Developer Diaries: The Offspring and Tank Festival
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Developer Diaries: The Offspring and Tank Festival


New modes, Dog Tags, mini-
games and an in-game concert: the celebration for
World of Tanks’ birthday has become an
unusual large-scale event. Why has the 9th anniversary been
celebrated on such a grand scale? How did The Offspring end up in the game? How did the Pretty Fly tank turn
out and what’s unique about it? Sit back, we’ll
tell you everything. The festival coincided with
the birthday of World of Tanks. We wanted to do something new.
We wanted players to learn more about the country that
World of Tanks originated in. Therefore, the in-game hangar
is located in a park in Minsk. All while telling a story and giving players a real celebration
for the birthday of World of Tanks. Nine years, it’s strange: it’s
not yet ten, but more than five. How do you mark it? Well,
it’s still a significant milestone. And accordingly, the festival
was an event that was new and would grab players’ attention.
And there was plenty of new additions. Dog Tags, the new Steel Hunter
mode, a new Frontline Map, the release of
a Tier Nine reward tank and it’s all been capped off with the
return of a fan favorite, Tank Races. We discussed what we could add to make
the festival as atmospheric as possible. And of course,
the word, festival, immediately brings
the notion of a rock festival. But even when a festival
is not directly related to music, it’s normally there
in one way or another. At any festival, there’s
always some sort of headliner. And we understood
we needed one. We started working on finding
a headliner for Tank Festival at the end of 2018. We had a shortlist of about 30 bands,
and The Offspring was at the top. To me, The Offspring
share the same spirit as our players
as well as our game. When we spoke to the band, we didn’t have to explain
what kind of game it was. They were eager, they wanted to
know more about our plan of action. We realized then that they
were the right band to headline! Yeah, we did a festival for World
of Tanks a couple of years ago, a few years ago now. And that was the first time I’d actually
heard of World of Tanks and Wargaming. So, I guess we known about it for
about 5 years now. Something like that. At the start, we weren’t sure
what the Tank Festival headliner was supposed
to do, but we knew that we wanted to use the band’s
music in the game, one way or another. We considered
the possibility of adding some kind of
concert recordings and clips. But in the end, it became clear that
concert recordings or music videos, well, fans can see
these anytime, elsewhere. But some unique content
with mocap technology, that would be something
special for our players. When we chose
The Offspring, we didn’t imagine how big
our partnership would become. They were
just so motivated that what plans we discussed with
them, they generally agreed to it. So with our imagination running wild,
we pitched even more ideas to them. When we decided to suggest the idea
of a virtual concert, they said yes. After that, we weren’t
constraining ourselves and you can see
exactly what happened. When we talked
with the band, we had to describe how it would
be epic, cool, and interesting, but we didn’t have any drawings
or illustrations to show them. However, without
the concept art, there was still something
trustworthy in what we were pitching. The band really
liked our idea even though they didn’t
know how it would end up; they liked it so much, they replied that
they were interested in working with us. I don’t know what kind
of expectations we had. It was really kind of, it was a little
bit of a leap of faith, you know. What we had seen, it looked
like a really cool, you know, cool medium, cool game. So, we thought
this could really be fun, but I don’t know
if we had any expectations. I just think that it’s cool the way
they’ve taken the idea of collaboration between a band
and the game, and just try to explore lots of
different things that you could do. Like a concert was
a natural thing to try and, well, it almost sounded
strange at first, going: “so you’re going to do animated
version of us and concert?” When I saw the finished
product, I thought it was great. Virtual concerts are
a relatively new concept. We wanted it to be
as detailed as possible. We wanted to make
animations for the entire song, not just sections which are looped
and to do this for each band member. We haven’t tackled projects
of this scale, length, and sheer amount
of content before. The concert in the garage lasts about
10 minutes. The setlist is 5 songs long. The songs were chosen together
with the band and the audio team, who were responsible for
the musical accompaniment. I think we went back
and forth a little bit. They had requested a bunch
of songs and we came back with stuff we wanted to be included
and stuff and sort of settled on it. But you know we wanted it
to be some of our best songs. Some of the songs that people…
are the most well-known. That’s kind where
we ended up I guess. While the team and the
