes to get there.

Please introduce yourself. What is your job at Tanki Online?
My name is Vladimir “VKSpaz” Kovtun and I am Lead Game Designer at Tanki Online.

What are the responsibilities of a game designer?
This is one of the most controversial questions I can think of! A game designer is like a clown in a circus. He or she must be capable of doing nearly everything — writing technical documentation, developing contests, a game’s economy, balance, in-game items, tuning parameters, designing in-game subsystems and so much more — keeping all of these things in the air without dropping them.

Therefore, the requirements for a game designer are some of the strictest in the industry. You need to be skilled in a number of totally different spheres to be really successful.

How did you get started in the games industry?
Working in the games industry was always my biggest dream as a kid. However, I never considered it an impossible goal, so I set about making it happen as soon as I could. Having said that, I didn’t get into the business overnight!

I started playing video games at age 3. By the time I was 9, I was entertaining my schoolmates with hundreds of different ways to pass the time in real-life games. And by the time I turned 14, I had already been the head of a table games club in my hometown.

The dream was always near and I made it come true step by step without any doubt or hesitation. I wanted to create games, and I created them using anything I could find, even paper! When I didn’t have anything at my disposal, I was busy dreaming up ideas for new games. In the end, I managed to become a member of the Tanki Online team and turned my dream into reality.

How did you get started at Tanki Online?
The story is as simple as it gets. I saw a vacancy on an online forum, the banner caught my eye immediately, I clicked on the link and soon after, I got the job!

What makes Tanki Online unique?
Lots of things! You can’t simply name one or two, but I’ll try! People — our developers and players — are very important. The game simply wouldn’t exist without them. The principles of our company are unique in themselves too. We are very sensitive to the happiness of our players and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to keep them that way. We are committed to creating simple and easy to learn arcade style gameplay that magically transforms new players into really skilled and professional users before they know it.

On the features front, the game is also quite unique in that it uses a single currency, as opposed to the double currency model most F2P games use. It is also fully 3D, despite being browser-based. As for the gameplay, every gun is totally different and unique. And the fact that it’s so quick and easy to start playing, makes Tanki Online really stand out from the crowd.

I believe that every one of these details is crucial, and they all come together to operate as a system in Tanki Online. You can’t name one or two things as the best or most unique, but the game would be totally different without any one of these tiny parts making up the whole.

What do you think the F2P-market will look like in 5 years?
I think it will change. Ideas and discussions have been flying around for a long time now. Many argue that the right path for the future of F2P lies somewhere on the border between F2P and P2P. I think that while the mixing of these two monetization principles may broaden the horizon for game designers, we shouldn’t spend too much time examining the potential of what might be; we need to shape that future ourselves.

Can you offer any advice to gamers who wish to establish themselves in the games industry?
Yes, it’s really simple. Playing games won’t be enough. You need to have the desire to understand how games function, what’s inside them and why they are designed one way and not another.

If you’re already making modifications for games, trying to understand how it all functions, delving into the parameters and values of memory, you are on the right path to your dream career!

How much time do you spend getting acquainted with other games and studying them? Do you spend your free time doing that or do you only do that at work?
I don’t do that kind of thing at work; only in my spare time, which is no more than 2-3 hours a day. Family and kids are just as important to me.

Which of your favourite bands and performers could you recommend as soundtrack for Tanki Online?
I’m not great at sound engineering and things like that so I wouldn’t be able to suggest anything for a soundtrack. But whenever I play Tanki Online, I always listen to ‘Finntroll’ — perfect harmonies and endless drive!

How do you spend your free time when not working at Tanki Online?
I read a lot of fiction and professional literature; in fact, I’m always on the hunt for new books. I also love walking and playing with my kid and am currently creating my own little game as a hobby!

Watch: NooBest vs Can’t Stop

Can’t Stop and NooBest have just had a cataclysmic clash and one of them is now one step closer to winning the grand title in Star Series. If you’ve missed this amazing match, you can watch it again below. And make sure you keep an eye out for the remaining matches.

Remember, if you’ve bought one of the paints representing a finalist, there are rewards to be had. Read more here.

Attention: Firebird 70% discount extended

Tankers,

We would like to apologize. Lots of you were looking forward to buying Firebird at 70% discount, but due to a technical issue, not everyone was able to get it at the discounted price. Of course, we can’t leave anyone behind on this, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to fix it.

