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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Rise and Fall of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. | Documentary

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Imagine the following scenario

You, the player, are tasked with stealing top-secret documents from a former Research Institute turn military complex

Swarming with enemies. You managed to slip into the main building undetected, narrowly avoiding the eyesight of your adversaries

But just as you reach the target you are spotted and the alarm goes off

Undeterred, you reload your previous save with the intention of making the alert go away only to be confronted with the same relentless wailing

You lo the next save in your list and once again the haunting sound is still there

It's as if the ghost of your previous inept incarnation has polluted your world with its spectral presence

And there's nothing you can do about it

This scene epitomizes the often baffling yet

thoroughly fascinating series of first-person shooter survival horror games developed by GSC game world stalker

Stalker is not a series of finished products

But rather a work in progress, a palimpsest whose texture inscribes the history of his trouble development. All the hardships,

discarded ideas and unrealistic

ambitions that dog the games development, bought them in the form of innumerable bugs and frustrating design flaws.

And yet, despite or perhaps even because of these faults, the series managed to attract a sizeable cult following

Spawning an abundance of mods, fan fiction, novels as well as films and even inspire

courageous fans to enact their fantasies in the game's real-life setting: the Chernobyl exclusion zone

The story of the stalker series illustrates that sometimes success is only possible if it straddles the border of disaster

The history of stalker starts in the latter half of 2001 with GSC game world a small game development studio based in Kiev Ukraine

Announced a futuristic first-person shooter in which you would journey alongside an elite task force assigned was traveling through

interplanetary portals to unknown worlds and clearing out a path for future colonizers

cryptically titled oblivion lost the game promised

Fantastical locales to explore such as verdant valleys containing Aztec pyramids and robot dinosaurs

However, the game's story alone would not carry it

after doom, system shock, heretic, quake and half-life

gamers interest in yet another science fiction shooter steeped in occult symbolism mutated and mechanized creatures

Messages written in blood and grotesque nether worlds of the Lovecraftian vein had worn thin

buckle II GSC had more to offer

oblivion lost would be a showcase for the power of the x-ray graphics engine

a state-of-the-art video game piece of technology that GSC had been gestating since the year 2000, capable of creating and sustaining environments

with far more realism than prior games in the genre

In addition, unlike the aforementioned games, which confined the player to labyrinthian and mostly closed phases

Oblivion lost would unfold across an immense open environment with local floor rendered in my new detail and fauna

simulated using GSC's advanced artificial intelligence system

however, before long

GSC came to realize that a monumental interplanetary space opera with a plethora of different

Universes was not only somewhat cliche

But also far too ambitious for the studio small science and at odds with the x-ray engines strongest suit

creating realistic environments

Instead of using it to construct fictional alien planets why not use it to recreate locations from the real world

the team had already been considering using their technology to make a game based on broadside picnic a

science fiction novel in which daring thieves known as stalkers scavenge for artifacts in strange zones on earth created by an extraterrestrial

visitation while Oblivion loss

Ambitious interdimensional plot would ultimately be abandoned in favor of roadside picnic when one reviews GSC's fireworks

It is apparent that their Sadowski brothers. Novel was the right pick as the thematic basis for what the project would become

from Warcraft

2,000 nuclear epidemic a post-apocalyptic

mod of blizzards seminal work in which aliens have granted the citizens of Azeroth nuclear weapons to Co socks a

real-time strategy game of voguing the rebellious cowboy asks communities of Eastern Europe of the same name

to both name outbreak a tactical shooter set in a zone contaminated with a parasitic alien

life-form that takes control of its hosts Minds GSC's prior releases all possess a deep-rooted

Fascination with isolated or contested no-man's land and traded by invasive yet ambiguous presences be it human biological

or radioactive this genetic lineage combined with the immediacy of the first-person

perspective and the power of the x-ray engine to imbue

Environments with a sense of ghostly and can yunus made a strong case for the potential of a first-person shooter based on

Roadside picnic if only GSC could find the right place to have it set

The question with you magic

Initially the studio wanted the game said in Crimea with the site of the unfinished crimean atomic energy station as the center of the zone

The developers thought this region would provide a perfect arena for a video game

With mountains acting as natural barriers and varied biomes such as the valley of ghosts and the shanira chen ski canyon providing picturesque vistas

for the player to explore

however said gay

Gotta go to bitch GSC's founder came up with the idea of making a game about the existing Chernobyl exclusion zone

Although some members of the team had moral objections against setting the game at the sight of what was a relatively recent

tragedy the allure of

Chernobyl as both a harrowing locale in which the ghostly presence of radiation had weaved itself into the texture of a familiar world and an

