Clear Sky Info Influx

By Jim Rossignol on June 16th, 2008 at 8:21 pm.


The image above is from this gallery over at Strategy Informer, which is packed with similar lavish glimpses of the forthcoming Stalker prequel. It seems to be showing off some of the new areas, as well as suggesting a level of detail that will cause my graphics card to shudder and slowly die. Elsewhere, our Eurogamer chums have had a long chat with Oleg Yavorsky, the GSC team’s primary spokesman. He says a good deal about the new game, and also talks about the failings of the original game. He blames this in part on the reticence of the US audience in taking to the game, which he sees a fundamental cultural divide.

It seems that to appeal to North America you need really flashy, bright games, and you can see that every eastern European game is very dark. In the end, I guess this just comes down to our culture and history – we’re just different people, and that’s that.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is due out on 29th August.

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36 Comments »

  1. Homunculus says:

    The highlighted quote reminds me of the recent reports of Gothic 4′s textures coming in two flavours, the brighter of which was intended for the North American market. I vaguely recall regarding it slightly dismissively, but perhaps there was something in it after all.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    You mean bright, flashy games like the other mud-coloured FPSs? There is definitely a different feel to STALKER compared to Western games, though, but it’s more part of the atmosphere than the look.

  3. MasterBoo says:

    So true. We need more serious European developers.

  4. Noc says:

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is out . . .

    Damnit! I thought you guys had sworn off the periods months ago.

    Way to fall off the wagon, RPS.

  5. Bartek says:

    The quote is pretty much right on.

  6. Him says:

    I thought those were ‘full stops’, not periods. Or have our benevolent tea-drinking overlords been replaced in some kind of fancy-dress coup attempt by benevolent coffee-drinking overlords with a predilection towards dropping ‘unneccesary’ letters?

    Regarding Clear Sky, I’m quite anticipating it – I thought that STALKER was an underground hero, and all the more surprising given its tortured birth.

  7. Pavel says:

    I love this company and this game.I have been waiting for Stalker all those 6 years, ever since the first trailer, and when it came out, I finished it immediately.And after upgrade once more.And Clear Sky is my second most anticipated game this year, after Fallout 3 – but unlike with Fallout 3, in case of Clear Sky I feel confident that GSC will not let me down.

  8. Seniath says:

    I never did finish S.T.A.L.K.E.R., but I’m still looking forward to this, the tech demo looked very impressive.

  9. Marcin says:

    Or maybe it was an overhyped, buggy, inexplicably poorly performing and hideously difficult game at launch? ;)

    Now to actually RTFA …

    Edit: and back. You know, I’m really skeptical that they had the AI as active as they claim. The final game seems to rely very heavily on set-path and set-location respawns in order to keep the world feel like things are going on. Surely they could have left just a few “ALifers” on to purposefully wander around and stir things up. Right now, after memorizing what the layouts of the zones are, I can easily avoid all conflict because no NPCs will ever stray from their paths.

  10. jbrandt says:

    I love the weird, dark look of Eastern European games. I’ve spent so much time poking around US and Western European games that I’m really pretty tired of the standard sorts of settings you get in those.

    Eastern European and Russian games have a definite feel to them. I even played Pathologic a bit, and although it’s an incredibly frustrating game, I kept going back to it for the sake of the atmosphere. (Eventually I’ll play it again, too. Just not for a while.)

  11. Deuteronomy says:

    As far as I’m concerned SOC was Game of the Year 2007. Nothing else even came close. Obviously I’m waiting for Clear Sky with great anticipation.

    Oh and Jim, I’m this close to buying you a freaking 3870 to shut you up about melting video cards.

  12. Kareem says:

    Does anyone know if the game is an expandalone? I’d like to pick it up on Steam but I have the boxed copy of STALKER.

    I am saddened every time I read about STALKER because I really wanted to enjoy it, but I kept encountering quest bugs that prevented me from even getting through the initial starting area. What a shame.

  13. Kast says:

    Kareem – Clear Sky is a seperate entity from Stalker, I believe. You don’t need any previous version to play.

    Hmm, Americans prefering brighter colours? Why, I didn’t notice any brighter colours in Saving Private Ryan. Nor in the Matrix. Then why in games? Perhaps they should take their sunglasses off! (and stop wearing baggy coats that make them look bigger than they really are)

  14. Kareem says:

    Thanks for the info, Kast.

    Didn’t the Gothic devs say they were also going for different color palettes with the US and EU versions of their upcoming game?

  15. Martin K says:

    Yawn. Very pretty. Now, if only they knew how to make a game that plays as well as it has a tendency to look.

