Work on Zone of Alienation itself hasn't gone very far, but what I've been concentrating on is experimenting, testing, and modifying other mods that I intend to incorporate into Zone of Alienation in the next patch.
We also have someone new working with me on this mod, electrico325 is coming up with concept art over this weekend, and although I have not seen anything he has done for this mod yet, I have confidence in his capabilities and I do like a good deal of the art he has already created concerning STALKER. I've given him various resources and information on things, some are practical and I fully intend on adding into the game, other things are a little more abstract and are just for him to take artistic liberties with.
One of the things I mentioned to him are new factions, and no, they are not the old faction ideas I had, but some of them are similar. I haven't made a final decision on any of the names for these factions but here's a list.
Vendetta: A very small faction that the player may only encounter 2-4 of in the entire game. It is a small ring of stalkers comprised of Strelok's group. Their motivations are unclear but they tend to guard a secret that not many factions have knowledge of. Distinct from regular stalkers, but their armament is still average.
Soyuz: A loose alliance of Loners created to counter the actions of bandits and mercenaries, sort of like the defiance faction in some CS mods. They're equipped with better body armor than the standard stalker suit, and have a higher degree of uniformity and better condition of weapons that they carry. Often found in the garbage, but found in smaller amounts in other areas as well.
Jackals: A new, different type of mercenary. Most mercs in SoC are recruited from outside the Zone, while "Jackals" are stalkers recruited by cartels and clients from inside the Zone. At the start, they are supposed to be neutral to the player, but through some quests they can be hostile due to the player's actions upsetting the balance of power that presides over the different traders. They are also hostile to regular Mercs and Soyuz, and unlike the other mercenary groups, they have very good skills when it comes to surviving against the Zone due to most of them being recruited from Loners/Duty.
Elders: Formerly Clear Sky, very few surviving members with no leader, most were rookies that never took part in the big raid that wiped out the faction and its leadership. If I end up adding the swamps map they'll be there, at the old church. Basically they are a rare, almost dead faction.
In addition to new factions I have new quests that I am coming up with, although I don't have much experience in writing dialogues I will do my best and look for help during the process of coming up with these for the game.
The first type of quest, that will probably be the only one that I add fully in 1.06 will involves getting materials for an artifact detector for a stalker at the bar, once he builds the detector, he can give it to you, and then you can use it to find an artifact he wants in return for it.
Then there will be numerous smuggling-related quests, one of which involves getting nimble a rucksack, so he can return with it a few days later, and you can then take the option to carry the rucksack to his client at the bar for him.
Then there is the quest that I in part built some of the faction ideas around, Sid needs to make ammends with the Barkeep, because he screwed him out of some deal, and they need to reconcile their friendship and end the trade war they are involved in, he gives you a box, like the quest in Clear Sky, he doesn't tell you what is in the box and you never find out, all you know is that the contents of this box are pretty valuable. He tells you to take this box to the barkeep, but to do it quietly and without much fuss. The guard at the Duty checkpoint in the garbage will hassle you for money to get it through, and the Duty guard at the bar will charge even more.
Once you get to the bar, you give Barkeep the box, he gives you 100,000 RU and tells you to deliver that money to Sid. If you squander the money on something and you don't pay Sid the money he's owed to complete the transaction, then you will find yourself in big trouble real soon. Barkeep will send Jackal squads to ambush and kill you until you strike a deal with Sid to pay him 60,000 RU. After that the hit squads are called off, but both traders raise their prices when dealing with you.
Oh, and there is another quest you get from Barkeep, you're supposed to take some stuff to the freedom base, but not let Duty catch any wind of it, so you have to make use of the secret route outside the Bar.