Internationally recognised real world location that had haunted people's imaginations worldwide since the 1980s

Convinced the team that it would be the right choice as the game's location and so stalker

Using an abbreviated style title in order to avoid copyright violation from and deny

Tarkovsky's science fiction film of the same name began to take shape

International publishers would begin to take interest in the project in 2003 it was announced that

THQ looking to appeal to the hardcore camera

demographic would be publishing the game and that the game would see release in the second quarter of


THQ also recommended that GSC retitled the game from stalker oblivion lost to stalker shadow of Chernobyl in

2004 it was announced that the game was delayed to the following year

while the primary reason given for the postponement was to improve stalkers graphical fidelity

Behind the scenes at GSC there was another for more serious cause for the game's delay

In many ways the development of stalker had thus far been a success

GSC had managed to create an outstanding

simulation of an open environment with a dynamic ecosystem driven by a life an artificial intelligence system

Which enabled the game's world to run without the players participation?

Non playable characters would go their own ways complete their own quests and even finish the game before the player did

All the same the world remained highly conducive to the player's actions with the player able to seamlessly

Traverse it in vehicles or on foot and free to set their own objectives as they pleased

There was just one small problem. It did not make for a good game

Rather than give players well-defined tasks to complete the game in its current form risked leading players to wander aimlessly

Or outright lose the game because a non playable character had beaten them to a crucial objective

GSC realized that regardless of how intricate their artificial intelligence system was games are about the players experience and

Theirs was not after several years of development

Stalker yet again had to be reworked in

February of 2005 the game was indefinitely postponed with the implication Ladin iconic expression when it's done

While such an expression could have represented the titles death-knell

GSC apparently managed to completely reshape stalker into a sellable product

Reworking its core systems to be more accommodating to the players enjoyment before the end of the year however

Just as a serious surgery requires extensive

recuperation the developers extensive reworking of the game resulted in an abundance of bugs and other issues

Preventing the team from releasing it right away

The next year would be mainly devoted to attempting to fix these bugs

upgrading the x-ray engine to DirectX 9 and

optimizing testing and promoting the game

During this time several members of the team a few of which had been involved with stalkers since its beginning

Would depart GSC to conceive the Metro first-person shooter series as for a games

Despite sharing the same genre and a similar

Post-apocalyptic thematic the Metro series design philosophy is practically the inverse of that of stalkers

taking place almost entirely within underground tunnels beneath the ruins of Moscow and

possessing appropriately a far more linear and tightly structured campaign

Regardless these departures from GSC were not enough to disrupt the prime studio's efforts to finish stalker

in March of

2007 stalker shadow of Chernobyl would finally be released after over half a decade of development

for both outside members of the video game industry and fans alike

Stalkers release was something of a surprise as the games repeated delays suggested the title was on the verge of becoming vaporware

For GSC stalkers release could only have been alleviating five years ago GSC

Not only managed to create an outstanding engine

but made the

Decision to back it up with a masterstroke of an idea in a time when most shooters provided escape to distant worlds they decided to

Set their game in a real place fraught with connotations and capitalize on the cultural value of their project

But in the midst of the process of grading their dream game

They failed to consider whether the revolutionary undertaking would actually make for an enjoyable experience

Forcing them back to the drawing board to turn the title into an entertaining product to play and then attempting to debug all the problems

this reparation created

stalkers development was severely troubled and despite GSC's best efforts this would show once consumers finally got their hands on the product and

Discovered it to still be laden with many bugs technical hiccups and questionable gameplay design

But it was not enough to halt its development or consumers appreciation of the titles merits once it was released

While the game's original title oblivion lost doesn't make much sense in any context

Oblivion was most definitely avoided during the titles trouble development

Let's leave this place pal. Let's have some dinner

I know that you are more interested in debt than our old friend

Stalker shadow of Chernobyl is effectively a multi-layered ghost story the most prominent ghost being the game's protagonist

The marked one the player first encounters the marked one in a death truck a Sirhan's fairy of the Industrial Age

Airing the rotting flesh of the dead for unknown reasons to an unknown destination

And by an unknown driver the heathen machine is struck by a punitive bolt of lightning and our protagonist miraculously rises from the ashes

or rather is found by a stalker scavenging for loot and brought to a local merchant named sidorovich a

conveyor of secular wisdom sidorovich introduces the player to their current location the zone a

twisted approximation of the Chernobyl exclusion zone teeming with mutated enemies and seemingly supernatural

phenomena and provides them with enough basic knowledge to help them survive as

the player progresses

In the game they discovered that their avatar the marked one has lost his memory and the only thing that anchors him to this realm

Is the command to kill the enigmatic strelok recorded on his PDA?

