Interview: GSC On Call Of Pripyat

By Jim Rossignol on May 25th, 2009 at 5:57 pm.


The announcement of a new Stalker game, Call Of Pripyat, offers an intriguing prospect. It’s a trilogy-completing work – with Clear Sky acting as prequel – and it proports to show what took place in the zone after the events of Shadow Of Chernobyl. The initial announcement seemed to promise a great deal: enhanced A-Life, more freedom, and more survival conditions to consider. But what else is in there? And what did the Ukrainian company learn from Clear Sky? GSC’s Oleg Yavorsky took some time out to answer our questions, and to reveal a bit more about Call Of Pripyat. Foolishly, I forgot to ask about the mystery of the bread. (The images in this article can be clicked on for their full-size.)

RPS: Do you think you learned any important lessons from the release of Clear Sky? Has that shaped how you’ve approached work on Call Of Pripyat?

Yavorsky: Clear Sky has been a good lesson for us indeed, primarily in the aspect of game stability and playability. There were a lot of changes both in technology and gameplay that we did for Clear Sky, but we had no time to polish and fix everything as proper before the release. With Call of Pripyat now we are taking a safer route by, firstly, building the game on the technology we’ve been polishing since Clear Sky, secondly, getting rid of some features which did not work out well – such as global war of factions, for example; and thirdly, by taking more serious approach to testing the game.


RPS: Can you tell us about the new areas of the zone that Call of Pripyat will include? How much of this new material is taken from the real Chernobyl zone?

Yavorsky: We will present a complete set of new locations in Call of Pripyat. This includes the Pripyat river basin and its rusty fleet standing still for over 20 years now, the Kopachi village completely buried after the accident, Jupiter factory located on the outskirts of Pripyat, the railway station Yanov, and, to crown it all – an entire district of Pripyat, modeled in its real scope. Many players have repeatedly asked us to implement Pripyat in the game, so we decided to satisfy their wish.

I think Call of Pripyat will be the most photo-realistic, and hence, atmospheric S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game of all three.

RPS: Can you explain how you’ve changed the A-Life system for this new game?

Yavorsky: Firstly, we picked the best-liked features from SoC and CS games to preserve them in Call of Pripyat. Secondly, we added a number of touches to make the world and its atmosphere more believable. Hence, day and night cycles will affect the behaviour of both monsters and NPCs: monsters will be more active and go hunting prey at night, while NPCs will try to find shelter and return to bases after seeking artifact and day-patrolling as night descends. To liven up the game world, each character/monster has been attributed their deadly enemies. Mutants hunt humans, bandits are after neutral s.t.a.l.k.e.r.s, Duty faction is after mutants.

Thirdly, hunger and sleep will have their effect too in the game: if the player is hungry, it will take him longer to restore his stamina. Sleep function will help you to refresh yourself, so as to speed up the time a bit (which may be useful in case you have a night mission designated to start at a particular time at night, for example).

This said, we gave all monsters an updated look, changed their behaviour in combat (so as to make them tougher and more interesting to fight with), added a couple new monsters – Burer and Chimera.

RPS: How much inspiration do you take from the work done by the modding community on the previous Stalker games?

Yavorsky: We are very pleased to see how active the modding community is with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – we’ve seen a number of interesting modifications done by the fans (AMK-mod, for example). When it comes to development of the next official games, however, I’d say we rather build them the way we see as proper and our own style, rather than copy mod-makers’ ideas. Our ambition is to present players our own S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as we see it (and we still have a number of ideas to get implemented). Nevertheless, we do listen to a lot of feedback received from players and their wish-lists. It helps us make decisions on which directions to take for the series.

RPS: From the patch notes: “Sleep function added into the game.” That’s a function that was unlocked by several mods…

Yavorsky: As opposed to pure story presentation element, the sleep function this time will have its gameplay role. As mentioned, you can take a nap to save time and not walk about in wait for your mission to start at a certain time. After sleeping your character will also restore his powers. You will only sleep in safe dedicated spots, such as s.t.a.l.k.e.r. bases, for example.

RPS: Can you explain how the game will be playable “after completion in a freeplay mode”? Is this tied to the extended side-quests?

