A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

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A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby nandersen on 06 Mar 2009 06:50

Yesterday I received my retail version of Clear Sky and while opening the envelope I realized that it's now exactly one year since I opened up my birthday present which contained the retail DVD with STALKER SoC. I'm surprised how a whole year has passed and I'm still so fond of this game.

I must admit that CS has a quite different feel to it than SoC but it's also nice. I've been exploring the swamps for hours and I finally figured out a few things about the interface. Very nice to go through some character development with the character that I'm playing. Again, this brings memories of the first playthrough with SoC.

So why does the STALKER game (and especially SoC) appeal that much to us? Maybe there is a little stalker in all of us? Many of us may have tried as kids to be in places where we shouldn't be and looking for things that we should stay away from?
"They shoot and I run and I spill my drink - all over my uniform..."
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby audioave10 on 06 Mar 2009 17:15

For me, it's been exactly 2 years since I bought it when it came out.
I had been waiting for it since '04 and still have the PC magazine it
was advertised in. The Zone is a mysterious, dangerous and fun
place. Clear Sky is far better then most games but everyone spoiled
by SOC doesn't give it a chance. GSC even patches their work more
then other games. The modding community is huge. I still hold out
much faith for GSC's next game.
"Let the Zone take me if I am"
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby nandersen on 06 Mar 2009 17:55

I think that the reason why GSC patches their game more is because it may very well be more complex than most other games in terms of combinatorial complexity. The huge areas in the zone, the large number of tasks, missions, items, NPCs and mutants (just to mention a few things) makes it impossible to test every possible scenario in the game in an acceptable time.
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby NatVac on 06 Mar 2009 21:25

nandersen wrote:So why does the STALKER game (and especially SoC) appeal that much to us? Maybe there is a little stalker in all of us? Many of us may have tried as kids to be in places where we shouldn't be and looking for things that we should stay away from?

I need some quality time to think on this. Hmm, there's room on the schedule in May. Oops, wrong year; that's in 2010.

Here's a shot from the hip, which you know is wildly inaccurate in STALKER. But that's okay; the target is the size of a barn.

It lives. When you play Doom 3, you don't need to have played it before to know that bad things are going to pop out of the panels in the walls when the lights inevitably go out. I still jump in STALKER when an enemy pops out of nowhere, simply because he heard me coming and moved to where I was, even sneaking around me if necessary.

It lives. My jaw bounced off the keyboard tray when I saw my first wounded blind dog limp off on three legs, whimpering as it sought to get away. And dog group-think behavior was cool: Attack when you have the superior numbers, run when you are by yourself.

It lives. Shoot a bandit in the leg and he drops to one knee. Shoot him up top and he reels, grabbing his head, with a remark about how that hurts. He'll still taunt you, you low-life scum (heh, irony), as he moves to cover.

It lives. Standing in the Garbage over the bodies of my foes, victorious but so alone: The dust swirls about me, the forlorn wind cries in abject sadness, matching my miserable awareness that if I don't find a bandage on one of these bodies I'm going to bleed to death soon. In my dying this way, it lives.

It lives. I'm dead, now, but the game goes on without me. The Zone has its own life, apart from and independent of my pitiful conceit that "it's all about me". In stark contrast is a Half-Life 2 scene burned into my mind, and into my monitor: Remember that lady pouring fuel into the boat you will use for the aquatic rail part of the "on-a-rail" experience? She'll do it all day until you approach.

It lives. The day darkens ominously about me, priming the mood so I jump the first time the lightning cracks. Look at the rain! How cool is that? Just the cleansing this bleak dusty land needs. Wow, that lightning strike was close. Look at the rain! It's getting heavier! Can the lightning kill you? Ah, no, but it can mask the deadly threat right behind you.

Look at the ra-- Okay, okay, enough with the wet stuff already! Does it ever stop? Ah, it does. But it's so dark, now. Oh, look at the time! It's 4 a.m. in the game, and it's 5 a.m. in real life. (-| :thumbright:

It lives. There are textures and objects and sounds that are only used once in the game in various places, some not often reached by the typical player. There are unique behaviors that the NPCs do when they don't know you are there. There are ethical choices. There are game-changing impacts of your decisions to help one faction over another, or follow a certain game path -- or not follow any path at all.

It lives. And so do we, the community. We can change this game to make it more our style. We can easily add weapons and features and tweaks and fixes and other coolness. (As we get under the covers, we see the creative genius that forms its underpinning.) We can even program it, within limits.

More than anything else, I think that last reason is why I'm still playing this game after two years.

audioave10 wrote:I still hold out much faith for GSC's next game.

You mean "Metro 2033"? :P

nandersen wrote:I think that the reason why GSC patches their game more is because it may very well be more complex than most other games in terms of combinatorial complexity.

You've just pushed one of my buttons, and you had to lift the button's cover to do that. X(

While I agree with the "more complex" statement, I don't consider it a reason for their behavior.

