With a new, in-house Areal crowdfunding campaign underway, West Games founder Eugene Kim took some time to answer a few questions about why the Kickstarter was suspended, what he knows about the big, late-day contributions that pushed the project past its goal and why the studio continues to use Stalker assets to promote its new game.
The Areal Kickstarter was pushed over and then well past its goal a few days ago thanks to a very sudden spike in support, but the saga has now taken an unexpected (or perhaps not) twist, as funding for the project has been suspended.
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.
The official Facebook page of GSC Game World, the now-defunct creator of the Stalker series, issued a statement over the weekend calling for an end to disparaging comments about Areal, the "definitive spiritual successor" to the Stalker games that's now on Kickstarter/a>. That led Misery Developments, one of the most prominent critics of Areal, to remove all such criticism from its Facebook page; yet now GSC has reversed course and removed all mention of Areal from its own Facebook page.
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.