Yavorsky: The freeplay mode is designed for those players, who prefer to stay in the game and explore as much as they want without the need to re-play it to see all of it. So, you’ll be able to travel freely, enjoy the A-life around and accomplish quests you missed during the playthrough.

RPS: Do you expect to return to the underground “horror” sequences of the original Shadow Of Chernobyl?

Yavorsky: We will provide a couple underground locations for players to explore in Call of Pripyat, so beware of spooky monsters!

RPS: Replacing English dialogue with the original Russian dialogue seems like a popular modification – have you considered an all-Russian dialogue option with English subtitles, as CD Projekt did with Polish in The Witcher?

Yavorsky: Thanks for the idea! At least part of our S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games has been in Russian already (such as campfire stories, combat shouts (predominantly rude ones!)). We’ll consider adding even more of the language flavoured with vodka, bears and balalaikas.

RPS: Is there much you still have to do with the original Stalker setting? Can we expect another “new” Stalker title from GSC one day?

Yavorsky: I assure you there’s a lot of ideas still untouched about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe and setting. We are building plans for the full-fledged sequel game, but it’s too early to talk about it at this point.

RPS: Thanks, Oleg.

Call Of Pripyat is due for release in Autumn 2009.

System requirements:

Minimum System Requirements

* Intel Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz / AMD XP 2200+
* 512 MB RAM
* 128 MB DirectX 8.0 compatible card / nVIDIA GeForce 5700 / ATI Radeon 9600

Recommended System Requirements

* Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 / AMD 64 X2 5600+
* 2 GB RAM
* 512 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible card / nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX / ATI Radeon HD 4850

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81 Comments »

  1. Linfosoma says:

    Im so hyped, I really hope they do test this game a bit more this time.

    But the general ideas behind the game seem to indicate a more focused and polished product.

    I still love you GSC!

  2. Mahnsikir says:

    As much as I’d love to be enthusiastic for another Stalker game and while I enjoyed the first two to varying degrees ,I just can’t find myself excited about it. They always seem to promise much more than they offer in the end so I’m going to just ignore this until it comes out. Oh and the chimera can hardly be called a new monster hasn’t its been in the game’s code/files for the last two games.

    Best of luck to them though as it sounds like they have learnt some things from the past and hopefully it’ll be the game we looked forward too many years back.

  3. jackflash says:

    Repalying the first STALKER now, with the truly excellent STALKER complete 2009 mod (thanks RPS for the heads-up). It really is one of the definitive first person shooters, in my view. Plenty of rough edges, to be sure, but playing the game with all the details on and the wonderful new sounds and graphics is incredibly immersive. I nearly pissed myself playing last night when I got jumped by a Russian soldier who had snuck up on me in an underground vault. The atmosphere is still unbeatable today, two years after it first came out.

  4. Clockwork Harlequin says:

    I’m scared that STALKER’s quality will continue to slip. Bugs and sad gameplay choices will infest Pripyat in even greater numbers than CS, and the moddiing community will get fed up and leave.

    But I can’t avoid being impossibly hopeful; I love those bloody games! Please, God, let Autumn bring a smooth, bug-free nuclear apocalypse. . .

  5. James O'Hare says:

    I had tried S:SoC waaay back and hadn’t a clue what was going on, it ran like treacle on my PC and generally I wasn’t a fan.

    But after playing S:CS, I really got into it and became somewhat addicted to the atmosphere the games create (as soon as I’d finished S:CS I jumped on steam to buy the original and play through).

    As with most of my favourite games, if I can get into the atmosphere and the game, I can overlook almost any bug. So… err, yeah, I’m looking forward to this one – bugs or no.

  6. teo says:

    gotta love the language barrier

  7. suibhne says:

    Really eager for this game, but feeling a bit like Charlie Brown with the football.

    Still, my primary gratification in both STALKER titles has been the gameworld, and I’ve no doubt that I’ll get a kick out of it on that level at least. I’m right glad that GSC is simplifying their faction design, too. The “faction wars” mechanic had a ton of promise, but the underlying system was just hopelessly broken (which might be another way of saying that, even if it were fixed, it still wouldn’t fit very well within the overall game design). Here’s hoping they keep the excellent artifact-finding system from Clear Sky.