So the 70% discount on Firebird has been extended. The discount now ends at 6 pm (UTC+0). If for any reason you have missed the promotion, you’ve got another shot at it. Go get it while it’s still hot!

ATTENTION: The item does not have the “70% off” label on it, but you will still get the discount till 6 pm (UTC+0). The discounted prices are as follows:

М0 — 45 crystals
М1 — 2 130 crystals
М2 — 28 380 crystals
М3 — 82 500 crystals

TO Insider Series: Meet Roman Epishin

Introducing Roman Epishin – Chief Marketing Officer, Tanki Online
“In 5 years time, the F2P market will be as big as the Taj Mahal; and just as beautiful!”

Some of our Tanki Online developers have become familiar faces to you. You see them in weekly V-LOGS, and we post their photos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. But that doesn’t tell you much about a person does it?

Well, it’s time to really get to know these people up close and personal. After all, these are the people whose work brings you hours of fun and entertainment! So we’re launching a series of exclusive, insider interviews with TO employees. This first one is with our Chief Marketing Officer Roman Epishin. This guy is so busy, we had to strap him in a chair for the length of the interview. But it was worth it!

Please introduce yourself. What is your job at Tanki Online?
Hi. I’m Roman Epishin, Chief Marketing Officer of Tanki Online and AlternativaPlatform.

How did you get started in the games industry?
It all began back when I was a kid. I realized how amazing games were and naturally started playing constantly like a maniac! I even had some issues with my parents in my teenage years, mainly between the ages of 13-14. They thought I played too much! And they were actually quite right considering I was into some pretty intense real-time strategy stuff back then (Total Annihilation and Earth 2150 later on). Also good first-person shooters were a passion (viva Half-Life!). I used to play all day long from 9am till 7pm without any pauses. Gaming had got under my skin and into my blood. I decided I needed to do something creative and connected with the games industry professionally to be happy in life. In my first year at college, I started as a freelance reviewer for the small and now long dead web portal. This first trial led me to a full scale career in games journalism. For eight wonderful years I was playing on PC, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii getting fairly decent money for sharing my impressions of games in major Russian language magazines and web-portals.

Eight years is a rather long time though and eventually I found myself really thirsty for some completely new experiences. So I changed sides and began to market games instead of writing reviews.

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How did you get started at Tanki Online?
When I made the decision to change from press to game promotion, the path that led to Tanki Online turned out to be very short. AlternativaPlatform was the closest company to me with their HQ in my hometown, so they were naturally my primary and number one potential job target. It was 2010 and the studio had still been experimenting with Tanki’s balance and graphics, (though the project was already 1 year old). The company founders, (my current colleagues) interviewed me and we just seemed to click. It was a very warm experience and they offered me the job! It turned out to be quite an easy step to take for me and looking back, I definitely feel as if it has been one of the key decisions in my life so far!

What makes Tanki Online unique?
Communications. Accessibility. High dynamics and deep tactical balance; it’s easy to learn, but hard to master. Of course, you may say there is nothing new in this statement, but I would argue that proportions really matter. When you can launch the game on almost any laptop, (even without a mouse!), from wherever you are, to get into a long or even short session of ultimate tank fighting happening with other players from all over the world, it makes total sense! You don’t waste your time on NPC chatting and AI mobs grinding. Right from the first minute, you are with others playing in teams or in brutal deathmatches. That’s why we mark communications as a basis for our project. We don’t just entertain our players, we help people communicate with others with whom they have common interests through entertaining activity!

What do you think the F2P-market will look like in 5 years?
It’ll be as big as the Taj Mahal; and just as beautiful! The trend is obvious. Look at the major game publishers who are usually considered as late adopters of any innovation. Today they’re putting more effort than ever before into developing F2P MMO’s. F2P is evolving and moving into more of a freemium model where you can play free, buy specific content, or pay a subscription to get even more amazing content as a part of a subscription program. The other trend is for true cross-platform experiences with a mobile component. In a year or two, you’ll be playing Tanki Online on your iPad in Berlin against the guy playing it on a PC in Sao Paulo!

