BitComposer Games, the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in the US and Europe, had claimed yesterday it had acquired the license to the franchise and was planning new games. That didn't sit well with developer GSC Game World, which claims it holds the trademark to the games.
In an email sent to Gamasutra, Eugene Kuchma of GSC Game World noted that the trademark filings still show GSC's CEO in possession of the license. "From time to time news on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand purchase by this or that company appear over the Internet," read an e-mail from Kuchma. "We have doubts regarding the mentioned product by BitComposer (the publisher of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in some territories), since the latter has significant debts in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the existing contract between our companies."
BitComposer defended its position, saying: "We hold the license for PC and video games from the Strugatsky brothers," he said. He reiterated, "The owner of the license was the Strugatsky brothers. As far as we know, GSC never had the license for S.T.A.L.K.E.R."
However, a marketing director at the Russian games company Nival may have discovered another wrinkle that complicates matters. BitComposer may have actually bought the rights to the novel universe, not the game franchise rights themselves. That would give them the ability to make something similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., even if they couldn't use the name.
After S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was cancelled, former members of developer GSC Game World founded Vostok Games to continue the ideals of the open-world survival shooter series with Survarium. As for the actual S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand, though, it wasn't quite clear what was happening. Shady rumours said Skyrim developer Bethesda was sniffing around, but publisher bitComposer today announced that it has grabbed the games license and plans to make more S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
"S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a reputable brand with a long history of success. To date, the series has sold many millions of units worldwide," bitComposer executive Wolfgang Duhr said in today's announcement. "Naturally, we'd like to tap into the success of this series, and we see a great deal of potential for the future."
bitComposer published the third and almost final S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game, Call of Pripyat (pictured above), in Europe. Who exactly it'll draft to develop the new games is a mystery for now. One might hope it'll find its way back to Vostok, who established its own new setting in Survarium after failing to secure the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game rights.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is based upon the sci-fi novel 'Roadside Picnic' by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which was also the inspiration for the 1979 Russian movie Stalker.
After the cancellation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, members of the dev team at GSC Game World went on to found a new studio and start their own irradiated shooter-RPG, Survarium. Yet, according to a fresh rumour, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series may live on at Bethesda.
A strange rumour indeed, but the source has been reliable before. Nival marketing director Sergey Galyonkin was the chap who broke news of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2's woes, and now he claims a little bird whispered in his ear that Bethesda has picked up the rights to publish a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game (via Rock, Paper, Shotgun). GSC founder Sergiy Grygorovych still owns the brand, though.
According to Galonkin's source, Bethesda will put out a multiplatform S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game built upon its own tech, though Fallout 3 and Skyrim developer Bethesda Game Studios wouldn't necessarily be the team behind it.
This isn't the first time rumours about Bethesda dabbling in S.T.A.L.K.ing have swirled. They were denied in April, but something may have changed since then. Bethesda's declining to comment on this latest report, as it usually does with rumours.
After S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was cancelled earlier this year, former members of developer GSC Game World went on to found Vostok Games and announce their own post-apocalyptic shooter. It's now revealed a little more of the free-to-play MMOFPS Survarium, with the first screenshots and a video developer diary going into its story, skill system, and various competitive and co-op modes.
Yes, Survarium's own apocalypse is the result of mysterious rampant floral overgrowth and a deadly herbicide wonkily deployed to stop the world from being engulfed in forest. With most of the world's population dead, things all went a bit pear-shaped, and everyone's scrabbling for survival.
Enter you, dear player, doing missions for various factions. This gets you cash and experience, which are used respectively to get cash and ammo and to improve your skills. The five skills are firearms training, physical training, medical knowledge, technical training, and knowledge of the new world, which helps you plunder artifacts and avoid anomalies.
Three modes are discussed in the dev diary. In team combat, rival factions must scavenge parts to build a device to protect against an impeding storm--which both teams can fail to do. Co-op missions will have you finding artifacts, defending convoys, researching anomalies, and more. Each misssion affects the next and ramps up in difficulty, so Vostok expects they'll take players two months to complete. Lastly, free play dumps you into a huge procedurally-generated map with 20-30 players, not to mention mutants, for you to explore and form alliances as you please.
PC Gamer reports that an incredibly ambitious Russian mod team called World of Stalker has embarked on the monumental task of recreating GSC's survival-horror shooter series, .S.T.A.L.K.E.R., as a Crysis mod.The team has dubbed the project 'Cryzone - Sector 23," and has released some early video footage (with Russian voice-over) that we've embedded after the break. Cryengine 2's brand new physics engine seems to improve things quite a bit over the original game, and you can already see the original game shining through, despite the early stages of the makeover.World of Stalker also plans to tweak a few of the gameplay systems, such as including an enhanced healing system (similar to Far Cry 2) that enables players to inject themselves with healing drugs, or remove bullets from themselves, after having been shot. The Sector 23 section of the Ap-Pro forums has some more information about the project, provided your Russian (or browser-based language translator) is up to the task.As far as we can tell, Cryzone - Sector 23 isn't a sanctioned effort, so there's no telling how long the project will survive, or if it'll be allowed to see a release
If you're planning on picking the game up--or own it and haven't fired it up in a while--make sure to download the "Complete" mod, which adds a slew of enhancements to the game. The latest S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Complete 2009 mod kit is available right now, for free, on FileShack.
The Games for Windows marketplace is offering a new title for 99 cents each day until December 8. Previously the sale featured Viva Pinata and Deus Ex, among others.
Prolific S.T.A.L.K.E.R. modder Pavel 'artistpavel' Dolgov has confirmed that Call of Pripyat will receive a version of his popular 'Complete' overhaul mod compilation series.
The announcement poster and Clear Sky Complete for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky.
Saying only "The work on the third and final entry in the Stalker Complete series has begun," Doglov doesn't reveal exactly what the mod will bring but it'll most likely follow in the footsteps of the much-praised Complete mods ...
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat developer GSC Game World has released a new official multiplayer map for its PC shooter, available in a 5MB download from FileShack.
Titled 'Close Combat,' the map is set around the Jupiter factory location and is apparently "designed for dynamic play with use of close- and medium-range weapons." It also boasts a store that buys picked-up items when played in team deathmatch mode.
The third instalment in GSC's survival shooter series, Call of Pripyat was released in North America on February 2. While no d...