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IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey Famous title comes to consoles.

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Old 02-25-2011, 10:36 PM
MACADEMIC MACADEMIC is offline
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Exclamation 'Interview with Gaijin CEO and President Anton Yudintsev 25/02/2011'


This interview took place today, 25/02/2011, between MACADEMIC and Anton Yudintsev, President and CEO of Gaijin Entertainment, via text chat on the occasion of the upcoming Ace of Aces Mustang Trophy Tournament finals:

MACADEMIC: Hello Anton, thank you very much for following my invitation for an interview.

Anton Yudintsev: Sure, no problem

MACADEMIC: Anton, Gaijin is the main sponsor for the Ace of Aces Mustang Trophy tournament - why did you decide to sponsor this event?

Anton Yudintsev: Well, we always wanted to support our community. Ace of Aces tournament gives very good trophy and attract a lot attention from players. Plus, organizers have contacted me and ask for approval and some words to players - so it was at least polite to take participation

MACADEMIC: Birds of Prey was released quite a long time, more than one and a half years ago - did you expect the tournament to be a success?

Anton Yudintsev: First of all, "success" for a tournament is quite hard to measure, as it is not MMO game. The game is rather old, true, but it is still the only decent flight simulation game on consoles. And organizers of the tournament seem to do a real good job attracting players, so I think it will raise certain interest.

MACADEMIC: Sorry, what is an MMO game?

Anton Yudintsev: massive multiplayer online game

MACADEMIC: thank you

Anton Yudintsev: I mean, there could be no "commercial success" in this tournament. Only increase of habitation of multiplayer sessions. And I am sure, we will see this popularity growth.

MACADEMIC: I see. Does Gaijin see/measure these criteria on a regular basis? if so, have you seen an increase in habitation which could then be called a success?

Anton Yudintsev: Last time we are busy with our new game, and do not measure it.

MACADEMIC: Okay, perhaps I'll share my personal impression with you then. We have quite full rooms now every evening, many regulars and even newcomers.

Anton Yudintsev: This one I have observed I mean, we haven't measured it before, so it is hard for me to say how big is the growth.

MACADEMIC: Okay. Anton, myself and other people who are enthusiastic about Birds of Prey have always wondered where your and Gaijin's interest in aviation come from. I mean, it is hard to imagine that people who wouldn't be interested in aviation or the time period would be able to deliver such a detailed game.

Anton Yudintsev: Well, we have a lot of people in the office with interest towards aviation. Our tech director, for example, was working on a training simulations and analyzing flight simulation data in one of Russian military aviation constructor's office. Some other people (like plane art-director) were IL-2 enthusiasts long time ago. He even made one of the most popular campaign/mode for IL-2. And, one of the best Russian game ever was IL-2 Sturmovik. We wanted to show flight simulation appeal and love for the skies to broader audience. Which means a lot of things:

1. make game more up-to-date in terms of graphics and tech (details of graphics, special effects, lighting)

2. add new sound dimension, 5.1 sound FX, good music.

3. Make game more modern in terms of gameplay. I mean, it is cool that you can have some real combat WW2 flight experience, like in IL-2, and we wanted to keep it - that's why we made Single missions. But we wanted to show more intense action, more movie style gameplay - like Battle of Britain the movie or Pearl Harbor - where a lot of actions happens in the same time or one after one. It is a bit unrealistic - but only in terms of probability one will see all these events one-after-one (and survive), not the events itself.

4. Make it for consoles Most hardcore audience is playing consoles nowadays, so if you want to appeal to them, you have to make game for modern consoles.

I am not talking of Wii, of course.

MACADEMIC:

Anton Yudintsev: And I believe, we have achieved our goals.

MACADEMIC: I'm sure many of us would agree with you. Of course, interest in aviation is not enough. Where did you find the talents that were able to realize the project, who have the programming and art directing capabilities. Is this something you think Russians are especially good at?

Anton Yudintsev: Russian developers are well-known for their war and simulation games. I believe, that's part of mentality.

MACADEMIC: Yes, you are a nation of chess players

Anton Yudintsev: And we have very good and experienced team. And good partners. Most of our planes creation artists are real enthusiasts of this business. They take a lot of things into consideration - blueprints, photos, memoirs of pilots, etc.

MACADEMIC: Anton, you are President and CEO of Gaijin. Many people are saying people are not interested in simulators anymore these days. What would you say about that, and have you ever, from a commercial point of view, regretted to focus your company on simulations?

Anton Yudintsev: First of all, not everything could be measured in money. Although money is important, I confess. But we also were able to make a good game, showing people the truth of WW2 and aviation. Unlike most of Hollywood movies, historical part of our game is much more accurate and honest. Less politics and propaganda. So, going back to money. Here is the thing. There are BIG names and BIG publishers. EA, Activision, THQ, etc. They are mostly focused on a BIG genres and BIG franchises. NHL, CoD, Medal of Honor, etc. There is big competition there. And, what is more important, competition is mostly not in production value of the games (which is also very high), but in marketing. Marketing budget for CoD is tens and hundreds of millions. We can't compete there, literally. Of course, there is broader audience in this genres. But there is a decent amount of players who would love to play flight simulations. And there is lack of titles of even good quality there. Blazing Angels 1-2, HAWX 1-2, AceCombat - all of them, Over G Fighters. That is almost it. And only Ace Combat is good enough (my opinion) as a game. Only Over G Fighters is somehow flight simulation. Ah, I forgot Heroes over Europe. So, we could compete there. We understand flight simulation, community needs, as well as we understand modern gaming. Well, at least we think so And our audience is hungry for a decent flight sim game. So it would require much less marketing resources to get to them. I still would prefer more of marketing But it was something we could manage with our publishing partners. Hope, that's clarifying.