    I also like this professed approach to day/night. Nighttime in STALKER always felt more menacing, as if it really should belong to the mutants rather than humans, and I felt frustrated when this feeling was undermined by the enemy AI’s ease of spotting and shooting me in pitch black. I hope GSC can take this conscious design decision to its logical conclusion and fix some of those problems. The mutants already behave pretty well at night – there are more dangerous critters abroad in the wee hours than during daytime – and Clear Sky’s “night vision” system added a lot to the experience, too. Only a few things need fixing to really dial in STALKER’s nighttime gameplay; I’m just worried because some of the same problems (near-omniscient enemies, for example) have persisted in both games.

  8. rei says:

    I think Call of Pripyat will be the most photo-realistic, and hence, atmospheric S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game of all three.

    I’m a bit worried about his definition of atmosphere.

    It’s almost as if they saw a lot of people commending STALKER for the atmosphere, and figured that’s a nice word to throw around without really understanding what it means. Already noticed the same in the CS tech demo.

  9. tugboat interlude says:

    I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.

    My main beef with Clear Sky I think was honestly the repeat of levels from SoC. The swamps were amazing, and I was so excited to play through the rest of the game and then all of a sudden I found myself in Cordon again. Between having to start over due to bugs and several different mods I’ve played through SoC four or five times already. I can navigate cordon in my sleep. It seemed like a gimmick; “look, now there are friendly bases in places you used to have to avoid or fight through”. It made the game feel kind of like a mod.

    I was even more disappointed that almost all the new areas were in the linear portion of the game (I don’t have a huge problem with the last act being scripted in and of itself, but I was REALLY looking forward to playing the ‘open’ portion of the game in a new place). CS definitely improved on SoC in many ways, and since Call of Pripyat is apparently in a completely new environment and seems to be keeping the good changes I am hopeful that it will turn out okay (plus really, it’s stalker – at worst we have another clear sky and that still ain’t so bad).

  10. Justin says:

    Many of the features they are talking about are already implemented in various Shadow of Chernobyl mods… but that’s OK. A bunch of new maps plus the gameplay features that I already enjoy, plus more quests and a storyline? Here is my money, and I’m ready.

    By the way, thank you, RPS, for being an English-language game site that pays attention to Stalker. The language barrier gets in the way for a lot of the activity.

  11. Stelios says:

    Hoping for the best – even if I have not yet finished vanilla CS and loaded up mods to make it more palatable. Oblivion Lost has spoiled me though.
    Love that screenshot with the sneaky bloodsucker creeping up!

  12. Pavel says:

    Well, I still have not finished Clear Sky, eventhough I bought it and have it installed…

    I am gonna get to it though, after all, I LOVED SoC and finished that game twice.I just hope that they will really polish it properly this time.

    But damn am I happy that those games sell and they can keep doing them!

  13. Bhazor says:

    Oh no! I’m afraid of spooky monsters!

  14. apnea says:

    Will eventually get to play Clear Sky (I was held by mildly negative reviews and comments), but SoC is one all-time classic PC game for me. I hope SoC’s genius wasn’t pure luck and they can repeat the deed.

  15. ZIGS says:

    Will it be multicore optimized this time?

  16. Bremze says:

    When I read “jupiter factory” first thing in my mind was IZh Jupiter. Awesome soviet motorcycles in my STALKER game!

  17. RealHorrorshow says:

    OK I’m actually a little hopeful all the sudden. Still going to wait to hear about stability before buying it though.

  18. DigitalSignalX says:

    I just hope they play test the hell out of it.

    It’s unfortunate but true, the brand STALKER is famously synonymous with the idea of a ‘horribly broken, buggy release.’ So much so that many people will likely avoid purchase as they have previously, until many months of patches and mods from the community have made the titles functional.

  19. Gnarl says:

    @rei Exactly the quote I would have pulled out for being full of swing and a missness.

    @suihbne Like the cunning ‘Charlie football’ ‘got a kick out of’, good work.

    I can only have hope that their previous success has allowed them to employ overly lying men. That would make me think that this interview doesn’t say that SOC was just luck, they are trying to improve areas that aren’t needed to be improved, and they don’t realize any of their past mistakes. I really hope this interview is with someone that has nothing to do with the game other than attempting to sell it, I really do.

