The Making of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., part one

Interview: GSC's ambitious PC project is here, but it was a rocky road to release. We look back with the developer

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Anton Bolshakov: Yes, sure, the project turned out to be extremely ambitious. It appears that some features may sound good and look good on paper, while in reality they turn out either complex, uninteresting or vague from the gameplay standpoint.

For instance, the idea of a fully A-life driven game which has no story and all happens on the random basis turned out inapplicable to the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

De facto, such concept is an MMORPG, but without online, based in single-player, which only helps to make the already complex development of such a game even more complicated. Such a concept should be approached step-by-step, through several projects, so that in the long run the proper balance of interest and difficulty is found.

What's the one thing you would have like to have included but that didn't make it in?

Anton Bolshakov: The dynamic obstacle outskirting by AI; NPCs throwing grenades; a more developed system of relations with groupings, community; more developed groupings as they are and their actions in the Zone; the possibility to play for the groupings.

Did you ever reach a point where you wanted to throw the towel in?

Anton Bolshakov: We, the developers, never had such an idea in mind. It is quite probable, though, that it popped up in the mind of our investor and the publisher. Eventually, we all had enough morale to go against all odds and finish the project.

There have been some heated reactions to the game over bugs and rough edges. What's your reaction to that, and were you pushed into hitting a deadline when you would have liked a little more time to polish the game?

Anton Bolshakov: A developer is a creative person and he could be developing his game for his entire life. So, keeping to certain deadlines is necessary. It should be noted, we did not leave any bugs in the release intentionally.

The fact that many players have suffered the technical issues is a side effect to the hugely extensive PC market in the world, and the too many of various hardware possessed by the players.

Over 60 professional testers had been working on bug testing the game for many months, the game was released with no A-class bug we were aware of.

I also would like to stress that we worked intensely on fixing the existing problems and bugs, none of us had gone on vacation. As of today, we've released three patches already. We will keep doing the fixes until there's no single major problem remaining. We are fully prepared to support the community to the top of our ability - the players mean all to us.

Check back Monday morning for the second and concluding part of our interview with GSC.

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