Survarium Is “STALKER Idea’s Next Evolutionary Step”

By Nathan Grayson on April 26th, 2012 at 7:51 pm.

This is currently the only piece of visual media related to Survarium in existence, so um, you'll probably be seeing a whole lot more of it.
Yesterday, we all poured one out and strummed our acoustic guitars in the irradiated rain for STALKER 2. From its ashes, however, Survarium has risen. Be warned, though: this isn’t STALKER 2.5. It’s a brave new MMOFPS world, and the newly christened Vostok Games has no intention of treading water. So then, will it be different? Probably. Will it be excellent? Hopefully. And will it be interesting? Absolutely. Excited, but also a bit hesitant, I mined Vostok’s Oleg Yavorsky for as much info as I could before he had to run off and continue, you know, launching a brand new game company.

So, first up, why an MMOFPS? STALKER’s muck-and-grime-coated calling card, after all, is the incredible sense of somber isolation it creates. It’s very nearly otherworldly. However, I have to imagine even that thick fog of atmosphere would quickly disperse if someone shot me in the back while spewing racial epithets they probably don’t even understand. There is, however, a method to Vostok’s apparent madness, as Yavorsky explained:

“MMOFPS is an interesting genre for us, and it’s actively developing worldwide at the moment,” he said, referring to the current MMOFPS expansion with Firefall, Planetside 2, and with rumours of Blizzard’s Titan project being in that genre. “On top of that, it allows us to be closer to the players by constantly sharing ideas and developing the game non-stop. Secondly, the free-to-play concept allows us to cope with piracy problem, which is still a big issue for us here.”

So an online game world, constantly updated, with server-side control for the developers. You can see why that might be appealing to the developers, but at the same time off-putting to the Stalker hardcore.

And while solitary atmosphere was a major aspect of STALKER, its soul lay in the people making it. Fortunately, their ideas and passion could still make the jump to Survarium – even if all their previous hard work, sadly, has not. This project is effectively a start-up, and will not be leaning on the previous assets, world-design, or technology of the Stalker world.


“We are at prototype-building stage,” Yavorsky explained. ”The technology development started in early 2012. We are not using any STALKER 2 assets in Survarium, it’s all from scratch. In terms of ideas, we are going to incorporate quite a few of what we had in mind for STALKER 2, but now on a new level, given the context of MMOFPS.”

So that’s where Vostok’s headed, but where does that leave the STALKER franchise? Is the Zone officially abandoned – perhaps somewhat fittingly a development wasteland where only modders scavenge what’s left and re-purpose it into something new? For now, it seems that way. And while Vostok’s not happy about it, the STALKER developers refuse to let that get them down.

“The STALKER brand rights belong to Sergiy Grygorovych, the founder of GSC,” noted Yavorsky. “We had negotiations, but did not reach agreement with him to continue developing under STALKER brand, so we started our new IP.”

This of course means that STALKER itself lies in the GSC founder’s hands, and could still be used. Vostok simply represent the talent behind the games, who have moved on to new things.

“We all love STALKER - it’s been our child, and it’s a very painful situation indeed. This said, though, we’re optimistic about the ideas and concept we have for Survarium. It should become the STALKER idea’s next evolutionary step in every respect.”

Hard to be sure how that would work, but you could perhaps see an analogy there with other MMOs, and the way stalker itself worked: the bars and bases of the original game could be the multiplayer hubs, with huge instanced wildernesses stretching off from there, for you and a small gang of friends to explore, battling against the horrors of the wilderness. Vostock have already said that they expect player-versus-environment to be the main event, so perhaps solo play will still be possible, but perhaps co-op – the thing forever missing from Stalker’s world – could also create an interesting new dynamic for Zone-like survivalism.

We can’t wait to see more.

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72 Comments »

  1. mehteh says:

    sigh. the MMO model is getting old and annoying. I dont need every damn genre moving towards a MMO business model. Its either a shallow F2P game(with unbalancing microtransaction unlocks or rented unlocks), monthly fee game, or the rare balanced F2P MMO.

  2. Dowson says:

    I hope they make the zones massive so you can still have that isolation that made Stalker so great, maybe build it so exploration is the key thing, and the hubs are where the real MMO aspect comes in.

    • Scrawnto says:

      I think this sort of game would be best played in a PVP environment with few restrictions, EVE style. People will naturally group to form bands of bandits and factions like Freedom or Duty from the STALKER series. Sure, some people will choose to be loner Stalkers, but the old setting was filled with people who weren’t totally isolationists, and the new one could be too.

