On June 4th, 2013, Tanki Online celebrated its fourth birthday. Many important things have happened, and we have all gained a lot of valuable experience. New game objects and modes have been added. An important event for the project was the introduction of technical support - this brought Tanki Online to a new level. We never stop developing the game and looking into the future. This article is for those who want to know about the past of Tanki Online, and about its origins.
Tanks for Two (late 90s)
About thirteen years ago, there was an ancestor of Tanki Online - a game called Tanks for Two. It was designed as an experiment, by young Anton Volkov (wolf) and Alexander Karpovich (karp) - the founders of AlternativaPlatform and Tanki Online. Small and basic, with graphics that reminded players of old Java-games for mobile phones, and with only a two player mode - it was that simple.
Thanks to this project, the idea of a tank multiplayer shooter was born.
You can find more information about Tanks for Two in an article by Raphael2.
Tanks (late 2008 - early 2009)
2 months before the start of the active development of Tanki Online by the AlternativaPlatform team, they came up with a demo which was supposed to demonstrate the possibilities of the server platform. The code name for the demo was "Tanks". It was a multiplayer action game about tanks based on Flash. The demo was developed using the Alternativa3D 5 graphics engine. Tanks became the prototype of Tanki Online. The garage there was much more diverse than the one in Tanks for Two. Players had a choice of three types of tanks: light, medium and heavy. However, there was only one gun. It required one, two and three hits to destroy light, medium and heavy hull respectively. Tanks had only one map that was actually a single 3D-model (maps in Tanki Online are made of many blocks called props). It also contained water.
Here is an archive video of what the game looked like: The media player is loading...
Closed beta testing of the new game called Tanki Online began on May 8th, 2009. To participate in the testing, it was necessary to send a questionnaire to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is noteworthy that at this point, the game got an award at the Game Developers Conference (GDC 2009) in the category "Best game without a publisher." This clearly shows that the game already received international recognition in the test phase.
Just one month after that, on June 4th, open testing began. A speech by Anton Volkov, in which he invites everyone who is interested to take part in the game's open testing:
Closed testing of our project took almost a month; 600 people participated in it. They found more than 200 bugs, and greatly helped us with their advice and feedback. However, we still had a lot to do at this point: there are bugs, lots of ideas and improvements. In the coming months, we would start to work closely on all of these things.
|— Anton Volkov|
The game was on the main server in the beginning of summer 2009.
The community was just beginning to form itself. Everyone was new to each other. The developers played together with all the other players. Prices were completely different, the game was full of bugs, glitches and lags. In short, one may argue it was total chaos... For example, Firebird had an awfully long visual after-effect on the enemy. This effect only vanished after server restart. Of course, this bug was quickly corrected. Apart from hulls and turrets, it was also possible to change the tank's engine. Various elements of tanks were gradually wearing out. Hulls with each hit they got, turrets from every shot they fired, and the engine got worn out with the distance it covered. Life was difficult for newbies, as everything was wearing out really quickly, and there were not enough funds to constantly repair it. So developers had to give up these elements of gameplay. There were no second generation turrets and hulls, the barrel of Railgun (which was originally called Fear Machine if you didn't know:)) had the length of Wasp, and the damage it did was huge (M0 Railgun had a damage of around 100 HP). During that time, there was only one kind of battle supply - the First Aid kit. The picture on it showed a syringe, instead of the red cross that we'vd gotten used to so much. That's why players that used it were often called druggers, whilst the supply itself was commonly known as a "drug".
At the same time, we started seeing some of the first players practise parkour.
An idea of introducing a racing mode was brought up. A map-maker called Avocado made a map called Monte Carlo that was supposed to become one of the 'racing tracks'. The idea was scrapped, whilst the map remained; it's still quite popular with players.
The Capture the Flag mode was added to the game on July 31st, 2009.
Since then, Tanki Online has changed a lot. and there are now a few things that remind us of this period.
Late 2009 — mid 2010
By this time, the game already had 200,000 players.
That's when the Double Damage, Double Armor, Nitro and Mine supplies were introduced. From that moment, activated supplies were shown on top of players' tanks.
As well as this, the administration started to organize various contests.
Vitamin Group, a partner of AlternativaPlatform, combined Tanki Online with its interactive screen, organizing multi-touch support on Adobe Flash Player 10.1. Here's a video showing it: The media player is loading...
In 2009. the developers decided to create a gun that could damage enemies and heal teammates at the same time. This is how Isida was born. Originally, players could heal themselves using Isida (when shooting). This fact made Isida the most powerful gun, hence unbalancing the game. The game designers were forced to remove this feature as a result. Since then, the turret became the Isida we all know today.
Coming up to Christmas and the New Year, a special gift for all tankmen was released - an experimental version of the Gold Box with 1000 crystals in it (10,000 crystals in today's currency). After that, the value of the box was changed to 100 crystals (now worth 1000 crystals), and it was left in the game.
The physics of the tanks wasn't perfect. There were various bugs in the geometry of levels. For example, there was a so-called UFO effect:
The media player is loading...
The reason was simple: one of props had an invisible element stretching into the sky.
Lots of changes were coming soon. The game already had around 500,000 players at this point. A notable event was the appearance of the first Marshal. His nickname was T7000. The second player to achieve this was a tanker called 777777.
At the end of 2009, AlternativaPlatform started working on a new project called Tanki Online 2.0, while continuing to develop the existing Tanki Online game. This was meant to be an absolutely new product with more realistic graphics, a more user-friendly interface and a whole lot more useful functions (social networks, mobile platform, and so on). However, after a year and a half of development, there was a change of plans, and it was decided to cancel the project and add all the new functions (new server platform, updated graphics, etc.) into the existing version of Tanki Online step by step.