I think they patch their game more because they are no longer the team that created the original game base, and they didn't track their bugs properly. Most of the recent "fixes" have been multiplayer changes.

Oh, look! They improved the game's framerate! -- Partly by removing grass shadows. :P Graphics keep improving; cf. Deus Ex being slow and choppy on early cards. Grass shadows would soon become no problem. What were they thinking?

Let's see, now: The flipping reputation bug is still in there, fixable with a one-line change in two places. And they partially implemented bardak's secret stash persistence code, so that you could actually get more unique stashes -- but it's still broken because they didn't know what they were doing, and/or they have the typical "not invented here" problem using code from an outsider who offered it without strings. What were they drinking?

In keeping with the "fix one, break two, ignore three" patch mentality: The 1.0004 patch fixed the Yantar guard waypoint crash, but broke PDA statistics, the merc attack on the AW campsite and grass shadow rendering. It did nothing for the broken quests, stalkers dying in campfires, and the other crashes like the AW merc waypoint one. And their "enhancement" to make use of multiple processors has many folks complaining of delayed spawns, and is very likely the cause of the new crashes (e.g., "entity not found" during NPC tossed weapon evaluation). What were they smoking?

So what was "fixed" in 1.0005? They broke a lot of mods by changing all dialog processing in 1.0005 to handle string IDs instead of numbers, because they had made one of the numbers too long in 1.0004. As I put it elsewhere: that was like changing all the house addresses in a city from numbers to names (e.g., from 123 Main Street to "One Two Three Main Street"). What they should have done was shorten the one bad number in the Bes dialog tree. What were they snorting?

And there were no reported single-player bug fixes in 1.0006, which added some Punkbuster enhancements and introduced a vulnerability to get your box pwned by someone else playing the game. Oh, sure, they changed the font rendering -- that's obvious -- but some report that the wide-screen issues are not fixed. What were they mainli-- Never mind. i-)

BTW: :occasion4:
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby Nightwatch on 06 Mar 2009 21:49

How true. :salute: I can't see how I can add another word to it.
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby nandersen on 07 Mar 2009 06:46

Thanks NatVac :)

No, I'm not lifting anything to push your buttons NatVac, and if I do push one, I don't really care :p ;)

What were they eating? Definitely not that kind of mushrooms :p It's easy enough to develop software while high on ...you know ...stuff. It's much harder to do it sober and according to a strict process. Even following a strict process doesn't guarantee fewer bugs, it just records them, tracks them through fixes and releases and (hopefully) makes it easier to learn from them. If you're never repeating the same type of project a big part of the process might be considered an excercise in bureaucracy. Just wondering what kind of process GSC is using.

I'm not defending GSC for their bugs. Their product is complex and I think that the number of bugs is well within acceptable limits for a product like this when it is released. However there are no excuses for ignoring bugs reported by the cusomers and failing to use the knowledge freely available from the modding community which is willing to help. If this is not pure ignorance then it must definitely be an example of complete lack of internal communication and none of the controlled substances that I can think of could be responsible for this.

By the way I had to laugh when I saw the "Dynamic Weather" implementation in CS - if you don't like the weather, just save/reload until you get sunshine or whatever you want :))
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby audioave10 on 07 Mar 2009 08:34

Natvac's knowledge is very deep. There does seem to be a lack of
ability (or desire) on the part of GSC after the break-up of their team. Yes, I know about "Metro 2033". It makes me wonder what the effect on any of us would be after being stuck in small rooms during the Ukrainian winters trying to make a near-complete game
out of all the promises that were made. Then realizing that xray could not render a huge map with all of that Alife and activity. At
least during that time they were making a "PC game" and not doing
it for consoles and money. I still thank them for this massive effort
even though we may never see another like it.
"Let the Zone take me if I am"
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby EggChen on 07 Mar 2009 13:00

I'm still there because of its faults..... and I got it on release March 2007.

If it was perfect I would have played it and thought "wow" then "next"....

Fixing it and tweaking it to get it closer to (my vision of) perfect became a daily event. I don't actively do much to it anymore, been playing around with modding Fallout 3 and GTA IV since then. However I still have all the files unpacked and all my modding info, and I still fire up the game occasionally.

I wouldn't say Stalker is easier to mod than other games, but it is easier to make it into the game you want. Look at NEWSA, Run&Gun, Faction Wars, ZRP, Rebalanced and Redux to name but a few. Each make it into a different vision of the zone, can you think of many other games where it was easy to change the whole feel of a game?

I've probably only completed it 2 or 3 times.... usually on a run through by the time I got to Prypriat I was changing something, or the changes had accumulated into something I needed to restart for to see it in action. I also preferred the early levels where you are trying to survive, not picking off bandits from 200 yards with a G36. The first day struggling in (vanilla) Cordon to get a decent weapon is what Stalker was all about for me.

