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An update pertaining to the upcoming release of L.U.R.K. 1.1, in light of the ModDB Mod of the Year Awards. As well as information regarding our development on our future plans for Call of Pripyat.

Posted by holdenmcclure on Jan 17th, 2010

So What's Going On?

First let me start off by showing you some of the things we've done recently for L.U.R.K. 1.1.

The Long Road

Ages it's been since our last update, and I apologize to those with antsy feet, but reassurance will be made time and time again, that L.U.R.K. 1.1 is still being developed.

Thousands upon thousands have played through L.U.R.K. in it's previous versions, and we're intent on making L.U.R.K. 1.1 something you can come back to with confidence. We're building 1.1 into a product that we'd be confident in calling a final version.

Why so Long? Again?

Believe it or not, L.U.R.K. wasn't always popular, and it actually took over 8 months to create the first version, 0.9, which was still long in it's infancy, despite it's premature release. Granted the development team consisted only of me for a large portion of that time, however it should be understood that making a polished product is a labor of time and love that can't be rushed.

New to The Program?

After the projects birth on September 20th, many recall the wave of traffic that ensued, and since then there's been many articles and news talking about L.U.R.K., but what is L.U.R.K. exactly? It's hardly 4chan's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Mod anymore, but not everyone was around /v/ when the project was realizing it's goals.

To understand the purpose of L.U.R.K., it's important to understand some back-story on the game itself, Shadow of Chernobyl.

Duke Nukem Disease

There's hardly a PC gamer alive who isn't familiar with the Duke, and subsequently his path to destruction with the Development of Duke Nukem Forever, but not everyone who's played Shadow of Chernobyl knows that GSC was nearly fated the same path as 3D Realms.


Believe it or not, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. we know today was almost a Half-Life clone. GSC was inspired by the popular Valve title, and planned to develop a linear shooter that would follow the same formula we're all too familiar with. However the GSC scrapped much of their work that they had created for this concept, in order to build a game similar to the game we have today.

GSC struggled to keep the game modern and ambitious. They built their own game engine, known today as X-Ray, which has gone through many revisions, even persisting with DX8 before finally rebuilding their engine to accommodate DX9, and subsequently S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s characteristic Dynamic Lighting Engine.

Years had passed, and GSC was still ever determined to build their ideal game, set in post-apocalyptic Chernobyl. Even after their initial change in direction, many concepts came and went after being developed, and just not working out. You can see from these videos, that S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s various stages of development are sometimes barely recognizable if at all, to the game that ended up on store shelves:

Hurry Up Already!

Well eventually, a publishing group known as THQ got a little tired of waiting 6 years for GSC's baby to see the light of day. Development costs money, and it was money that THQ eventually grew tired of spending. Well that's awfully unfortunate, seeing as how GSC wasn't ready yet. The giant levels you see in the unreleased development build ended up being cut and trimmed, projects like vehicles, certain mutants, whole plot points, weapons, and tons of other content ended up being scrapped in favor of a timely release.

What Does This Mean To Me?

Well the answer is evident if you've played the 1935 build, but it's no secret that Shadow of Chernobyl was born prematurely, and it wasn't just cut content that occurred because of it, as anyone can attest to.

The Dreaded 1.0000

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. wasn't flying off the shelves the moment it was released, but some of us had to suffer the misfortune of playing the unpatched, packaged retail version. This version was riddled with crashes, errors, performance dips to an already taxing game at the time, and tons of smaller issues that are still prevalent to this very day, giving S.T.A.L.K.E.R. it's reputation of being buggy.

However 1.0001 came shortly afterward, giving the game some much needed stability, rather then a detour to your desktop. More patches followed, eventually leading to the latest official version we all use today, 1.0005. Not to be confused with the canceled patch, 1.0006.

Why The History Lesson?

Well it's important to understand what's happened with the game, in order to understand why it's become so notorious with modding. You can hardly find a person with Shadow of Chernobyl installed on their computer without some sort of mod attached to it, but why is this exactly?

Mods, Mods, Mods

L.U.R.K., AMK, Oblivion Lost, Super Mod Pack, Complete 2009, Priboi Story, chances are you're going to see one of these, or something else populating your average S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s gamedata folder. Just as Shadow of Chernobyl is known as being buggy, so it is synonymous with modding.

Vanilla(Unmodded) Shadow of Chernobyl, in all it's charm, is generally recognized as an incomplete game, and despite the quirkiness of the X-Ray engine, and the lack of an SDK, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community has set itself out to build the game into their ideal image of what the game should/would have been.

Where's L.U.R.K. in All This?

You've probably seen that our summary page has been stripped of the description it had previously. I didn't think it did a proper job of articulating what L.U.R.K. really tries to be. On the outside, it's a culmination of a bunch of features both new and old. However it's much more then that. It's a labor of love that's followed a development path similar to a scaled down one of GSC's, somewhat.

