Gaming In The Russian Cosmos, Part 2

By Jim Rossignol on January 7th, 2009 at 9:24 am.


This is the second part of my article discussing gaming in Russia, Ukraine and the other CIS countries. It’s based on a trip I made to KRI, the Russian game developers conference, in 2008. Go here for part one.


So PC gaming is changing, and it not entirely down to the technocrats of the West to say how that happens. The US and the UK might have reprised traditional imperialist roles in setting out some of the templates for modern gaming, but the future is going to be in the hands of the rest of the world. What will define the next decade of gaming is economics: the emerging nations have more people willing and able to make games, and they can do it for less money. More importantly, perhaps, they have more people who are willing to play games, and largely, the games they play are on that most cheap and cheerful platform, the PC.

But what is most fascinating to me is how the different cultures of various countries manifest in the games we see appearing. China and Korea, whose game cultures came about thanks to the necessity of providing themselves with games when no-one else would, seem oddly alien in their mass-consumption of grind-heavy MMOs. The public-gaming plus mass-online mentality seems singular to their way of doing things, and MMOs in these two countries have been enormously influential. China has even seen one MMO based purely on its own legends, with Fantasy Westward Journey.

I’ve spent time elsewhere looking at this bleeding of local culture into the otherwise internationalised (or perhaps Americanised) culture of games. I’ve tried to pinpoint how these gaming cultures came about, and I should do a little more of that in a planned tripped to China later this year. To do the same with Russia, Ukraine and the other post-Soviet nations seems a little easier. These nations have a clear gaming identity of their own, which is defined by the fall of communism in 1991. Their world is one where cheap PCs have flooded in, along with Western games, and where consoles were kept out by economic conditions in the late ’90s. Consequently they seem like a parallel dimension to Europe and the US: things are different, and yet somehow entirely the same. They have the same kind of play habits as the West, and the same kinds of games. Here an FPS, there an RTS, with a sprinkling of online games. And yet the flavour of their local games is distinct, offbeat even, but nevertheless recognisable: there are some weird and ambitious games out there, and these companies are not afraid to reach for the stars, yet the way they play, and the way they design, seems based entirely derivative of Western games.

So this is not a clear game design culture rift like that between North America and Japan, and nor is it a gaming behaviour difference like that between South Korea and the rest of the world. But it is a marked difference in taste. It’s something specific to the region.

Red Science

Sitting in a grey-panelled ultra-functional meeting room at 1C’s headquarters in central Moscow, I asked one Russian games boss why games from the region were noticeably different to Western titles and he laughed, replying “Russian developers all want to make a new Fallout!” And you can see what he means, because Russian games do have something of a grim outlook: what better to capture that than a sequel, spiritual or otherwise, to the greatest of the post-apocalyptic RPGs?

It’s only one trend with Russian game design, of course – the others being unforgiving simulation, World War II from the Russian perspective, and fresh takes on tired fantasy tropes – but it is the one that somehow seems to have best captured both our imaginations, and those of the people who comment on CIS region games from within those countries. And the post-Soviet realm does inspire that kind of imagination, too. Even in my brief time in the Russia I saw an incredible catalogue of ruins and dereliction, all sitting alongside the shiny new capitalist heartland. It was not a new concept to me. When I interviewed Ukrainian developer Anton Bolshakov, the creative lead on Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl he told me: “Splinters of Soviet Empire are plentiful in Ukraine – forgotten productions, catacombs, neglected military facilities and so on. Even our office is located at an ex-military factory with no more active production. When walking around such areas you can’t but think how the time froze at this place of man-made catastrophe. Logically, it struck us as a cool game setting to explore.”

He went to explain the myths and urban legends that had sprung up on his home turf: the fictions that sprang from Soviet secrecy, the stories surrounding the Chernobyl accident. “Our game sort of expands onto what could have happened in reality. It’s a story about a post-apocalyptic world with its own tragedies, heroes and laws. After that, [our inspiration] was the accident in Chernobyl itself. A murky and terrifying example for mankind of thoughtless use of high technologies.”

