Y’know GSC Game World? Oh, you do! The Ukrainian studio behind spookyhard FPS series S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Oh, you must! You remember – they seemed to close in 2011 but held on a bit longer, still working on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 for a few months then cancelling it, and since only resurfaced to weigh in on confusing brand rights issues. See, I knew you knew them. Well, they’re back, baby! Boom! And other exciting onomatopoeia. They’ve announced a return to active game-making, and chatted a little about what went down, including about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2’s fate.
Look, see, here’s Yeltyshev explaining that though the sequel had a shiny new engine and scenarios written by the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. chap, “we started to realise that we weren’t ready to complete the game at the level of quality that we thought it should be”. He sez of its cancellation:
“It was a difficult decision, because the team was working towards a full-scale game, but they and our CEO understood that the game just wouldn’t be at the level we wanted from STALKER 2. There was also a problem getting interest, and the right money, from publishers. We were offered funding once we reached alpha. Actually we would have been able to fund the entire development ourselves, but we still weren’t sure we’d be able to sell it once we’d got to alpha.”
He notes that they still have what was made – the engine, a few levels, and a couple of characters – archived. But what are the reformed GSC making? They didn’t just make S.T.A.L.K.E.R., you know, with RTSs aplenty too. Divine what you can from this:
“We’re pretty sure about our fans. The market we’re in is quite old fashioned, they’re not 16 year olds, they’re 25-40 years old. We don’t think free-to-play is the right model for the game we want to make. So we’re making an old-fashioned, full price game, we think our audience will be happy about that. We’re expecting a lot of our old audience!”
Of course, games are made by people, not studio names. While Yeltyshev says GSC have “a solid team”, it’s certainly not the same as before. A large chunk of folks who worked on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. went on to found Vostok Games and make Survarium, a free-to-play multiplayer FPS with S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-y influences. A few others, including series lead designer Yuriy Negrobov, ended up at West Games, the folks who are now having an iffy second crack at crowdfunding a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-like. Others, well, who knows where they’ve gone to over the years?
Yeltyshev also kicks at West Games’ claims to credibility a little, saying they were mostly working on a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. browser game intended to keep folks interested until 2. “We would definitely win the legal action against them, but we won’t start it. They used a lot of the ideas from STALKER… I don’t know what they were thinking, starting that.” It’s a mess all right, that situation.
But you don’t need me to quote any more chunks. Go read the interview for the rest, okay?