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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost Interview
(hx) 02:22 PM CEST - Aug,06 2002

GGMania got a chance to chat with GSC Game World's Alexei Sytyanov, as he talks about S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost, the upcoming tactical team 3D action game which is partially based on "The Roadside Picnic" book by Strugatsky brothers, Stalker movie by A.Tarkovsky and the history of Chernobyl atomic catastrophe. We also have four new screenshots from the game.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost? What games have you made previously, and are you currently working on other projects in addition to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost?

Alexei Sytyanov: I’m Alexei Sytyanov and I do scriptwriting, concept developing, game designing, and generally, do my best input for creation of a cult project. I like virtually all the game genres, but for economic and sport simulators. In parallel I developed a concept of on-line game for American Conquest, and now I mull over the storyline for a new unannounced strategy game from GSC.

GGMania: Tell us about your background in terms of game development?

Alexei Sytyanov: Before working for GSC I was involved in doing shareware projects and attempted to make something big and solid.

GGMania: Can you explain the basic plot for this upcoming tactical shooter, and a bit about the general storyline.

Alexei Sytyanov:

Main point of gameplay

Player travels the world of a Zone that consists of 15 levels. An average level size is 1x1 kilometer. All levels are combined into one global map. The player is free to choose the way to follow and not limited in moving from one level to another. He can freely research the Zone, accomplishing vital storyline tasks now and then. The game has an economic aspect, which boils down to earning money by selling anomalous formations, scientific refuse, Zone mutants, equipment obtained in the ruined labs. The player may work as a guide, participate in researching and testing the Zone with special scientific devices. The money earned is spent to buy the equipment, weapons and protective suits, which will allow him to reach the areas that were inaccessible before.


Calamity at Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986 was the result of the war between American and Soviet secret services and military laboratories, the outcome of the application of a new weaponry. In 1986, United States sabotaged the psychotropic equipment, the low-frequency aerial “Russian Woodpecker” in particular. The aerial “pecked” the vast US territory causing various mental disorders with the civilians for two years. The sabotage resulted in the loss of control over the aerial and irradiation of people in the radius of 10 km, which led to the accident at the nuclear plant. After evacuation and construction of the dome, the Zone becomes a closed object. Despite the radioactive background, underground laboratories continue to research the weapons of new generation in the Zone. The years pass by and the collapse of the Soviet Union may shut down the military labs. In 2006, a horrible catastrophe happens. The dome explodes, radioactive clouds cover vast territories. People, animals and forests perish. The thirty kilometer zone is encircled by the army, scientists can not explain what happened. The Zone growths with different anomalies detected in it. Anyone entering die inevitably, invisible power tears people apart. Expeditions encounter mutated animals that could not develop on their own. The accident, mutants, contamination, all seems someone’s terrifying covert plan …

A lot of time elapses before first expeditions can enter the Zone without mortal danger. Amateur researchers, called stalkers, show up in there. They travel the Zone searching various anomalous formations, i.e. artifacts, which they sell to different organizations.

GGMania: The story line behind S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost seems to be pretty cool. I have read/seen both "The Roadside Picnic" book by Strugatsky brothers and Stalker movie by A.Tarkovsky, plus I'm hard-core Strugatsky fan :) Also I still remember Chernobyl atomic catastrophe a couple years ago. But I would like to know what inspired you to merge Strugatsky and Chernobyl? Isn't "The Roadside Picnic" weird enough? :)

Alexei Sytyanov: The Roadside Picnic is eerie enough, but is not that realistic, so the book story would fit a quest, rather than wide-scale action/RPG game with vast outdoor areas. The Zone of Strugatsky is more reminiscent of a spooky Disneyland, than the horrible Zone we saw in Chernobyl. We wanted to step back a bit from the alien theme and tell an uncanny story of mankind, mad enough to create technologies, putting physical and spiritual life of the Earth under threat.

GGMania: What we can expect from this game, Strugatsky's "Stalker" - forbidden city, radiation, the Zone, atmosphere straight from the book, collecting artifacts and avoiding Zone anomalies or rather fast paced action with military atmosphere? What is the primary target market for S.T.A.L.K.E.R?

Alexei Sytyanov: The Zone world is a forlorn territory with 20-year-old semi-destroyed buildings, covered with forests and anomalous vegetation. It is abandoned underground and overland research complexes, military bases and new technology proving grounds. Radioactive land is covered with the spots of the scorched earth, poisonous fogs and deadly gravitational anomalies. This is the world of the dreadful industrial and ecological catastrophe. In the center of this man-made hell, the remnants of Chernobyl nuclear plant lie.

GGMania: What sort of environments and setting will the game take place in? Can we expect really the same atmosphere like in "The Roadside Picnic" book, flavoured by artifacts such as witches' jelly, meatgrinder or Golden Ball? I mean will be S.T.A.L.K.E.R. a bit psycho sci-fi game?