Bolshakov seems to have tapped into something that resonates across the world right now: apocalypse and disaster do seem to sit at the back of our minds, and the contemporary urban decay that these games take their inspiration from do seem to somehow act as ghost of the future, showing us what the world might be like after we are gone. It’s a powerful theme that appears across gaming, cinema, and literature with increasing frequency. We’re worried about what the future may hold, and these games seem to instantiate that. And not in some cheery Mad Max fantasy way, but with definitive bleakness. Something rare in the general upbeat world of gaming. It’s the way in which some Russian teams have tapped into this first hand that interests many of us, as if they’re articulating the kinds of grim futures that we want to be able to imagine, and yet cannot reach.

These kinds of themes are also found in Metro 2033, another Stalker-like shooter, this time set in the future ruins of Moscow, and a possible contender for one of the big titles of 2009. We’ll hopefully bring you an interview those guys in the coming weeks. We can only hope that the game also channels some of Stalker’s excellent game design.

Of course technical proficiency doesn’t seem to be the issue here: the game developers of Russia and Ukraine are technically proficient and highly educated – thanks in part to the superb education system enforced by the communists – and yet they still lack experience. Compare their fresh-faced youths to the grizzled bossmen of the US games industry and it begins to become clear just how youthful their industry is. Even the 1c games leads seem young by comparison. But Russia’s gaming ecology is growing fast, and their fresh developmental imaginations are growing with it. It is immature, and while that can produce naive, adolescent results, here it seems to indicate that there’s lots of potential. What we are seeing, thank Mother Internet, is plenty of experimentation, and some great games.

Weird Terrain

You’ve probably already encountered some of these great games via our multifarious bloggings. We’ve seen games such as Cryostasis, King’s Bounty, Men Of War, Perimeter, Boiling Point, Space Rangers 2, and Pathologic turn up and cause something of a stir. These games aren’t revolutions in any classic sense – there’s no genre-slamming Half-Life or World Of Warcraft in there – but the methods and themes are nevertheless intriguingly different, and refreshingly bold. Pathologic was a particularly profound experience for one RPS writer – tapping into those themes of bleakness that I mentioned before – and the strangeness of the experience certainly rang a few bells with the huge number of people who read the Pathologic article in the weeks after we posted it. It looks like the Ice Pick team, they who made Pathologic, intend to return to similar weird terrain in their upcoming game, Tension.

For my own part, I was inspired by my time playing Stalker, and I still return to it now and then. Stalker’s influences, which I’ve banged on about before just here, are clear: Chernobyl and Russian hard science fiction. But in game-design terms there was something else going on too: unmitigated ambition. The idea that there was no reason why GSC shouldn’t try to make a living world shooter, years before any Western dev studio was attempting such a feat. The CIS country development houses are aiming high, and even when they fall far short of their target – I’m looking at you, Boiling Point – they still create interesting experiences. Immaturity is bringing forth creativity. It’s usually the young that start garage bands, and by the same token it’s often the young game design teams who create the unexpected experiences. You can see a certain psyche pushing its way through. Adolescent battle-fantasies they might be, but they’re as fresh and aggressive in their execution as anything the rest of the world is offering.

Nor is that notion of ambition and experimentation confined to a single genre: both simulation and RTS have benefitted from this distinctly Eastern attitude. Perimeter’s iconoclastic RTS is steeped in Eastern independence too – deliberately exploding the idea of what resources mean in an RTS – and revelling in a Russian fiction that is weird by anyone’s standards. Men Of War too, the sequel to Faces of War, is a remarkably ambitious project, more like a battlefield infantry simulation than a standard RTS. I can’t imagine a Western studio even attempting such a game in these glossy Company Of Heroes times, and yet it makes sense when Ukrainian devs Best Way dump it in our laps and expect us to deal with a grand, brutal RTS of incredible scale and detail.

