Dev Diaries: Clans
In the second issue of Developer Diaries, we will talk about the clan system in detail. We will also try to lift the veil on the clan system development. We asked the project manager, Dmitry Poliyakov, to help us untangle the complicated development process, understand the decisions made, and share some interesting numbers.
What is a clan?
Players’ and developers’ answers may differ. Let’s take a look at the picture below to get an idea how.
For the player, a clan is a community of like-minded people, where they can find a team, communicate, receive some bonuses and discounts, or even create “political intrigue". If a clan has also had a few great victories in its past, its members have a kind of glorious history that makes them feel like they are a part of something great.
At the same time, it’s all a little different when it comes to creating, from scratch, a clan system that players would love. Developers need the clan to:
- Increase the number of the player’s friends and encourage team play
- Motivate the players to play regularly by means of giving them various bonuses (obviously, the developers want their game to be played)
- Encourage players to promote the clan’s cause: increase effectiveness; value battle statistics and records, become an attractive clan for other players and make the players feel like they are important to the clan
- Train tournament players and professional eSports players in the long run.
So, as you can see, players and developers have basically the same aims, but players have a more advantageous position as they make the final call on whether the developers did a good job. In order to fulfil their tasks successfully, developers need to understand how players act in projects with clan systems.
From a Newbie to a Pro
In a project that initially features clans and cybersport activities, new players see what they can achieve and what they have to do for it from the very beginning. Here is how the path from a newbie to a pro usually looks like:
Learner ⇒ Random Battle Player ⇒ Clan Player ⇒ eSports Player
However, making it through all the steps is not obligatory for the player - everyone reaches a level they are comfortable with. The higher the level, the fewer the players that reach it.
These players have just installed the game and are trying it out. They are not really interested in clans or tournaments: they are still deciding whether to play the game or not.
- Random Battle Players
They are learning the basic game processes, mechanics and tricks. They also see clan players in random battles, read news about clan bonuses and competitions and may be thinking about searching for their own team.
- Clan Players
In a clan, the player makes friends with people that have common interests and goals. Competitive spirit appears both inside the clan and between different clans. The competitiveness reaches its highest point in cybersports.
- eSports Players
Their goal is not the game itself, but a confrontation against a deserving opponent. They are interested in not only solid teamplay, but also a well-directed struggle for impressive cash and physical tournament prizes.
As a rule, a clan is entertainment for those who have learnt the game in detail and can tell you everything about it. We think that it would be wrong to create the whole clan system for only this small section of players and we will explain why.
So What about Clan Wars?
Despite their different interests, all groups of World of Tanks Blitz players have one thing in common: they know exactly what to expect from their next gaming session, and they know what to do in battle and in the Garage.
Imagine if we sat in our offices and spent a long time creating amazing clan features, tournaments or even the Global Map, thinking over different types of ratings and ways for players to compete with each other, launching this all triumphantly and then… nobody plays it. Months of development, enormous amount of resources—and then a failure. This would not only be a waste of time, but also a waste of your loyalty.
Let’s say the early statistics we gathered showed that there were too few people online at the same time in most clans. This probably means that nobody would play clan battles even if we launched them, because players would have to wait too long for the enemy team. This is the essence of mobile platforms: you play when you have a minute and not by a schedule.
We don’t want to repeat the mistake of many online games by creating an overwhelming clan system. Sooner or later, each of those systems becomes a closed ecosystem that’s almost impossible for new players to join. At that moment, the clan system is useless and doesn’t bring any joy to most of the player base.
Our task is not just to launch the clans, but to create something interesting for all players and make the boundaries between the game levels accessible for everyone who wants to enhance their skills.
It can all be achieved by gradual introduction of clan functionality, which, in turn, would help us to kill two birds with one stone:
- Bird One: A gradual clan system development makes it much more open for all players independent of their experience and game level.
