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My information might well be of use to you, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

StollsStolls Brave Corporate LogoChicago, ILRegistered User regular
edited July 2010 in Games and Technology
So what's the story with Stalker, anyway? And why the funny acronym?

Spoilered for length:
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Stalker is an adventure-oriented series of shooters set in the blighted Exclusion Zone of Chernobyl. Set in the near future, Stalker takes inspiration from Russian science fiction and depicts the Zone as twice damned. A second explosion after the 1986 meltdown has effectively torn apart the laws of physics and indeed nature. Now, mutated wildlife runs rampant, and bizarre spatial anomalies - gravity wells, electrical discharges, sudden jets of fire - appear out of thin air. However, these anomalies also spawn artifacts that affect the user, granting a variety of supernatural abilities from damage immunity to regeneration.

The artifacts call outside attention to the Zone, and a wide range of scavengers, thieves, and the like have penetrated the army cordon to seek them out. These 'Stalkers' range from random adventurers and loners in search of cash, to members of the scientific community or even those trying to contain the disaster from within. Still others just group up and rob everybody else. Whatever their reasons, all have an interest in the Zone's mysteries. And the Zone, it seems, has an interest in keeping those mysteries unsolved.

At present, there are three entries into the series. The original game, Shadow of Chernobyl, follows one particular Stalker; an amnesiac survivor of a truck crash, found only with a PDA ordering him to find and kill someone named Strelok. As it turns out, Strelok is rumored to be one of the few to reach the center of the Zone and live to tell about it. Tattooed with the acronym 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.', the Marked One sets out to learn what happened to him, who Strelok is, and just what lays at the heart of the Zone.

Clear Sky is a direct prequel to Shadow, detailing the events that led up to Strelok's journey to the center. You play as the mercenary Scar, the lone survivor of a radioactive blowout; a massive, localized energy storm that usually kills the unprotected, this one so huge as to change the very landscape of the Zone. A sect of Stalkers called Clear Sky believes the blowout was in response to a Stalker breaching the center of the Zone, as they feel the Zone is a living entity with which mankind must learn to coexist. Finding Scar alive, Clear Sky rescues him and contracts him to take down the Stalker responsible before another blowout happens.

The recently-released Call of Pripyat is the third game, following one of the 'true' endings from Shadow. The military prepares a large-scale operation to reassert control over the Chernobyl ruins, but somehow the operation fails; the choppers sent to map anomalous activity crash for reasons unknown. Taking a more subtle approach, the government covertly sends a special agent into the Zone to infiltrate the Stalker communities and find out why the choppers went down, and ultimately what happened in the center of the Zone.

Interesting premise, but what puts it apart from every other shooter out there?

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Before the actual Oblivion With Guns came out, that phrase was used often to describe Stalker. While inaccurate, it does give you a basic idea of what to expect. There's little character building to speak of, but it does toe the RPG line with some of its features. Individually large zones are connected by checkpoints, and within these is considerable room to explore. Various neutral or friendly Stalkers may be willing to trade, share information, or even commission you for jobs. Some are just milk runs and side quests, others help you towards your overall goal.

The real thing that sets Stalker apart, however, is the attention to atmosphere. The Zone is a bleak, desolate place; a warped nuclear wasteland and a Soviet-era catastrophy frozen in time. What makes it work is this world exists. The Zone is very real, and developer GSC Game World has taken great pains to reflect (with some liberties) the real-world locale. From dead rail lines and crumbling factories to the garbage pits where clean-up workers dumped radioactive equipment, Stalker's world is part sci-fi mystery and part modern-day tragedy.

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Sounds dangerous.

But not always lonely. The Zone is abandoned territory, but hardly empty. Each of the game involves dealing with the various Stalker groups and gathering information on what's going on. With the military barely keeping a lid on things, a wide assortment of Stalkers have set up their own factions and safe zones, and you'll have to cut deals and do some old-fashioned legwork to get somebody to point you in the right direction.

stalker1.jpg

Sooner or later you're going to have to get out into the wilds and start exploring, and that's where your troubles begin. Hostile Stalkers, mercenaries, and the military are only half the problem; at least they speak Russian. Wild dogs, boars, and other mutated animal life roam the area, hunting in large packs for their next meal. Anomalies dot the landscape, ready to incinerate, crush or vaporize the unwary. Radioactive hot spots can turn a Stalker into a walking lamp in seconds, and a corpse in seconds more. In some areas, groups of Stalkers appear to have their brains boiled, and wander the Zone as if packs of shuffling, gun-toting zombies. Fearful scavengers speak of ghosts and demons, haunted labs and abandoned villages used as feeding grounds by mutated abominations.

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Survival is the name of the game; making sure you've got enough ammo, food, and supplies to get the job done. Bandits are all over the place, and no matter how good you think you are, it only takes one lucky shotgun blast to end your adventure. That howl from down the tunnel means something has spotted you, and you might not what it is until it's right on top of you. Groups of Stalkers clash often, and the victors show no mercy to any survivors; Stalkers will calmly walk up to wounded men, curse at them, and execute them. Your flashlight is barely a pinprick against the night, though you can bet someone, or something, will notice and prepare accordingly. Faint glimmers in the distance catch your attention, growing more numerous, closer, larger, and only too late do you realize they are eyes.

That's Stalker. That and so much more.

Sounds fairly keen. Why isn't this more popular?