4chan's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Mod

So how did L.U.R.K. start exactly? Well for one, it certainly wasn't L.U.R.K.. It was a simple merger of the great work that other determined modders had created at the time. It was 4chan's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Mod.

/v/ is one of the most active online gaming communities with a hard on for a certain Ukrainian Farming Simulator. Myself, being a denizen of said place, which you shouldn't go to by any means by the way, was a long-time fan of GSC's first title, Shadow of Chernobyl, and I was determined to shape the game in a way that would suit our fancy.

Where Do We Start?

Well, let's see what's on our plate before we get started:

  • Blue Shadows
  • Omnipotent AI Detection
  • Awkward Weapon Orientations
  • Random Hit Detection
  • No Casted Shadows in Overcast
  • Limited Weapon Arsenal
  • Pointless Economy
  • Washed out Textures
  • Blocky Models
  • Repeating Weather Cycle
  • Draw Distance Cut Off
  • Cluttered HUD Interface

Etc. etc. etc... The list continues for much longer then I have the patience to write, and it was a daunting task from our perspective to address some of these specifically. Mods didn't fix all the issues at hand, there was much work to be done, and we realized we'd have to dirty our hands ourselves before we saw our goal into fruition.


So what does S.T.A.L.K.E.R. need, but doesn't have? Well one of the most important answers is obvious. S.T.A.L.K.I.N.G.. Despite what the name would imply, and despite what the world so desperately desired in their open world game built on atmosphere, there was no stealth system incorporated into the game, and no modder had successfully accomplished building such a feature for Shadow of Chernobyl. That's the next logical step right?

You're In for a World of Hurt Boy

Well as it turns out, there was a reason S.T.A.L.K.E.R. didn't have a stealth system out of the box. The game's AI system was built under a DX8 renderer. In order to modernize the title, it was brought into DX9 architecture. Under these circumstances, as well as S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s complex lighting system, there are many, many variables that play into the way a level is lit in Shadow of Chernobyl. So what does this mean exactly?

It meant to GSC, as well as many modders who had endeavored to create stealth AI, that it was impossible. When you've got bloom, high dynamic range, dynamic casted shadows, and gobs of settings pertaining to each hour of the in-game day, it becomes a chore to sync those factors, and translate them into consistent AI light vision parameters. Despite the infancy of Light Detection still moping around unused in the AI code for S.T.A.L.K.E.R., it was completely unused to being faced with such a daunting task. So what did L.U.R.K. do that others haven't?

Months and months of dedication. Eventually, the weather, the graphics, and the AI parameters alike were splayed across my desktop, and ages upon ages of tireless work was spent on building a graphical presentation that would appeal to a degree that hadn't been seen before, and to work seamlessly in tandem with AI light detection parameters. There's no secret to what we did to make our AI react to lighting conditions in an unscripted real time environment, but we're proud to say that this defining moment in our development, is the first system of it's kind, and a powerful choice among S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s for their ideal Chernobyl experience.

The Steady Climb to Success

When we presented this system to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community, L.U.R.K.'s presence as an overhaul ignited, and eventually we'd see new members volunteer, and bring their talents into our goal, to make the best S.T.A.L.K.E.R. experience ever. Since then, we've continued to endeavor to build L.U.R.K. into a balanced, definitive game that GSC had envisioned it to be, but our work is far from over. A designer's work is never finished, and there's always room for improvement.

Why L.U.R.K.?

That's a good question, and it's not a question that I can answer for you. At the end of the day, modding is a bunch of hobbyists endeavoring to take a production game, and broaden the audience, or simply make the game a little into their own image of what it should be. I can tell you this though, I'm a long time fan of the series, and I know exactly what I want from it, and it goes as follows. Balance, Atmosphere, and Fun. Those three adjectives are the defining staple for what we strive to achieve, and if you agree with this, then I can tell you that you've come to the right place, otherwise, there are plenty of other options at your disposal. I encourage you to vote in the ModDB Mod of The Year elections, and tell us who you think should win.

What's on The Horizon?

Well there's one thing for sure. Ever since having played Call of Pripyat, GSC's latest installment into the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise, we've been convinced that it's worth it to bring our efforts over to Call of Pripyat. We've started dividing our attention across both games, but rest assured that it'll be produced in a manner that won't delay the release of L.U.R.K. 1.1 for Shadow of Chernobyl. Here's a sneak preview at what you can expect:

Thanks to those who took the time to read. Happy new year, and remember to vote for the Mod of The Year.

Post comment Comments
.Clash Jan 17 2010 says:

This sounds amazing! One question though, will the goun animations be changed in 1.1? Because I ******* love them in the current version.