      One thing that’s vital is that they have buildings to explore and set up camp in that aren’t instanced off from the rest of the world. Being able to set up a sniper nest, or clear a facility from room to room would be really cool. If they did things right, without sacrificing weapon handling and such, this could be the first MMO where I actually got into PVP. I’m cautiously optimistic.

      Also, look on the bright side folks; if the game is a failure, and no one else is playing, then you’ll get the isolation you crave!

      • psyk says:

        “Also, look on the bright side folks; if the game is a failure, and no one else is playing, then you’ll get the isolation you crave!”

        *claps*
        Good work.

  3. Blackcompany says:

    Single player to MMO is an evolution?

    Isn’t that sort of like humans evolving into neanderthals?

  4. nothingfaced says:

    Hmmm – just doesn’t work for me this. Wish them luck but this is filed in the not for me section…

  5. magnus says:

    An FPSMMO? Devolution not Evolution.

  6. magnus says:

    I can only react to this by quoting from ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’, ‘Your stupid minds, STUPID, STUPID!’

  7. Stevostin says:

    ” but perhaps co-op – the thing forever missing from Stalker’s world – ”

    Typo here. Corrected

    ” but perhaps co-op – the thing that wasn’t plaguing Stalker’s world hence making it so great ”

    Seriously. Efficient co-op means social networking outside of the game setting (chat, skype, network gaming, whatever). As soon as you get that it totally eclipses the intimacy and the immersion. I am not totally convinced against an MMOFPS as long as there is no chat, no friend list, nothing outside of the core game (the wandering manshoot) that helps you build an advantage to any lone wolf. Essentially a STALKER with IA replaced by other player, that may be great. I can see a path to this. But as soon as one of the stalker will comment on the next election of offer a gun in a channel, say goodbye to the atmosphere. Which is so essential to STALKER games…

    • Ross Angus says:

      Good point. It would be particularly galling if it took some of the bizarre tropes from MMORPGs, such as enemies vomiting numbers representing hit points, and screen-swallowing GUIs.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Nothing says they have to use those conventions often employed by MMORPGs, mostly as they aren’t even going for the same genre so it wouldn’t apply.

        • Stevostin says:

          Well, they sure did solo FPS like no one did, so there chances are little they do MMOFPS like anyone either. Despite my comment I have faith in those guys. I miss STALKER badly.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Even a Guild Wars approach might be really good for maintaining the atmosphere, as if you instance all areas except hubs, it could be fairly interesting by itself.
            Also keeps server costs to a minimum.

          • Stevostin says:

            You may be right on this, actually. That worked well for Diablo 2 too.

          • felix6 says:

            diablo 2 was no mmo, and diablo 3 will not be mmo, sorry but some ppl just don’t get it ;)

          • Brun says:

            diablo 2 was no mmo, and diablo 3 will not be mmo, sorry but some ppl just don’t get it ;)

            I guess that means you’re one of those people, because they aren’t saying that Diablo 2 or Diablo 3 are MMOs.

    • Scrawnto says:

      The first thing I would do is turn off any chat channels. In fact, I’d be fine if talking to other players meant locking into a one on one chat sort of like locking into dialog in STALKER, or pressing a button that made you shout “оружие кобурa!” Or at least I think that’s what the NPCs always say when your gun is up.

    • Terragot says:

      I started writing a post on things they need to not implement from traditional MMO’s to make this a true alienated stalker experience, but it would have just ended with no multilayer aspect what-so-ever.

      no matter which way I try to spin it in my mind, this whole idea is just one glaring train wreck waiting to happen.

      • Stevostin says:

        I played the same game and I do see a path.

        - Low player density, make sure everyone’s here for a consistent reason (ideally unique to each, but I don’t want to entirely rule out opportunistic teams – actually that could be pretty neat if it worked that way and only that way).

        - possibly HUGE space, like encountering a real player once every hour.

        - some subtle mechanics to make wild PvP always an option but not especially likely. Somethink like : if you’re seen killing someone who didn’t attack you, they’ll be a procedural quest to some people to hunt you down.

        - nothing that will multiply social skills impact, such as ability to exchange or trade objects without a decent deal of constraint – maybe not all we have IRL, but no magical instant mailing system, no instant auction house, no immaterial bank accessible from several places that no one can rob etc.

        - … permadeath ? I’d certainly like to give a try to a permadeath realm. If that’s really not working, at least death should kick you far away from the action. Like in : you won’t go back there anytime soon, so find something else to do.

        Ideally, it would be like playing STALKER solo but with more surprising fights, and a subtly constantly evolving map. You’d know the geographic, but never what to ultimately expect.

