Questions and Answers from Reddit:
We tried to answer all the questions that people gave us on reddit. Sorry if we didn't answer all of them, because doing so in many cases would mean repeating ourselves. Also, sorry that we didn't answer questions that dig into peoples personal lives, and ones that ignored or dismissed our answers. We have a much better understanding of how famous people live in show-business, in that they have to explain why they ordered steak instead of eggs for example :). We are just a normal team making a video game. With that said, we're posting 30 questions starting from the most commonly asked ones, up to the more obscure. So in other words, this update is going to be pretty long....
First our post:
" We are part of a development team that consists of senior ex-GSC Game World staff members. We collectively have lead, among other things, game design, screenwriting, scenario and animation for titles such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Online (unreleased), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 (unreleased), Survarium (in-development at Vostok) and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow Of Chernobyl. We are currently making a new game called Areal.
We're happy to answer all questions that you may have, even if we've already answered them before on other websites.
When we launched our Kickstarter, we started seeing 4-5 of the same people repeating the same negativity and misinformation 24 hours a day, to the point were they have completely taken over the Kickstarter comments section. It seems that our status as former STALKER devs has made us enemies to some people... They've also actively messaged news sites with information that we feel is an outright lie. They claim, among many other things, that we aren't real and that we're scammers. Some people believe them, including even, some journalists.
We're relatively sure that these people will come to this topic eventually, and they'll make a negative rebuke for every comment that we post. We had this same type of problem when we first started making S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. That's why we want to tell the truth here, and we hope that you guys can distinguish between who is asking serious questions, and who is coming here with the specific intention of trolling and discrediting us.
And Here are the Questions/Answers:
1. Question: Why is the KS base goal 50,000? Sorry if you have already answered this question.
Answer: Don't be sorry! It's a great question that many have asked, but one that we have indeed, already answered. “ We've pooled all of our savings into making Areal, and don't have funds to go any further. Unlike most companies, every one of our employees has invested their time and money into making Areal. The budget that we've pooled together covers salaries and some aspects of game development. We need the Kickstarter and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community to support us by helping us cover the rest. Marketing also makes up a huge portion of most budgets, so we will rely on internal marketing as well as word of mouth to lower those costs substantially. " “the fact is that we have a start up, we already have fans, plus we ourselves are fans of what we're doing, so we don't need big salaries. We need an opportunity to do, create, promote and make the world a more exciting place. That's why we did not force up our salaries and expenses [onto the community].”
2. Question: Alright, you've told us that leo handles legal and organizational aspects for your game, so it makes sense that he's filed legal action against others before. I won't go into that. How can we be sure that Mr Leo is trustworthy and that he won't disappear with the KS money? -
Answer: Because I, Eugene Kim, the founder of West-Games, manage and have access to all Areal accounts including the Amazon account on our Kickstarter that is responsible for all pledges. We are partners who trust each other.
3. Question: Why do you have helicopters and other vehicles?
Answer: First of all, vehicles were planned to be present in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and so many mods with motor transport proved that the players were interested in them. Second, usage of vehicles won’t be so massive in Areal, and they present a lot of dangers well. Anomalies and the environment will destroy machinery, and no armor will protect against this. Moreover, players can use vehicles only inside the Green zone.
4. Question: Hi, fellow game developer here. I've emailed you about this and posted several times on your Kickstarter asking about it with no response:
How will you produce physical discs for the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One? Each manufacturer has minimum order requirements for discs that are on a per region basis. You would need to spend nearly $250,000 or more just to produce discs. As you're promising these to backers, I think they deserve an answer on how you will produce them when uour goal is only $50,000.
Your response would be greatly appreciated!
Answer: Oh yeah, that's a valid question that we've factored into our budget, and keep in mind that the 50K is not the total budget, but the amount that we haven't been able to come up with ourselves. I do want to say that manufacturing discs costs considerably less than 250k, especially if you have pre-arranged agreements with disc media manufacturers.