    And Mr. Rossignol. While one of the best interviewer’s on this journalism some find game, would it hurt to push a tad more. While a fine line, I still find it unusual that such easy Q&As are allowed on a game such passion causes in the interviewer. While computers still have the bizarre before release / after release allowed opinion, a tad more Paxman wouldn’t hurt.

    In the attempt to inclued at least vaguely cheerful vibes, good effort on Bank Holiday posting.

  20. Bhazor says:

    Has anyone actually worked out what S.T.A.L.K.E.R stands for?

    Edit: Never mind turns out I’m an idiot who forgot about Wikipedia

    “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. stands for “Scavenger, Trespasser, Adventurer, Loner, Killer, Explorer, Robber”"

  21. blindpsychic says:

    Its just a roundabout way of using Stalker as in the Tarkovsky movie.

  22. noom says:

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is blatantly one of those so-called “backronyms”, therefore I give no credence to that definition.

    I call a Stalker a Stalker, me.

  23. Matzerath says:

    This whole series seems based on the patience of the fans, as far as bug fixes and amateur mods and such — that seems a rather cynical, Bethesda-style release scheme. Successful, but cynical — and may I say lazy?
    Playing SOC with the ‘STALKER Complete 2009′ mod is ideal — and the most stirring memory I have from several excursions into ‘The Zone’ are the intense fire-fights, particularly ones taking place on stormy nights between two squads. As with Morrowind, I feel like I’m getting all the atmosphere that is on offer from the original games, and all the sequels and reuses of engine mechanics are haphazard ‘improvements’ that are unaware of what was fundamentally great about the initial offerings, but with expanded budgets.

  24. Grey_Ghost says:

    Eh that answer to the Russian dialog with English subtitles wasn’t very hopeful. Also, about those campfire stories / combat shouts etc…, if you can’t speak the language then you’ve no idea what they are saying. I always felt so left out in those camp fire jamborees.

  25. Muzman says:

    Man, I was sure I wasn’t going to care about this. I didn’t hate Clear Sky, but the story wasn’t great and a few new areas didn’t really justify the double dip. So I wasn’t going to jump right in on the next thing they put out.
    But they’re selling me, the cads. Here’s to vodka, bears and balalaikas.

  26. Aftershock says:

    Taking QA seriously = good.

    Ima play through SoC (again) and CS before this comes out

  27. Jubal Harshaw says:

    Hey guys, very happy to know that another stalker is coming. I’m already playing the other two and mods and they never get old. I think that the two stalkers were the better games I played until now and hope this new one is at least as good as the other two. But guys, don’t forget to include a Katana in your game. Kind I miss a sword in it. It would be great to fight with the blind dogs and other beasts. Don’t listen to the criticism and this “out of context” thing that so many other players will try to defend here. Give us a Katana and I’ll will love you forever. Cheers and good luck with your new game.

  28. mkultra says:

    Definetely one of the best PC games series ever and possible ever (been playing games since the Commodore 64).

    I’m really looking forward to this. The atmosphere in the STALKER games is unsurpassed, only Bethesda’s games are similiary atmospheric.

  29. sklaav says:

    btw. 15-16 august there will be S.T.A.L.K.E.R. airsoft/larp
    near Tallinn(Estonia) more info on site:

    http://www.stalkerzone.eu/

  30. Cooper says:

    I’ll be interesting to see what comes from this.

    Stalker, for me, has always -just- landed clear of the mark. The original PR for the first game spoke of dynamic AI and factions, and a liveable world (sleeping, survival etc.). It ended up being a little too linear for what I wanted / expected and the A-Life never felt convincing beyond the excellent combat AI (I remember once seeing a rookie stalker trying to get an artifact, inching forwards but eventually ening up in an anomaly. I thought this was a fantastic piece of emergent AI, until I was told it was a scripted piece. That you never see other stalkers artifact hunting, or doing anything for that matter other than staying in camps, makes me wonder how they survive…)

    Anyway, what I’d really like to see if a believable world, with emergent situations, all independent of the player. A vast amount to ask, I realise, and I doubt this is what GSC are aiming for in the next game, but I keep thinking that the Stalker world is just right for pushing that low-level RPG + FPS set-up…

  31. Moonracer says:

    Man, I though the dynamic faction wars in CS was the only good addition (other than graphics).