        • derbefrier says:

          i like that multiplayer idea. They could do something like put a bounty on players or guilds, that increase in price the more they attack or gank or something. That would be fun maybe the bounty could list a “last seen in the is area” kind of hint and then you could stalk someone :)

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I see a way around this:

      - VOIP comms always on.
      - Mic always on.
      - speech goes only to a range around player based on volume of input.
      - a satellite phone as an in-game item for distance comms, requiring you to give your channel details to others before they can call you, and needing batteries.

      It’s talking – but in a game. Yes, it doesn’t guarantee freedom from election talk and gun sales, but it keeps it to a level similar to that of going outside your house in reality, and is similarly avoidable by running away.

      • JB says:

        I wholeheartedly disagree with your first two points, that would be horrific.

        The second two sound good though.

      • MultiVaC says:

        Wouldn’t this just result in a stoic, solitary Russian survivalist patiently surveying a desolate wasteland while screaming in a child’s voice for his mom to get him some more Mountain Dew next time she goes to the grocery store?

    • fish99 says:

      Remember Stalker was originally intended to have co-op and everyone was gutted when it got cut, but that was proper co-op, 2-4 players, intended for people who knew each other to play through the campaign together, and it would have definitely added something to the game IMO as an option for a second playthrough.

      MMOFPS isn’t co-op though.

    • Apolloin says:

      All I’m saying is that the section of blasted heath outside the main community will now be full of Level 1 Stalkers collecting the meat from ten Zone Rats for the Babushka quest giver to make rat pie with.

      That’s all.

  8. mjig says:

    The only way I can see this being any good is if it ends up as a sandbox MMO.

  9. Terragot says:

    the problem with audio shortcuts is the spam. (See, rochelle in L4D2) That’s immersion breaking too. There literally needs to be no interaction between players other than a bullet from a gun, or a bullet from a hand.

  10. mckertis says:

    “MMOFPS”

    Another Soviet game developer is dead before it is even born. They are dropping like flies, arent they ?

  11. jrodman says:

    Evolution also produces dead ends and failed experiments.

  12. Shooop says:

    Best we can hope for this project is a quick, merciful death.

  13. wodin says:

    Due to the fact it’ s an MMO your not going to get the indepth gameplay and story etc that was in the Stalker games. Shame.

  14. Iskariot says:

    MMO?

    No thanks.
    There is enough of that and I want NONE of it.

  15. malkav11 says:

    Hum. Well, if PvE is the main thing that’s something. I hear MMOFPS and I tend to assume competitive play will be the core, which I want nothing to do with. Still, I’d much rather just have a single player (maaybe with optional small scale coop) survival exploration game with the depth and richness of Stalker, even if not the exact setting.

  16. psyk says:

    Was I the only player that followed the AI around?

  17. GT3000 says:

    So..See you guys in game. Hypocrites.

  18. Bonaggy says:

    How do?

    New member to RPG. I am saddened to hear STALKER 2 is now among the dead again. Also not too impressed to hear “MMOFPS” either. I enjoy most games in their singleplayer element – plus being in the country means I don’t reliable net access at all times – although I’ve managed to play Left4Dead 1 and 2 now and then. Mind you, don’t think you could make a survival game with 4 way co-op, or could you? Still, Survarium will not be getting my pennies.

  19. Irregular Peanut says:

    I think this may be the first MMO where I hope that it will be heavily instanced ala Guild Wars 1.

    Only meet other people in hubs otherwise only group members will go with you to the actual zone (so most of the game’s atmosphere can’t be ruined by XxXUltimateSniperXxX running around spamming trade requests and stealing kills).

  20. Splynter says:

    This is a game where the Demon/Dark souls multiplayer model would be a great fit. Alas, that’s probably not going to happen.

    • Ichi_1 says:

      Totally agree with this point. Having the occasional player cross your path and the messages were awesome. You felt you like you were part of something bigger, but still had to get through the game on your own.

      Surely this could work perfectly. Essentially a solo game and every person is in their own world. Then people can leave items, messages etc… in the world and they can be seen in other players worlds.

      You could also invade another players world and there could be certain areas where if you and another player are in close proximity you would see their ‘ghost’ in your world with the possibility of you communicating. You could also have areas that are hubs where people congregate, swap stories and join together to head out on quests.

      Having areas that ripped you out of your world and brought you together with other players would allow for pvp action if that’s what you wanted.