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You know how PC games have kind of a reputation for being buggly, imbalanced messes that rely too much on post-release patching to work right? Stalker is like that, but much, much worse. Patches are necessary, but that's only part of the problem. The engine is poorly optimized, and there's no guarantee it won't effectively swallow your machine's resources whole. AI scripting is fine for combat and general purposes, but has some real trouble transitioning between the two; Stalkers are known to latch onto a target on the other side of the map and will happily march right into an anomaly or a sniper's crosshairs to get at them. Scripted sequences break easily and it can be frustrating at best to keep friendlies alive.

Apart from technical instability, there are flat-out poor design choices. Shadow is missing a stable repair system, and both Shadow and Clear Sky lack for an option to sleep through the night in a safe zone. Enemy respawn rates are high, and it's not uncommon to have to kill another dozen or so bandits on your way back through an area you thought you'd cleared. Quests sometimes just show up on your PDA without any indication of who issued them, where they're directing you to, or even what you need to do; a quest to 'protect the Stalkers' may involve clearing the bandit camp next to them, but it won't always tell you as such. Trading is less than useful and you'll wind up with armfuls of gear just by going out and getting it the hard way.

The series is unpolished, in a nutshell. Patches and mods correct most of these problems, but you have to know going in that it can take some finagling to get working right.

Mods? Man, that sounds complicated. Why should I bother?

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Somehow, in spite of the problems, Stalker has attracted a large and fairly devoted following. Each game on its own has brought more innovation, depth and honest-to-goodness adventure to the table than most series entire. Even if you mow through enemy Stalkers by the dozen, there's still uncommon humanity on display. Stalkers randomly break out a guitar and start strumming away, or tell a joke, or share a story, they'll bemoan their fate in a bar or mumble about nightmares in their sleep. Even in the scripted sequences, what happens next isn't usually written in stone. If you quicksave, then quickload five minutes later, the next five minutes may yet surprise you. The next playthrough, even more so.

There's something there. It's hard to define, but once you pick it up, you just might understand. And that's what this thread's for.

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So what do you say?

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Posts

  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Stalker Mod Omnibus, Technical Support, and Other Bits of Miscellany

    So you played Stalker; you know the ground rules, you like the concept, you think there's a gem there, but you need some help getting to the good stuff? No problem, the mod community's got you covered.

    It all starts here. Increase the range of the flashlight. Add a sleep system. Repair your gear. Revamp trader inventories. Add in vehicles. Force the AI to not be so stupid. Cut down on repeated sounds. Reskin weapons. Change the lighting. Change weapon damage. Make friends with any faction. Up your carry weight. Add artifacts as weapons. Click and drag destructable objects. Rework the noise that silencers make. Listen to new music over the radio. Grab new weapons. Throw in some Jin-Roh armor. Force the first trader to sell a gauss gun for ten roubles. Show Azumanga Goddamn Daioh on the TV at the bar.

    It's not as sky's-the-limit as Oblivion, but damned if the mod community hasn't worked their asses off to make this game all the better. Mods for Shadow are all over the damn place, and most of the simpler mods for Clear Sky have been ported over, with some larger mod collections just now starting to show up. However, mod conflicts are commonplace and not all are guaranteed to work with every patch and every hardware configuration. Towards that end, permit the royal us to guide you towards some fan favorites. Download links are in the titles.

    The Zone Reclamation Project (SoC - 1.05)

    stalker2.jpg

    Perhaps the most straightforward of the bunch, the Project began as an attempt at an unofficial patch for Stalker, courtesy of the GSC Game World forumers. Apart from scads of bugfixes, translation adjustments and other technical things, it adds a modifier program allowing you to adjust the parameters of the game itself: how long it takes to go hungry, how high you can jump, your carry weight, how long it takes for quests to recycle, whether enemies drop their weapons to the ground or stash them in their inventory when killed, headbobbing and nightvision quality, whether unique weapons degrade, how secrets are tracked on the PDA, and dozens of other things.

    Extremely stable, it's been tested on the latest patch and is compatible with both the retail and steam versions. It's a complete package, it's user-friendly, and there's no reason not to try it if you thought vanilla was just a little too unpolished for your liking.


    The Stalker Mod Compilation (SoC - 1.25)
    (alternate download link)

    stalkercc.jpg

    A collection of various smaller mods, including the ZRP, this mod compilation - put together by yours truly - was crafted to be an easy to use starter kit; more or less for those of you who think the ZRP didn't go far enough, or for those of you who want a simple plug-and-play mod package. On top of the ZRP fixes, I've included a HUD revamp mod, improved sound effects, the prefetch tweak (disables prefetching, a known cause of memory leaks), a mod that changes NPC names to proper Russian ones, a weather overhaul, and improved shader models. In addition, the Compilation contains extra packages that have been customized with additional mods, including ones that don't normally work together. These add features like closed captioning, a repair system, armor non-degradation, revised trading rules, forcing the game to pre-fill (but not mark) all stash locations, and much more.

    Generally stable, but there have been reports of problems with the partial or full packages; several have reported a lockup after the cutscene at X18, a solution to which can be found here. An update is coming soon, though not as soon as I'd like with Call of Pripyat on the plate. I claim no credit for the mods themselves, only for getting them to work nicely together - this is done without express permission, but with the utmost respect for their creators.