Like the ghost of Hamlet's father the marked one is only kept in the limbo of this world by the will of someone's death

However with no knowledge as to who strelok is or why someone has ordered the protagonist to kill him

There is no wish for revenge

he simultaneously just another ghostly presence and yet the only vestige of the players identity as

the player progresses

through the game

ghosts of all forms pervade the experience the inspectors of radiation of mind control of the departed in the form of recorded messages or

of the zones past buried in unreachable places

At some points in the experience the world turns almost monochromatic as if the protagonist himself is becoming a shadow in a faded

sepia photograph

while such an interpretation of stalkers world may seem superfluous

It is actually required in order to understand the game sense of atmosphere for which many have praised the game for

Stalkers game world is atmospheric not because it is realistic in terms of its depiction of his geographical location in culture

But because on all levels including the game's plot

The Chernobyl exclusion zone is framed as a limbo a place separate from this world

On the contrary the real Chernobyl that the game is based on is set in both local and global

Contacts the actual incident the Chernobyl disaster in 1986

not only impacted those who lived or worked in the vicinity of the

Disaster and lost their land health and even lives to the radiation

But also had major economic and environmental repercussions at national and global levels

Similarly some players extended the idea of cultural conditioning to the games technical aspects

Assuming or sometimes even stating outright that the game was

Intentionally difficult and broken so as to reflect on the reality of life in Eastern Europe while other critics

Interpreted vestiges of the original form of the project such as events activated

Automatically within the game's world that the player could choose not to participate in and even beat the game without the players input as being

an expression of Ukrainian culture based on a deeply rooted

Association of Eastern Europe with an oversimplified idea of communism that stalker

unlike some Western games based on capitalistic egocentrism and

fantasies of empowerment is supposed to be a manifestation of an ideology in which the individual is just a cog in an

Overwhelming state machine that cares little for the individual despite the fact that these mechanisms and technical issues

Which are implicitly perceived as a cultural issue in Ukraine?

Wouldn't raise an eyebrow if present in a Western game

This one seems to be alive

Lucky guy at least death what has saved you from the dreams

Though the game's plot may seem enticing many technical issues hamper its presentation some of them likely caused by

GSC's reworking of the game halfway through its development in addition many crucial pieces of information about the game's story are tied to optional quests

Meaning players that do not go out of their way to experience the full breadth of what stalker has to offer will likely come away

Disappointed at the lack of answers the game's main story provides

That is provided the player is resilient enough to remain interested in the plot as most of it is conveyed in interminable dialogues

perhaps even more frustrating as the game's decision to feature English dialogue spoken with fake Russian accents a

Decision meant to add to the games local flavor, but many perceived as irritating and unnecessary in practice

Men wulfhere sent us some support along with the order to attack

When it comes to the game's locale the zone is brimming with anomalies artifacts and mutants after a mysterious explosion in

2006 an event which not only transformed the location in question

but gave the games developers the poetic license to reshape it as they desired and

This shape is a compromise between GSC's initial open-world ambitions and their latter reworking of the game

The player has the freedom of movement, but only within confined

albeit large areas separated by loading zones

The player begins in the game's southernmost part a rural settlement containing ruined houses mills and barns

Thereafter the player travels to a junkyard containing radioactive scrap dump there after the plants incident the power plant itself

scientific and military complexes industrial areas a swamp some underground mazes and

Finally the town of Pripyat

the latter of which can change some iconic scenery that the player will likely miss as they attempt to scrape their way through to the

game's final showdown bereft of supplies and surrounded by enemies

Ultimately while each of the zones thematic areas are separate from one another

They are nonetheless tied together through the light motifs of the zones encroaching nature as well as the peeling paint

broken tiles rust and decaying concrete representative shattered industrial and scientific dreams

in terms of gameplay

stalker features a mixture of both first-person shooter and

RPG elements the player has an inventory to manage side quests to complete and the

Opportunity to roam about in search of items without worry of needing to constantly complete any pressing objectives

While stalkers mechanics attempt to emulate a feeling of realism with regards to the players continuous survival in the game's treacherous landscape

Certain mechanisms end up leading to frustrating situations for the player breaking the game's immersion for instance much like Bethesda's fallout

And elder scrolls series the game utilizes a weight system that keeps track of the heaviness of the current objects in the players inventory

while the potentially immersive mechanic in theory in practice the weight system ends up being an absurd balancing act in which the player

Constantly attempts to stay just within the game's allotted weight limit as once they pass it. They instantly become unable to move

Regardless stalker shadow of Chernobyl is still an achievement

It's a solid shooter with a plausible world an appealing design aesthetic and were it not for its presentation issues a befitting plot

However as a result of its themes in place of origin

It is also a game that sometimes gets mythologized

Out of proportion leading to cultural misapprehensions as to what the game is attempting to communicate to the player?