      All of this could be explained by anomalies. It would be awesome

  21. zagor says:

    FUC*
    THIS SHIT
    im seriously distressed by such a graven news
    i mean shit like sleeping dogs aka ex true crime passed and s2 dont
    fu*k u world and f*ck sergei gregorovich

  22. kud13 says:

    re-posting this from a different forum I put it on first, it’s my loose translation of the talking points:
    http://stalker-gsc.ru/news/itogi_onl…012-04-26-1769
    the Q+A with Vostok games about Survarium

    A server-based MP FPS. 30 players per session max. Co-op or team play, no solo play. There will be quests, related to a “deep storyline”. Also a somehting caller “person against the world”–more on that in the following dev diaries, next one in about a month. Game will run through a downloadable clients, mods are under consideration, but nothing balance-altering. No plans for non-official servers. Experience, like in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., is something the player’s supposed to gain, not the character. not sure how microtransactions will affect the game yet.

    • Azdeus says:

      Bah. Sounds less than interesting to me, no matter how they flip it my thoughts go to STALKER 2 DRM rumors that were about late last year or whatever. Not continuing with STALKER due to the outrage of serverbased assets and starting a new IP instead to fully go for those ideas.

      Something that really appealed to me was the ability to modify items in the game after my own taste, and not have to worry much about the game balance. If I wanted an FAMAS rifle in my game, I could mod it in. Want the AN-94 to really fire bursts at 2000 RPM? Go ahead, change the fire rate of the rifle.
      And ofcourse, no “non-official” servers, wich will mean that you have to play by their own rules.

      No way in hell will this be possible now. No solo play either? Great. Forced to play with some monkeys I’ve never met, and very well may wish to have never met either. I’m getting flashbacks to World of Warcraft again. FUCK.

      Thanks for translating this, Kud13-buns.

      • psyk says:

        “Forced to play”

        You get fritzled? thye aren’t forcing you to do anything.

        • Azdeus says:

          “Co-op or teamplay, no solo play” pretty much means “forced to play with people” to me.
          This is assuming you were to play the game at all ofcourse, but I thought I would’nt have to add that in.

  23. Mattressi says:

    If this turns out like Fallen Earth, I’ll both expect it and be devastated. I really hope they can do something good with this, but if every other MMO is anything to go by, it will be absolutely horrible.

  24. MultiVaC says:

    Hopefully this will end up like what happened with Torchlight, where they planned on making an MMO but it didn’t quite work out right away, so they have to make a cool single player game in the mean time, and then put the MMO on hold again to make a sequel to it.

  25. CaptainVolcanoes says:

    To me, a “STALKER-esque” game, is one where being on your own is a mechanic, and not the opposite.

    You come across a small, run-down village. First, looking it over with your binoculars, you spot someone walking past a window inside one of the buildings. After ages of walking the Zone alone and finding no-one friendly, you determine that it’s worth the risk of walking into the closed-in village, even just to buy some supplies and sell the clothes you scavenged off that poor STALKER’s corpse, laying at the entrance to some evil mutant’s den.

    As you approach, you get a better look at the man in the window, standing at a weird angle, head tilted and body swaying slightly from left to right. A zombie! And even for a zombie you can tell he’s well armed, some former army type, and he’s probably not the only one there. So, naturally you back off, remembering that the mutant which killed the STALKER back at the den, had absorbed most of your ammo when he came for you too.
    You walk away, and carry on, in search of a friendly face.

    In an MMO I can imagine it more like these two examples:

    1.) You come across the village that the quest givers had told you about at the last quest hub, you clear it out with the ammo you bought from the vendors there and return to hand in, yaay!

    2.) You ran out of ammo, realize that you can’t proceed with the quest-chain and head back to buy some from the quest hub.

    Surely I can’t be the only one seeing it like this?

    • Unaco says:

      That is a pretty specific story you’re laying out there… so yeah, I think you probably are the only one seeing it like that.

      There’s absolutely nothing to prevent a STALKER-esque MMO playing out exactly like the first scenario you describe, but you have a brother/buddy/random guy you found in the wilderness alongside you. STALKER was largely about being alone, but there were also dozens of other STALKERs wandering around at the same time… largely, they were lifeless though. A Multiplayer STALKER would make each one of them an actual person.

      I’ve been commenting about this mod a lot recently, because it’s currently occupying my time and seems to be something many, many people have been asking for. It’s called DayZ, and it’s a mod for ArmA2. Set in a Zombie Apocalypse, in a 225sqkm sandbox, survival based, permanent characters, permanent world.