Alexei Sytyanov: Imagine Ghost Busters in Chernobyl, add “Stalker” movie, “The Roadside Picnic” book, intelligent mutant creatures, anomalies, stalkers, and you will get an idea of the game. As I mentioned, we were in Chernobyl a while ago, it’s murky atmosphere we were lapped by will nearly completely go into the game. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is going to be a very atmospheric game, with unique gameplay, high replay ability and bright characters.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a psycho-industrial Sci-Fi horror done in the genre of survival action/RPG.

GGMania: You've mentioned the game's plot is non-linear.What sort of missions we can expect, can you give us an example?

Alexei Sytyanov: There will be 15 levels in the game, these are going to be rather huge, approximately 1x1 km. One of the peculiarities with levels in S.T.A.L.K.E.R is that they are in fact a one global map without strict borders between them. So, player is free to roam and explore the zone in whichever direction he likes, while performing the game quests given. Player will perform different quests on finding artifacts, rescuing other guys from the Zone, territory cleansing off mutants and so on. You get a quest and you set off for the zone to accomplish the task. As a reward you get equipment or gimmicks to help you stand a better survival chance in the Zone.

GGMania: What other gameplay elements in the game do you consider to be important and/or unique? Will there be anything new that we've never seen before in any game?

Alexei Sytyanov:

First and foremost AI and character behavior schemes

We see AI in our game as a system of realistic character behavior. Game characters live in a world where player can only drop in, they have their own joys and sorrows. We thoroughly work out artificial intelligence, so that the player never had a feeling of artificialness of the ongoing, which basically reflects our general approach, not only that about AI. We work out all the possible player’s actions and prepare a natural reaction to them. As character would react in life, so as should his reaction be in the game. If player attacks and kills one of the guards, the rest run to seek hiding, radioing headquarters, and don’t stand still, or what worse, run out towards the player.

Communication with NPC

Communication of player and game characters will be an important part of gameplay. By means of communication player can find out important information, obtain a task, trade or arrange cooperation in performing a task. Apart from humans, the player can communicate even with sapient mutant creatures. During the talk with NPC game will not be interrupted. If the player says something and walks away from the character, the latter can re-ask or complain of hearing the player badly. Thus, for example, you can communicate with a teammate by sitting in an ambush and observing enemy movements or attack your interlocutor. And of course, the conversation can be broken off at any moment, and it’s possible to interrupt interlocutor’s verbiage with another question.

NPC’s attitude towards player will strongly influence the communication. For example, under a bad attitude towards player trader will refuse to trade or will charge an extortionate price, while stalkers will start shooting as soon as they identify the player.

Another bright innovation in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost will be NPC stalkers, who will be able to travel the whole game world just like the player. They will perform tasks, fight with each other, trade and communicate without player interference. We hope to keep up to a hundred of stalkers in the Zone. Also, we’ll implement a stalker rating system listing stalker description, his character, state and peculiarities.

Our input into the action-RPG genre is realistic communication with NPC, NPC attitude, about a hundred of NPC characters travelling similarly to the player, generated events, special game character abilities, adventures and exploration, new dangerous world, mutations, anomalies, secret military laboratories, governmental projects. And as I wrote above, high realism of the world, events, characters and their behavior.

GGMania: What kinds of weapons will be available in the game?

Alexei Sytyanov: The game is set in the near future, so we selected weapons accordingly. The range of weaponry in S.T.A..L.K.E.R. is going to be futuristic, but still realistic. Many of them are currently in development, like Belgium’s FN2000 etc. Weapons are going to have realistic physics. The range of offensive equipment is quite extensive - 30 modifiable types of them in total - everything starting from knife up to the toting gun. There also will be artifact weapons, enabling you with extraordinary possibilities.

GGMania: What kind of machinery can be controlled in the game?

Alexei Sytyanov: The player will have cars, jeeps and so on.

GGMania: What types of enemies and characters will be seen in the game? What kind of opposition (AI) can we expect?

Alexei Sytyanov: The opposing forces can be stalkers, army units and military stalkers, scientific special squads, zombies, mutants… Here everything will depend on the player and which way of play-through he chooses, aggressive or adventurous one.

Here are a couple of creature examples:


Zombies are humans, taken under control by telepath creatures. Slowed vital activity and fully destroyed personality, human body of faint coordination, performing semi-insane actions. Telepaths assemble zombies on roofs and when a victim shows up, order zombies to fall down and attack. When zombies notice an enemy, they pass a message to telepath and wait for an order. Until given an order, zombie will stand and observe the enemy. On telepathic order zombie soldiers may raise and use weapons.


Ugly yellow-white dwarfs dwell in dungeons, their light-sensible eyes blind under a bright illumination. In dungeons dwarfs will arrange traps for stalkers, scientists and the military. Dwarfs try to block all the exits by means of large debris and girders. Dwarfs possess mighty arms they can tear their victims with. Dwarfs wage war against blind dog clans. Their character is extraordinarily nasty, their nervous anger forces them to commit outrageous and unexpected actions. Premonition and telekinetic abilities are very sharp by dwarfs. Premonition helps to sense the enemy and presume his location, while telekinesis allows manipulating rather large objects at a distance, hurling them into enemy and delivering powerful telekinetic strokes on the opponent. Abilities, character, coupled with sophisticated intellect makes them one of the most dangerous enemies in dark Zone spots.

