The Malaysian Cruiser Warship, the Rahmat will be included in the latest update of World of Warships. To celebrate this occasion, I was lucky enough to speak with Rajeev Girdhar, the executive producer of the game.
Rajeev started gaming from a young age in India before eventually moving to Finland to work on Angry Birds, then Britain to work for Rare on Sea of Thieves before eventually finding a home on the high seas developing World of Warships for Wargaming.
It was a lovely talk, Rajeev told us more about making a battleship, the historical accuracy that was involved, and the developer, Wargaming’s engagement with the Warship-loving community.
World of Warships Malaysian Battleship Rahmat
Of course, the primary reason we were there was to talk about the new Malaysian Cruiser added World of Warships, the Rahmat. We asked Rajeev to tell us a little more about the ship and turns out it’s got quite an interesting development.
“So Rahmat is what we call a ‘what-if’ design. If we go back to history a bit, Malaysia had a frigate called Rahmat. I think Rahmat means grace or God’s divine grace. We chose this name because it is a ship that historically existed and served in Malaysia.”
However since this ship, in reality, was not used in World War II, the Rahmat in-game is based on the British Dido
“It’s what we call a sister ship based on the Dido which was an actual ship that was in service and loaned out to different countries by the UK. This is our imagination based on the idea that the UK may have given the ship to Malaysia and it became part of the Malaysian navy. It would be the Rahmat and it would be named like this.”
We then asked him to tell us a bit more about the development and why the team decided to put a Malaysian ship into World of Warships.
“Malaysia is one of our top 5 countries in SEA. We tend to appeal to countries that are higher up in our list and Malaysia is right up there. We knew a lot of local players would find it very cool that something that represents their country is brought into the game.
So the Rahmat is based partially on speculative history. World of Warships asks what if Malaysia had a warship like this in WWII. This is a game that prides itself on its historical accuracy to the point that they have even posted articles on their website about the different ships and the battles they fought in.
To this point, we asked Rajeev to tell us more about the importance of the ships being accurate even in these What If, scenarios.
“It’s extremely important because we pride ourselves on being the biggest naval E-Museum. The ships that served during the war, after the war, before the war, if they existed, we have tried to model them to the last screw in the metal.
We do recognize that there is a concept of staying honest and accurate to how these ships were and how we represent them in the game, but there are a lot of ships that never existed, there were ships that were half-built, there were ships that were converted from a battleship to an aircraft carrier or there were ships that were still in the concept state.
We try to be historically accurate and honest to what the blueprints (of the ships) were but we also realize that if we live in just this world, we would only have around 150 ships, right now, in the game we have 350 ships. We need to bring a different kind of content, sometimes historically accurate sometimes it’s based on just prototypes or blueprints we get from the archives of different country’s Ministries of Defense. That gives us a lot of flexibility to play around with the content of the game.”
To this end, we asked how long it took to make a ship for World of Warships and how long it took to make the Malaysian Rahmat.
“As crazy as it sounds, depending on the complexity of the ships, the biggest battleships can take up to 6-8 months just to 3D model them. Because you have to build it, layer by layer, armor by armor, gun by gun. Each ship is unique and we have to model everything how was. Of course, we still try to recycle a lot but if the ship has to be done from scratch it can take up to 6-8 months.
Small ships or submarines which don’t have a lot of modeling can take up to 2-3 months. For Rahmat, it took us 3-4 months to build it.”
The Importance of Military Heritage Preservation
Wargaming, if you couldn’t tell in the name has quite the vested interest in realistic War vehicle simulations. In addition to Warships, they have also made World of Tanks and World of Warplanes. All in an effort to preserve a realistic ‘e-museum’ of military heritage.
But they’ve also been involved in real-life military heritage activism, often working with museums and restoration projects to make sure that these old “metal beasts” are not left to fall apart. For example, the team of World of Warships actually organized a Fundraiser to help support the USS Texas, a ship that was in dire need of financial aid. Rajeev told us more about these efforts.
“As a company, we do recognize that we’re successful because these metal beasts existed at one time. Whenever we have a chance to interact with them and preserve them, we do take it seriously.
One of our preservation efforts is the USS Texas. It’s a dreadnought for the American navy, we have it in the game and we came across news that it needed to be dry-docked because the hull was getting thin. There was a lot of coverage, it needed millions of dollars of funding, so we created an in-game event and asked players to donate and we donated ourselves and we raised 4 hundred thousand dollars.
It’s a lot of money but players appreciate it when we have a common passion that is not just passion for the game but the actual ships and that ship is one of a kind in the world and it’s the last of its kind so its a very emotional thing for our player base and for ourselves. We still continue to work with them.
We have also restored a lot of tanks in Europe, whenever we have the opportunity we try to give back to the community and to history, we try to take it”
It’s interesting to see how games interact with the community surrounding them and how they can make changes in the real world.
Seven Years of Warships
Finally, we asked Rajeev to tell us more about how World of Warships as a game and how the community has evolved since it was first launched almost seven years ago in 2015.
“It’s been a long journey and we’re only getting stronger now. We started with two nations in the game and now there are eleven, we have added, removed, and changed a lot. The key to success for our Wargaming titles is longevity, how we keep our players engaged and how we keep them coming back for more stuff.
If you look across the free-to-play industry, you won’t find a lot of games that update as often as we do with fresh content. We update roughly once a month. That means we are creating new content, we have to balance it, we have to create space for it, we have to change certain mechanics. It’s sometimes a headache but it’s a service game, if you look at the World of Tanks, it’s twelve years old and still going strong and we’re only halfway there. There is a lot of internal knowledge sharing on how to run for six more years.
The game has changed a lot but a huge percentage of players that started playing in 2015, you won’t believe it, but they’re still playing now. That’s just a testimony for us to look back and see how we can retain that and still acquire new players.”
He even told us a little more about the main demographic of players in both the West and Asia
“In the west, our average player is in their 40s or at least late 30s. Typically a married male, 98% of our player base is male. He is in employment, has kids and huge percentage only play World of Warships.
In Asia, the average age is between 25 and 30 but the demographic is more or less the same, also mainly male. They’re a student or graduate, getting jobs in IT.
It’s a unique demographic, not a lot of games have 40+ men as their main demographic, and not a lot of games have this feeling that we are the only game they play.”
It certainly is a unique audience but as someone who has always had an interest in history, I can certainly see the appeal of being able to battle with real ships from the past and learning more about what they’ve been through.
World of Warships
It was an absolute pleasure to be able to speak with Rajeev. We’re more than excited about seeing a Malaysian ship in World of Warships and what else the game may bring in the future.
Personally, the thing I found most interesting to learn about in this interview was Wargaming’s activism. With developers always trying to engage with the player, knowing they’ve actively helped preserve the real-life tanks and ships that are the subject of their games feels like a real step forward in how these studios show support to their fans and the wider cultural community they’re apart of. I’d love to see more companies take part in these sorts of activities when appropriate.
World of Warships and its’ latest update are available for PC. A console version of the game called World of Warships: Legends is available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X. A mobile version is also in development.