Can you offer any advice for Gamers who want to establish themselves in the games industry?
Well, I think the romantic times are passing. Not so long ago, you could be just fascinated with games and that was enough to find your place under the gamedev sun.
Today, you need education as well as passion. Luckily, there already are educational programs out there so I would suggest the following steps:

  • Determine what you would like to do (and work out whether you’re any good at it…) for example – math, writing, painting etc.;
  • Investigate which gamedev profession is the best fit for your skill set;
  • Find out how you can attain maximum knowledge and experience in this field;
  • Race like hell to make your dream a reality!
Have Centurion closed the gap with Dawn of War?

Tankers! Last Sunday we had an amazing StarSeries faceoff where Centurion tried to close the gap with Dawn of War on the official rankings. It was a valiant attempt, but was it successful?

If you missed this battle and would like to find out, make sure you watch it below:

Support your team and win a prize!

The best four teams in Star Series have made it to the finals of the season. They are now ready to face each other in confrontation worth $15,000! We can’t let you miss something this epic, so we are running an event where you too can get a prize!

Till 1 am UTC+0 on August 1 you had an ability to buy one of 4 special paints in the garage; one for each of the finalists:

If you bought a paint, you automatically became a “fan” of one of the finalists. Each match won by your team will give you 20 of each supply! And if you want to be a top fan of your team by supporting it during the games, you will get your prize multiplied by 5!

All you need to do is:

  • Register on Twitch (you can log in using your Facebook account) and subscribe (click “Follow”) to our esports channel
  • Watch every battle your team participates in, on this channel
  • While the stream of the battle involving your team is live, simply write your nickname in the stream chat, exactly as it is written in the game. There is no need to write anything except for your nick.

If you meet all the requirements and your team wins the battle, we will give you not 20, but 100 of each supply!

The final stage of Star Series will be a double-elimination tournament. Battles will be taking place on the following days:

  • 5 pm (UTC+0) on August 1
  • 5 pm (UTC+0) on August 2
  • 5 pm (UTC+0) on August 3
  • 5 pm (UTC+0) on August 4
  • 5 pm (UTC+0) on August 5
  • 5 pm (UTC+0) on August 8

Please note that the supplies award will be multiplied 5 times only if you subscribed to our Twitch channel, wrote your nickname correctly in the stream’s chat, and your team won the battle. Purchased paints will stay in your garage till the end of Star Series Season 1.

Have Scorpions erased the old memory?

When two top-class clans like Noobest and Scorpions clash, it’s always bound to be an amazing event.

Having lost the grand title to them in Clan Championships, Scorpions had an old bone to pick with Noobest. On the other hand, Noobest had a flawless track record to maintain and there’s no way they were going down without a fight.

So, have Scorpions managed to erase that old memory of their defeat in Clan Championships? Have they brought down Noobest and rubbed the arena dust in their face? Or has history repeated itself?

If you missed this exciting battle, you can watch it below:

Football Frenzy Ends

Tankers! The Football Frenzy Event is officially closed.

Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands have dominated the FIFA World Cup bringing glory to their respective countries, and a whopping crystal bonus to those of you who have purchased one of their paints.

As promised, the bonus has been calculated on the amount of crystals spent between 8 pm (UTC+0) on June 12, and 8 pm (UTC+0) on July 12. For discounted items, the bonus is calculated on the discounted price.

Those who have Germany paint have received 50% bonus, while those with paints of Argentina and the Netherlands have received 30% and 20% respectively.

Congratulations! Your crystals are waiting for you in your garage.

Has NOOBEST kept its flawless winning streak?

There has been an earth-shattering clash. Two titans of Tanki have rushed full speed, head first into each other. Prior to this fearsome confrontation, CANT STOP held the rank of 4th best clan in the game, while NOOBEST had a flawless streak of 10 battles won out of 10. Now, one of the two lies bruised, battered and defeated on the ground.

This has been one battle that has left the audience breathless. If you’ve missed it, or would like to watch it again to relive some of the highlights, you can do so below.

Tanki Online Newspaper is back!

Tankers!

Your favorite e-paper, the English Tanki Online Newspaper is back! As always, it is packed with articles, guides, reviews, fiction stories and contests, all about the world of Tanki Online. Finally, you can go back to reading a newspaper that does not bore you to sleep.

This issue — number 24 — is a special issue as it marks the 2nd anniversary of the English Tanki Online Newspaper. Check out all the articles in the forum.

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