MACADEMIC: Yes. I would like to get back to my question about people not being interested in simulations anymore. Have you ever heard the saying 'the love for cars never dies'? I think you could equally say 'the love for aviation never dies'. Perhaps that explains how a game like GT5, which is a racing simulation, has sold 6.5 million copies as I recently read. Can Gaijin reach for the stars and become the GT5 of aviation simulations?

Anton Yudintsev: We aim for it. However, cars are of course more popular than planes. Everyone drives a car. Almost everyone at least once wanted to have a better car or participate in race. And cars driving is 2d experience. Planes, on the other hand, are expensive, scary (for some people), and hard to control. And you can get sick while looking on display with aviation game. However, even smaller, this audience is big enough. And loyal, which is important. I mean big enough for us Probably the niche is too tight for EA

MACADEMIC: Okay. Let's talk a bit more about the future...you mentioned earlier that you are very busy with a new game?

Anton Yudintsev: Yes, we are

MACADEMIC: As you can imagine your loyal audience is very interested to hear more...

Anton Yudintsev: Well, we have given a hint in Wings of Prey launch trailer (unintentionally). As for features, we have summarized community feedback, and also our own ideas. Unfortunately, I can unveil all details until announcement, but we are going to keep flight sim spirit, and make the game more online focused, and more community-friendly.

MACADEMIC: Hm...maybe a few more details? Can we expect the game to remain in the same time period? Will it come to all platforms PS3/XBOX360/PC?

Anton Yudintsev: It will be good old-fashion propeller planes. I can't announce platforms. We are working for consoles, but I won't give you exact list. Although you can guess

MACADEMIC: The Wii!?

Anton Yudintsev: Yeah! I love to control my Mustang with this fancy toon-style graphics And wiimote of course. And dancing minigames in the briefings.

MACADEMIC: Control and Mustang? - I got to get this game! Now that's something really new. We have a nickname for our Mustangs: STALLions.

Anton Yudintsev: Nice

MACADEMIC: Yes, but some strange people love our STALLions that way - like me for example...

Anton Yudintsev: Damned, I wish we could have Mario there

MACADEMIC: Put Mario in the cockpit and all will be fine!


Anton Yudintsev: We can't. Mario would have too close visual appearance to Hitler, if in WW2 era. And it is against law in many countries.

MACADEMIC: Oh man, that's funny!

Anton Yudintsev: Plus, legal issues.. Nintendo love it's Mario too much.

MACADEMIC: I thought he looks more like Stalin...
But enough of the lookalikes...

Anton Yudintsev: Yes, let's go back to serious questions.

MACADEMIC: All my questions are serious. My next one is to please give the host of a game more options. Such as: which planes, who can play, who not, cockpit view only, full sensitivity only,...

Anton Yudintsev: Not all my answers are. We actually not like Mario all that much.

MACADEMIC: That will get you in trouble with your Wii customers!

Anton Yudintsev: We will unveil more details soon.

MACADEMIC: Great, I know I'm misusing the opportunity here...

Anton Yudintsev: But we are taking our community feedback into consideration. For instance, custom difficulty match shown to be real good. What do you mean by "who can play, who not?"

MACADEMIC: Yes I know this from Wings of Prey, this was a great innovation.

Anton Yudintsev: And so we will keep it in a new game.

MACADEMIC: Well, you have the 'Kick' option in Wings of Prey. Sometimes you have players make a bit of trouble...Plus Full Sensitivity option, please...

Anton Yudintsev: What do you mean by full sensitivity exactly? Dead zone control?

MACADEMIC: No, but you can reduce the sensitivity of the planes in Options so that it is impossible to stall a plane, which is not realistic.

Anton Yudintsev: We are thinking about voting (and so kicking). No promises yet.

MACADEMIC: We have a Club - the organizing Club of the tournament - who plays by leaving the sensitivity full at all times, making it more realistic to fly the planes every plane can stall when you pull back on the stick too hard, we want to maintain that. but of course it is voluntary and not possible to be verified. Therefore we would love this option, because then it is assured that everyone flies under the same conditions.

Anton Yudintsev: I see. Yeah, we have discussion about that. Let me explain something. Each additional option divides multiplayer audience. So, if we have 16 options, each one of them is binary, and should be verified, then you can have 65536 players online, each one playing his own session with unique combination of options. So we are very cautious in adding new options. We already have added two.

MACADEMIC: You are good at math.

Anton Yudintsev: I have programmer's background. I know powers of two till 2^20 by heart. I know that is anticipated option by some audience.