band were choosing songs, the artists had already started
work on the 3D models. Well, it all started
with asking the guys exactly how they wanted to look
when performing in the game. We chose and based on pretty much
what we wear on stage, you know. I took photos of what I’ll be
wearing on stage tonight actually. And sent it to them, we took pictures
of our tattoos and sent that in. Different shots of our heads so they
could get it from different angles. Yeah, that was another great thing
about working with World of Tanks is that they really
pay attention to detail. They saw what
we were wearing and wanted to make it look just like
the way we are in real life and stuff and, like he said,
taking pictures of everything and really trying to
make it look like it’s really us. We addressed the musicians
directly, and they helped us out. The guys made tons of selfies
while on tour, from different angles. They were also
photobombing each other often, so judging by the
photos it was fun for them. So yes, they provided us with
everything we had asked for and we could feel
they were engaged. While creating
models we kept in mind that they would be demonstrated
from the distance of 8 meters. Yeah, yeah, I look way better
CGI than I do in real life, I think. A lot more interesting. I’m gonna make sure that all my
friends have it for their phones so when I call it’s gonna be the CGI
of me, right, so that’s really cool. So I’m gonna use it for my
avatar on all social media. Along with creating the models,
we prepared to record the band’s movements using
motion-capture technology. With the idea of recreating
a concert using mocapping, you evidently face the necessity
of using professional actors so that movements
seem natural. At least, you need to be able
to play an instrument convincingly. So yeah, you
need to find actors. In our case, preferably
with a musical background. We involved professional actors to shoot
the basis of the in-game animations. The band’s role was to
watch it back and let us know if the actions performed
by their “doubles” were natural. I must admit that the actors
involved in the motion-capture were well prepared for filming. When we arrived at the set,
they took their places on stage, tuned their instruments and
started gearing up to play live. When we brought out the speakers and
turned on the music, they were shocked. In fact, the drummer came over
to me saying: “What? Music?”. It was my turn
to be astounded. Fancy that, they had learned to play all
the songs that needed to be recorded as they were 100 percent sure
that there would be no music. They had no idea that
they were just supposed to pretend to play and open
their mouths, articulating words. Given their
level of preparation, it’s no surprise that the
shooting process was a breeze. After we were
done with mocapping, our artists we challenged with
refining the animations manually and smoothing the
transitions between gestures. After three weeks of toil, we had
the draft version of the concert. Up until this point, things
couldn’t have gone better. No delays, everything was
great. We were on schedule. And then… Well,
the problems all started when I tried to export the animations
and integrate them into the game. This is when I faced a most
ridiculous technical obstacle. Fancy that, the animations for our New
Year event were 20 to 22 MB in total, but a single song for this
in-game show amounted to 1.5 GB. And that doesn’t include guitars,
stage lighting and other items. So, obviously these 5 songs
can’t fit the limit of about 60 MB. The worst thing was that when
this obstacle presented itself we had only three weeks
to go before launch. All was ready.
The feature was fully implemented. The posts announcing The Offspring’s
show in the garage has been released. No way back. But still,
the songs just wouldn’t fit! In a nutshell, we exerted
all efforts and ways, eventually managing to squeeze the
whole concert into a 65-megabyte limit, instead of the initial
1.5 gigabytes for a song. I must express a huge and sincere
thank you to all our technical guys, programmers, and to our
animation team, in particular. Together, we succeeded and made this
colossal project work as it was meant to. After we gathered together all the
captured movements, final animations and the songs that had
been recorded in a studio and later processed in a special manner,
it turned out that something was missing. Watching the recorded
animation was fun but you didn’t get the
chills of a true concert. The animated characters moved
like real, the sound was authentic, the lighting was on point, every
single thing was fine individually. But combined they failed to deliver
an experience of a live show. Initially, we tried to use
the noise of a crowd watching a match or some
other big sports event. But when added to
the video, the result was… well… far from
what we expected. So, we decided
to record the noise produced by a real
crowd at a real concert to render our animated
in-game show sound authentic. At this point,
we somehow found out that The Offspring were on