Of course there are deeper social layers to the genesis all this. The other point that 1c boss chap was making was that Russian and Ukrainian gamers do seem to have much the same gaming heritage as us, but by and large without the consoles. Even in 2008, less than a third of all gaming is done on console systems. This was a nation that has had, since the fall of Communism, easy access to IBM PCs, and even easier access to pirated Western games. Until relatively recently it was possible to pick up a package pirated copy of a Western game for less than a dollar on any high street corner in Moscow. In terms of game tastes, then, this is, you might argue, the motherland of PC gaming.

Just take a look at King’s Bounty if you want some proof: a more PC-gamer title you could scarcely imagine – fantasy, turn-based, vast, difficult – and its production values are nothing if not high-end. This is no amateur enthusiast project. This was a game made by a team who had absolutely love of the form, and a command of the technology. It was destined to be a PC classic. The same goes for Stalker and numerous others.

That 1c exec – a skinny blonde chap who couldn’t have been far past thirty – continued: “Our studios lack management skills,” he said. “We’re too young as an industry.” I wondered about that. Too young, or just young enough? I’ve lost count of the number of times weird, obsessive projects have been stifled or canceled by our mature, experienced Western managers. That’s happening in Russia too, but the weird or brave stuff is still breaking on through.

The Endless Red Bear

Perhaps the most significant moments of my trip to Moscow, however, were those that illustrated people’s simply joy in the classic tropes of gaming. The man who made Perimeter telling me, with a glint in his eye, that what he was aiming for in the future was “even weirder”. Or the guys who made Fantasy Wars being honestly pleased and surprised that I’d both heard of their game, and that it had been well received by a wider audience. Or being reminded of the raw simulation excellence of IL-2 Sturmovik. Immediately after that meeting with the 1c exec, I was introduced to Oleg Maddox, the man behind Sturmovik. He had the face of a thousand cigarettes and laconic attitude that seems utterly in contrast to the crisply professional or ultra-enthusiastic nerd kings that I regular encounter in American game studios. Maddox is distinctly his own man, and his games must instantiate that. I wondered how much the Maddox games were a direct reflection of Maddox himself: a personality expressed via simulation games.

Oleg told me how much he was enjoying working with the freedom that 1c game him, and promised great things from the future flight sims he has not yet even announced. The same kind of quiet optimism seemed evident in all the developers I met in Moscow. Both creatively and financially, this is a new set of developers who love what they’re doing, and who seem to understand the amazing privilege that being able to make games entails.

There’s shovelware crap sitting on the Eastern shelves too, of course, and I expect there are plenty of coder-for-hire types doing little more than scraping together a living. But the message I got from the stronger tiers of gaming in Moscow, was that things are just getting better and better.

The dominance of PC gaming is only going to change relatively slowly out there, since the idea that a PC is also a useful tool for education and internet use is strong in Russia and the other CIS countries. This is a country that has only had access to our computing tech for twenty years, and they’re making the most of it. Consequently, it’s a hotbed for new developing talent: here, more than anywhere else in the world, young PC gamers are learning that they want to get into game development. The Russian-speaking indie game scene is expanding across these countries too, and one of my favourite indie games this year, Debrysis, was developed by a Russian team.

What’s more, it seems that the PC gaming developers are beginning to realise just how easily they can compete with the expensive Western development teams. Here, and in the rest of the educated developing world, is where the future of PC gaming is being struck. If anyone makes a worthy spiritual successor to our past-generation classics, such as Deus Ex or System Shock, then it seems likely that it will come out of Russia or Ukraine. No one in the West would have the balls pitch a game like Stalker, and yet it seems like the most natural thing in the world for the GSC team, and it even sold 1.6 million at retail, and many more via download. Not bad for a bunch of guys working out a disused weapons factory.