Shadow of Chernobyl is not an accurate

representation of a real place nor is it

Challenging and broken as a means of symbolizing how challenging and broken life is in Eastern Europe rather?

Stalkers roughness stems from the tumultuous development process that led to its creation

in actual fact we have nothing to worry about

According to our research the next emission will not occur for at least two months four days and seven hours

Its intensity will be three on the Burgman scale which is two point one three

Over a year after the release of stalker shadow of Chernobyl

GSA would release a prequel in 2008 titled stalker clear sky

Clear sky features the same engine and most of the same locations as its predecessor with new areas including the great swamp

Where the eponymous clear sky group is located and at Lee mosque a secret research city based on true noble to a secretive radar station

considering how much of clear skies world borrows from shadow of Chernobyl

And that a good portion of the game's new content was originally intended to be included in the original game

Clear sky is better described less as a completely new experience and more as an iteration of Chernobyl another try at the same

ongoing project begun with his predecessor

Clear skies story also begins with an unlikely resurrection the game's protagonist a mercenary called

Skaar awakens from an energy explosion unscathed and in the headquarters of the game's eponymous organization while the clear sky

Organization is at first presented as a rational body

Interested solely and learning about the nature of the zone it is soon revealed that the group's science is based on the curious

Animistic premise at the zone is like a living organism

and that the energy it emits are effectively immune responses to intruders attempting to penetrate in center the

Player a medium attuned especially to the nature of the zone must track down and kill these intruders so as to prevent them from plucking

a metaphorical forbidden fruit of ultimate knowledge

Clear skies gameplay is largely identical to that of its predecessors containing many of the same strengths and grievances

one significant change, however highlights GSC's efforts to try and approach the ideal

They'd planned from the very beginning of stalkers developments the game's faction Wars

rather than remain unaffiliated with the groups within stalkers universe clear sky allows players to directly experience ideas implicit in shadow of Chernobyl

By siding with the game's various groups and helped conquer or defend occupied areas against enemy factions in

Addition to adding a new layer of complexity to the game's mechanics

The faction wars provides significance to places which originally served only as backdrops for shadow of Chernobyl

sakshum and help pique the players interest in the zones political situation


GSC's execution of the faction war system is far from perfect with much what the player can do within the system remaining a gimmick rather

than an impactful core mechanism of the game

All the same its inclusion shows GSA's commitment to try and grasp the original core of their first project

Like the stalker searching for the center of the zone without fundamentally overhauling or abandoning its design

The last official entry in the series stalker palled of Pripyat would release in Europe in the fall of 2009 and

english-speaking markets in 2010

While the titles core mechanics remains once again virtually the same as its predecessors the title is far less buggy

thanks to a better optimized engine and more resources spent debugging the title prior to release and

Contains a number of design changes that together were better or for worse make for a somewhat different

Experience than what was offered in shadow of Chernobyl or clear sky taking place after the events of shadow of Chernobyl

All of Pripyat asked the player as major

Alexander de Kyoto an ex stalker and member of Ukraine's security agency sent to investigate the crash site of several military

helicopters near the center of the zone the game's world

Consists of three large areas close to the zone center made available by the efforts of the original game's protagonist

The investigative nature of the game's plot connected with the fact that Alexander is on friendly terms with both stalkers and the military

Allows for a less linear experience as the player is given a larger incentive to thoroughly explore the games areas and contends with fewer enemies

Attempting to kill them when travelling from one place to another

Side quests have a more complex structure plot twists and narrative choices feature more heavily than in its predecessors

And the player is finally able to easily explore the eponymous city of Pripyat

Which as previously explained had been far more difficult to do in shadow of Chernobyl?

with Call of Pripyat

GSC attempted to reach for their initial ideal of an unfettered open-world simulation by almost paradoxically

strongly narrative izing many of the game's environments

GSC clearly understood that most players would not explore areas of their games unless they have a strong reason for doing so but

Whereas the reason provided by clear sky was the prospect of conflict and of owning spaces within the zone?

