Posts Tagged ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’

Hands On: Survarium

The first part of Vostok’s grand post-apocalyptic shooter plan, Survarium, has now started inviting batches of sign ups to their beta. It’s the multiplayer FPS portion of the game, and as such basically a test of the shooting, running about, and weapon unlocking game systems. It’s an experience that will be familiar to anyone who spent time playing first-person games online in the past decade, although set in the most lavish of Ukrainian apocalypses.

So is that offering going to be strong enough to power the game through to its pseudo-Stalker co-op core? Peer into my crystal lake of toxic weirdness to find out.

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Survarium Getting New Areas, Quests, Anomalies ‘Soon’

I really just want to explore this place - not scamper around it while shooting people. I mean, how will I even cling frantically to my safety blanket if I'm holding a gun the whole time?

I imagine that it’d feel terribly awkward to be Survarium. Yes, there are the obvious reasons – having such a silly nametag chained to your chest can’t be fun; also, existing as the first sentient videogame or whatever – but imagine all the guilt. Survarium isn’t STALKER 2 and it never will be, but longtime fans can’t let go that easily. Survarium-You would walk into rooms, and people’s eyes would narrow into disdainful slits. “You’re not your parents’ son, you… you… imposter,” they’d say through clenched teeth, revulsion quivering in their eyes. “But, that said, the more reasonable among us do think you still seem fairly nice on your own merits – especially in terms of environment design and world lore. We sincerely wish you all the best. Keep on keeping on and all that.”

“You abomination.”

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Cloned Zone: Survarium Footage

Pretty. So very pretty.
My conflict-o-tron is clicking like that time I discovered a ‘free kitten, smoosh child’ lever. I could have had a free kitten, but then there’s that child. Not even imagining the cutest kittens and the worst children could get me to pull it. Believe me, I tried. Survarium has me in that same sort of headspace: a game from a lot of the Stalker devs set in a zone of alienation! Hooray! But it’ll start out as a free-to-play shooter. There is some footage of a match below, and it looks lovely and lush, but doesn’t play anything like Stalker.
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Zoned Out: Eyes On With Survarium


Last week I finally got a chance to meet two heroes of the Stalker years, Joe Mullin and Oleg Yavorsky, who are now working hard as Vostok on the free-to-play shooter, Survarium. There’s an immediate tension when you mention the F word, and I think the legacy that resides in Survarium means that Vostok have to go that extra mile to prove themselves. Good looking shooters with a touch of persistence are becoming increasingly common in this new era. That said, Survarium is looking promising, and I was fascinated to see the game in play for the first time.

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Zoning Out: Vostok On Survarium Alpha Progress


Of all the spin off studios that materialised after the disintegration of STALKER 2, it was Vostok who remained most faithful to the vision. This time, though, they’re taking quite a different angle. Survarium will be a journey into a zone of alienation with other people along for the ride. It will be co-operative and competitive and very bleak indeed. I spoke to Oleg Yavorsky about how the current closed alpha test was going and he told me “Ultimately, I think fighting real players is way more interesting than combating against programmed bots, don’t you agree?”

I had to agree.
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A Stalk In The Park: Survarium’s Big Map, Plantiest Faction

Good to see the Weirwoods at least made it through the Russian apocalypse. The First Men will be pleased.

If various apocalyptic games, books, and movies have taught me anything, it’s that you always side with the trees. Humans? Nah, they’re old hat. On the way out. This is largely evidenced by the fact that they always find some way to bomb, globally warm, or pandemic themselves to the brink of extinction. That’s not exactly the stuff of a winning team. Trees, though, they wither but never waver. Just a few stray seeds and they’re back in the game. So naturally, Survarium‘s Fringe faction worships them, because what else do you do with an unfeeling entity that doesn’t care if you live or die? See them in action – along with a new, impressively colossal map called Chemical Plant – below.

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Cluck You: Humans Must Answer Out Now

Fly like a robot eagle, through space. Fly right into the futuuuuuuuuure

This career affords me the option to write about space chickens more often than you’d think, but still not as much as I’d like. It’s a real shame, but this – this right now – is a most eggcellent moment. And getting to namedrop STALKER in the same article? Well that’s just the finger lickin’ chicken’s most prized pickins’ (I’m from Texas, so I’m allowed to talk like that). But yes: Humans Must Answer, a shmup by former STALKER devs where you play as genocidal intergalactic avians, is now officially out. There’s a celebratory trailer that tastes remarkably like chicken right after the break.