From our updates and Kickstarter description: "“ We've pooled all of our savings into making Areal, and don't have funds to go any further. Unlike most companies, every one of our employees has invested their time and money into making Areal. The budget that we've pooled together covers salaries and some aspects of game development. We need the Kickstarter and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community to support us by helping us cover the rest. Marketing also makes up a huge portion of most budgets, so we will rely on internal marketing as well as word of mouth to lower those costs substantially. " “the fact is that we have a start up, we already have fans, plus we ourselves are fans of what we're doing, so we don't need big salaries. We need an opportunity to do, create, promote and make the world a more exciting place. That's why we did not force up our salaries and expenses [onto the community].”
We have released many games before, and are experienced in dealing with this aspect.
5. Question: You state that you have your own engine. Can you tell more about it? 'Cause so far we've only seen Unity in your video, even though you said that it was only one of many you've learnt while working on your own.
Answer: Yes, we've worked on Cryengine, Unreal, Unity and the STALKER engine. We are planning to make a formal presentation on our engine when it is presentable. No game development studio would show off a new in-development proprietary engine in a pre-alpha state (Vostok games, having a new proprietary engine, being a good example of that). The reason you get to see footage from some games in an early state is because they are using either a licensed engine or an in-house engine that has already been in use via previous games (think COD or Uncharted). Another good example is EA, because they have the fully made frostbite engine, which greatly speeds up development and allows for early footage.
6. Question: I know that all of the images on your Kickstarter description belong to your team, but I've seen screenshots I think from VG247 that look like they aren't from your game. I couldn't find those images anywhere on your facebook or Kickstarter, so I'm not worried, but could you still shed some light on that?
Answer: This is what I would say is a classic example of some individuals stirring and provoking the public. We posted a couple of memes and images that have no relation to Areal on our personal facebook page, and some people are using that against us. We've removed them from that page so as to not cause further misunderstandings. We have never posted screenshots of other games on our official Areal Game facebook account and on our Kickstarter. Regarding the video, we have the right to use all footage that conveys what we have accomplished in the past, which includes assets from unity.
7. Question: Your game is in pre-alpha, meaning it's in its first stage of development. In spite of that, people have demanded game footage. Do you think that this is feasable given the time frame you have on your Kickstarter? I personally don't care, because I know from your previous games, that Areal will deliver, but this has been a common complaint from people.
Answer: We want to show you game footage as soon as we can, believe us! We hope that you'll be patient for a little longer and you'll get to see some footage. An excerpt from a previous question that we answered is really informative for people who are saying that other games had no problem showing pre-alpha footage, “ The reason you get to see footage from some games in an early state is because they are using either a licensed engine like unreal, or an in-house engine that has already been in use via their previous games (think COD or Uncharted). Another good example is EA, because they have the fully made frostbite engine, which speeds up development and allows for early footage.”
8.Question: When can I play the game? I found two different dates - September 2015, as rewards delivery date on KS, but I also heard about 2016 somewhere.
Areal is scheduled for 2016. Next year, people who backed our Kickstarter will receive the game in early access form, which will be just as beautiful as the final product and include all the key features. We’ll include a day one patch on release day for everyone who received the early access version.
9. Question: Can investors make WG finish the KS campaign before the appointed time and/or leave the backers with no any rewards?
Answer: The simplest answer to this is no. If our Kickstarter is successful, then we are obligated to develop on the platforms that we have stated and give backers the rewards associated with their pledge.
11.Questions: Where were you planning on having the STALKER games' story and universe go?
Do you regret anything about its development or direction you'd care sharing?
Answer: We do not plan to use anything from the game world of Stalker. Areal is an independent project, with its own history and game world. Stalker is not a simple project, but I do not regret anything) I truly love it, and from time to time I play Shadow of Chernobyl and mods.
- Alexey Sytyanov
12. Question: How can you assure the backers that they will get all the rewards promised?
Answer: Most rewards are game related and we've made sure not to list rewards that we can't manufacture ourselves. That's why you don't see stuff like medals and cake as rewards, because medals are hard to make and the cake is a lie. As for the game itself, after the Kickstarter ends, we send out a poll that asks which platform you'd like the game on. This is standard for most Kickstarter game projects. Additionally, if you pick a platform that's region locked, then we'll make sure to send you a copy that corresponds to your region.