    Oblivion Lost (SoC - 2.2)

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    Far and away the most popular and well-known of the major overhaul mods, Oblivion Lost goes beyond simple gameplay tweaks and bugfixes to change pretty much everything about the game short of the whole 'point and click to kill mans' thing. New quests? You bet. New weapons? How's a minigun sound for starters, followed up by using artifacts to summon your own anomalies? New monsters? Well not really 'new' since they were in the code to begin with, but just try taking the Burer down with guns; just try. Random events? Mind-controlling mutants will now disarm you, possess your allies and send them to attack you, robed dwarves lead scores of zombies on the march, and the motherfucking sky will randomly turn red and radioactive.

    Stable and easy to install, but most definitely not for rookie Stalkers. Practice in the original game (with mods, of course) before taking this one on. Do note that this does not mix well (or at all) with other megamods or mod compilations, so exercise extreme caution in combining this with others.


    Complete 2009 (SoC - 1.4.3.2)

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    One of the more recent entries into the megamod scene, STALKER Complete is a thorough visual facelift and rebalancing effort. The original game is intact; there are no faction wars, blowouts, psychic dwarf bosses, or anything of that sort. What is here, however, is remarkable to say the least: vast retexturing, improved creature and object details, a score of neat visual effects, sound overhauls - including new guitar music and authentic vocals - new tricks for the AI (grenades, healing other NPCs, moving bodies from campsites), and even the ability to shoot out lights. Old favorites like a repair mod, text revamp, Zone Reclamation Project, and a sleeping bag are also worked in for good measure, among gobs of other things.

    This is basically a "make shit pretty" mod with various other tweaks, so for obvious reasons you're going to want a lot of horsepower for your rig before trying this. Granted, vanilla Stalker has been known to eat Crysis-grade machines for breakfast, but fair warning: this package is physically larger than Oblivion Lost.

    L.U.R.K. (SoC - 1.0552)

    L.U.R.K. Weather Preview

    Coming courtesy of 4chan's /v/ and /k/ boards, L.U.R.K. is a cumulative effort bent on delivering "the definitive S.T.A.L.K.E.R. experience." Apart from the obligatory visual upgrades, L.U.R.K.'s aim is to deliver enhanced AI, deeper RPG aspects, a better in-game economy, and almost literally countless other improvements. Honestly, you really have to read for yourself to see just how far this one goes; likely far further than Complete 2009, while still retaining the 'feel' of the original game. Further details can be found at the mod's blog here.

    Currently released and patched up to 1.0552; both the release and the patch can be downloaded through the moddb page. The 1.1 update is coming soon, although no specific date has been given.

    Feedback has been extremely promising, but forward any bugs you find to this thread on moddb.

    Ninja Snarl P is currently doing an excellent video Let's Play of Stalker with the Lurk mod installed. Give it a look if you'd like it see it on action.


    Clear Sky Mod Pack (CS - 1.0)

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    One of the first and most stable mod compilations for Clear Sky, this pack includes the following: a larger carry weight limit, better flashlight and nightvision, a pistol-slot MP5, larger magazine upgrades for certain guns, improved sounds, fixes for flash drive quests, mechanic improvements, the use of weapons anywhere, fixed fast-travel for Cordon and Garbage, some Russian to English translations, and much more.

    Relatively stable, though I experienced a few crashes that seemed unrelated to the base game; not that Clear Sky was much more stable than Shadow, of course.


    Faction Commander (CS - 2.0)

    Faction Commander demo

    Essentially, this is what Clear Sky should have featured with its faction warfare system. Faction Commander creates a system for arming, giving orders to, and expanding the influence of, the various stalker factions. The player can do this for any faction they are allied with, but other factions will have their own AI commanders which follow the same rules. This also makes several sweeping changes to faction AI, among other things allowing them to designate multiple goals at once, and even to send squads across the Zone to hunt you down. Also, factions can finally be wiped clear off the map.

    I've only briefly dabbled with this myself, but it's reportedly quite stable as far as mods go.

    Clear Sky Complete 2010 (CS - 1.0)

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    Brought to you by the gentleman known as artistpavel, Clear Sky Complete is a megamod/overhaul in the vein of Stalker Complete. A complete list of changes is not yet available, though one can expect a variety of extensive engine tweaks, graphics and sound upgrades, and bug fixes that don't substantially change the overall gameplay.


    Monger's FAQ Megapost

    Forumer and fellow Stalker Monger has put together a large composite post covering common technical issues, mod suggestions, and rookie Stalker advice. If you have a question not covered by the OP, check this post first.


    WARNING - Regarding mod compatibility

    The megamods are either custom creations, or collections of individual mods that required editing to fit neatly together. It is not advised to combine any of the megamods, and putting individual mods together does require a degree of care. If you intend to select your own mods from the Filefront link, exercise caution and make sure there aren't any file conflicts; this may require some text editing on your part to get the two mods to work together.

    When in doubt, back up your gamedata folder before installing a new mod.


    Diagnosing Crash Problems

    Iceburner found out something nifty about why Stalker might have crashed on you this time:
    IceBurner wrote: »
    I finally have some useful, possibly OP-worthy info: Whenever S.T.A.L.K.E.R. crashes, with or without an error message/popup, it copies the reason for the crash into your windows clipboard.

    So if S.T.A.L.K.E.R. ever crashes for you, immediately open notepad or your favorite text editor and paste to find out why. The report looks something like this:
    Expression    : fatal error
    Function      : CInifile::r_string
    File          : E:\stalker\sources\trunk\xrCore\Xr_ini.cpp
    Line          : 352
    Description   : <no expression>
    [B]Arguments     : Can't find variable launch_speed in [wpn_mac10][/B]
    
    Discovered this by accident while debugging my own mods.