Call of Pripyat by asking a more sophisticated question about its faces what happened here

Assured in more narrative diversity Intuos locales than was previously possible and in doing so provided a more compelling reason to motivate players

exploration of them however as a result of this narrative ization and

The game's fewer enemy combatants all of prypiat features a notably lesser emphasis on combat and survival than shadow of Chernobyl or clear sky

While this does not make all of prypiat and inherently lesser experience than this series other games

It does result in called a pretty odd feeling at odds with the DNA of its predecessors and their emphasis on contested

No, man's land penetrated by invasive and dangerous presences

Overall if there exists a single dominating theme throughout the lifespan of the three officially published stalker games

It's the uneasy split between the series initial concept of an open-world real time simulation and the demands of the market

shadow of Chernobyl featured relatively open spaces

But provided little reason to explore them making it easy for the game to transform it to a linear shooter governed by its main plot

Clear sky tried to amend this situation with its faction wars mechanism, but to make success

Call of Pripyat chose to go the way of narrative izing it spaces to give them significance however

this came at the expense of the series shooting and survival mechanisms the lifecycle of the stalker series from beginning to end was a

Continuous struggle on the part of the developers to figure out how to bridge the chasm between

Open-world hyper realism and player motivation that cracked open during development of the first game

Unfortunately GSC would never get the opportunity to resolve these two halves with a proper sequel

In August 2010 GSC would announce starker -

originally intended to run on a new cross-platform engine created by GSC itself

Stalker - would have done away with the series segmented areas to allow for a seamless traversal of its world

Continuing the story of its prior three entries within the most realistic depiction of the zone to date

Unfortunately issues would begin to surface the following year when it was reported that GSC was compounded by financial troubles and that CEO Sarah gay

yegorovich was

Dissatisfied with the direction that the sequel was taking while the exact nature of sir gays issues with stalker to have never been firmly

Established they would nonetheless

Tangibly manifest themselves in December of 2011 when Sergey would make the unexpected decision to cancel stalker - and close

GSC game world entirely in

Response stalker two's remaining staff would attempt to band together and Scout outside investors to fund the continued development of stalker - without

Sergei only to be further compromised by Sergei Zone interest in continuing the stalker license on his own terms in April of 2012

unwilling to end development on the fabled sequel despite having not been paid since December yet unable to reach an agreement with the

franchise's IP owner

GSC would announce the cancellation of stalker 2 in

The immediate aftermath of stalker choose closing much of the titles development team would leave GSC to develop

Survarium as vhost of games

released on Steam early access in 2015 serve arrium would attempt to continue its predecessors obsession with

post-apocalyptic survival and contested spaces in the midst of an ambiguous

ecological disaster within the mould of a multiplayer free-to-play online first-person shooter

Meanwhile after over two years of silence GSC game world would unexpectedly announced its return in December of 2014

composed of a mix of both newer and older talent the new

GSC would express its interest in making games based on the studio's bolder properties with the intention of appealing to the studios more mature fans


2016 almost seven years after the release of Call of Pripyat

GSC would release cossacks 3 a remake of the first title in their realtime strategy series two mixed reviews

While it is impossible to know exactly how stalker 2 story would have unfolded information available online

Suggests that the title would have cast players in the role of an ex stalker who suffering from strange visions

visit strelok in search of advice

Strelok tells him to visit the doctor another character from shadow of Chernobyl

However after the protagonist leaves stray locks office is destroyed by a mysterious explosion

Accused of murder the protagonist is incarcerated only to be freed by an unknown stalker who flees with him into the depths of the soul

Would stalker to have been the stalker the ideal game GSC intended to make since the beginning of this millennium

We may never know the phenomenon that is the stalker franchise however continues to live on

the series modding community

Continues to improve and iterate upon stalker with some even striving to completely recreate the original game

while ambitious fans attempt to translate stalkers appeal to the medium of film

Making up for the unfulfilled promise of a stalker television series teased by GSC in 2010

moreover stalkers place in the discourse of games remain secure with many writers to this day discussing the series merits and lamenting the

franchise's premature end

But why do people continue to discuss iterate and for their time and love into this franchise?

despite its imperfections

Certainly much of stalkers appeal stems from its novel real-life setting and the ghostly atmosphere it provides

But more than that stalker managed to cultivate the die-hard community

It possesses today through its undying promise of an unfettered open world in which non-playable characters

dynamically interact with each other without the players participation a divine ideal

Which the game's creators in the process of making shadow of Chernobyl were severed from but which nonetheless?

Managed to remain buried deep within the code of the series released games

Much like how the stalkers are drawn to the zone in hopes of discovering other worldly treasures

Fans all over the world still explore the remains of GSC's lost paradise with the hope of finding this mythical experience at its center

I don't know whether I was right

But I made it I

Guess I should be thankful for that

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The Description of The Rise and Fall of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. | Documentary