13. Question: How many developers do you have in your team so far?
Answer: So far our team includes more than ten full-time development specialists from different fields, who spend all their time working on our project. However, we also have few part-time employees who help us and are ready to join the team later. We are also ready to get more developers involved when we need them.
14. Question: Hello Mr. Sytyanov, are you able to talk a bit more S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Survarium and your decision to become involved with the Areal project?
There was some controversy over S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 supposedly requiring an internet connection to play, was this just a form of DRM for the single-player mode or was multiplayer planned to be a larger component of the game? Did the game ever make it to a playable state?
How much of your idea for "a world to explore, where intrigues and stories can be combined with multiplayer without destroying the atmosphere and the veracity of events" is going to be a part of Survarium and do you have any additional insight into why they were not implemented from the beginning? Do you believe this idea will be better
Answer: About STALKER-2 - a single-player was being developed, internet connection was being discussed, but it's not the fact that it would have been necessary for launch.
While working on Survarium I developed Freeplay mode, and it's then when I first formulated the concept of combination of game story and multiplayer. Now it got its development in Areal.
I cannot reveal much about Survarium, as its still in the development. If we talk about Areal, I think such a concept perfectly fits it. Moreover, I think it can allow to provide the players with early access to the game.
15. Question: Will Areal support modifications? In other words; do you possibly plan to include some mod tools? I think mods were a huge part of STALKER and if you make it possible to mod your game, it can only make it better.
Answer: Will Areal support modifications? In other words; do you possibly plan to include some mod tools? I think mods were a huge part of STALKER and if you make it possible to mod your game, it can only make it better.
16. Question: Mr Sytyanov, I'd like to ask you in the first place. Why was STALKER-2 closed?
Answer: To be honest, I don't know. It was as abrupt for me as it was for all of you.
17: Question: Going into your STALKER past, who from your team has worked on STALKER? I know Alexey Sytyanov is a part of your team and he was the lead game designer and screenwriter for STALKER, but I want to know about the rest of your team.
Answer: We don’t want to present everyone to the public at the moment. Later we will tell more about the rest of the team and will continue to tell you about the development process, whilst showing our specialists. So far we can only show those who agreed to be publicly presented on Kickstarter, including those who worked on STALKER: me (Eugene Kim), Alexey Sytyanov, Yuryi Negrobov, Peter Dushunsky, Eugene Obertuch, Alex Moseichuk.
18. Question: Can you articulate how much work has been completed on the game so far, and what steps are still left until Areal is an Alpha build? Can you give any sort of timeline on when we may see actual in game footage?
Answer: Again, we are in pre-alpha, and it'll take around 3-4 months to get into alpha. We are releasing new footage early this week.
19. Question: WG, I think you're damn lucky to get Alexey Sytyanov into your team. He's a treasure! Nurture and cherish him and you'll get what you claim - true Stalker successor. My question is personally to him. Was there any storyline or gameplay feature in Stalker that you liked most and would like to add to your new project?
Answer: Thank you for the kind words, I am pleased) Regarding favorite Stalker features, I guess I’d mention a realistic fiction, life simulation, general atmosphere, the openness of the world, and of course the non-linearity and mystic. - Alexey Sytyanov
20. Question: You should already get tired from 'show us the footage' requests, but I somehow believe that you'll show us a great gameplay in the game even if you won't show any example during your KS. I only want to ask whether you are going to repeat the best finds that were used in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? To be honest, I'd rather prefer a completely new game with a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. charm.
Answer: No, we're showing new footage this week. Areal is a completely new game that aims to preserve the spirit of STALKER. :)
21. Question: Guys, I admire your efforts, but why not just unite with 4A and Vostok and develop S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-2?