  16. Deuteronomy says:

    Martin, ok, give us an example of an FPS that played ‘well’.

  17. Erlam says:

    I hope I can get the non-Americ- I mean “North American” version.

  18. Duoae says:

    Just to all the people going on about the “flashy, bright games” comment. I believe that the developer means in tone not colours. There are plenty of western games that are dark and gritty… but very few that are bleak and devoid of pretty much any hope for the characters trapped within. Even a brief look at Hollywood films shows an over-reliance on the ‘happy ending with a moral code’ dynamic.

    Hence why Stalker is dark – dark humour, dark atmosphere and emotions.

    I’m trying to think of a comparable FPS free-roaming western game but drawing a blank so i’ll go with the medieval comparison:

    Gothic to Oblivion. There.

  19. luminosity says:

    This isn’t the direction I expected the Limbo of the Lost sequel to take.

  20. friday says:

    Can’t wait for this one and fallout 3. Hopefully Far Cry 2 will have some nice adventure time.

  21. Albides says:

    Duoae,

    Yeah, I also think that’s what he meant. I haven’t played many Eastern European games, but if those that I have played are anything to judge by, they tend more towards gritty realism, and a hopeless sort pessimism to the point of being depressing. I’m reminded of the episode of the IT Crowd where Jen goes out for a smoke and everything looks grim, grey and dreary, and there’s a lost and harrowed look in people’s eyes when she nods at them. When she comes back in she says she doesn’t want to go back out there. “It’s Soviet!” she says.

    Western games – I’m thinking specifically of shooters – tend to romanticise gratuitous violence, and their plotlines are more in line with the swashbuckling tradition injected with steroids. Theirs is a tradition that comes more from Alexandre Dumas than Dostoevsky.

    I realise I’m generalising absurdly.

  22. morningoil says:

    I thought those were ‘full stops’, not periods. Or have our benevolent tea-drinking overlords been replaced in some kind of fancy-dress coup attempt by benevolent coffee-drinking overlords with a predilection towards dropping ‘unneccesary’ letters?”

    If it hasn’t already happened, it doubtless soon will. It’s an ellipsis, anyway :)

    Now – Clear Sky – yes please. Currently playing through STALKER for the first time (I tried it once before but hit a massive wodge of radiation right beyond the first tunnel, the one in the Cordon with the timed electrical anomalies, and couldn’t get past it, assumed that that was just what was there, and so gave up in a huff), and yes there are flaws, not least the faintly repetitive mission structure (get this item in a building that has lots of baddies in it), but many, many strengths – the atmosphere, the sense of autonomy, the feeling of vulnerability. Ya. If the sequel is even better, then bring it on, says I.

  23. Apollo Belvidere says:

    From America, loved STALKER, can’t wait for this.

    Don’t know what to make of that quote though, seems just a little condescending. I think it didn’t take off in NA due to the fact that it had almost zero promotion, the hype died after half a decade in development, it was PC exclusive, and was damn near broken upon release, a fact made clear in every single review for it.

    I guess they’re disappointed it wasn’t a megahit in NA but it’s not because us stupid Americans only like games with bright colors and shiny things with main characters chewing on a cigar while mowing down them A-Rabs.

    I think STALKER: Clear Sky has huge potential to be a big hit in NA, they just need to polish the game and let people know it exists.

  24. tuesday says:

    ….stupid Americans only like games with bright colors and shiny things with main characters chewing on a cigar while mowing down them A-Rabs.

    Ironically, there are screens of “50 Cent Blood on the Sand” (or whatsitcalled) in the Clear Sky gallery at Strategy Informer depicting Fitty and homies happily blastin’ away said Arabs. Go figure.

    Condescending dev comments aside, go Stalker!

  25. Taxman says:

    Wait wasn’t everyone complaining that games were too drab and brown ?

    Oleg must never have played Half Life 2, Deux Ex, Doom 3, Prey, F.E.A.R and the legions of others.

    I like games with flashy colours it’s a break from the norm & I can only think of only a handful of games that even fit that description.

    Actually I recall sales of Stalker on a territorial basis and the game sold more in eastern Europe and Russian territories than it did in the USA and his comments though misguided & condescending are probably born out of why the game didn’t sell that much in the USA. It’s not a culture thing just consoles even Apple Mac’s have been eating away at the potential PC gamer user base.

  26. Jaxtrasi says:

    Duoae,

    “Over-reliance”?

    Isn’t that a little like saying that Eastern europe “over-relies” on dark, depressing stories? A culture is a culture.