MACADEMIC: Impressive. But if you sell a million copies and you have 655360 players online at the same time, you have 65536 rooms with 10 players each which will be fine...

Anton Yudintsev: Unlikely

MACADEMIC: average, of course

Anton Yudintsev: half of players (tops) are not playing multiplayer. So, 500ks. And they are spread in world. Different time zones.

MACADEMIC: Okay, so let's say you sell 2000000 copies.

Anton Yudintsev: I doubt that is achievable. AceCombat is about 1.6 mil for PSP. I believe, the total audience of flight sim games is about 1 mil players. So, 500k tops playing online. Each one playing each third day. Also, there is sales tail, so peak online players is 100k.
divide it by two consoles. 50-100k then divide it to time zones.

MACADEMIC: Still not bad.

Anton Yudintsev: then divide by each third day
gives us 2k players in one session (realistically).

MACADEMIC: But I doubt the options would divide mathematically as you say. The mainstream will still go for the pre made option, as in Wings of Prey.

Anton Yudintsev: We have custom difficulty match now. But yes, I believe you right. You know how many percent of players earns achievement for ending simulation training in WoP? less than 10%.

MACADEMIC: But you make the specialists very happy, who are perhaps the most loyal players...Okay, but this training is not as good as the real training by an experienced pilot...

Anton Yudintsev: That's why we are adding two new options and custom difficulty match We really love our flight-simmers community.

MACADEMIC:

Anton Yudintsev: I am just saying we have to deal with that they are not the only audience of the game. And it is much less than a million of simmers.

MACADEMIC: Yes I know and I believe it is correct to treat all communities with the same amount of care and support.

Anton Yudintsev: As you can imagine it is very easy to add any option. But we have to think about it carefully.

MACADEMIC: I understand, like I said I was misusing the opportunity to make lobbying on behalf of our Club Speaking of other communities, I know there are quite strong Arcade and Realistic communities and I know they are interested in having their own tournaments. We have some experience with tournaments now and would be happy to support them - could these communities also count on Gaijin's support and perhaps sponsoring?

Anton Yudintsev: Well, if they will have good organization - I am sure they can rely we will support them as well.

MACADEMIC: Great, I'm sure that's great news for our friends there. Also on the XBOX360, there is interest there as well. But let's go back to our own tournament. The finals are going to be played on Sunday. The two remaining players in the tournament are presently the strongest and best players of the game: MIRGERVIN and Edal86.

Anything you would like to say to them, and to the community?

Anton Yudintsev: First of all, I would like to thank them for playing our game. And for their interest in aviation. And we will keep working on satisfying their needs, like no one else does.

Good luck! Keep your heart hot, your head cool, and your eyes clear!
And let the strongest win.

MACADEMIC: Thank you very much Anton for your time, thank you for bringing us such good news and amazing games! And also, thank you very much for sponsoring our event.

Anton Yudintsev: You are always welcome!

Last edited by MACADEMIC; 02-28-2011 at 01:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-25-2011, 11:12 PM
Zatoichi_Sanjuro Zatoichi_Sanjuro is offline
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Great read, thanks Mac and Anton!

I especially like
Quote:
First of all, not everything could be measured in money.
and
Quote:
Ah, I forgot Heroes over Europe.
I bet the Heroes over Europe Devs want to forget it too!

What was the hint in the WoP trailer, I remember someone saying something about a plane that shouldn't be there.
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:43 AM
The Few The Few is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zatoichi_Sanjuro View Post
What was the hint in the WoP trailer, I remember someone saying something about a plane that shouldn't be there.
I don't recall seeing this trailer before cause I'm sure I would have remembered what shows up 13 seconds in.

http://www.gamershell.com/tv/23130.html
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Old 02-26-2011, 06:16 AM
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bobbysocks bobbysocks is offline
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thank you mac and thank you anton....yes there is a good 360 community waiting as well. a lot of good information here.
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:31 AM
olife olife is offline
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thanks a lot mac and anton!!!
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Old 02-26-2011, 09:35 AM
haitch40 haitch40 is offline
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nice interview.
wish you asked which programming language they used i learned a bit of C# but can only make something asking you to enter a letter and number and make a calculation all in dos.
Anyway its nice to hear from Anton again
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:22 AM
winny winny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zatoichi_Sanjuro View Post
Great read, thanks Mac and Anton!

I especially like and I bet the Heroes over Europe Devs want to forget it too!

What was the hint in the WoP trailer, I remember someone saying something about a plane that shouldn't be there.
I watched it again and there's a curtis kittyhawk flying over the sea with an Island in the background...So, Pacific?
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:31 AM
McQ59 McQ59 is offline
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Cool scoop MAC. Thanks for keeping the community updated
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:56 AM
Buggins Buggins is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winny View Post
I watched it again and there's a curtis kittyhawk flying over the sea with an Island in the background...So, Pacific?
There's a far more obvious clue in the trailer in the link above, a Japanese Zero, sequel is definitely Pacific..
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:06 PM
KAV KAV is offline
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Thanks Mac.

I guess I will have to establish a new room for my BoP gaming from the coming fall...

Do I hear the cows coming home
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