    Metro 2033

    Apparently, after making the X-Ray engine for Stalker, a few guys from GSC Game World broke off to do their own thing. They're making a curious little actioner called Metro 2033, a trailer for which can be found here. While not exactly another Stalker, it's looking pretty damn atmospheric and you can bet I'll be checking it out come launch day (mid-March, according to Wiki). Credit goes to Daemonion for the trailer link.


    Stalker MMO Ponderings
    Waka Laka wrote: »
    On the thought of a STALKER MMO, I could imagine what the chat log would look like.

    Connected Player "Waka Laka" to server - The Den.
    Connected.
    Welcome to the Den.

    (Trade) HUMMER557 - WTS Atrifact +5 Rad res +2 Rupture PST : )
    (Local) Cockweasel - OMFG Tarox how the fuck did you hit me.
    Bandit whispers - HEY WAKA! :P
    You whisper Bandit - Hey.

    (Local) Taroximation (HRST) - My bullets are gay seeking, and you are a faggot, stop being a faggot and
    they'll stop hitting you.
    (Local) Cockweasel - :( asshole, I know you're hacking.
    (Trade)qkdkanfksk - WELCOME TO STALKTRADE!!! THE ONLY WEBSITE THAT GUARANTEES BEST VALUE STALKER MONEY ON THE WEB - BEST PRICED ARTIFACTS! 24/7 DELIVERY! WWW.GOLD4GOLD.COM/STALKERGOLD/default.htm
    (Trade)(ZONE) Grudge - WTS AK47 with scope, Fired twice, dropped once - 1400r
    (Local) Taroximation (HRST) - OMFG LRN 2 STALK FAG. IMA CHARGIN MAH FAG GRENADES
    Bandit whispers - Want to raid X105 with me? :D
    You whisper Bandit - Nah, dude you always tell me to raid with you and then when I want to raid you're like "Oh my dog died or my auntie is sick" So no, go ask someone else.

    (Local) (R.A.D) Argh, fucking respawning dogs, I was looting and they all spawned around me!
    (Trade) Monkeyfarts - Too expensive Grudge
    You whisper Bandit - Technically your Auntie has died 4 times in the last 2 months, I'm wondering if she's a zombie or some shit. Say hi to your goldfish, cos I think he might be on the way out when I ask you to raid the Sarcophagus
    Bandit whispers - Fag you're out of the guild
    (You have been removed from your guild)
    (LFG) Baxter Stockman - LF2M, prefered Medic, Heavy and/or Robber LVL 18-21
    Buttseckz whispers - Can you make me some bread and vodka?
    (Local) You wrote - Fuck the lot of ya!
    (Local) Taroximation - Ask Cockweasel, he does alot of fucking. Like cocks and dicks and stuff
    (You disconnect)


    Easily Abused Imagery
    Yorker wrote: »
    I couldn't help myself with this image, so exploitable.

    1222877771759ja9.jpg


    Stalker Cosplay, No Seriously

    This is how men LARP. (Thanks Basticle!)


    More Articles About How Weirdly Awesome Stalker Is
    Tim James wrote: »
    Hey Stolls, this might be worth a mention in the OP. The guy that gave the 68% PCG UK review (and said there was less atmosphere/scares in CS and the faction war was kind of goofy), Jim Rossignol, has done a few good features about the original.

    Eurogamer review: basically says the exact thing we tell newbies -- shaky mechanics with awesome atmosphere. Good summary for new folks.

    The game in relation to real-life Ukranian history: this along with the PCG UK three part feature and RPS interview has some nice background details about the inspiration for the game, from the Russian film and sci-fi novel we all know, to the historical context and Ukranian culture. Neat read for those that aren't aware of this. Good for new players and old.

    Mini LP: just a nice story of how he continues to enjoy the game after completing it twice. Also mentions some of the game's faults, and hope for Clear Sky that is kind of sad (at least now that I know he's a little disappointed in it). It's a retrospective for experienced players.


    Laughably Bad Fanfiction, Even by Fanfiction Standards

    A kindly anonymous Stalker alerted me to the presence of this fine piece of literature. This work of art is unrivaled in its harrowing depiction of life inside the Zone, and may well be one of the most important things ever penned in the modern age, right up there with Full Life Consequences. Now with pictorials.

    Embrace the horror.

    SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
    A thorough explanation of the story up to Clear Sky, complete with all endings, can be found here.

    Previous Threads on Stalker:

    "I said come in! Don't just stand there!" (S.T.A.L.K. T.A.L.K.)
    "Let's drink to him once more. He was a good S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
    [Let's Play]S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl
    What you want is here, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Come to me.

    Gentlemen and ladies, let's have at it!

    Stolls on
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  • FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I have never uninstalled this game since launch

    Fandyien on
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  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Fandyien wrote: »
    I have never uninstalled this game since launch

    I've uninstalled it multiple times, immediately followed by re-installation. Sometimes you just gotta have a clean slate to keep the Zone from crashing like narcoleptic pilot.

    Ninja Snarl P on
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Good thread and title, Stolls!

    Initial Call of Pripyat impressions (no spoilers other than minor things you'll see in the first 5 minutes):
    I haven't gotten excited about a game map since Dragon Warrior, but this one is kind of neat. It looks like anomalies are now known and set locations with descriptive names. Almost like a tourist destination that can kill you and holds priceless artifacts. Map also includes a tech tree and artifact list.

