Monday, 5 November 2012



Welcome to the start of my project to create a huge complete STALKER themed island for the ARMA series.
Right now, I'm more or less at the very beginning of this massive task and it's going to be a huge learning curve, with many things I'll be finding out as I go along.

I've been a huge fan of ARMA for years now, and also a massive fan of the Stalker series by GSC Game World, and I was sad to see Stalker 2 cut earlier this year... that could've been such a great game. :(

I've played all three Stalker games many times over, and it's the immersion and atmosphere that gets me every time- they absolutely nailed it. The scenery, the structures, the sound, the weather, the ambience and of course all the artefacts and emissions etc...
The only thing that I thought it could do with was more to explore and seek out. THAT would be my ideal Stalker game.

So, with that in mind, I've finally gotten around to starting to create my own Stalker inspired landmass and have chosen to do it on the Real Virtuality engine, as it already encompasses everything needed to convey the atmosphere of a Stalker game, and of course, it can handle huge scaled maps too.

I should point out that this isn't going to be a duplicate of any current Stalker map- it's going to be a lot larger, and will use certain areas of previous Stalker maps as ref points to those games, but will basically be my own take on the series so it will have a lot of new areas of varying size and structure.
I'm aware this could spiral into a wacky arcadey version of an exaggerated Zone if I loose the original intention, but will do everything I can to keep it real, keep it authentic and keep it true to Stalker.
If I make something and later decide it's not in keeping with the Zone- it goes...
There will be no bug eyed, two headed demonic worm beasts from Hell with lasers for hands.
I'll include some of the classic areas (Or approximations of them) like Yanov and Garbage etc, but will expand and modify them as I see fit to allow for more scope.
I'll mainly be creating new areas of interest with a mind to adapting the landscape to become a more grueling and formidable fight for survival in the irradiated wilderness of the Zone...

As far as inspiration goes for the general tone and ambience- obviously the Stalker games themselves, the fantastic book Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Cormac McCarthy's The Road (Also a great film now) and many nights of pouring over photos and files about the Chernobyl disaster and the resulting fallout.
This isn't going to be a representation of the area around Chernobyl, but it will reference it in various ways.

All in all, it's going to be a huge map for you Stalkers to explore, trade and fight in... ;)

Ok, just as a teaser here's a few bare bones no polish or shine print screens of some small objects I've created already to populate the land with. I've chosen generic objects that could easily be found in the Stalker games (Please bear in mind these are literally JUST diffuse texture; there's no lighting, normal maps or even specular and they're also WIP):

A selection of warning and hazard signs, some real world and some not. The classic radiation sign is in there and also a few new ones. I'm trying to create some that also have interesting silhouettes, so at night when you see these against the sky you'll end up with some interesting shapes.

Again, an object more of less found in the Stalker games, these will be scattered across the landscape at all angles, disappearing over the next contaminated sodden hill and vanishing into the mist...

I had to add in the obligatory Radioactive Materials drum, (Where would we be without it..!?) and also a cut one for camp fires on those cold grim nights.
There are also tyres that have been filled with cement for stands that Stalkers can add their own crafted signs to, to warn other Stalkers of danger areas or known Anomalies etc... 

I've got loads of ideas for new features for this map, but to give you an idea of what I'm going for here's a few:
  • Tiny reinforced Stalker constructed shacks from old panelling and scrapped armour sheets dotted sparsely across open areas of wilderness for shelter incase you get caught out in an Emission with your pants down and nowhere else to go...
  • A huge Cordon wall hastily constructed in parts but solid in some areas to try to contain the ever growing Zone... think of it like a really long prison wall for the most part.
  • Strange land structures where the Zone has completely corrupted and infected the plants and trees.
  • ...and LOTS more...
Finally, just a word about the dev process I'll be sticking with for this project.
It seems when doing an island for ARMA, you've got the actual terrain itself, and then the new objects and assets to populate that terrain with. That's basically the two main things.
What I will do is create more or less every building, object and asset first, then start the terrain only once that's more or less complete. (So the terrain is a loooooooong way away!)
Two reasons for this; one is that I'm used to creating 3D models as I'm an environment artist anyway so can hit the ground running so to speak (But sticking them fully working into the VR engine will take a little more time even though I've a few successful ones in already), and two, by the time ARMA 3 comes out, I'll have some good solid info about what it can do terrain wise, as I take it there's going to be some improvements over ARMA 2's terrain in general. 
So the plan is to make this future proof for ARMA 3, so there'll hopefully be a few more bevelled edges where it's worth it, and some nice hi-res textures kicking around if all goes to plan!
I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for underground complexes... ;)

Take it easy and thanks for reading the dev blog.

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