GGMania: Which engine is used in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?

Alexei Sytyanov: X-Ray, the engine behind S.T.A.L.K.E.R supports the cutting-edge technologies enabling us to implement interesting and great game features. The engine is unique in its polygon handling, it enables use of 100.000 polys per frame at 60 fps on average hardware. X-Ray stands out with support both indoor and outdoor areas, visualization optimized for hardware TnL (both FF and shading capable parts), continuous level of detail technology for all the geometry, skeleton animation and so on. You can find the full technical information on the engine features at here (PR).

GGMania: Your official website claims that the game features "100.000 polygons per frame at 60 frames per second on standard hardware" What is "standard hardware" today? What the current system requirements are for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? How will the game utilize the latest GeForce 4 Ti 4400/4600 cards? What about new cards such as Matrox Parhelia and ATI Radeon 9000/9700?

Alexei Sytyanov: Talking about system requirements, we project the following ones: Minimal PII-450, 128 Mb RAM, GeForce 2MX, 500 Mb of free disk space; Recommended - PIII-1000, 256 Mb RAM, GeForce 3, 1 Gb of free disk space.

GGMania: What about music soundtrack and effects in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Can we expect some kick-ass music?

Alexei Sytyanov: We are currently working on music and sound FX to contribute to the game and make it feel truly atmospheric. We’ll do our best not to disappoint you.

GGMania: Will the game have a multiplayer mode? If so, what will it include?

Alexei Sytyanov: Yes, the multiplayer in the game will support all the popular modes, such as Deathmatch, CTF, Team Match, Cooperative. Besides, we plan several new modes. One of them is called Hunt, where players select map, purchase weapons and kick it off. Players get money at the game start and at each killing of an enemy. When killed, player buys weapons again (for the money gained in combats) and starts fighting again.

GGMania: What about mod support in S.T.A.L.K.E.R?

Alexei Sytyanov: So far we do not have any specific plans in relation to mod and tools, but maybe we provide some tools for players after the game release.

GGMania: At the moment what is the status of the game and when will it be released?

Alexei Sytyanov: Right now we are on pre-alpha stage of the game. We plan one fully playable level of it to be shown at the upcoming Games Convention in Leipzig. The game release is scheduled for Autumn 2003.

GGMania: Do you plan to release a playable demo?

Alexei Sytyanov: Yes, we plan a demo for beginning of next year.

GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you wish to say?

Alexei Sytyanov: Thank you for the interesting questions. We’d like to extend our best wishes to you and the readers and welcome everybody to Leipzig on August 29 - September 1 to see S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost in action.

release: 2003/Q4
developer: GSC Game World
publisher: Russobit-M

last 10 comments:

El Diabloposted - Aug, 06 2002 - 14:49
This game is gonna be total killer! P.S If u didn't read The Roadside Picnic" book by Strugatsky brothers, then read it.

Dankoposted - Aug, 07 2002 - 14:26
If u don't see Stalker movie by Tarkovsky, then see it now!

CWAFposted - Aug, 08 2002 - 11:36
Yes this Game will be one of the best we've ever seen ;) I hope :D For more Infos: (Sorry it's German ! But we're working for an english version !) cya

Peteposted - Aug, 09 2002 - 13:41
seems like a lot of high expectations and extreme anticipation for this game. Im just worried that you guys might be let down, big time.

Witcherposted - Aug, 09 2002 - 17:14
WOW :)~~~~~~

ritzposted - Aug, 11 2002 - 01:02
they plan to release it around Autumn 2003 but the minimum requirement is only P2-450? i think the minimium requirement at the time to do all his wicked AI and super huge zone is at least a P4 with Geforce4.

hxposted - Aug, 11 2002 - 02:06
Ritz, russians coders are very smart, especially guys from GSC. Do you remember their Cossacks with 8000 units in a battle with no loss of speed? (

Darkoposted - Sep, 05 2002 - 08:28
Sounds like agood game, i just hope that the NPC-Stalker really reach that realism as we ve been told. anyone remember what Valve claimed about Half-Life before it came out? the best AI! but in the end it was just all the usual script as used in all the other games. Its time to show the World that a 1st Person shooter can be like a RPG, realitic, complex and with free choice, not just walking up and down the same old level. We ll se how true the claims are... greetz Darko

ALIENposted - Oct, 06 2003 - 13:30

Defaul Userposted - May, 28 2004 - 14:16
The monsters in the game is going to think for them self, they are almoast script free, so the monsters are not apering at the same location next time you want to play the game, and the rellic you have to get may allso not be at the loaction it used to be in the beginning, you must sleep in the game, in a safe location. I WANT THIS GAME

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