Status Report: How Himmelsdorf was built
this time, we will have a look at how Himmelsdorf was built, based on an interview with Aleksandr Shilyaev, the Wargaming director of global operations for meta-games and mobile products.
The idea to create Himmelsdorf came because after Karelia, Prokhorovka and Malinovka, the game needed a city map. Style-wise, the map resembled the armored clashes that took place late in the war in Berlin for example. As the first city map, it was a challenge as for example the building production had to be optimized (streamlined). After Himmelsdorf, all the other city maps were easier to make as the process was already there.
There is no "Himmelsdorf" in real life. The map uses elements from several places but it is overall based on the mapmaker artists' fantasy. It was designed for comfortable gameplay, not realism. The map was originally supposed to be called "Khrensdorf" (a Russian joke, "khren" means horseraddish but also "nonsense") but there were issues with the localization of this name and it was changed to "Himmelsdorf" instead. After this map, the developers started working on its Soviet-themed counterpart, the result of which became Ensk.
The map was not themed to be exactly German, it was supposed to be simply European. That's why the developers, who visited Europe in the past brought their photos and those photos became the basis of the buildings and design of the map. Since the tourists photographed mostly known buildings, it turned out however that what the developers thought as "typical" European architecture was in fact something unique - for example the red "town hall" on the map is in fact the Royal Palace in Warsaw. The horse statue was taken from the Hohenzollern bridge in Köln (respectively old pictures of it).
Warsaw palace versus the building in the game:
The details on the map (like signs and such) were taken exclusively from old photos to make them as realistic as possible.
The first thing that was created for the map was the symmetry principle and after that, the developers began to fill it with content. Identical houses would look boring and that's why the houses have different heights for example - plus there are landmarks so players orientate themselves easily. On one side, it's the church, on the other side it's the above mentioned town hall. In order to make the parts more distinctive, the church side has a typical European housing while the other side has more like "Third Reich" type of architecture (more like an office district).
Himmelsdorf base - resources used:
The castle - resources used:
Town center - resources used:
The railway station - resources used:
The first version of Himmelsdorf appeared during the beta testing of WoT and the "houses" consisted of textureless boxes.It was only gradually that the map was filled with textures and other elements. The lighting proved to be a challenge - to make it look natural without interfering with the gameplay. At one point, one part of players drove against the sun while the other team had the sun in their back. This was not ideal and after consulting the player statistics and feedback, it was decided to simply leave the sun on one of the sides for both teams to have equal chance.
Himmelsdorf content (house models) was made with its further re-use in mind for other maps. The set of houses, developed for Himmelsdorf could then be later re-used for faster map creation and appears in many locations that were added later.