    There is some exposition and then they drop you right into a map with very loose direction, rather than starting you in a camp. The text of the intro movie and the dialogue don't match, heh.

    I can safely report that it's still possible to sneak up on a bandit actively looting a corpse, and murder him in cold blood to take his gear.
    Technical notes:

    Wow this engine is ugly. I know they reduced the complexity of the maps in order to make them bigger, and everything at a distance still looks bland. Running maxed out DX9 at 60 FPS with a 5850 at 1600x1200 though.

    Game did not load for me initially until I rebooted. Might be a DRM thing.

    Tim James on
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  • MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    New STALKER thread for the first time in over a year. It feels good, yo. It feels good.

    But from the old thread:
    L|ama wrote: »
    Monger wrote: »
    If the CoP had the same collector's edition stuff as Europe, I'd buy a box version in a heartbeat. Sadly, it just has lame bits like stickers, so I'll just wait for the inevitable Steam version.
    North America sucks. We don't never get nothin.

    I wouldn't complain about anything to do with video games in NA when you are on a forum that has australians and new zealanders. Think you have the short end of the stick? We have like... the very end of the pointy bit of a toothpick.
    Hi, L|ama. Have you met The Joke? The Joke, this is L|ama.

    Monger on
  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Great OP.

    STALKER will forever be one of my favorite games, top 5 if not top 3.

    Metro2033 does look amazing, though.

    Daemonion on
  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Tim James wrote: »
    Running maxed out DX9 at 60 FPS with a 5850 at 1600x1200 though.
    So you went ahead and got the 5850? How is that treating you?

    Daemonion on
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Daemonion wrote: »
    Tim James wrote: »
    Running maxed out DX9 at 60 FPS with a 5850 at 1600x1200 though.
    So you went ahead and got the 5850? How is that treating you?
    Great so far. Completely cool and quiet, no problems with anything in DX9. (Will work on installing Windows 7 soon.) Must have been something wrong with that 4850 to get so hot like that.

    Tim James on
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  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Man, that thread was really over a year old? Wow. Good times... good times.

    Tim James: Thanks for the thread title idea. And man, what you said about CoP just makes me all the more stoked. Friday can't come quick enough.

    Daemonion: For all I know about Russia, they might just call Metro 2033 "Tuesday." It looks like some really good stuff, though. The atmosphere of Stalker built into an otherwise straightforward shooter sounds like a winning combination to me.

    Stolls on
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  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Stolls wrote: »
    Tim James: Thanks for the thread title idea. And man, what you said about CoP just makes me all the more stoked. Friday can't come quick enough.
    big l came up with the original idea, I just suggested that it be abbreviated like you have there. :)

    Endurance is lower now unfortunately, might need a mod for that so I can run a little more without artifacts.

    Tim James on
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  • MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Stolls wrote: »
    Man, that thread was really over a year old? Wow. Good times... good times.
    Yep, last thread started while Clear Sky was still being patched.

    Also:
    Yorker wrote: »
    I couldn't help myself with this image, so exploitable.

    1222877771759ja9.jpg
    Still makes me giggle.

    Monger on
  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Noted. Thanks, big l!

    Mods are already popping up quickly for CoP, looks mostly simpler stuff for now. Given how quickly everything got set up for Clear Sky in comparison to Shadow, this should be even quicker.

    Edit: That's going in the OP. Good call, Monger.

    Stolls on
    lR4K8ZJ.png
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  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Stolls wrote: »
    Daemonion: For all I know about Russia, they might just call Metro 2033 "Tuesday." It looks like some really good stuff, though. The atmosphere of Stalker built into an otherwise straightforward shooter sounds like a winning combination to me.

    Ha ha!

    I'm learning to speak Russian and will be heading to Pripyat once I can speak it proper. You guys are going to be getting loads of photos and stories from me that will hopefully go in the next OP one year from now!

    Daemonion on
  • vsovevsove ....also yes. Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I can't find a damn copy of Pripyat anywhere in the city.

    This makes me unreasonably mad.

    vsove on
    WATCH THIS SPACE.
  • CarbonFireCarbonFire See you in the countryRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Nice work as always on the OP Stolls.

    I picked Call of Pripyat up yesterday, but was too distracted by work-related stuff to give it the proper amount of time to truly savor it.

    Tonight I shall savor the zone. It will be delicious.

    CarbonFire on
    Steam: CarbonFire MWO, PSN, Origin: Carb0nFire
  • kf1kf1 Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Quick question; is it safe to assume that if I can run SoC fairly well with LURK installed my PC can handle CS and CoP, or are those to more taxing on hardware?

    kf1 on
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    RPS recently did a Wot I Think of Call of Pripyat.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/02/02/wot-i-think-call-of-pripyat/
    To sum up, I know it’s basically meaningless for me to recommend this to people who have played the previous games, because most of them will just buy it anyway. But the recommendation is there to all of you. You should play this. Yes, it is simply more of the same survival FPS we’ve seen twice before, with new and interesting bugs (such as a broken cut-scene in which I found myself hunched over the corpse I had been examining) but this time it feels freer, and more relaxed. It’s been executed imaginatively and competently, and delivers genuine surprises. The rough edges remain, and still they do nothing to diminish its charm. Call Of Pripyat is a vital excursion to the zone and probably the most interesting shooter we’re going to see on the PC in 2010.

    subedii on
  • MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    kf1 wrote: »
    Quick question; is it safe to assume that if I can run SoC fairly well with LURK installed my PC can handle CS and CoP, or are those to more taxing on hardware?
    CS is more demanding than LURK (mostly because of a few specific effects like sun rays), but you'll be able to run it well enough. I've heard that CoP runs significantly better than CS, but I don't have any firsthand experience with it yet.

