In a restaurant somewhere in sunny Los Angeles County, 13 years ago, two old friends were having lunch. Wine and conversation were flowing. They remembered how they'd met at LucasArts in the 90s. They weren't there to talk business but they did because video games were their bread and butter. One of the men, Jack Sorensen, was reeling-off job opportunities he knew of - he being executive vice president of worldwide studios at games publisher THQ. "THQ Australia?" he enquired. But the other man, Dean Sharpe, didn't seem interested. He had closed his own studio Big Ape Productions a couple of years earlier, dropped off the radar and taken a break, and now he was ready for something new. But Sharpe wanted a challenge.
7th February 2018
12th January 2012
9th December 2011
Apparently STALKER 2 is happening and will be released in 2021.
Few settings have captured the imaginations of game developers and players like Chernobyl, the site of a reactor explosion in 1986 that created one of the world's few actual nuclear wastelands. The legendary Exclusion Zone - now, would you believe, something of a tourist attraction - has provided the stage for countless virtual conflicts and survival stories. There are the indirect recreations, such as Big Robot's bleached starship graveyard The Signal From Tölva, or the Erangel island map from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - an abandoned Soviet testing facilty in which the wanderer is forced towards rather than away from the centre by an ever-encroaching sea of blue energy. And there are truer-to-life portrayals like Call of Duty 4's "All Ghillied Up" mission or GSC World's STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, which gives you the run of an Exclusion Zone in which space-time is starting to fall apart like overcooked pasta.
How about a STALKER battle royale game? There's one in development. It's called Fear the Wolves and it's made by Vostok Games, the studio formed from the ashes of STALKER developer GSC.
Fear the Wolves takes place, like STALKER, in the creepy radiation-blasted wasteland of Chernobyl. It's a 100-player deathmatch where you can play lone wolf or in squads - but players won't be the only enemy. Deadly anomalies constantly threaten your health, mitigated somewhat by protective gear found while exploring. Of more pressing danger, however, will be the mutated forms lurking in the shadows...
Fear the Wolves will be released at some point this year on PC and consoles - presumably much later this year. There'll be an early access phase on PC beforehand.
The people behind gritty survival shooter Metro Exodus are designing the game to be the best of the Metro series and the best of the STALKER series - combined.
Controversy surrounded a Kickstarter project called Areal earlier this year. It was billed as the spiritual successor to the creepy, cult S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, made by some of the same people, and it had serious ambition - but also serious flaws.
UPDATE 23/07/2014 3.06am: West Games has started a new crowdfunding campaign on its official site.
There are six days of the Kickstarter to go and - finally - we're shown gameplay footage of Areal.
There's been a noteworthy update to the controversial Areal Kickstarter (beyond what I dug into last week): the full-time hiring of Alexey Sytyanov, the lead game designer of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the lead game designer of Survarium.
UPDATE 30/06 11.30AM BST: West-Games made a bizarre claim in one of the updates that Vostok Games has now shot down.
A standalone mod for the original Stalker game is now available to download - a little earlier than planned.
Bethesda and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? The rumour has surfaced again.
An ambitious Crysis mod titled CryZone: Sector 23 has made the jump to full game status, Russian developer Owl Game Studio has announced.
In keeping with the times, reincarnated S.T.A.L.K.E.R. dev Vostok Games will openly develop new game Survarium hand-in-hand with the community.
Stalker 2 is all but dead and buried, judging by a rush of activity surrounding beleaguered developer GSC.
Developer GSC has released a new video for post-apocalyptic shooter Stalker 2 and in doing so has attempted to reassure fans concerned about the game's future.
Ukrainian developer GSC Game World has confirmed that open world shooter Stalker 2 is still in development, quashing reports of its cancellation late last year.
"The Stalker team is extremely happy!", a post on the official Stalker Facebook page reads. "Why? Because we are continuing work on Stalker 2 after the holidays."
Ukrainian news agency UkraNews reported last month that GSC founder and CEO Sergei Grigorovich had decided to close the company, leaving Stalker 2 canned.
For an area that's been blasted by radiation for the past twenty years, the sloping hills of the countryside around Chernobyl are impressively virile. The grasses have shifted from soft greens to muted browns, admittedly, but there's still a lot of vegetation, and, more worryingly, a lot of wildlife.
UPDATE: GSC just posted an additional Tweet stating that its "website will continue, with the forum and tech support. The shop will continue until the nearest planned items sell out. (uploaded now)"
UPDATE 1: GSC has deleted its Twitter denial of Stalker 2's cancellation.
ORIGINAL STORY: GSC Game World has denied a Ukrainian news report that claims Stalker 2 has been cancelled and the developer shut down.
Following the publication of a UkraNews.com report that claimed the promising open world shooter had been canned after GSC founder and CEO Sergei Grigorovich decided to close the company, the official Stalker Twitter page posted: "No we have not closed GSC or cancelled."
Stalker 2 developer GSC Game World is looking for a way to protect its upcoming game from the threat of piracy in a way that is "acceptable for all", but warned that it may have to go down the always-online DRM route.
There's going to be a greater emphasis on survival within S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, developer GSC Game World has revealed - hinting at a shift towards being an RPG rather than a shooter.
The studio behind S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 has called on fans to submit quest ideas for the forthcoming FPS sequel.
PC shooter aims for series deal.
GSC has announced a multi-platform sequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.