    What I’d really like to see is more/larger maps to explore in one game. Combine the unique maps from SOC, CS, the alpha release (fixed up of course) and whatever they are adding in this new game. They don’t even need to put missions in all of them. Just link them up logically and I’ll be in Stalker heaven.

  32. toni says:

    i never had any bugs with any of the stalker games besides the usual funny AI glitches that can happen everywhere. I was always able to end the game. a crash here and there, yes, but that happens with other games as well. and since it came out I never deinstalled SOC and always found time to play some more or check out some new Mods.
    If you like your STALKER a little differently try:
    Priboi Story
    the best new storyline mod for STALKER.

  33. Clinq says:

    Despite its shortcomings, Stalker remains as one of the best games ever with its near perfect blend of gameplay and atmosphere. I can’t wait for the next installment!

  34. James T says:

    I remember once seeing a rookie stalker trying to get an artifact, inching forwards but eventually ening up in an anomaly. I thought this was a fantastic piece of emergent AI, until I was told it was a scripted piece.

    Was this in a mod? The only scripted anomaly sequence I ever saw was when a Flesh runs into a whirlpool anomaly near that concrete pit at Cordon.

  35. Simplex says:

    have you considered an all-Russian dialogue option with English subtitles, as CD Projekt did with The Witcher?
    Did you mean that CD Projekt provided all-Polish dialogue option with English subtitles?

  36. Jim Rossignol says:

    Simplex: Yes, in EE. I’ll clarify that in the text.

  37. kain says:

    I did realy enjoy SoC endings , i hope they will make some more in this release. But i think it was more interesting , when i had a choice where to be , for example if i choose one mission which sends me in a way more like exploring , but the other one sends me in a deep deep hell. more secret weapons and posibilities to do or not to do things, more mysticism and a deterrent story line which combines with a true story from USSR history would make this game a lot more interesting and worth time spending. I realy did like SoC but clear sky was just a snack to satisfy my appetite. SoC was filled with action , learning (surroundings, searching for historical facts), thinking , resolving and waiting for unpredictable events :)

  38. maicon says:

    [first ss] Yeah FOG! i love fog, silent hill style i mean.

  39. Dutchman says:

    Kanyhalos´ ´Oblivion Lost´ mod created what I was really looking for since 2003: Oblivion Lost.
    It´s the way I had the real STALKER experience.
    Seriously, I couldn´t wait for the release of Clear Sky and all I got was a big deception, it was stupid to not have expected that. I´ve been developing my knowledge on the industry by becoming a newswriter and reviewer, and know I have a very balanced look on Call of Pripyat.

    I never came any further than ´´Garbage´´ with Clear Sky, that ironically describes the state of the game. Somewhere in october I quit playing because I was irritated by the ´always-running-out-of-energy´, something that was cut out in the Oblivion Lost mod. I also thought the nights were really lame, it never gets real dark. I forgot about those things in SoC after playing Kanyhalos´ masterpiece.

    Somewhere in march, I installed patch 1.00008 and continued my story, but I had an enormous graphical glitch all over the air, while there was some kind of bad weather, the air was totally enlightened once I looked up. When I walked, it started to flicker. Man, what the fuck is that? I don´t continue the game because of that, and the energy issue. Does anyone know this grave graphical problem? Someone recommend any mods?

  40. drayco9191 says:

    all i hope is they expand the map by adding new areas not just replace the old areas with new ones.

  41. Bobby Jindal says:

    I’m really not a fan of these iterative releases. I don’t want to play Stalker 1.2 and I always have this nagging sense that these sort of “slightly different, throw in a feature or two” games are put out for economic reasons more than anything else.

    I’ll be skipping this one and looking forward to a proper Stalker sequel in the future.