    Monger on
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Load times are still about 45 seconds, with two thirds of that time at 100% progress bar. :) Reloads are blessedly short at under 5 seconds, which is helpful for those anomaly fields.

    Speaking of which (again, no real spoilers):
    Anomalies are like I guessed before, with marked areas on the map that each offer unique puzzle or obstacle course of death to navigate, and you can come out with quite a few artifacts using your detector. I enjoyed that part of Clear Sky and they seem to have formalized it, expanded it, and made it a little more of an adventure. That might be part of what Jim at RPS means about the relaxed pace.

    Couple notes on the economy:
    I read on the forums that it's pretty easy to eventually earn lots of cash through artifacts, but traders don't buy damaged gear, so it's harder to dump things on them in the early game.

    My frame rate is dropping a bit in certain parts but nothing under 40 FPS. Just a small detectable blip in smoothness like any shooter.

    Finally, the new catch phrase may be a slightly homosexual "haowwwdy-ho!" The English voice acting is tragicomic as usual.

    One more thing I noticed since we were talking about lyrics in the last thread: in the credits song I can hear him say "idi k mhe" like our favorite chunk of rock that provided the last thread title. I'm learning Russian!

    Tim James on
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  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Aw, the engine still does that thing where sometimes the weather changes after a quickload. There's not much in the way of technical upgrades here, just new design.

    I noticed you can come across stashes now without having to find a note about them, which appear to be less frequent.

    Tim James on
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  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Tim James wrote: »
    Aw, the engine still does that thing where sometimes the weather changes after a quickload. There's not much in the way of technical upgrades here, just new design.

    I noticed you can come across stashes now without having to find a note about them, which appear to be less frequent.

    Nice. Finding stash information was too unpredictable, and I was always strapped for cash in CS so I never bothered paying for it. This is a welcome change.

    Heard there was supposed to be a sleep system in CoP too, is that true?

    Stolls on
    lR4K8ZJ.png
    Shadowrun skillcheck guides: Dragonfall, Hong Kong
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yes you can sleep at some of the safe zones.

    I think modders will be able to spice up the graphics pretty easily. The normal and color maps for distant land texture are so low I feel like I'm playing Half-Life or something, but that's easy to change without a lot of art.

    They now give you two weapon slots for any type of weapon. Good idea.

    These maps are big enough that if they improved the real-time level loading (which still chugs sometimes) they could make the world completely open like Oblivion. Maybe Stalker 2.

    I haven't tried any stealth kills (not as many humans against you) but there is a concealment indicator to go along with the noise indicator. Might be useful.

    So far the "unique side quests" GSC was talking about are pretty good, and the first scripted event was decent. Better than killing the psuedodog.

    Tim James on
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  • FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    vsove wrote: »
    I can't find a damn copy of Pripyat anywhere in the city.

    This makes me unreasonably mad.

    I've lost everything but an old backup of STALKER

    I need to up and buy both of them, or wait until the third comes out and get all three

    Fandyien on
    reposig.jpg
  • stigweardstigweard Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    My local store didn't get any copies of COP in at all. I'm going to wait a few days to see if steam picks it up and then I'll have to resort to ordering it online somewhere.

    stigweard on
  • MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Tim James wrote: »
    I think modders will be able to spice up the graphics pretty easily. The normal and color maps for distant land texture are so low I feel like I'm playing Half-Life or something, but that's easy to change without a lot of art.
    The LURK guys are already on it.

    Monger on
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    You guys are looking at Target for CoP, right? They're the ones that have it if anyone does.

    This game may be the easiest of the three for players who are new to the series. You start with a decent weapon and armor, there are no random anomalies to wander into and fewer human enemies, there's a place to sleep, and even a designated personal stash! It's even more directionless at the beginning than the previous games but on the other hand that allows people to wander around a little first.

    And hey, guess who survived.
    Nimble, and he's made a place for himself as a specialized gun broker!

    Tim James on
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  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Those LURK screens for CoP look 25 times better, maybe 26 times.
    Okay, 27.

    Daemonion on
  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Tim James wrote: »
    You guys are looking at Target for CoP, right? They're the ones that have it if anyone does.

    This game may be the easiest of the three for players who are new to the series. You start with a decent weapon and armor, there are no random anomalies to wander into and fewer human enemies, there's a place to sleep, and even a designated personal stash! It's even more directionless at the beginning than the previous games but on the other hand that allows people to wander around a little first.

    And hey, guess who survived.
    Nimble, and he's made a place for himself as a specialized gun broker!
    In between power naps, I would presume.

    Target did not occur to me. I'll swing by after work tomorrow and check it out. Hey, a guy can hope.

    Stolls on
    lR4K8ZJ.png
    Shadowrun skillcheck guides: Dragonfall, Hong Kong
  • vsovevsove ....also yes. Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Sadly, I'm in Canada. No Target here.

    vsove on
    WATCH THIS SPACE.
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Stolls wrote: »
    Target did not occur to me. I'll swing by after work tomorrow and check it out. Hey, a guy can hope.
    It's been confirmed all over. In fact I haven't heard of any other stores carrying it at all yet. It's Target or nothing at the moment, possibly due to the distributor they used.

    Tim James on
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  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Its funny, I have had bad luck with Target for pretty much every other PC game, ever.

