ModDB: Before we start, could you introduce yourself?
Sniper-X: Hi, my name is SNIPER-X, and I'm the project leader of "STALKER Theft Auto". This mod can be summarized as a total conversion for the game "STALKER Shadow Of Chernobyl". We are also keeping open the possibility of porting STA to "Boiling point: Road to hell", though we are still undecided.
ModDB: What was your inspiration for making this mod? Will it be similiar to it's retail counterpart, the GTA series?
Sniper-X: Well, I love playing Grand Theft Auto and when I say that, I mean playing it for many hours on end. Over the last 4 years I have been watching STALKER grow, and I have cultivated an understanding for the game concepts that it will carry. I like the non-linear, and realistic gameplay and even the RPG aspects of STALKER so much that I thought why not make a mod based on the game that I love playing, but only this time make it in FPS form instead of 3rd person for once. Yes, it will be alot like the original Grand Theft Auto franchise, or should i say similar.
ModDB: How many weapons, vehicles, and selectable character models are you planning to include in the final version?
Sniper-X: Well the truth is, I don't know if it will ever come to a close with a final version. It is definately too early to give a final list, but here is what's planned for now. There will be about 70 or more weapons, (such as machete's,hack-saw, pencils, baseball bats, mac-10, mp5a4 9mm, rpg-7, pipe bombs, remote C-4, ect.) when it's available for download. Currently 30 vehicles are planned, but more will be added to the list. Characters havn't exactly been decided. I will probably have come to a closer to a final list of characters once GTA:SA hits retail outlets for the PS2 next week, or until the PC version is released in May '05. There will be most likely 10 catagories to start with, because players usually want to have a character for themself with an attitude similiar to their own personality. Cars, weapons, and other miscellaneous items such as drinks and clothing will be purchaseable at in-game stores, much like the GTA series.
ModDB: With a modification this large, it could take years to complete it. Do you intend to release small patches with added weapons and vehicles incrementally, or do you intend to release it all at once?
Sniper-X: There won't be a full release all at once like retail games. STA will definately be big when it is released, but it will continue through numerous monthly updates, consisting of new enviorments, weapons, vehicles, characters, and of course weapons.
ModDB: How many people are currently working on STA? Would you prefer a larger team, or do you enjoy working with a small, though talented team?
Sniper-X: We are currently a 2 man team right now. Soon I will go on a major recruiting spree for about 12 people or more with great modeling, programming, skinning, and texturing talent. To me, the higher the number of people on a team, the higher the chances of work and progress rising. For new members, all we really ask for is that they be very dedicated (i.e. 1.5 hrs per day), and that they have some talent.
ModDB: Open-ended, or "Free-form" games seem to be all the rage these days, though few developers succeed in fulfilling their promises of making a truly open-ended game. To what degree will STA be open-ended? Will there be linear missions, or will everything be "free form"? Will the multiplayer component be open-ended as well?
Sniper-X: Multiplayer and Co-op modes are the prime aspect of this mod. Single player is being considered for later releases. STA will consist of open-ended enviorments, including both the outdoor/indoor environments found in the various GTA titles, as well as some new indoor areas not accessible before. A big challenge will be to remodel the original GTA maps. As you may or may not have noticed, I am running a vote at the STA site regarding which city our fans would like to see in the first release. The options where Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. Adding San Andreas was my mistake, as Vice City and Liberty City are the cities that will most likely appear. STA will be only open ended. I hate linear games, that's why i have decided to keep this one non-linear because of X-rays capabilities.
ModDB: What multiplayer modes can we expect? If the MP mode(s) is/are openended, will you play as a team? Will there be small sub-missions missions or "quests", like in MMOs, or will it be an all out frag fest?
Sniper-X: The modes that will be in mp are..
1. Free Roam. 2. TDM 1,2 (& Swat,Police against Gangs/Criminals).... 1."FR" is like a deathmatch or just free to explore the city, with other players, kill each other, hang out together,ect,
2."TDM" will consist of 2 gang teams doing battles. in the city, or police, and swat against gangs and criminals.
Note: majority of the maps /cities are open ended, primarly for your style of creativity, your ideal of stratagey or just stupidity to mess around, and die.(there will be linear maps for gang deathmatches, or survival against swat, and police.
ModDB: How big will the game map(s) be? Will there be seperate multi-player maps, or will MP take place on the SP map(s)?
Sniper-X: Well the X-ray can only handle up to 5 kilometers per level. I am not sure exactly how large the GTA cities are, but I think it'll handle it. We hope to let MP gameplay take place on the large city maps, but if that would require loading screens, we aren't sure how that'll play out.
ModDB: Will all of the gameplay take place on one map, like the GTA series (not including GTA:SA)? If so, will the map be split up into areas with loading screens? If not, will there be seperate cities? If there are, will you be able to travel in between them?
Sniper-X: From the looks of it, it may be possible to do an entire city without having to split the islands in to seperate areas with loading screens. But who know's... we'll just have to see. Yes, all gameplay will take place in the city the server or the game itself is running in.
ModDB: Will the city(/ies) in STA be based on real world cities? Loose inspirations? Totally original, and not based on any other cities? A combination of several cities?
Sniper-X: Though I've contemplated mapping my hometown in suburban/rural CA, that might need to wait until later. As said before, STA's cities are for now being modeled from the original GTA games, but your vote counts only to which city you will want to see first.
ModDB: Have you run into any copyright issues with Rockstar regarding this modification? If not, do you expect to?
Sniper-X: Heh heh, luckly not, so far. In the mean time I pray that we don't. For the most part, I hope the only response I get from them is something positive about it, assuming that we get any response at all. Although copyrights don't really concern me too much simply because I don't want to know that what I do is wrong while knowing it's only a mod and not a retail game. And generally not naming it "Grand" theft auto while it's name is "STALKER" Theft Auto should keep us out of trouble, though we are remodelling cities designed by Rockstar*.
ModDB: The X-Ray engine is certainly very impressive. Does it give you more freedom in the development of STA then competing engines might, like Valve's Source engine? Have you ever considered using another engine?
Sniper-X: Well, over vast amount of studies, it's been proven as a fact that the X-ray engine is much more powerful than the Source engine. Although Half Life 2's Source engine is a pretty one at that, it's overshadowed by STALKER's non-linear design. Too much put into it could make gameplay pretty bad. X-ray, on the other hand, is a very very powerful and flexible engine, though it has yet to show it's true capabilities for non-linear open-ended/physical, realism to gamers (including myself), so we certaintly cannot wait until the release.
ModDB: What is your expected release date for the first public version? Will there be closed and/or open alpha builds before then? Can I be on your beta testing list?
Sniper-X: For a Release date on the public version... hmmmm... I would like to say probably late fall or winter '05. The weapons are being modeled pretty fast and are at the same time turning out quite well and we will also be using the weapons from STALKER as well. (what did you expect me to do with them ..throw them overboard?!). For Pre-alpha.. Well that i will consider, though I don't know how many people will look forward to the mod, or who currently are... But, if the popularity can get high, sure, I'll probably hold one. Otherwise we will release it when it feels done.
ModDB: Are there any closing comments you'd like to add?
Sniper-X: Well I just wanted to say thank you for the interview. It's been about 3 weeks so far since the mod started, and I havn't taken a good break since I started, but you know, I hope those out there who read this hopefully can feel a hype for my mod as much as I want to get it out and start playing it ASAP. = )
I'd like to thank Sniper-X for doing this interview with me. I am very excited about this mod, and look forward to hearing more about it.