  42. Twizzy420 says:

    Well, I’m looking forward to this, but after seeing build 1935 nothing compairs to the atmosphere Stalker could have had! I mean, the game should be creepy and make you really on edge at nights or underground, which thats what the old stalker was like. Not with all these friendly faction members everywhere and crap. I like the factions dont get me wrong, but it feels like the dangerous zone has been conquered and made civilian friendly. It’s like the difference from FEAR 1 and FEAR 2. In FEAR 1 you’re constantly alone, and when you get a team, they are all killed off mysterously. In FEAR 2, you’re with someone all the time, and its hard to be scared or on edge when you have backup right next to you.

  43. imamazing says:

    GET BAR IN TO STALKER AGAIN I LOVE BARKEEP HE IS MY IDOL GET BAR INTO CALL OF PRYPYAT!!!

  44. scott says:

    i can honestly say ive only ever came across 2 bugs in cs , first is bodys disapearing 2 mins after being killed and second is an artifact at agroprom to the east of the map , the small duty camp near the pond has an anomoly right next to it and ive tryed hundreds of way of getting the artifact but it just wont show , it doesnt move around either , just seems to be stuck under a rock , anyway , i dont think ive ever had a problem occure with cs and i must admit i play it for 12 hours some days , just get so into it , love muggin the duty guys lol

  45. cruzion says:

    Well, for me, there has been no other first person shooters that have come close to SoC and Clear Sky in their repeat playability. I’m looking forward to a new environment to explore and enjoy. Even with bugs, I know it will smack the pants off anything released by anyone else this year. Lets have realistic shooting, with overheating spread and real trajectories and windage, and real damage! Hit something with a Druganov, that thing will have a big cavity, or a limb missing! In real life, armoured vests do not stop large calibre rifle rounds. The fear that you are gonna get shot or mauled by a creature needs to be there. The more danger, the more excitement – the more risk, the more reward. I always wished there would be more rifle hunting. The environments and the creatures and the weapon physics lent themselves so well to it. It would slaughter those crappy hunt games like Cabelas.

  46. frizstyler says:

    i can t wait for it yeah!i am about to turn blue again while exploring those creepy tunnels full of bloodsuckers!but one comment i would like to do,is that i HOPE this kinda games don t really present mutants(victims of nuclear power)as the bad ones,because this is disorientating and makes people forget the consequencies of nuclear power,and always want to …so i hope at least this game makes people always be aware of the nuclear power

  47. frizstyler says:

    i wanted to say above: people always want to shoot that fucking monster!…so i hope at least this game makes people always be aware of the nuclear power

    (this was removed because the sentence was closed in symbols)

  48. Iggy Hazard says:

    The future of the Zone lo0ks bright and lively! That is, from an adventurer’s perspective. I’ve judged Clear Sky rather harshly in the past, but only because I couldn’t help having high expectations. After all, Shadow of Chernobyl sets the standard so high. It just seemed that all the intuitive user-friendly features of Shadow of Chernobyl had been reversed in Clear Sky. However, the weapon models were improved. Can’t say that I care to0 much for the mandatory weapon upgrading, though. As an option, sure, but making it mandatory makes things unnecessarily difficult. OLP Team fixed a few things with Oblivion Lost, but they also unfixed things that didn’t need to be changed. This was the biggest problem with Clear Sky as well — changing things that didn’t need to be changed (such as the inventory/stash interface and making weapons underpowered and inaccurate) while not changing things that did need so (such as horizontally inverted weapon models and unnecessary weapon cocking).

    ~Your STALKER fanatic,
    the E.V.I.L. Republican Gamer
    }:-D

  49. Slode says:

    Shadow of Chernobyl made me so sick that i don’t wanna see any pictures of it…What was that blank screen for 15 secs after everytime exiting from options menu?, Why NPCs’ bodies are moving like two seperate columns?(legs and upper body of NPCs were looking like two different parts when they turn), Why they didn’t dub all dialogues and bore me with reading pages of texts? I don’t like flaming too but what i said was obvious things. I said what i experienced in gameplay. I hope they learn from their mistakes this time and bring a good game to the table. I give you one more chance and buy your game for the last time GSC.Don’t disappoint me again.

  50. Jackson says:

    One more important: Please add more guitar songs, make the player be albe to play guitar. If you can do that, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. will be the best game I’ve ever played. I’m waiting for you GSC.