    Daemonion on
  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Same here, never had much luck with them.

    I, for one, am looking forward to whatever turns out to be this game's bar crew. If only for the memes it may provide.

    Stolls on
    lR4K8ZJ.png
    Shadowrun skillcheck guides: Dragonfall, Hong Kong
  • MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If my memory serves me, Target was the only place I could find a copy of SoC at release.

    edit: I have no idea what I just got out of here, stalker.

    Monger on
  • CarbonFireCarbonFire See you in the countryRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Daemonion wrote: »
    Its funny, I have had bad luck with Target for pretty much every other PC game, ever.

    It was mentioned in the previous thread that the publisher, Viva Media, is a casual and budget-centric publisher with strong ties to places like Target that tend to focus mainly on the casual market. It's rather odd that someone like Viva would bother publishing CoP, as it is way outside their normal target (har har) demographic. Not that I'm complaining of course....getting the game on release day sure beats waiting forever for Steam to finally get the game.

    As for the game....in a word: WOW.

    CoP is to the Stalker Series what Mass Effect 2 is to the ME series...except without all the hardcore RPG parts "streamlined" out. All around a better game; inventory is better, economy seems better, AI life seems more, well, alive. I've been attacked by wandering snork hoards, been ambushed in the middle of a swamp by several bloodsuckers (in the rain, at night D:), had to fight off several packs of dogs and the now much more aggressive Flesh (pigs), and picked through the dead bodies after a couple of random shootouts I happened upon (and making friends / enemies in the process ;-)). The zone seems to care less about catering to you, the player, and more about doing whatever the hell it wants, more akin to a real place. Which is exactly what I've always wanted out of a Stalker game.

    Also, great moment during one of the early quests:
    So I met up with the guy hunting down the Bloodsucker nest in the SE part of the Swamp. We play boomstick hide-and-seek with the bloodsuckers and then head down the elevator shaft into the main "nest" area. Before we drop down I get the update that a random blowout is coming, and think to myself "well that's fine, we're inside, no biggie". So we continue on and have to pass through the nest area where all the bloodsuckers are sleeping, right as the blowout starts to rage outside. I fully expected the Bloodsuckers to wake up in the middle of it as my screen faded in and out, quickly turning a sickening blood red color as the Blowout reached it's climax. I practically pushed my guide friend out of the way dropping down the pipe to get out of that area. Sitting in the middle of a horde of sleeping bloodsuckers as your screen flashes red and thunder booms outside is more than a little unsettling.

    But so, so awesome :mrgreen:

    And you can make a bit of cash of guns you pick up. If you repair them you can resell them, but they have to be in relatively good condition before you repair, otherwise the repair bill will be more than the payout. Anything with a condition of ~60-70% or greater seems to reap a positive return. It's not a whole lot, and you won't become rich from doing it, but it's better than nothing.

    CarbonFire on
    Steam: CarbonFire MWO, PSN, Origin: Carb0nFire
  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    So are the blowouts actually dangerous? Every blowout I've seen so far in every mod has been almost weak enough where you could walk out in with a good suit on. On top of that, the blowouts take so long to become dangerous after starting that short of just standing still, I've never had any problem finding cover. I'd still infinitely rather have them than not, but are CoP blowouts as dangerous as they make themselves look and sound or they more of a slap on the wrist for not getting inside?

    Ninja Snarl P on
  • CarbonFireCarbonFire See you in the countryRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    So are the blowouts actually dangerous? Every blowout I've seen so far in every mod has been almost weak enough where you could walk out in with a good suit on. On top of that, the blowouts take so long to become dangerous after starting that short of just standing still, I've never had any problem finding cover. I'd still infinitely rather have them than not, but are CoP blowouts as dangerous as they make themselves look and sound or they more of a slap on the wrist for not getting inside?

    During my first blowout, a couple Stalkers didn't make it inside the safe house before it finished. They did leave me some nice loot though :}
    Very well could have been scripted, but who knows. I'll have to hang around outside when the next one hits to see what happens. Also there are drugs in-game specifically to fight the effects of a blowout, so I assume it's at least a little dangerous. Also I have the starting Stalker suit, so maybe that would grant me some measure of protection :?:

    Edit: I just tested it out, and yes, Blowouts are indeed deadly. I didn't even survive through the climax...I just started losing health faster than I could replenish it with meds (health is no longer restored instantly like in previous STALKER games). Looks like cover or a very strong suit + anti-blowout meds are the only things that will get you through a blowout.

    CarbonFire on
    Steam: CarbonFire MWO, PSN, Origin: Carb0nFire
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Monger wrote: »
    New STALKER thread for the first time in over a year. It feels good, yo. It feels good.

    But from the old thread:
    L|ama wrote: »
    Monger wrote: »
    If the CoP had the same collector's edition stuff as Europe, I'd buy a box version in a heartbeat. Sadly, it just has lame bits like stickers, so I'll just wait for the inevitable Steam version.
    North America sucks. We don't never get nothin.

    I wouldn't complain about anything to do with video games in NA when you are on a forum that has australians and new zealanders. Think you have the short end of the stick? We have like... the very end of the pointy bit of a toothpick.
    Hi, L|ama. Have you met The Joke? The Joke, this is L|ama.

    I assumed you were being somewhat serious since NA does generally get worse collectors edition stuff and instead has preorder bonuses, since here they need to convince us to just buy the game whereas in NA they want the guarantee of early buyers.