      Part 1, there are 4 parts so far. Shows off a lot of the scraping by, counting bullets survival aspects, as well as the player interaction and factionalisation that can arise. It starts off with 1 big group splitting into two, and agreeing to meet up later, once they’ve explored etc. It follows one of those groups, as it goes from 7 survivors, down to 2, while they explore the map offering help to others, and generally trying to get by. Very much how I could see a Multiplayer STALKER working out.

  26. Innovacious says:

    The problem I’m seeing with 99% of the comments on this game, is they are comparing this to MMORPGs and saying that would be terrible. This is an MMOFPS. MMO just means a lot of people playing on the same server, MMO and MMORPG are not synonyms. People are jumping to conclusions about what the game is going to be like. I’m just going to wait. Sure, MMO sounds bad for its own reasons anyway, you kind of lose immersion when you see some guy bunny hopping along the horizon, but I’m actually willing to give them the benefit of doubt… for now.

    • psyk says:

      They seemed to of missed massive parts of the stalker games as well, or are just ignoring them to push the “OMG AN MMO NOOOOOOOOOO” nerd rage that is engulfing them.

  27. StingingVelvet says:

    Piracy won’t be a problem with me because as an online multiplayer game I have no interest in playing it! No piracy AND no sale! woo-hoo!

  28. bill says:

    Unlike others, I could see STALKER working as an MMO.

    I’m not a fan of MMOs, and it sure WOULDN’T work as a WoW-clone style MMO. But the world of Stalker (fed up of caps now) is basically one of factions and inter-faction fighting.

    It’s the MASSIVELY (last one) part that’s tricky. Stalker had, essentially, about 1-200 AI players hanging out in 2 (plus a few) factions. Does 200 people count as an Mmo? Or just an MOFPS?

    If they made it like EVE (oh ffs…. bloody caps in game names) or Perpetuum, then it would fit reasonably well. Make a massive hostile game world, and make a sparse real-world economy driven by the recovery of artifacts and supplies.. and let players band into teams, form bases, make defences and roadblocks, send out expeditions, or ambush other players. And don’t have any form of global chat.

    It’d be like playing stalker with better AI.

    • kud13 says:

      despite the name MMOFPS, they are giving a30 people per session as the magic number right now. depending on the size of locations, that’s hardly “massive” They are getting a ton of backlash from the core CIS fanbase with this, because it practically alienates people with weak/non-constant connections. Since S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was always a first and foremost a “homeland” game, this does not bode well for Vostok.

  29. Voon says:

    I can’t say anything much about this game before there’s any gameplay footage or pre-alpha builds of this. So, I won’t jump to conclusions and automatically say it sucks like shit with a passion of a thousand suns as I would be eating my own words if it turns out decent enough to play or better.

    Still, I’m still uncertain how the game would fare given it’s an MMO. I’ll just have to wait and see

  30. Ichi_1 says:

    Dark Souls mechanics would work perfectly for this. Having the occasional player cross your path and the messages were awesome. You felt you like you were part of something bigger, but still had to get through the game on your own.

    Surely this could work perfectly. Essentially a solo game and every person is in their own world. Then people can leave items, messages etc… in the world and they can be seen in other players worlds.

    You could also invade another players world and there could be certain areas where if you and another player are in close proximity you would see their ‘ghost’ in your world with the possibility of you communicating. You could also have areas that are hubs where people congregate, swap stories and join together to head out on quests.

    Having areas that ripped you out of your world and brought you together with other players would allow for pvp action if that’s what you wanted.

    All of this could be explained by anomalies. It would be awesome

  31. Unaco says:

    DayZ mod for ArmA2 gives off a definite STALKER/Survival vibe, in a large sandbox with 40-50 players per server (currently) and character permanence, and it’s pretty damn good. Probably the closest thing we’ll get to a Multiplayer STALKER in my opinion.

    Hopefully this will have no instancing, no player stats, no restrictions on PvP and murder (consequences though), open ended gameplay, and perma-death.

    Of course, everyone will probably want something different from a STALKER-esque multiplayer game.

  32. midgetonic says:

    I love the fools who are leaving comments as if this game is stalker 2.

  33. Noblaum says:

    I just want to have a single player option or the ability to start a server with select people instead of having idiots running around shooting everything. Although Day Z for ArmA was really fun, if it’s anything like that it could work. Although there should be a currency system so that the bandits don’t take vital to survival items, just some food, ammo, and your money. It’s really annoying to have all my stuff stolen right before a hoard comes.

  34. Lemming says:

    You know, if this was something like a combination of Hellgate: London (the randomising) and Journey (the instanced drop in/out ‘appearance’ of other players) it would be fucking amazing.

    But it won’t be so I won’t get my hopes up :(

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