0 votes     reply to comment
Daishi2442 Jan 17 2010 replied:

I'm glad you guys got such a talented animator as kingfriday. I will definitely play this version. Before I couldn't stand getting any further into it than the cordon because the animations were nasty...but KF does great animations.

+1 vote     reply to comment
QuarterLife Jan 17 2010 says:

Voted for MOTY, you guys deserve it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
bancove Jan 17 2010 says:

Huh, haven't seen those OL build vids before
Informative history lesson dawg

+1 vote     reply to comment
0rpheus Jan 17 2010 says:

Usually I just can't read through these long articles, but this one was written with such passion, and it was actually interesting! It's amazing that you could accomplish something that other modders, even GSC themselves with all their tools and knowledge (but time constraints) couldn't! I mean, really, major props to you, and of course your team!

I've been a long term STALKER fan too, followed it from the start and I dreamt what the game should look like when it finally releases. I was a bit disappointed when I finally got to play it, but you and your team have definitely brought it close to the game in dreams :) Can't wait for the 1.1 release!

PS. So is 1.1 going to be the final version for SoC?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Whitsel Jan 17 2010 says:


+1 vote     reply to comment
DerezzeDJack Jan 17 2010 says:

Really good written article. A big amount of infos in it, too. :)
Is CoP better then Clear Sky and are those screenshots taken in normal Full Dynamic Lighting?

0 votes     reply to comment
The.Reap3r Jan 17 2010 says:

Excellent article, it really shows your commitment to the project, and we can expect a great mod that will make S.T.A.L.K.E.R. a gamer's dream. Best of luck ;)

0 votes     reply to comment
ciastoludek Jan 17 2010 says:

Very nice trailer - I love your style

+1 vote     reply to comment
Kalenov Jan 17 2010 says:

So what will the release for Call of Pripyat look like?/What are your key goals for that release? I suppose that also begs the question, what integration -does- the game have in the first place, in relation to classical stalker? Seeing how I only own the first one, at this point, inorder to get the full effect of Lurk am I going to have to shell out for Pripyat?

Although seeing as Lurk is extending to it, I can't see why anyone -wouldn't- buy it :P (And at this point, with prices on Steam being what they are, its well worth it.)

Also, Clear Sky, with the new release (noticed in the video a reference to Clear Sky meshes), will I need to grab a copy of that as well? Was LURK made with clear sky in mind in the firstplace? (Curious about that one, because even cranked I can't get my copy of LURK to look that good :P)

+1 vote     reply to comment
McRutter Jan 17 2010 says:

If you don't read Holden's posts in the voice of Yoda, you're doing it wrong.

"Ages it's been since our last update"

"L.U.R.K.'s presence as an overhaul ignited, and eventually we'd see new members volunteer, and bring their talents into our goal, to make the best S.T.A.L.K.E.R. experience ever."

Rock on Gen Y.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Drill_Remover Jan 17 2010 says:

You should change the text to say that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was GSC's first title that achieved notoriety. It had released other games prior to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

+2 votes     reply to comment
ciastoludek Jan 18 2010 replied:

Yes, they also made Codename: Outbreak (FPS) and Cossacks (RTS) in 2000.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ciastoludek Jan 18 2010 says:

One thing that bothers me are the hills on the skybox. There are no hills around the Zone in real life, the whole area is flat like a table.

0 votes     reply to comment
ciastoludek Jan 18 2010 says: there is how the zone looks like from the giant OTH radar recieving antenna. No hills :)

0 votes     reply to comment
uk_john Feb 10 2010 says:

I am sorry, but I don't like the light or the weather and so will be uninstalling this mod. Don;t know if you had to do it to make the stealth work, but even when I choose the option to have clear weather all the time, it is still so dark in the shade I need to turn my light on! Light is just not like this! I had to use the clear weather all the time, because with the recommended weather option at 10am it was almost pitch black and at 7pm it was brighter! Also, I am sorry, but heavy thunderstorms do not make it pitch black like its 3am. It gets dark, yes, but not pitch black.

Even when you're in the sunlit area of a clear day, there is a dullness in the light. It is not proper sunlight.It's like looking at the world through polarized sunglasses!

Given the world is more dangerous (whole noobie camp killed by Army attack (Wolf and other main characters should always survive as far as I am concerned, like important characters are in most games), it is ridiculous that I can get killed in 4 seconds because I have to put my light on when it is 2pm with a regular thunderstorm going on, in order to see!

In effect then, the weather and light is all out of whack, and I can only believe it has to be that way for your stealth programming to work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Tru3_Blu3 Mar 8 2010 says:

I hope 1.1 doesn't have the FEAR Ambient music. It kinda ruined the atmosphere.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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