Answer: Each team has its own philosophy and goals, Vostok Games and 4AGames are not the exceptions. We have our own way, and after GSC was closed, own story as well. West-Games was founded to promote the ideas and goals that were set during the development of STALKER. This connects us with our predecessor, and is now living in the Areal project.
22. Question: WG announced that Areal are going to be quite colorful. Does this mean that there will be no any dark and gray colors like every typical shooter has?
Answer: We’re going to develop three zones in Areal: Green, Yellow and Red. The closer you are to the epicenter, the more crazy the enviroment around you will be, with various mutations and more dangerous monsters.
23. Question: We've seen some sketches of the animals in Arial. First of all, wolf, of course. Will they all be colorful?
Answer: Colours of the animals in Areal correspond to the environment in which they live. The wolf you’ve mentioned is from the Yellow zone and its colour corresponds to it. Of course in the game it will not be as bright, but much more scary.
24. Question: Will Sergey Tarmashev consult you or will he be a full time member of your team?
Answer: Sergey Tarmashev is interested in cooperation with us as we’re developing a game based on his books. Who can help us to convey the essence of the world and the whole singularity of Areal better than him?
25. Question: The game is based on the book series. How closely does the game follow the books?
Answer: Areal (the game) has a separate story with a new hero, but it intersects at points with the book, and it's of course, based in the same world. Tarmashev is advising us and helping us write the story.
26. Question: So will the Areal be singleplayer only? Or will it have a multiplayer as well?
Answer: We are working on deep story, and going to realize it in the single-player version of the game. But to add risk, hardcore and variety, we introduce an additional opportunity for multiplayer to enable network mode and share your story with friends, and maybe not friends - this is a freedom of choice and dependent on how much funding we ultimately receive.
27. Question: What about Union Studio and your statement about that it's project became Survarium from Vostok Games? Did you mean that Vostok uses your backgrounds, assets, solutions or whatever?
Answer: After GSC closed, me and part of the GSC team developed the concept of a MMO shooter. But when our ex-colleagues, now known under the name of Vostok Games, got into difficulties because we shared a similar concept, so we decided not to interfere with them, and thus, we moved on to Areal. -Eugene Kim
28. Question: I know this all is about Areal, but I desperately want to ask one questions about Stalker. You can think it's quite stupid, but it just doesn't go out of my head, and I'm sure that you as ex-developers of Stalker, especially Mr Sytyanov, can answer it. Anyway. Why did you decide to use a gas mask in Stalker? Not a headpiece or sphere, or sort of an environmental suit, but an old fashioned gas mask?
Answer: No actually, this is the most on topic question on this AMA so far, since AMA questions usually center on people's past work (though it's very understandable why people are focusing on Areal). There are many reasons for this, for example, an emphasis on realistic fiction, as it is one of the most recognizable attributes in Chernobyl. We often saw gas masks in Pripyat, so we simply couldn’t stand beside and not have it be in the game.
29. Question: People have accused you of having a shitty design and of poor PR. I really can't understand this, as your Kickstarter looks fine to me, and i've seen that more than 100 sites have written about you. Why do people keep saying this? I kindly request that West Games answer this question, and not anyone else.
Answer: I honestly don't know. Maybe some people don't like the layout of our Kickstarter, but it's pretty much standard when it comes to Kickstarters. There are clear cut constraints when it comes to designing a Kickstarter. You cannot change the font or size, there is a character limit and you cannot put text beside a photo. As for PR, in the past couple of years, there has been practically no mention of STALKER in news outlets, where as right now, video game sites from all over the world have written about us. Like it or not, this wouldn't have been possible if we didn't try our hardest to get news outlets to talk about us. We're really grateful for everyone that has written about us, even if sometimes, the coverage hasn't been completely positive or correct.
30. Question: Will the borders between zones be transparent? Will I have an opportunity to get easily from one zone to another with only one step?
Answer: Transitions will be smooth. You will not feel a sharp change. Only screenshots done in different places will show you the difference. You are free from the beginning of the game to venture out into all three zones, though you may not be prepared for what’s out there at first.