Oh and Natvac... =D>
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby nandersen on 07 Mar 2009 15:01

EggChen wrote:The first day struggling in (vanilla) Cordon to get a decent weapon is what Stalker was all about for me.

Exactly!
If I were a modder I'd take out all guns except for a few WP ones (AKs, PMs and maybe a couple of others) as well as reduce the NPC population by 90%. I think this would help maintain the Cordon experience in the later levels as well.
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby Balious on 07 Mar 2009 15:11

STALKER to me is one of the best games ever made. Sure a few things could do being changed (I just can't play it alone without mods that change things like OL or NEWSA). But the A-life is wonderful. Just randomly walking in the zone and you see dogs feeding on a bandit corpse or witness another fight between duty and freedom. With the mod faction wars the pure randomness of what I expect the zone to be is that as everyone is in danger but it doesnt have certain things I want.

The great thing for me in STALKER are the mutants and the other stalkers in the zone. You will never know when you may find a Controller nearby with his presence. You can chill just like any other stalker sitting at a camp and talk together with jokes.
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby EggChen on 07 Mar 2009 18:26

nandersen wrote:If I were a modder....


You are buddy :rock:

I didn't remove weapons, but I have thinned out the population a bit in the whole game, mutants and Stalkers alike. I think seeing a torchlight in the dark, should make you freeze, pull out the binocs and try and scope out who it is from range...

I've also cut down respawns, both in number and frequency. There are still too many people in the Zone though.
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby Kaidonni on 07 Mar 2009 19:58

I remember playing for the first time back in March 2007. I had no idea what the game was about, just that it was this new, very difficult game my brother had tried out. It turned out to be quite fun, and very scary. The first time in X18...LOL! I spent 20 minutes or so just cowering from whatever was making all of those moaning sounds. X16 was scary too - in fact, I was disappointed that I couldn't go there without psi-protection. It was late at night, and I felt unsettled, and thought the time was right to do some exploring. But without the psi-protection...

Of course, these days, it isn't so scary to go into the labs. Not the first time, anyway. Now, any time after completing the quests in those labs, well, that is different. Mind you, that Pseudogiant in X16, in the tunnels, it gave me quite a scare the last time when I first ventured into X16 on a play-through. First time facing it I managed to blow myself up with some grenades (from the modified Obokan (sp?) with the attached grenade launcher). Reloaded, and sheesh! I was firing grenades, ran out, and randomly went back to whatever bullets I could fire. Armour piercing, but, well, it was all I could do with this one heck of a scary beast charging me. I unleashed my wrath upon it, and it died RIGHT in front of me. Yep, right in my face, at the very last moment. And after all of that, those tunnels were not the same. I snuck into X16 for some exploring and snooping around later on, and when I ventured into the tunnels, I was nervous all the way. Scared that another Pseudogiant would be there. My point is, of course, that you know what to expect the first time you venture into these places - but after that, it's random. Even if nothing so scary is there, you just can't be too careful. You can bet the one time you think there isn't anything there that there WILL be something there. I once got two Pseudogiants in X18, one on the way down, then one on the way back up. The X16 example just now was in OL 2.2, while the X18 example vanilla. I'm certain that one of those times I venture into the labs for the second or third time after completing the quest there, I'll get one heck of a shock. Especially with what some mods set out to accomplish.

From the very beginning I've been given a unhealthy respect for playing this game in the dark. And to think, the only horror time I've ever encountered was in the ABC Inferno mod, not the one talked about in Newsa+Simbion (which I am going to play tonight...with FULL horror time on, in the dark). You just can't really get this fix with any other game. The wilderness of the Zone, and the adrenaline rush from all that fear. Perfect.

Been two years for me. You just can't keep me away from Stalker. I even dream about it. I dreamt about a whole load of artifacts the other week, and low and behold, when I went on the game in the evening, there was a whole treasure trove of artifacts spread out across the Agroprom Research Insititute map. Some were just Jellyfish and Stone Flower, but I got at least one Goldfish, two Nightstar and some others. My dream had come true! :D
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby ket on 11 Mar 2009 02:23

Got Soc instant it was released, still love it. Still work on TK1.1 when I can muster the energy (and time) up. I also have CS, I can honestly say CS is nothing compared to Soc, its clunky, clumsy, weapons fire with as much accuracy as a drunkard (especially assault rifles) and its just plain bad compared to SoC. GSC may patch their games more than most... but did it occur to you they have to do that to make it playable? :p CS was absolutely impossible to play prior to the 1.5 patch.
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Re: A year in the Shadows of Chernobyl

Postby DARK TEMPLAR on 14 Mar 2009 09:21

LOST ALPHA
thats where my hopes lie
THE DEDICATED, CERTIFIED RESIDENT MADMAN
There is no such thing as innocence in the ZONE, only degrees of guilt.
CAN YOU FEEL THE TRANQUILLITY OF THE ZONE
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