Era of the Second Generation
The name of the period itself explains global changes in Tanki Online. Second generation of weapons and hulls was introduced. They were three hulls: Viking, Hornet and Mammoth and three turrets: Thunder, Ricochet and Freeze.
Many new maps were added. The looks of the game changed significantly. Tanki Online had from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000 active players at that time.
The demand for first generation weapons dropped significantly. There were rumours about a mysterious gun called Shaft.
The Chinese server of Tanki Online was launched in April 2010. Ivan Zykov, the art director of Alternativa platform, said:
The process of preparing Tanki Online for launch in China has almost come to its end. Numerous formalities and difficulties of translation are already behind. According to our Chinese partners, the game will be popular in their country thanks to its simple and dynamic gameplay
|— Ivan Zykov|
On May 7, 2010 Tanki Online became Site of the Day in the Favourite Website Awards
The making of Shaft (2011-2012)
This was the most awaited gun in the history of Tanki Online. The marketing department said that when it was first released, it was bought at a rate of 3 guns per second. The length of the gun was such that if you had it on a Wasp, it would be two times the size of the hull. At first, the Shaft gun had a lot of disadvantages. but the biggest of which was its inability to hold a full charge (it left the barrel as soon as you fully charged the gun). But there was one good point - the damage it dealt. M3 Shaft had a damage of 250!
Then, it was temporarily removed from the game for rebalancing. The updated Shaft was able to hold its charge, but M3 damage was lowered from 250 to 200.
On March 25, 2012, Tanki Online welcomed its 10,000,000th player! His nickname was lYonsl.
The game was getting really popular.
On April 1st, players spotted a strange item in their Garages - the Green Triangle. Lots of speculations were made regarding its origin and purpose. Many thought that it was an element of some quest. Players were even calling battles "Green Triangle".
On February 14th, 2011, a new gun was added to the main servers - the famous Smoky XT. It was more expensive than a standard Smoky and had better parameters. During one week, any player with a rank of Warrant Officer 1 and higher could buy Smoky XT and use it till February 22nd. The next day, Smoky XT's damage was increased and it was decided to keep the gun in the game for two more days. The event got lots of feedback from players (not a surprise as there were no changes like that before). The new gun became a number one discussion topic both in the game and in the forum. At 4:00 (UTC+0) on February 24th, Smoky XT was removed from the game forever.
Update 1.100 (second half of 2012)
September 6th became a really special day for the project, as it brought two of the biggest changes to the game; a new game mode called Control Points, and the new graphics.
3 days after the 1.100 update, we saw the 15,000 ,00th player registering in Tanki Online - his name was adilov.amir.
In the beginning of October, the Tanki Online forum was transferred to a new, more user-friendly engine.
On November 23rd, we saw the removal of the Madness map from the servers, due to its configuration.
December 17th brought us one of the most serious updates - the rebalance. The update changed the characteristics of the turrets, hulls and paints, and their availability according to ranks.
On January 28th, the process of moving the server part of the game to a new platform was completed. This allowed for a significant improvement in terms of engineering. As for changes visible to players, the most important of them was the overall increase of the servers' capacity. Each server is now capable of hosting up to 5000 players.
April 9th brought the ability to remove a player from a team using special voting feature. If a violator entered a TDM, CTF or CP battle and started spoiling the game, he or she could now be removed from the battle by a majority of teammates. A new button appeared next to a player's nickname in the battle stats menu. The more teammates that clicked on it, the higher the chance that that player would be kicked from the battle.
Starting from July 16th, users could see battles in which their friends were present. A new menu had been added to the interface of the game, that was used for sending and receiving friend requests, as well as for browsing through a list of friends' battles. A new context menu had also been introduced. It appeared when you left-clicked on a player's nickname in any place in the game (chat, battle stats, lobby, etc.).
The Friends System has been further improved since. The ability to see the number of the server(s) your friends are on has been added, as well as the feature for inviting your friends to battles. Upon sending a request, the addressee receives a notification and can choose between going to the battle or declining the invitation. Notifications can be disabled in the Settings menu.
The new physics model of the hulls was released on December 11. This was one of the most significant improvements to the game. Thanks to numerous tweaks in the physics engine and various changes in the parameters of the hulls, each of them received its own unique character and new advantages. The overall speed of the game was increased, and consequently, the game became more diverse and dynamic. In addition, some changes were made to certain parameters of turrets. This update marked the beginning of the further balancing of all of the weapons in the game.
December 19th was marked with the introduction of one of the most anticipated updates of 2013 — Micro-upgrades. They allow players to improve certain parameters of turrets, hulls and paints before the next modification becomes available. Fully upgrading one, several or all the parameters of a turret or a hull results in a discount of up to 70% on the next modification.
Alongside the MUs, a rank up effect was added, as well as crystal bonuses for each new rank. As well as this, players received crystals for all their previously achieved ranks. A Generalissimo, for example, received a bonus amounting to 314,000 crystals in total.
- from January 1 till January 14 — New Year celebration in Tanki Online.
- January 31 — global update of Map. Previews of all maps were changed. This update also brought Madness, one of the most famous maps of the game, back.
- February 19 — release of update that minimized the chance of critical errors.
- February 26 — release of the new Tanki Online home page.
- March 20 — Team Kick system was disabled.
- March 25 — release of the update that allowed players to change their equipment right during a battle.
- March 30 — Rio map was introduced to celebrate the launch of Tanki Online's Brazilian server.