- Bird Two: We monitor the statistics for popularity and usability of each clan system element and gather information about players’ experiences. We fix bugs and develop successful features in the following updates.
World of Tanks Blitz is one of the first mobile games that offers a truly comprehensive multiplayer online experience. We are pioneers of this genre on mobile devices, so it is very important for us to stick to the rule “measure thrice and cut once”.
Now that you know all the ins and outs, we will show you the main steps of clan development up to this moment from the developers’ perspective. First of all, the Mighty Statistics that affect so many decisions.
Introduction of Clans
The first version of clans was quite simple. You were able to create a clan, give it a name and select one of the suggested logos. But we knew that there was a tremendous demand for an alliance option - the most vivid evidence of that was the clan section on the forum, where players established their own clan system.
So, the fast growth of the number of clans and clan players was not a surprise. A week after the release of clans, the number of active clan players was close to 200,000. Now, the weekly statistics for active clan players exceeds half a million.
Autorecruiting and Open Clans
The solid start for the clan system didn’t mean that the audience was ready for simultaneous battles. Moreover, the system itself still required comprehensive improvements.
For example, it was necessary to simplify the search for a suitable clan: in most cases an application from an average player was declined. Who would want to play in a clan after being refused several times?
To solve this problem, we introduced autorecruiting and displayed a list of suitable clans to the player. These measures considerably changed the picture. Now over one-third of all clan members are admitted via autorecruiting.
It turned out that there were too few opportunities for players and clans to find each other. And most of the clans set rather low requirements for their members.
More than 50% of the clans set requirements suitable for 60–80% of the game’s audience.
The other significant advantage of autorecruiting is how quickly a clan can be filled. The number of large clans with autorecruiting exceeds the number of large clans without it by 5 times.
Of course, admitting players without an interview or trial is associated with certain risks. But that’s the mission of a clan commander: to reasonably manage military personnel and create a successful clan from a motley crowd.
Simple Objective: Supply
We understood very clearly that a clan won’t exist for long if its members have no objectives. The pilot objective was the first clan competition based on the collected statistics. It was quite intense: there was some room for drama, political intrigue and fierce discussions.
But, as you may remember, a clan should be interesting and useful for more than just hardcore players, but also for tankers who only play a few battles. So, the first true objective for clans has to be more than just a fight against each other, but a struggle for their own well-being: the Supply system.
Constant discounts on consumables, equipment and other bonuses are a perk for clan membership that any player can use. It is a mutually beneficial cooperation: earn experience for the clan and receive bonuses for Personal access points.
First of all, Supply influences the activity of clan leaders, not ordinary players: the higher the unlocked Supply level, the more advantages the clan has.
The number of invites sent, grouped by clan, doubled after the introduction of the Supply system, and the peak number of invites sent exceeded 100,000 per week. We expect that the race for military personnel will be renewed with the release of the final version of Supply - the reward for Supply Level X will be very tempting.
Training on the Horizon!
The magic Training button in the game menu has been talked about for quite a while. And players felt righteous indignation when they were unable to enter training battles that were already added to the game, but still unavailable.
But, leaks of different kinds contained incomplete information. That’s right, the possibility of entering a training battle existed for quite a while, but it was only a technical tool for internal use - it wasn’t about the usability of interfaces and room settings at all.
Training rooms are an option for independently organising a tournament and fighting in a clan for the first time in the history of Blitz. Will you be able to assemble a full match for 7v7 battles?
At this point, we have worked through the interfaces and tested them with players. Now, we are glad to announce that the first version of training rooms will be released in Update 2.9!
If you have been reading this article carefully, you already know what’s next:
- We will see what you think of training rooms.
- Then we will focus on fixing any issues found.
- And, the most importantly, we will find out whether clan players can assemble a full match for training battles or not.
If everything goes well, we will proceed with the development of the competition component. For now, be ready to fight each other in training rooms. We will prepare a detailed review of the new feature very soon. Stay tuned!