their European tour at the time. It was like “eureka”—
why not witness a real show and record the actual
crowd’s noise on-site? Maybe we might even record
them chanting: “Offspring!” So we packed quickly and headed off
to Finland just to attend their show. Basically, we boarded the plane, did
some recording at the gig and flew back. After we added this
recording to the video, the unanimous reaction was:
“Yes, this is the show!”. And I must say that several
weeks before the release I kept watching it over and over,
switching between cameras and enjoying the way
the whole thing worked. We decided to show the video to
the band in portions, step by step, to ensure they like how
they look, how they move, how their instruments
are designed, all the details, from clothes and hair to
the expressions on their faces. By doing this we
really let the band get “accustomed” to their
first in-game concert gradually, in the smoothest
way possible. And when we sent
them the final version, their first reaction
was: “Amazing!” Yeah, I mean it’s…
You know it’s just… It’s fun for us to see
us animated like that. You know I think I’m
pretty animated to begin with. You are. Yeah. To see them take us and make
kind of CGI characters out of us has really been a lot of fun. Many players reacted to the
video in ways that we as a team who had worked on the
project are really proud to hear. Gratitude, joy, their
comments are brimming with it. Many point out that The Offspring
are one of their favorite bands, that they still
remember their songs and have been fans
since as early as the 90s. And of course, such
feedback in turn fills us with joy. We decided not to limit the
collaboration to a virtual concert and asked The Offspring to headline the
live show at Wargaming Fest in Minsk. It’s a little different playing outdoors
in a park, that sort of setting. It’s not something
that we do every day. But we’ve played in Minsk
here before a few times I think and we’ve always
had really great shows. The in-game concert might have
been available for just a few weeks, but we knew
that our players would want to keep The Offspring
in their garages forever. So, we gave the band
their own virtual tank. Such an extension of our
partnership seemed logical. However, we faced some
questions from The Offspring when we first
pitched the concept. The band had plenty of questions, but
the main thing they wanted to know was what type of tank will we
be driving and is it punk rock? They didn’t just
leave it up to us, they wanted to be as involved
in the process as possible. As a pioneering punk band, we knew their tank couldn’t
be slow or rely on standing still. It had to be something agile,
able to deal some serious damage, and most importantly,
be fun to play. The tank we chose perfectly fit
the mold: an American-made vehicle you can take for an enjoyable
ride, all with a punk rock ethos. We suggested that the tank
could also double as a stage and real instruments would
be featured on the exterior. These instruments
were replicated from the exact equipment
the band uses at live shows. Dexter and Noodles
both have unique guitars. Noodles has an old one, wrapped
in duct tape or something similar. He uses it on stage
to shred some specific solos, so he doesn’t
play it all the time. It’s a vulnerable instrument, and you
can see he’s had it for a long time, it’s worn down in areas. Initially we didn’t intend
to put that guitar on the tank, but I suggested that it was
the one; it just looks picturesque. A new guitar is a bit too plain,
whereas an old one like this looks like it’s his, it’s been played,
repaired and played again, and really conveys
the spirit of the band. It’s pretty much the same for Dexter’s
guitar, the one with rugged coating. He also doesn’t
play it at every show, but he brings it out for
some special guitar work. Also, there are fire
extinguishers on the tank because The Offspring are known to
douse crowds with them at their shows. Once we were decided on
the concept of a ‘mobile stage’, certain elements
came together. It became clear that
the tank should feature a mixing console, some
monitors, guitars, etc., all wired up. So, we tried to connect every
piece of equipment with the turret where all the
cables came from. It wasn’t just a case of dumping
a pile of stuff on the tank, it was about arranging everything
so it looked good as a whole. We made it look as realistic as
possible, with help from the band. Like, if the drummer enters from here
then he won’t be able to get there, and if the bassist crawls out
from here and his bass is there, he can take it from the
rack, sit down, and play. We wanted to incorporate the
band’s instruments on the tank. We were trying to figure out a cool way
to do that and so we went back and forth. And they had
a lot of great ideas. And we came up with
this sort of as a collaboration. Yeah, we did work
with the designers, they weren’t sure how
to have the guitars on the tank. We said let’s make them
kind of point forward, make ‘em look like
weapons as well, you know. We call guitars axes,
so they are kinda like a weapon. So it is a weapon.
