The Kickstarter for the Stalker "spiritual successor" Areal looked like a sure-fire train wreck after it launched, as serious questions about its legitimacy and the bona fides of the team behind it seemed almost certain to bring it down. Yet it continues to persevere, and today the former lead designer of Vostok Games' Survarium, who also worked as a designer on the original Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl, posted a video message confirming that he's joined the Areal development team.
Stalker: Shadow of Chenobryl
The team behind the Stalker-inspired Areal said in a recent Kickstarter update that it has worked things out with Vostok Games and cleared up all the complaints against it. But a Vostok representative says that's not really what happened at all, and that it's been forced to let the matter drop because it can't actually do anything about it.
Areal is a post-apocalyptic, open-world shooter that claims to be the "definitive spiritual successor to the cult hit S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series". Another claim: that its creators, West Games, are a team mostly "composed of former senior GSC Game World staff members". It's currently on Kickstarter, and it's looking for $50,000.
That's the basic starting point, but things get a lot more complicated. Vostok Games—a band of former GSC Game World staff and creators of the STALKER-inspired MMO Survarium—have taken umbrage to these statements, saying that West Games are fraudulently promoting themselves as core STALKER developers.
Like a lot of you (I'm guessing), I've never even tried the multiplayer modes in the terrific Stalker series, but it's good to know that I'll be able to if I ever get the itch. GSC Gameworld's post-apocalyptic horror shooter games are the latest to be rescued from GameSpy oblivion, via automagical Steam patches, or if you don't own the games on Steam, one equally magical manual multi-patch for all three games. This will switch the multiplayer servers over from GameSpy to GSC Gameworld's own, slightly less risky ones (it's not entirely clear who's running them, as GSC was dissolved in 2011).
Usually, to make a STALKER mod, it's required that you make everything 700% harder, possibly while pouring homebrewed vodka into any available orifice and glueing beard-extending bear fur directly to your face. Lost Alpha is a little more subtle. It started life as a pure restoration of Shadow of Chernobyl's cut levels, but later expanded into a more expansive project: creating a new parallel story that takes place across these restored and recreated zones.
The mod has now been officially released, after an unfortunate leak dashed the creators chances of having their work become an official paid-for expansion to the series. Now, it's instead a great, free excuse to dig the oldest Stalker out from its bunker.
A couple of months ago we wrote about Stalker: Lost Alpha, a mod that aimed to revive an early version of the game teased prior to release, which included more, bigger areas, and other features that didn't make into Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. Yesterday, the Hungarian team behind the mod, Dez0wave announced that some testers leaked a beta build of the mod, and the mod makers are understandably pretty upset about it.
Survarium's unstoppable "green apocalypse" is creeping towards a closed beta development phase, according to a new dev diary from the folks at Vostok Games. An MMO/FPS hybrid set in a world of collapsing societies and strange anomolies, Survarium's latest update features new public footage from the shooter, as well as some details about the ways players can find an invite to help test the game.
This latest Survarium trailer is a pretty good showcase for the game's lovingly rendered ruined world, but it's also one of the more exciting 'let's show off one of our game maps' videos I've watched. It has a narrative and everything, telling the story of a sniper perched on top of an abandoned church, and some dude who tries to take him down. What is Survarium again? It's the free-to-play multiplayer shooter from former Stalker 2 devs, and you can still sign up for the alpha over here.
Major STALKER: Call of Pripryat mod Misery has a new trailer that runs through the additions planned for its v2.0 update. It's nine minutes long, which should give you an idea of just how much has been packed into this revisit. Wait, what's that, YouTube description? "Not all features of MISERY 2.0 are mentioned in this trailer." Yikes. In that case, this giant overhaul promises to be one seriously miserable time. In the best possible way.
New screenshots of Survarium, the online spiritual successor to Stalker, have surfaced from the game’s alpha development phase. Stalker, the fantastic first-person shooter with a legion of devoted fans, set expectations high for Stalker 2, which was then unexpectedly and unceremoniously cancelled. Since the sequel officially died, Stalker 2’s former developers have set up shop as Vostok Games to pursue an MMOFPS version of the game that never happened.