Hopefully, however, this won’t be a one-sided campaign, but a collaboration. Already we’re seeing signs that the experienced, talented Western developers are moving in on the lower costs of Eastern teams and setting up shop. Crimecraft, the recently announced crime MMO, for example, will be powered by the US-developed Unreal Engine, the studio managed by an New York-based production core, and game itself built by a creative Ukrainian team. These kinds of distributed efforts are springing up all over the world, and that’s a trend that is only going to expand and continue. Eventually, hopefully, the transit of talent and experience will be equal in both directions, and the industry of game development will become truly global. The Bear, I’d like to think, is going to take us to a better place.

Thanks to Dan for the photos of my trip.

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44 Comments »

  1. macc says:

    Great article. Let the gaming cold war invasion begin!

  2. mkreku says:

    Shut up, Boiling Point was great!! >.<

  3. Dan Harris says:

    Not read it all yet, but: ‘These nations have a clear identity of their own, which is defined by the fall of communism in 1991.’

    Really? This glosses over several centuries of history a little, don’t you think?

  4. Pod says:

    Or maybe you’ve misunderstood?

  5. Hoernchen says:

    In soviet Russia, game plays you!
    I couldn’t resist.

  6. Jim Rossignol says:

    @ Dan: I add a word.

    @ mkreku: Yes, it was great. And broken.

  7. Dan Harris says:

    Success! I have changed an article!

    Thanks Jim. Great reportage as always.

  8. Iain says:

    Speaking of Russian games: the BBC have a story about people trialling Tetris as a potential treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Given that at high difficulty levels, Tetris is about as stressful as a heart attack (THE SKY IS FALLING! AND IT’S FULL OF COLOURED BLOCKS!), the results of the study are pretty interesting.

  9. AndrewC says:

    How insular would you say the culture was? Part of the joy of these games at the moment is how defiantly odd they are to our sensibilities, yet if that sensibility only comes from their youth and relative isolation, will that individuality not homogenise out the more success they get in the West?

    As opposed to our relationship with the Far East, where our cultures seem stable (and economically independent) enough to remain very alien to each other, even after 30 years of gaming cross-breeding.

    So the question, I guess, is ‘will it last’? Is the wierdness done out of naiveness and lack of choice and that, given a chance of the big Western money pie, would they all happily make Gears Of War and Halo?

  10. NullH says:

    Loved these articles chap, and looking forward to some fresh directions taken by Russian devs.
    I’m liking the looks of Cryostasis, and hopefully that (predicted) success coupled with Stalker’s reknown and the growing popularity of things like King’s Bounty will get publishers taking more interest in these games.

  11. Heliocentric says:

    We need more Fallout Vault Style cultural experiment countries. All of these unique games source countries are the product of unique circumstances. I can only hope that as they get more experienced they don’t homogenise with the west and stay just as insular as Japan does.

    Even if they have things to “learn from each other” I want them to stay special.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    @AndrewC

    I wouldn’t say that the joy of these games come purely from how “odd” they are. Although I would say that the strangeness of the plots and and the art style do make a lot of them a unique experience, I think the success comes from the fact that they appear to have the guts to do something different, as the article suggests. I believe that there are plenty of games designers who would love to have worked on a game like Stalker, but they know that the money-men would laugh in their faces and just order up Generic Shooter 38.

    The question is though, is whether this trend will continue, or will the inevitable demand for huge profits coupled with higher production costs result in these companies taking the safer options?

    edit: Wow, Debrysis is awesome!

  13. Ben Abraham says:

    Fantastic read, this and the first part.

  14. Feet says:

    AndrewC: Yeah I was also wondering how long it will be until the “maturity” that Western game devs have hit the Russians too, and all the new ideas are seen as “too risky”.

    Or worse, how long before the Western game devs corrupt the Russian game devs with the promise of oodles of money rather than the promise that they can make an original and great game.

    Hopefully “not soon” to either.

  15. phil says:

    I have to wonder what China’s new artistic freedoms are going to mean for their nascent game developers, when that dam breaks it could just flood everything.