    L|ama on
  • CherrnCherrn Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Well, my review is up on Eurogamer.dk, so I'll spill the beans.

    A few months ago, I asked in an older STALKER thread whether or not there was a mod that removed much of the random chaos from Shadow of Chernobyl in order to emphasize the atmosphere. I wanted to wander around the world, exploring, without having to be fired upon from 100 yards away.

    Call of Pripyat is that game.

    There are still random elements (anomalies, emissions, mutants), but you can walk around freely without bandits firing at you, unless you encroach on their territory. The map has several landmarks strewn about, be it anomalies, camps or a specific type of building. Every point of interest has something noteworthy in it; a quest location, an anomalous event or just some cool stuff to find. This makes the pace of the game very deliberate, as you travel from place to place just to see what else you can discover. It has a more structured feel compared to the previous games, and since you are rarely bound by time limits, it increases the role of exploration within the game world, which I personally enjoyed a great deal.

    The quests are also leagues beyond anything in both previous games. They have as much thought put into them as the main story, and, without spoiling anything, they all pay off in the end. There are some really brilliant ones (such as the bloodsucker lair, mentioned above), and the characters you deal with have much more tangible personality and a legitimate role within the world. It's not like there's a ton of exposition or dialogue compared to the previous games, but all of it is tailored to a specific purpose, making each quest and character very memorable.

    The entire game is, to me, a combination of the best parts of the previous STALKER games, with all the bad parts completely excised. The world is huge, the scale immense, and you can go about it as you want - they put a lot of effort into making each location feel unique (and most of the anomalies look amazingly twisted, like something out of The Void), and there is always a good reason to visit them. The shooting mechanics feel much more solid, the AI is noticeably improved (especially the mutants'), the difficulty hasn't been toned down (I swear some Bloodsuckers could withstand three direct shotgun blasts to the face), there is a greater deal of customization and choice, and the world feels richer overall.

    During the latter parts of the game, it can get somewhat formulaic, but they always switch it up with awesome events and locations. The trip to Pripyat is especially harrowing, and probably the finest instance of a fully scripted sequence in all three games. I really enjoyed Shadow of Chernobyl; Clear Sky not so much. Call of Pripyat is a complete return to form, while eschewing many of the more notorious and monotonous elements of eastern European game design (I crashed once over 30+ hours, and I only encountered one serious bug, which ended up not affecting my game after all). The only thing I will fault them for is the old-ass X-ray engine. The game still looks great by virtue of the art design, but it also still runs like shit on older systems. It's not as bad as Clear Sky, but they really should have optimized this crap by now. On the plus side, it does run great on newer budget cards like the Radeon 5770, plus you get DirectX 11 support on top, so that's something to consider.

    To sum up:

    Pros
    -Focus on atmosphere and structure, less focus on chaos and randomness. Will probably be a con for several people, but that's what mods are for.
    -Mechanics work better than ever before. Enemy behaviour is much more consistent and fun.
    -Huge, wonderfully crafted world that retains the STALKER feel, but with much more visual variety, creativity and greater rewards for exploration.
    -Best use of storytelling in the series. The sidequests and resulting epilogue are especially remarkable.
    -Very, very few bugs. The game is genuinely reliable at all times.

    Cons:
    -Graphics still unoptimized
    -Economy is slightly broken, given the value of artifacts (though money can't buy everything)

    I gave it a 9/10. Call of Pripyat is my favorite shooter in years and is definitely a product that remains entirely unique and interesting without succumbing to poor design or losing its identity. It showcases the true potential of GSC Gameworks when they can get their act together, and significantly boosts my anticipation for STALKER 2. So, fuck yeah.

    Cherrn on
    All creature will die and all the things will be broken. That's the law of samurai.
  • MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    L|ama wrote: »
    Monger wrote: »
    New STALKER thread for the first time in over a year. It feels good, yo. It feels good.

    But from the old thread:
    L|ama wrote: »
    Monger wrote: »
    If the CoP had the same collector's edition stuff as Europe, I'd buy a box version in a heartbeat. Sadly, it just has lame bits like stickers, so I'll just wait for the inevitable Steam version.
    North America sucks. We don't never get nothin.

    I wouldn't complain about anything to do with video games in NA when you are on a forum that has australians and new zealanders. Think you have the short end of the stick? We have like... the very end of the pointy bit of a toothpick.
    Hi, L|ama. Have you met The Joke? The Joke, this is L|ama.

    I assumed you were being somewhat serious since NA does generally get worse collectors edition stuff and instead has preorder bonuses, since here they need to convince us to just buy the game whereas in NA they want the guarantee of early buyers.
    In NA, they don't need to woo us. We will buy anything, regardless of quality or novelty.

    We are whores.

    edit: Dammit, Cherrn, I am salivating and my copy won't be here for a number of days.

    Monger on
  • Tim JamesTim James Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It sounds like we're at the point where early minor spoilers are starting to get out in the open, like the "nest" sidequest. This tends to happen in the first week or two when people start playing the game. So if you want a total media blackout then fair warning.

    Cherrn seems to have confirmed my initial impressions about the style and pace of the game. Haven't decided how I like it yet but I did say after CS that I thought the idea of a more open world played at your own pace might have some legs to it for mod teams. For me though, what initially grabbed me with STALKER was the intense sequences like the 4 or 5 in SoC and maybe 1 in CS (Red Forest at night?)

    That's what I'll be looking for as the game goes on. (Not asking for a spoiler, just mentioning what I'm hoping for.)

    Tim James on
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