From PlanetSide to Quake to Team Fortress, the current issue of PC Gamer US is locked and loaded to count down the 25 Greatest Shooters of All Time. Plus, we bring you our review of a brand new Eastern European dystopian shooter with mutants—Metro: Last Light—and invite you to Reinstall a classic Eastern European dystopian shooter with mutants—S.T.A.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl.
Farewell then, THQ. Yesterday saw the publisher’s final assets sold off to a variety of buyers, and while many good people (and franchises) managed to find a new home, our thoughts and well-wishes are with those that didn’t. As we’re in a reflective mood, we thought it only appropriate to commemorate the loss of this fine company with a look back at ten of the best games it’s delighted us with over the years.
When GSC Game World went nuclear last year, it was feared that the Stalker series would be buried in the irradiated rubble. Instead, the ensuing months have seen no shortage of scavengers attempt to lay claim to the ownership of the gloomy open-world shooter. Meanwhile, the actual developers responsible for building its aborted sequel have dusted themselves off and set up on their own. Though their new project doesn't have the Stalker name, it shares a lot of its DNA - albeit mutated into a new free-to-play MMO form. Alexei Sytyanov, lead designer at the newly minted Vostok Games, tells us all about survival in their online wilderness.
For a while there, it seemed as if we'd seen the last of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series and its pesky punctuation. Since STALKER 2's cancellation at GSC, with employees from the developer forming Vostok Games and turning their attentions to the similarly post-apocalyptic Survarium, the Zone seemed forever closed. Now, though, word comes through from bitComposer Games that they've obtained the STALKER license for further titles in the franchise.
[sound of coffin opening] Welcome! I am your (g)host, Craig FEARSOME, beckoning you in to this eldritch gathering of... LOOK BEHIND YOU! [sound of special effects budget being cut] Yes, there is NOTHING there. The very absence of fear is perhaps the greatest fear of all. No? But I used Caps Lock and italics! WhAt aBOut NOwWow? [sound of awkward silence] Fine, you are unafraid of typography. How about a list of the scariBOOest PC games? Hah. I saw you flinch! Now you are atmospherically prepared, ensure there are neither babies nor pets between yourself and the nearest toilet, lest your bowels react unfavourably to this mildly cursed list of possibly evil games, aka The five Scariest PC Games of alllllllll timmmmmme*. [sound of coffin closing][sound of Craig snoring]
It looks as though Vostock Games might not be the only studio to form in the aftermath of the break up of STALKER developers, GSC. Russian gaming site, StopGame reports that a significant element of the GSC STALKER team have set up shop in Kiev, and have formed a new outfit called Union Studio.
There are a few tidbits to back this up. A description on UnionStudio's sparse LinkedIn page describes the developer as a "new company, created together with the best professionals that worked for GSC GAME WORLD and other AAA class studios." The page announces that they're making a "cross-platform action shooter which will be available for PC, Mac, PlayStation, XBOX." There's also a work-in-progress Union Studio site, which simply says "coming soon."
A Ukranian news site is reporting that the developers of Stalker and Stalker 2, GSC have shut down their studio. An "informed source" told them that founder and CEO, Sergei Grigorovich made the announcement at a staff meeting, saying that the company was closing because of unspecified "personal reasons." RPS spotted a tweet from the company denying that GSC has been closed, but that has since been deleted. If true, it would be a sudden and very sad turn of events. We'll know what's happening for certain when GSC make official comment.
A brave Russian mod team has challenged themselves to port the whole of GSC's survival horror, STALKER, into Crysis' more advanced engine. The project's called Cryzone - Sector 23, and is far along enough for the team to have released a video of the mod in action. You'll find the video embedded below.
This week in the US Direct2Drive is offering sales on some of Atari's best games, including 75% off Kings Bounty and the superb Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. Meanwhile today's Games for Windows Marketplace deal is selling STALKER for 99 cents. Read on for details.