    Also;
    @Heliocentric
    Vaults are a good idea – each one could be centred on a specific genre, then once a year the inhabitants could meet up and play each other games to ensure they don’t become to inaccessible to a general audience (possibly also breed to maintain their gene pools.)

  16. AndrewC says:

    I mean it’s all just future gazing, and buggered if I know, but as Jim has spoken to some of the actual developers he might know how cognizant and protective of their independence or uniqueness they are.

    It would be good if the influence was like that of the 50′s New Wave in French cinema and the 70′s ‘golden age’ of Hollywood cinema – where people like Coppola, Scorcese and even Spielberg took the avant garde techniques of the French and adapted them to mainstream story-telling. Now you could argue that the Hollywood films hopelessly compromise those techniques and ideas, but damn if it didn’t re-invigorate mainstream movie making.

    Then again, Well Jim mentions Crimecraft using the Ukraine like a cheap employee pool (well, taht’s how I read it), which is not so happy making.

  17. Gap Gen says:

    Is the Endless Red Bear Horace’s cousin?

  18. Chaz says:

    I for one welcome a Russian gaming invasion, as my favourite PC games of recent years have mostly come from the eastern block, such as The Witcher, Boiling Point, Stalker, and I’m looking forward to trying out some of their other upcoming efforts like The Tomorrow War, if it ever gets an EU release. They seem to be making the sort of PC games that I used to really enjoy playing, before all the men in suits got involved and started throwing the big money around.

  19. AndrewC says:

    It’s Horace three hours from now.

  20. Ginger Yellow says:

    Sorry for going off topic, but any thoughts/insights on the horrific newsover at 1Up? 40 odd redundancies, EGM closed, no more podcasts or 1Up Show. Looks like Shawn and Jeff did well to move on when they did.

  21. Kong says:

    Knowing the nature of man, I assure you they will not stay young for long.
    But the size of the CIS countries will make it possible for several small devs to continue producing odd games.
    Germany is big enough for at least one of these stubborn devs (Egosoft). The CIS will be able to hold so much more.

  22. Larington says:

    @Ginger Yellow: I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. Its tragic that jobs are lost, but as these people are recognised as being talented individuals then they probably stand a better than than most of finding new work. Heck, if we’re really lucky they’ll band together and start a whole new outfit of their own with a bit of new branding. All they have to do then is get the word out to their prior audience that their back up and running.
    Plus, if that were to happen they’d be their own thing (As is RPS) rather than be some kind of tool for one of the much bigger companies – In itself that’d probably not be a bad thing to happen.

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    Heck, if we’re really lucky they’ll band together and start a whole new outfit of their own with a bit of new branding. All they have to do then is get the word out to their prior audience that their back up and running.

    And find some way to make a living off of it. As the RPS people will tell you, it’s not easy in the best of times, and these are the worst of times. Trying to find funding and advertising for a startup videogames site right now must be nigh on impossible. I was surprised enough that the GiantBomb people managed it, and they only have a handful of full time staff.

  24. Larington says:

    Yeah, its wishful thinking, I know. :-(

  25. Yhancik says:

    The part about Maddox made me realise that something that characterise those-eastern-games-i-love is that they’re much more “auteur” games than our western ones.

    Aside from the novelty of cultural differences, those games are unique because they reflect unique personalities (or set of personalities). Which is very different from many franchises carried by faceless (or arm twisted) studios whose only vision is to meet a list of features.

    That makes me realise that the game I like the most are those closest to that auteurism. And that most of those games often end up being more or less broken, because I guess it’s hard to find a good balance between a pure personal vision and “making things work” (probably one of the main cause of Stalker’s delay, wasn’t it?).
    Thus, most of my favourite games are semi-broken games :p But they surely bring me more satisfaction (the Kantian aesthetic experience) than a game that “just works”, no matter how efficiently it does that.