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. MISERY 2.0 Will Make Summer Grimmer

Oh god, I want a new Stalker so so much
The sun is beating the UK into sweaty submission. Flowers are blooming, there is blue where there’s usually grey, and lollypops are the staple food source. Summer has finally decided to show up and make the world brighter and sort of happier, so this weekend I closed the curtains and spent my off-time fiddling with Stalker. I decided I wanted to pretty up the original game: I wanted pitch black nights, livelier fauna, blowouts, lovely skies, and more interesting weather. Unfortunately I’d forgotten I’d already modded it, so I ended up with a broken mutant of a game. I’m reinstalling now. It wasn’t at total waste: on my hunt for the Shadow Of Chernobyl mods I discovered that the long-awaited Misery 2.0 for Call Of Pripyat is out this month. And it has a trailer.
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Stalk This Way: Survarium Alpha

The first players invited to Survarium’s alpha have been playing for a while now but a tweet from the team suggests that they are almost ready to open the gateway to their apocalyptic doomscapes, in which it is currently possible to engage in a team-based PVP mode. If you’d like to shoot people in the remnants of civilisation, or would just like to see how much like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. this sort of thing can possibly be, this is the place to enter your details. The experience should certainly be more like a trip to the Zone than it was previously as recent updates have added those lovely reality-distoting, gut-bursting anomalies. Hurrah.

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Survarium Enters Alpha, Will Expand Over Time

Two men enter, one man leaves. WHO WILL SURVARVE?

To this very day, I continue to be followed around by a gray little rain cloud that weeps heaving droplets over STALKER 2’s demise. I have named it Probably Clinical Depression – after my great grandfather, of course. But one can only linger on the past for so long. I know this. I am a mature adult with grownup feelings, coping mechanisms, and tastes in colorful breakfast cereals. So naturally, I’ve decided to pile all my hopes and desires on a thing that only vaguely resembles my loss, like any well-adjusted person would. Survarium‘s been unabashedly multiplayer since day one, and now it’s officially entered invite-only alpha. Does it at least capture STALKER’s spirit? I can only hope.

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Stalk Them: Survarium After Alpha Testers

Rising like a hideously mutated phoenix from the ashes of STALKER 2 is Survarium. Although, as is well established in Jim’s interview with the team from earlier this year, the F2P MMO is deliberately a very different game. And now it’s a game for whose alpha you can register.

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Surviving The Future: Vostok Talk Survarium


When GSC collapsed and seemed to take STALKER 2 with it, there was immediately a ray of light: Vostok, a team consisting of a large section of the original Stalker development team, now making their own game, Survarium. While the art style and atmosphere look astonishingly similar to that classic open-world shooter, what we’re looking at here is a free-to-play MMOFPS. Quite a different proposition indeed, despite powerful influences from the Roadside Picnic/Zone mythology which underwrote the original GSC games.

With Vostok’s recently-announced development timeline showing a Survarium beta happening in 2013, I thought it might be a good idea to catch up Oleg Yavorsky, the company’s spokesman, and a fellow I had previously conducted numerous STALKER interviews with over the years. Read on below to see how we got on.
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Surviving: Vostok Delves Deeper Into Survarium


Vostok, the Ukrainian devs who once worked on STALKER and now work on Survarium, have released another dev-diary to describe a but more about what they’re up to. Some of it is familiar territory, some not. Key, perhaps, is that this will be multiplayer, which is going to have all kinds of implications for our stalking of Survarium’s haunting ruins. This new diary discusses the black market, as well as things like player-injury. There are a few glimpses of the game world, too. It’s looking good.
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GSC: We Remain The Owner Of The STALKER Brand

Update: GSC responded to our queries, pointing out two rather major items: 1) “BitComposer doesn’t have any rights as to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., except for distributing our game Call of Pripyat on some territories,” a rep clarified. “They may have purchased the rights for the game based on Roadside Picnic, but it has nothing to do with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or its universe.” 2) “GSC is seeking ways to continue the series, and we’re also considering selling out the brand to a decent developer or publisher.” Hear that? Somebody amazing, BUY STALKER.

Original: I always wanted to be able to tell people STALKER will never die, but I’m not sure I wanted it to be like this. First, German publisher bitComposer claimed to have obtained the rights to develop games about Chernobyl’s implausibly bad luck with nuclear power via a book-series-shaped backdoor. When doubt was cast upon the validity of their claim, they confirmed to Jim that the rights are theirs, but hesitated to comment any further as to what that could mean for the series or the sadly defunct STALKER 2. Now, though, the thought-to-be-corpsified remains of original STALKER dev GSC Game World have caught wind of the controversy, and they’re returning fire with fighting words.

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BitComposer Acquire S.T.A.L.K.E.R. From “Strygatsky”?