That’s a good point. So we tried to make it look
as much you know like that, as well as obviously
it is our musical equipment. And you know, those are
our actual guitars that we have. While discussing the scope
of our partnership with the band, we were hoping
to get them in the game. We knew it was possible in
the form of a special tank Crew, but then we realized that
a unique tank was also an option, and that it could be
highly customized. When we came up with
the ‘mobile stage’ concept, we understood that it should
feature musical instruments. Also, if The Offspring
were a tank crew, they might as well use
the members’ actual voices. It all kind of snowballed
into a complete vision of a certain in-game
avatar of the entire band. The Offspring recorded
their voices in their LA studio. We created a script for them
with every single phrase needed but also asked them to improvise
and make some fun lines of their own. And improvise they did! It wasn’t an easy task, they had to speak after
each other in rapid succession, repeating the same
lines several times. They experimented
with different deliveries, and sometimes in
a more humorous way. So, we decided to add
the laughs to the game too. It was really funny. We would
do each line like a few times to try to get it right or get
the right emotion, I guess. Yeah, or different examples too. And there is kind of an art to doing
voiceovers on these games, right? There’s a certain cadence,
a certain energy level. Like you wanna give
an example or something? Like you go over a bump, like
“Woahhh!” “Woooaaah!” “Woooah!” Try different ways, right?
A lot of different examples, right? It’s called acting.
Acting, yeah. “Noodles, the turret is jammed”,
“The turret is jammed”. Stuff like that, you know. With our collaboration with
The Offspring based on music, it was very natural to introduce
something completely new— a remix of “The Kids Aren’t
Alright” specifically for the tank. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” is just
a good straight-forward rock one so maybe that’s
good when you’re… It’s like a good driving song…
It’s a good driving song, exactly. I mean the idea of putting our music
in as background music to the game is even better. I think
it adds to the experience. It’s just so cool to have that
be a part of the game, the music. If I rode any tank into battle and
heard the same song every time, I’m sure I’d get sick of it. In fact, I’d probably
switch to another vehicle. So, we decided to create not one,
but three Tanks-style remixes. Three completely
different versions which play randomly
at the start of battle. Our team doing the remixes
was a little bit surprised when the first take got approval
from The Offspring guys. The band absolutely
loved the remixes. It all went really smoothly. Our collaboration with
The Offspring went so well that we didn’t receive
a single change request. We just put those remixes together,
showed them to the band, and they said, “Great job!” Along with
providing their voices, the band members took part
in a video to their unique tank. The shoot was pure fun. The Offspring
guys enjoyed themselves so much. Of course, it was a unique
experience for them. We expected the band to have more
questions about how we’d do this. Like when they say
“We’re in a tank” but in fact you are sitting on a chair
with a green screen behind you. Only the final product
will convey the story. And we didn’t expect
them to perform so well… Well first of all, having
played games, you know, and kind of knowing how the voices
are for different things that helped. And also we kind of tried
to imagine ourselves in a tank and how we would feel,
you know… In the moment… Blowing each other up. Of course, it’s a game, it’s not
really blowing each other up, which makes
it easier, you know. I thought it was hilarious, it was a crazy idea, was
funny and really interesting. It was all green screen, so we were
sitting literally on a chair like this, with the green
screen behind us. And so we had to pretend
we were in this tank, but I’ve seen some of the
footage since and it looks rad… Looks great. Looks really
cool. It’s really well done. The Pretty Fly tank turned out
to be completely punk rock: daring, loud, dangerous. Now The Offspring will be
in World of Tanks for good! We assumed it would be nice
to make something unique but we didn’t expect
the tank to be THIS cool— with the band jumping
in to become its crew and lending their voices and tracks
to us, it just made it extra special! Bands are often busy,
and The Offspring were on tour, some of them
were in America, and the approval process
could have taken a lot of time, yet we managed to do
everything quickly and easily and without having to remake
and rework lots of things. We did more
than we planned because it was such a breeze when we
collaborated, and we aimed for the best. And the tank fully corresponds
to the band’s image and spirit. It’s very fast, it can
cause a stir on one flank, then move to another
and rock out there! If you’re playing a tank game,
you gonna be aggressive and there’s definitely a lot
of aggression in punk rock. I think they fit
together very well. They fit together very well.
It’s an adrenaline kind of thing. It looks exactly like our stuff
looks and it looks very punk rock. Think it’s very cool.
Made us laugh when we saw it. The Offspring collaboration became
massive, just like the entire festival. Next year, it’s going to be
even bigger and better, but before that, players will have
many surprises to look forward to. We’ll definitely work with Wargaming
again and World of Tanks or any game that they wanna do.
We have lot of fun on this, for sure. Well, we’re not really wrapping
up our The Offspring collab. We still have lots
in store for our players.

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