  26. dreamhunk says:

    Those russains should start selling their games to the west pc gamers online and retail.

  27. subedii says:

    A young scene is really important for the best ideas and themes to come through before things solidify. Nobody’s told them what they want is impossible yet, so they make it happen.

    In time, even Russia’s games industry will form, in more time possibly even stagnate (much like the Western industry did a few years ago, and I believe is slowly coming out of now), but hopefully by then everyone will have learned something.

  28. RichP says:

    Low development costs are really the saving grace for PC games; outside of a few established titles, it’s difficult to make satisfactory returns on big-budget PC-only games.

    The CIS gaming scene (is that an appropriate term?) reminds me somewhat of the Western PC game industry in the 1990s: games were comparatively cheaper to make, people took more risks, and consoles weren’t as competitive.

    So, long-term, I wonder if Russia, Ukraine, etc. will remain fertile grounds for true-and-true PC games, or follow the trend set in the West: rise of consoles, disgustingly large game budgets necessitating multiplatform releases and mass appeal to achieve ever-higher sales. Let’s hope not.

  29. subedii says:

    I suspect that console gaming will take more hold eventually, assuming prices drop. There’s greater convenience and simplicity, which means more mainstream appeal.

    But I also feel that other developing parts of the world will also always have to start games development by making use of the PC platform. There’s no real way to avoid that. Like you said, it’s the low cost, and it allows for almost boundless expression and creativity.

    I think companies in the Western gaming sphere are beginning to learn that having smaller outfits, smaller and more diverse projects is actually a good thing. How this affects trends of developing games industries is anyone’s guess, it might just allow for more acceptance of small and creative projects than most major publishers are willing to back at the moment. The model of being based around all-or-noting big budget productions couldn’t last forever.

  30. RichPowers says:

    @subedii: Agreed. Despite record revenue, both EA and Take-Two posted losses. They’re laying off employees, closing studios, etc. The “let’s spend $20+ million making a game and hope it sells!” strategy is simply unsustainable.

    Not even Hollywood focuses solely on big-budget blockbusters; they have a mix of films that appeal to widely different audiences, some mainstream, some niche. But not every film will cost $350 million to produce.

    Instead of spending $20+ million on its next derivative (but pretty) game, EA should give $1 million to 20 different outfits and see what happens.

    Big Publishers need to diversify, and the PC is an important part of that strategy. PC games can provide very favorable returns (see Stardock), even if total revenue is significantly less than your latest generic console shooter.

  31. Bremze says:

    “Then again, Well Jim mentions Crimecraft using the Ukraine like a cheap employee pool (well, taht’s how I read it), which is not so happy making.”

    As I understood it, the ukrainian team is responsible for the design, not the technical side.

    Also, living in a former soviet country, I can say that consoles costing two times the price in USA and wages being a lot lower have helped people decide in favor of PC’s though the price of consoles might have gotten better now in Russia atleast.

  32. Pantsman says:

    Maybe we ought to pass a law. No more gaming company execs over 40 years of age.

  33. Cooper42 says:

    Here’s hoping that the idiosyncratic, experimental and innovative designs coming out of Russia and the post-Soviet states don’t go the way of early 90s British game design…

  34. jonfitt says:

    So where’s the next hotbed of PC game development after Russia?

    I say: keep your eyes on The Kingdom of Tonga. Having seen an influx of money from the .to top level domain, they have been producing increasingly complex games based on a utopian future of plantation running, and rugby.

  35. bhlaab says:

    “Russian developers all want to make a new Fallout!”

    Then do it, for the love of god!

  36. CryingTheAnnualKingo says:

    Jim, I can’t commend you enough for this these pieces. This is the type of writing that needs to be happening in PC games right now that just isn’t being done by mainstream media.
    As Crytek goes multi-platform, the East is the future of PC games in the truest sense, the sense that we all want; PC specific games made to take advantage of what we love about our machines.