UPDATE: Just got off the phone with bitComposer, who tell us that they DID acquire Stalker rights from the late Boris Strugatsky. Quite what this means for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise isn’t clear, as they can make no further comment at this time.

UPDATE 2: It seems we might be looking at STALKER for bitComposer and a separate franchise to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Confusing, eh?

Those of you who have been following the saga of the demise of GSC and the subsequent death of STALKER 2 might recall that the property was held by GSC owner Sergiy Grygorovich, while most of the original dev team went off to form Vostok and work on Survarium. Now, though, there’s been a new development, with this news from German publisher bitComposer: “bitComposer Entertainment AG has acquired the exclusive worldwide rights for future video game adaptations of the acclaimed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand from Boris Natanovich Strygatsky (sic). This is the second strong international license that the Eschborn-based company has acquired within the space of a few years, and this move ensures that the successful series will continue.”

More details will apparently appear “shortly”, although it’s not entirely clear what rights are held here – given that the Stalker brand held by the authors is different from that held by the game creators, and could be an error or mistranslation. (And this perhaps rubbishes previous rumours that Bethesda had acquired the rights.) Quite who will make this new game, though, will be the burning question. Thanks to the huge flashing array of IM windows which lit up to inform me of this news.

We’ve contacted bitComposer for comment.

Of Space Chickens And Men: Humans Must Answer

Looks just like STALKER, right?

Was my decision to write this story influenced strongly by the fact that I’d get to include the phrase “space chickens” in a headline? Future scholars will argue over the answer to that very question for generations, and they’ll be wasting their time because duh. But eggstraterrestrials galaxy-faring coop-flyers are – believe it or not – only part of what makes Humans Must Answer intriguing. The other half of that equation, then, is the oh-so-silly shmup’s pedigree. Developer Sumom Games, you see, rose from STALKER 2’s irradiated ashes when GSC Game World ceased to be. So now the team’s making shmups starring “intelligent and dangerous chickens,” naturally. Apparently, though, the storyline – which sees said chickens encounter hostile humans – is “subtle and surprising.” I honestly can’t tell if they’re joking.

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Happy Stalktober: Survarium’s First In-Game Footage

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. You know, aside from, um, the apocalypse.

STALKER 2 might be rifling through the belongings of irradiated angels, but now we’ve got Survarium to take its place. Or, well, I suppose it’s actually tearing STALKER’s place to tiny shreds, rearranging what’s left, and sprinkling in all sorts of shiny (read: dingy, dilapidated) new bits of its own – sort of like a collage that seems to be a familiar picture when you’re far away, but reveals its true colors as you get closer. So this is Survarium. At any rate, it continues to both intrigue and worry me – especially now that we have some snippets of actual in-game footage to work with. Take a side in my vicious internal conflict after the break.

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Bethesda Have Rights To STALKER, Claims Galyonkin


RussianUkrainian blogger and marketing man Sergey Galyonkin – who tipped off the closure of the STALKER 2 project earlier this year – has claimed that Bethesda now have the rights to make a publish a STALKER game. They apparently do not have rights to the extended universe. GSC owner Sergei Grigorovich has not sold the brand, but apparently Bethesda could now make a game based on the property with their own technology. We’ll report more on this as we get it.

This follows on from the closure of STALKER 2 earlier in the year, an event which culminated in Ukrainian spin-off studios such as Survarium devs, Vostok.

We’ve contacted Bethesda for a statement. UPDATE: Currently they are saying “No comment.”

You Winarium Or You Diearium: Survarium

A new developer diary for Survarium, which is not STALKER 1.5, STALKER 2 or STALKER Online, fails to dispel such notions entirely by referring to anomalies and artifacts at the first possible opportunity. A finely edited montage of horrors explains how the world died this time around and creeping botanical nightmares make even the talking head sections quite unnerving. Then there’s explanation of levels, purchases and perks, and the two game modes: team combat and co-op. Then, right at the end, a man with a magnificent beard appears to talk about One More Mode (cue: Daft Punk’s One More Time).

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Stop Making Scenes: Against Cinema In Games

A game

‘Cinematic’ should rightfully be a dirty word when discussing games and yet Max Payne 3’s marketing wears it proudly, like a sweat-stained vest or an inappropriately jaunty tie. A cutscene is cinematic, every detail and angle just so, no room for accident or deviation, but to aspire to a ‘cinematic’ experience during play is to ignore so much of what makes experiences within a game unique to the form. We run, gun and react in worlds that rely, for the enjoyment they bring, on the accidental and the curious as much as they require adherence to a plan. Here’s to the unexpected, the unplanned and the unforgettable.

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