Interview: Vostok Games On Survarium
With this article, eGamer is one of the first sites in South Africa to receive an exclusive look behind the scenes of the spiritual successor to STALKER 2, which is Survarium, developed by Vostok Games. Vostok Games is made up of the former staff of GSC Game World who produced the renowned STALKER series. Survarium is still in the initial stages of development, but if you’re a dedicated STALKER fan then this will be the game for you as it builds upon the hours of development spent with STALKER 2, and enhances a greater number of features with this new IP. It was really interesting to get an internal perspective from Vostok Games regarding the processes they’re following to create Survarium. As you will see, there’s a host of dynamic features proposed for the MMO.
In short, Survarium is a free-to-play MMOFPS which boasts role-playing and survival elements. The game is independent of STALKER, however some features will be comparable. Survarium is set in the near future, after a “mass-scale ecological catastrophe” pretty much destroys Earth. Players will survive by completing missions and leveling up.
eGamer: How much focus is being placed on fine-tuning and optimising the experience in Survarium to prevent bugs, and glitches? Have you learnt much from dealing with bugs in the STALKER games?
VG: We are spending a great deal of time on game optimization. We also plan on holding a closed-alpha and eventually an open-beta to assist in the ironing out.
eGamer: Animals were a creepy extra in the STALKER games, as was the use of lighting effects and darkness. Is there a similar themed focus in this game, and if so, what is it?
VG: Absolutely! We are going to make Survarium as immersive as possible. We truly want the player to feel like they are really there. With the implementation of the weather effects which will also have an impact on the gameplay, we plan to have many more elements such as animals, mutants, traps etc which you’ll need to deal with.
eGamer: A question from STALKER fans: If the irradiated Chernobyl denizens were to mount an attack of their own, do you think they’d overcome the pending zombie apocalypse?
VG: I think the irradiated zombies from Stalker would come out on top! The best of both worlds!
eGamer: What is the story behind the conception of Survarium, and the basic outline of the story of the game?
VG: The basic concept grew from the early stages of STALKER 2’s development. Many gameplay aspects and game concepts were not appropriate for the universe of Stalker. So, naturally after the development was frozen we were able to take those ideas that didn’t fit and use them to make an ‘evolution’ of the concept.
eGamer: In comparison to the singleplayer experience of the STALKER series, what game design elements have been introduced with the new MMO focus of Survarium?
VG: We will offer three different game modes in Survarium.
- PvP. This will be more along the lines of your traditional team deathmatch game mode.
- PvE. (player vs environment) This will be the ‘main’ story mode of Survarium designed to be played in co-op. With many instances where the player will need to split from their group and complete tasks alone.
- Freeroam. This will be a one-life, every man for himself game mode. Players may do as they please, with the ultimate goal of escaping the location.
eGamer: What have been some of the technological improvements that you’ve made with Survarium, that was not possible with the STALKER series?
VG: First off, Survarium is an MMOFPS, while STALKER 2 is a single-player game. Those are very different technologies – Survarium requires a server, player lobby and a bunch of other things on top that a singleplayer game wouldn’t need.
In terms of design, there are major differences too – firstly, this is a focus on massive multiplayer. In this context, you expect entire systems like chats, forums, stores etc. On top of the story and game tasks, there is communication and competition between the players, all to add dynamics and unexpectedness to the gameplay. Each game session differs from the previous one. The game constantly encourages players to show their inventiveness and skills, abilities of strategy to achieve victory.
The online market (we believe) is the future. In the virtual world players meet other living players, as opposed to bots. However perfect the bots are, they never will be able to be totally different, alive and unpredictable as real players.
eGamer: How will you be implementing the Free-To-Play (F2P) model in Survarium?
VG: Premium accounts enabling you to speed up your development increase the experience and the in-game currency gained. In addition, selling exotic goods, decoration and small additional possibilities which do not affect the game balance. We do not plan to sell any items which would break the game balance.
For example, a weapon, which is much more powerful compared to similar ones purchased with the in-game currency. On the battlefield players should be in equal conditions. We do not want to destroy the game by turning it into pay-to-win. We are after a fair game where everybody is in equal conditions.
eGamer: Where has the inspiration for Survarium come from?
VG: We’ve seen a lot of natural disasters in the world the last few years. Earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear power plants failing, all this combined into the idea that the earth is somehow turning on man and fighting against us. This led to the idea of taking Survarium from a closed ‘zone’ of catastrophe to a worldwide disaster.
eGamer: What is it like being a newly independent studio developing a big game like Survarium?
VG: It is a very exciting opportunity for us to make a name for ourselves with a very ambitious project. Of course there are many risks involved but we are very passionate about what we
do and hope for a strong future.
eGamer: What are you hopes for the future of Vostok Games, and Survarium as a possible franchise?
VG: At the moment Survarium is and will take up the next 3 or more years of constant development and improvement. One of the main reasons we chose to go online is it gives us the ability to improve the game, add new locations, stories, improve graphics and more and a constant pace.
Survarium is a promising game, and Vostok Games are clearly aiming to create something successful. This MMO is a genuinely different game from the rest with great heritage stemming from the STALKER series. A release date for Survarium is too early to estimate, but as soon as we gather more news about impending time frames we’ll let you know. I hope for the very best for Vostok Games and their new IP, Survarium.