A Game of the Past, and A Game of the Future


World of Warships (WOWS) is a game published by in September 2015. Combined with World of Tanks and World of Warplanes, which are also published by the same corporation, the three games are known as “War Trilogy” with their fame of accurate modeling, beautiful visual effects, and special efforts of preserving histories of battles from late 19th century to early 20th century. (approximately from WWI to WWII) As a massively multiplayer online first player shooting (MMOFPS) game, its players are role-playing as a commander of a warship who commanded his ship on naval warfare and fight against an enemy fleet with other players together. The game provided three modes at first — random battle, a 12 vs 12 PVP battle mode; coop, a 9 vs 9 PVE battle mode; and a rank mode with an adjustable number of players, from 6 vs 6 to 8 vs 8 in different ranked seasons. From the game version 0.6.6 in July 2017, a major adjustment of battle mode was made with the adding of a new battle mode, scenarios. This type of battle mode was based on true historical battles, such as the Battle of Dunkirk. There are many operations within the scenarios mode which are opened week by week that restrict players’ choices on ship type, ship tier, or the nation of the ship’s belonging. (For most of them, the players are performing as allies or axis.) The scenarios provide players a great chance of experiencing, or, reperforming history with a requirement of the cooperation between the players in the team, as well as the battle tactics and war strategy. For its amazing experience of rejoining history, WOWS stepped into its golden period after 2017 till now with more and more players joining into the game. 


See more introduction of WOWS on Wargaming wiki:

“World of Warships is a naval action MMO, dipping into the world of large-scale sea battles of the first half of the twentieth century. Epic battles rage across the oceans of the world in order to claim victory among teams comprised of the greatest representatives from the era of multi-ton marine giants. In order to achieve victory in battle, players must employ a wide range of strategies in a variety of tactical decisions. Sudden ambushes, cunning flanking attacks, open confrontation and “head-on” assaults — captains must strive to find an ideal way to deliver a decisive blow at the enemy. Tactical diversity in World of Warships comes from the inclusion of many different classes of warships, including: aircraft carriers, capable of providing remote air support and striking targets at extreme range; colossal battleships that project power across vast swaths of ocean; light and heavy cruisers with the capability to quickly respond to changing battlefield conditions; and stealthy, agile destroyers which can be highly effective in group attacks.”


Azur Lane is an RPG game developed by Manjuu and published by Bilibili, with other publishers for different regional game servers. Different from typical gameplay, Azur Lane is a mobile game that focuses on the anime market. Players engage in side-scrolling shooter gameplay with control of a six-member fleet which consists of female moe anthropomorphic characters. Although the characters are drawn in a form of Japanese-style animated characters, their identities are the warships that mainly participated in WWI and WWII. Siren, as the enemy fleet that the players are against to, is an unknown civilization that “invade” the sea on the earth. Under the fear of Siren, humans reunited and built a fleet called “Azur Lane”’ to fight against Siren. “Azur Lane” was a fleet build by technology that humans steal from Siren, which can transform a weapon’s blueprint to a human-like warmachine with the use of “wisdom cube.” After the battle against Siren’s invasion with the result of human’s regaining control over most of the seas, however, humans from different nations and peoples grew conflicts with each other again because of the attitude on dealing with the rest of Siren. The camp/house of Ironblood and the camp/house of Sakura Empire insisted that humans should use the technology left by Siren to grow stronger, while the camp/house of Eagle Union and the camp/house of Royal Navy against that, which led to the human’s split into allies and axis. (Those names are the same as the allies and axis during WWII.) Players as the commander, plays a role of a man who has a special ability on using “wisdom cube,” will decide on which side he should be in and find out the truth of Siren with further battle and struggle — who are Siren, why they came to the earth, were they truly defeated, and what is the truth hind beneath the battlefield. 


See the game background setting on Azur Lane’s official website for English player:

“World View: This is a blue planet, 71% of its surface is covered with water. Human beings were born in this azure blue sea at the very beginning. However, as humanity grew, so did their ever-expanding ambitions. Peaceful times gave way to war and devastation. Finally, a mysterious enemy emerged from the sea. In the face of overwhelming hostile forces, all camps were still fighting each other. The final result was tragic: Humanity lost more than 90% of its control over the sea. People struggle to survive. The fear of the unknown enemy, who drag humanity into the dark abyss of the despair, spread everywhere. Decades later, in order to recapture the once glorious past, the major camps finally decided to unite and created the Azur Lane — a worldwide military organization. The purpose of the Azur Lane is to gather technologies and resources, and share them between all major camps in the world, to fight back the mysterious enemy. Now, everybody has a same goal: to construct a new fleet that can complete with the ‘Sirens’ and regain control of the sea.”