  37. Dreamhacker says:

    From the album link:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/grill/2451744648/in/set-72157606089141975/

    This photo had a frigging hilarious caption in the Swedish PCG, something along the lines of “Jim Rossignol shortly after being rejected by the cute receptionist at PCG Russia.”

    Ouch :D

  38. ZagZagovich says:

    About Lada Racing Club thing that I mentioned earlier. It’s been hyped for a long time to be Need for Speed in Russia. There has been a huge marketing campaign, so huge that it was hard not to see something about the game and though the game has been delayed a couple of times it only made everyone want it more. So the release date finally comes and what do we get? A game that’s pretty much half-made, with amazing glitches, horrifying effects and a garbage file put on a disk just to sell it on two DVDs. It was like some kind of event. Something we haven’t seen since “Fight with a shadow”(horrible movie based game that sold like crazy) developers revealed that they just slapped the game in a few weeks and then laughed as the money started to pour in. Every gaming magazine was covering it differently. One of my favorites just wrote a whole two page article about how disgusted he is with the game and it’s creators. The other one(a rather popular one) had the nerve to actually give the game a fair 7.5 rating. Later they said that the garbage file was something the are going to use for the upcoming addon(addon that never came out btw). It was such a horrible scam. I’m still a bit sad about how easy they got away with it.

  39. N says:

    Romania apparently has a very strong pool of codemonkeys for example, ubi set up shop there in ’95 and the last two silent hunter games, pc version of jack’s king kong, and the upcoming hawx(meh) ar made in ro. EA mobile has a tent there too, also Funlabs (Cabela’s series). Unfortunately the indie scene is dead as disco, so yeah…

    I remember Realms of Torment, it was supposed to be a pretty innovative fantasy mmo, never saw the light of day, probably for the best too…

  40. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    Some gameplay videos of Tension/Turgor/The Void, for those interested.

    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Throdax&view=videos

    Contains potential spoilage, of course.

    (btw, nice contextual ad on this article :p
    )

  41. PHeMoX says:

    I’ve still got a handful of those 7Wolf 1$ copies of ancient games… the illegal market used to be insane over there.

    I wonder if it’s still the same these days, but I fear it’s even worse.

  42. Kan3da says:

    They indeed do great games. Most of them are broken and lack the polish but are feeling more like the sequels of the games i enjoyed most in the “golden era” of pc gaming. Sigh, there i install silent storm again…

  43. Ivan says:

    One of the best articles i’ve ever read. I’m from Serbia (we’re in a situation very similar to Russia’s, but we’re much, much smaller) and i completely understand what you are trying to say.

    Rock Paper SHotgun should be home of all PC gamers…

    Thank You.

  44. Slade05 says:

    Gah, don`t get too excited about russian development scene.
    Sure, they have their share of originality and whatnot, but there is also a literal shitload of low-budget crap that floods the market and really good releases. Don`t forget about economical crisis, which already took it`s toll: several game magazines are put on hold, afforementioned 1c has to close some of it`s projects and cut funding overall. Sure, we`ll get some pretty high-quality releases this year, but they`ll come from estabilished teams that already adhere much to western development strategies. Someone mentioned Silent Storm…the problem is, this game had nothing, erm, russian(how do i make letters italic?) in it and it was only good because of PC turn-based market practically empty at the moment and rather gimmicky environment destruction.
    Then there is a lack of proper QA: how many of you played 7.62 or E5(those are strategy titles rooting from Jagged Alliance type of games)? Both games feel damn refreshing due to innovative and really cool gameplay mechanic somehat similar to Combat Mission approach but even better, and both were simply flooded with bugs on the time of russian release. Thanks to developers, they were able to remove most of those bugs, rather quickly too. Then came affordable western realese based on latest patch and without scary Starforce protection inside(another really awful issue in russian development, but I won`t go into that now). Point is, how russian playerbase should feel about game being pratically tested on it`s expence? Business is business, yes, but what the f*ck.