  27. Kieron Gillen says:

    I talked to Oleg about this recently actually, and the same topic – I mentioned the Gothic thing about the changing colours, and asked whether that made sense.

    I suspect it’s the flatness of the colours rather than anything else – there’s no as much (for want of a better word) showmanship in STALKER as any of the games listed. Stalker is, fundamentally, a game played in a rubbish dump.

    EDIT: And I stress, in my interview at least – I haven’t read EG’s – this is coming from Publishers to them. If they – and the Gothic guys – are getting told by Publishers this is what the market wants, you can hardly blame them for repeating it.

    KG

  28. Jaxtrasi says:

    I was at an educational conference a couple of years ago where we had a speaker who was a veteran producer of TV screenplays who had moved into education research.

    He was firmly and strongly of the opinion that if you wanted to sell something to the US market, it needed to be black & white, good vs evil, and the good guys needed to win (whether it be a film about war and violence or not – even a romance movie needs to be good vs evil with good triumphing).

    On the other hand, if you wanted to sell something to the (I think he meant western) European market, it needed to be about the validation of the imperfect self – a recognition of how it was okay to be human, and humans suck quite a lot, so it’s okay to suck quite a lot.

    Looks like eastern Europe gives us a third major structure, of stoic perseverance without reward in the face of bleakness.

    Can anyone do Africa, India or the Orient?

  29. James T says:

    In India you need dancing, in Asia you need girls in short skirts, and you skip Africa ‘cos there’s not enough money there. [/scholarly, respectful grasp on foreign cultures. They eat horses, don't they? How dreadful!]

    Hang on…

    If it hasn’t already happened, it doubtless soon will. It’s an ellipsis, anyway

    An ellipsis is three dots. SHAME ON YOU.

  30. silencer says:

    I suspect it’s the flatness of the colours rather than anything else – there’s no as much (for want of a better word) showmanship in STALKER as any of the games listed. Stalker is, fundamentally, a game played in a rubbish dump.

    Counterpoint: What about Quake versus Duke Nukem 3D? Quake was almost all shit brown, whereas Duke was colorful and had more of an “environment”. Quake in the end won, but arguably that was due to deathmatch (although Duke had it too), GLQuake, and it having a released sequel.

  31. Deuteronomy says:

    Taxman,

    From what I’ve read COD4 and Bioshock both sold respectably on PC. Although I don’t think I can accuse COD4 of being bring and shiny, Bioshock definitely was.

    Still it’s a silly thing to say, but I sort of understand where he’s coming from. I have east-euro relatives and they have a very definite image(stereotype) of what Americans are like. Indeed the more ambitious among them take that (negative) stereotype and actually hold it up as something positive, if you know what I mean.

  32. much2much says:

    I don’t mind the drab palette but Stalker has a poor visual “feel”.

    Not the art or the graphics engine or anything I can put my finger on but the fact that nothing has a proper demarcation. It is like everything is out of focus. A niggly thing kind of similar to where draw distances pop in and out (which Stalker actually manages well).

    I think using a drab only palette may limit the contrasts you get in a game and using bright/drab contrast is a way to create a more effective 3d illusion.

  33. Gap Gen says:

    Visually, there’s not a lot of difference between the screenshot at the top and the sneaking level in CoD4, although it helps that it’s set in the same place. My point is that if you have comparable settings, the direct visual look is similar, even if the style and atmosphere is very different. Although in both you end up running away from wild dogs.

  34. Skalpadda says:

    Oleg must never have played Half Life 2, Deux Ex, Doom 3, Prey, F.E.A.R and the legions of others.

    Interestingly, of the ones you mention, Half Life 2 is the only one that doesn’t look like most of the terrain and characters are made out of metal or plastic to me. That’s how I percieve it, everyone has their own way of judging what looks good or not of course.

    For me, the “gritty realism” comes down to that Stalker or Half Life 2 is pretty much depicting how my home town would look if it was placed in the settings in question. Fear or Doom 3 doesn’t capture that feeling for me.

  35. dhex says:

    count me as one american who enjoys the hopeless, gritty and black humors of eastern european devs.

  36. kong says:

    Stalker is the reason I own a new mean machine. HL2 did not make me spend money on new hardware.
    Operation Flashpoint and Stalker are good examples for the creative and raw power of Eastern Europe.
    Sometimes I wish the iron curtain back because it kept capitalism a little more humane.
    Most of the time I am very glad to have the former enemies in our cultural pool. There is nothing like drinking Vodka with Poles, Russians, Czech, Slovac etc. Good people and their drinks and games are so pleasing my taste. Nasdorovje!

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