|Interview: Warbirds' Jay Littman|
November 6, 2001 | Tim Morgan
Following our review of Warbirds III yesterday, today IMG presents an interview with Jay Littman of the iEntertainment Network, publishers of the popular online game.
IMG: First off, introduce us to who you are and what you do at the iEntertainment
JL: I came to iEntertainment Network with several years of experience in the computer game industry. Having been a Producer for Kesmai Studios, Alliance Interactive Software and a Expert Software, I have been involved in the conception and production of a number of those games where the successful player strives to kill more or less everything that is wearing the wrong color hat. (Strategy and technology make this less barbaric than it might sound.) I have produced twenty-eight products and have developed and launched into production Harpoon Online and Air Warrior Macintosh. My current projects include WarBirds III, WarBirds 2.77r3 (Online-Game of the Year 1997, 1998, & 1999 PC Games Magazine, FlightSim.com excellence award for online multiplayer combat simulation 1999), Dawn of Aces (4.5 out of 5 stars, Computer Games/Strategy Plus Magazine), Fighter Ops, Raider Wars, and Shock Force. All games are online massively multiplayer simulations for Windows and the Macintosh environment. I have been a member of the Computer Game Developers Association since 1993. I am a charter member of the International Game Developers Network and the Academy of Interactive Art and Sciences. I earned a BA in business administration with a concentration in management information systems from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Other interests for myself include art, music, sailing, SCUBA diving, and fishing. (This means that I would be interested in these things if I weren’t always busy blowing stuff up on the computer.)
IMG: Tell us about what’s new in WarBirds III from the 2.7.x series.
JL: The graphical and environmental improvements that we created in WarBirds III improved the immersion of flight. While you’re in flight in WarBirds III, you really have the feeling that you’re flying through the online environment. This makes a very big difference in game play. Personally I find the biggest changes come in overall situational awareness.
We’re also introducing a new ground vehicle, the Half-Track. The Half-Track is a mobile anti-aircraft vehicle. This will allow an avenue for new players who have not invested the time to learn how to fly to take part in the game. This will allow us to expand the appeal and market of WarBirds to a new audience. Also, just like bombers, the Half-Track is a chat room where players can drive around the terrain and shoot down passing aircraft while chatting and waiting for another victim. The Half-Track is a new feature and brings new game play and balance to WarBirds.
We’re introducing additional terrain with more countries. We’ll be able to have multiple arenas with a different terrain for each arena. We’ll also be able to have four sides to each arena.
We’re also adding more than twenty new aircraft, many of which will have a new type of cockpit that will allow players to scroll around the cockpit in any direction. We’ve added a new damage model for these aircraft. The amount of parts that a player can shoot off and damage on an aircraft has gone from 32 to 64 uniquely different part groups.
Finally, we’ve added new training features. There is red and green smoke on the left and right wingtips, and students can be added as observers on trainers’ aircraft. This allows for a new observation mode that allows students to see what the instructor is looking at, so that everything the trainer does the student sees.