Both WOWS and Azur Lane are now leaders in their market segments. With the shared base of naval background and fame of their gameplays, the two games had already collaborated three times with the publishing of new warships/characters with unique camouflages/paintings. What I wanted to do in this project is to promote a new collaboration between these two games with a totally new design of collaboration: there will be not only camouflages or roles from games, but also a new battle mode which will be added into the scenarios mode of WOWS, with the Azur Lane’s setting of the world. Players of WOWS will perform their role in Azur Lane and find out the truth behind the history and the future in a WOWS battlefield with models built from them.



A Game of the Future Which Was Born in the Current, and A Game of the Past’s Effect on the Current


It is hard to believe that Azur Lane is an SF game when I talked that to some other Azur Lane players as its settings of world view were faded because of its gameplay style and players’ expectation. The game was born in an age of entertainment — after the 21st century, Japanese anime developed into its second stage with a concentration on the “daily life” of humans — which means a non-hardcore performance of historical facts or deep concern on humanity. Light novels became the major sources for most of manga production as well as the anime. Producers who are willing to make a game, anime film, or anime TV series related to the war, killing, or battle followed the trend and transform their products into some other forms, mostly with beautiful covers — Kantai Collection, who is the first one that starts the weapon-animated moe characters, gave the warships a cover of anime with colorful individual personalities of each individual warships. Besides that, as the first one who tried for a bluewater market, Kantai Collection got their source of liabilities from the naval tradition — sailors tend to call their ship as “she/her” instead of “he/him” or “it/its”, although most of the ships are named with a name of man. (For example, the US Navy names their nuclear aircraft carriers in the name of presidents, who are all men till the history of today.) Followed that trend, different kinds of games followed Kantai Collection, with the transformation of warships, warplanes, tanks, or guns into moe anime characters, which was called as an “age of everything can be moe.” As one of its followers, Azur Lane differentiated from its competitors with its highlights on carefully painted characters, independent settings based on an SF background, and its unique system of battle. If a player is interested in the scene, then he or she has to explore in his or her own way. Some players who just care about the anime figures may skip the plots during their game, however, some others who have not will find out the hardcore SF background behind those plots. From this perspective, Azur Lane provides those who surrounded by the “age of everything can be moe” with an alternative of exploring SF — basic questions like who are we, where did we from, and what this world is are promoted within the game, by the mouth of anime figures. In other words, those anime figures within the game may have thought philosophically more than those players like us who lived in this age.


WOWS is a game that provides its players with a touch of history. When a time faded, and veterans of WWII had died one by one, that history of the great war was forgotten, piece by piece like the autumn leaves. Heroes may have already been forgotten, and historical nihilism spread everywhere with the rise up of populism, racism, new fascism, new colonialism, unlearning, and hate, WOWS cherished them with careful records and sophisticated rebuilds. WOWS also published a series of documentaries with visits to any point which related to the WWI and WWII, including those batteries and forts abandoned as well as the contribution to military museums in the US as well as some others in the world. In the game, players have ability to touch those forgotten histories and experience the hard-fought victory of those wars, both for fun and for the remembering of the historical events. By combining Azur Lane and the WOWS, players will not only see the history, but also the future. Will history happen again in somedays in the future?



A Metaphor


The setting of Azur Lane, in my interpretation, was similar to Prometheus and the Alien: Covenant. Prometheus, as the fifth of the Alien series explained the history of humans in its setting and the Alien: Covenant, as the sixth of the Alien series expected the rehappening of that history. In Azur Lane, players will gradually find out that the Siren as the enemy, may are humans themselves but centuries after the current age. Siren used a certain technology to come back to this age to review the human’s history and examine the different result with that special man — the commander who was roleplayed by the player, for a purpose of solving their own problems in the future. People who live in the current world was actually treated as petri dish in a biological lab — their seas was “mirrored” so that Siren can divide them up into several regions for checking the status of time-grilling. Even when the war between the allies and axis broke out, Siren also sent their members to record and check behind the darkness. In Azur Lane, figures from Sakura Empire called Siren as kami, which means the god. However, they are just cruel viewers who disturb the world orders to try a different result, time by time.


In my project, that kind of metaphor will be explained into WOWS scene with battle in the scenarios form. Players have chances to examine themselves by combining together as a fleet and go deep into the ocean to find out the truth that Siren hid. Although the truth sometimes may be cruel if the script was written that human’s destiny was going into the dust and the earth will finally be vanished to players who had explored so hard, they will have a chance to consider, what is a more valuable way for human and the comparison between the human’s history and the universe’s and how our activities now will influence our fortune in the future.



The Plan


First thing first. What I am going to do is a script for collaboration and the major events are done in the WOWS, thus I will introduce the scene description and mode of battle.


For a better understanding of Azur Lane’s setting, I will review some of the scenes in Azur Lane and translated them into a WOWS scene.


I also need to define a special operation, or more, for the adaption into WOWS battle mode.


The last thing is about the game. A game should have a completed system on gameplay and rewards, instead of a pure text genre of fiction. How should I visualize them and provide the player a great experience of enjoying their game? These are questions that need to be answered.