Einer der exklusiven Screenshots aus S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. [Quelle: Siehe Bildergalerie]
pcgames.de: Hi Oleg. Would you please introduce yourself to our readers? What are you doing over at GSC?
Yavorsky: Hi! I'm Oleg Yavorsky, in charge of public relations here at GSC Game World.
pcgames.de: What are the lessons you've learned from STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl and STALKER: Clear Sky? Fans stated that the games were full of bugs. Especially Clear Sky. Some even said that the games were unplayable at release date.
Yavorsky: There's obviously have been a lot of feedback following the two games, both positive and negative. After Clear Sky we saw a lot of complaints due to the technical issues faced by the players. This has been on one hand an unpleasant, and on the other - a good lesson for us, and we apply much effort to avoid such unnecessary problems in the future. For example, we released a benchmark for Clear Sky to collect our user install base and see which configurations are most popular among them. Now, while working on Call of Pripyat, we've been testing the game internally taking those configurations in mind. Another precaution taken, with Call of Pripyat now we do very limited changes to the game engine, which ensures extra stability of the game. And, lastly, starting from next week we are taking on board a whole external testing company which will help us lead the game up to release.
pcgames.de: OK! Let's get to your new game. STALKER: Call of Pripyat. You're using the X-Ray Engine 1.6. What are the improvements you made concerning performance, quality and other features? Will the engine be able to handle Direct X 10 or Direct X 11?
Yavorsky: With Call of Pripyat, the engine is DX10-friendly, offering players a number of features such as volumetric sunshafts, dynamic surface wetting and realistic rain effect, volumetric fog. We are continuing the optimization to improve the overall performance. As of DirectX 11 support, we are looking into the technology at the moment to see if we can do the optimization given our time constraints. Such features as antialiasing, the rewritten network module will surely be a welcome feature for the players with X-Ray 1.6.
pcgames.de: Can you tell us about the new gameplay-features of Call of Pripyat? Are you planning to implement the ability to drive cars?
Yavorsky: The first big difference to the previous games is that we design all the game quests (both story and side missions) in advance manually, as opposed to them being generated automatically by the game. This change ensures the player will see truly interesting and unique quests, so as the presentation of those will be better.
With Call of Pripyat we're developing the role-playing element of the game further. You can expect to see new strings of upgrades for your weapons and armor. Armor, by the way, got separated into torso and head protection, so you can collect and upgrade those items separately now. Socializing with NPCs will become a more important part of the game too this time. Thus, you'll be able to speak more with NPCs, both on bases and in the outer Zone, trade and get extra missions from NPCs, so as hire them to act as guides for you (it's an option for the player - pay some money to spare the travel time if you know where you need to be). The extended opportunities with guides for the player will serve as substitute to the vehicle driving feature mentioned. The problem with vehicles is, we still don't see much fitting space for them to be driven in the Zone. Back to NPCs - the player will see some true-to-life action going on around: s.t.a.l.k.e.r.s will go hunting mutants, looking for artifacts, patrolling during the daytime and returning to the bases at night. The player will go seek shelter, so as NPCs, in case of looming Emission warnings, it'll be deadly to stay outdoors then.
Call of Pripyat will introduce an opportunity for the player to sleep in the game. Sleeping will help the player to restore his energy, while at the same time quickly transfer to the needed hour in the game (in case of a time-designated mission) without having to walk about in wait. By the way, it's going to be more dangerous to play in the night as monsters become more active, so the sleep feature may come in very handy indeed.
pcgames.de: What about the story? Is it set after the events in Shadow of Chernobyl or after the events in Clear Sky? Game‘s setting and story is set where and why?
Yavorsky: Call of Pripyat is set after the events of Shadow of Chernobyl, when Strelok manages to switch off the Brain Scorcher and therefore opens up the way to the center of the Zone. Given the fact, the military decide to undertake a major operation aimed to take the Chernobyl power plant under control. They decide to send helicopters to scout the area and make maps of the anomaly fields in the area first. However, the operation fails despite the thorough preparations and for no obvious reasons. In order to find out the happenings and without taking much further risk, the military send an agent in disguise of a s.t.a.l.k.e.r. to investigate the operation failure. As you could guess, the agent will be the player himself. And his first task will be to locate and check the spots where the helicopters dropped down. There isn't much else that the player knows at this point. So, everything else is up to him.
The player is going to cooperate with various factions in the Zone (initially he's neutral to everyone, but later their attitude may change depending on how he plays), procure information, collect artifacts, look for better ammunition and guns, and all this, certainly, without forgetting his main goal.
By introducing a different protagonist this time, so as a number of new key characters, we want the players to see the game from a different perspective and get a bit different feel of it.
pcgames.de: Can we expect authentic locations in Call of Pripyat or are they all just fictional? If so, which?
Yavorsky: Oh, yes. Firstly, all of the locations in the game are going to be totally new. One major introduction is a whole part of Pripyat town (its eastern area) remodeled in the game in its real scope and authenticity. We've taken a number of new trips specifically to photo Pripyat and the surrounding areas for the game. As a result, we will introduce the Pripyat river boat station, the Jupiter industrial complex, the Kopachi village, the railway station Yanov - all of those and more recreated from the real-life references.
My personal impression is that Call of Pripyat will be the most photo-realistic, and also atmospheric, game in the series. This said, the locations in the game are going to be the biggest in size out of all the three games.
pcgames.de: Do you already have an exact release-date for Call of Pripyat? And of course what about the official system-requirements? They seem to be a little low. On which machines are you currently running Call of Pripyat?
Yavorsky: No exact ship date so far, but we expect to get the game out this Autumn already. The game should be pretty playable on a machine like:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 / AMD 64 X2 5600+
- 2 GB RAM
- 512 MB DirectX® 9.0c compatible card / nVIDIA® GeForce™ 9800 GTX / ATI Radeon® HD 4850
As you know, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has a tweakable menu with a lot of parameters to affect the performance. So you can adjust it as you like to achieve the comfortable play. Anyway, if you want to play it in max quality and resolution, go for as powerful machine as you can - there's never enough in this case.
pcgames.de: Let's have a look into the future. In May some rumors came up, saying the hypothetical STALKER 2 may use the CryEngine 3. Just some rumors? What plans do you have for the STALKER-franchise in general?
Yavorsky: It's not a secret that we want to continue the development for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise. The full-fledged sequel is a plan, but it's still too early to talk about it in detail. CryEngine 3 for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has been a pure rumor though.
As for the franchise in general, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. currently is not only a computer game, but also a successful series of novels (with 5 novels out in German http://www.paninicomics.de/?s=serie&gs_gruppe=220 and over 20 in Russian (selling over 3 million books in total) www.litstalker.ru), a dedicated airsoft game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RPl2LXwCqg), a social network for s.t.a.l.k.e.r.s (currently in Russian only - www.yastalker.com). We'd love to expand the franchise with some new directions, such as official comics stories (and we're running such a contest already among fans), an official music festival etc. There's a lot of fun going on here. :)