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As always the team behind this mod is hard at work. Here is what is happening.

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So, I had a month off, and still worked on Radium. However I am going to take time off again as I want a very solid understanding of C++ and HLSL.

The team has been hard at work, especially ky-ky and Don Knotts. Don Knotts turns out new textures like clockwork, making the game look amazing, and ky-ky improves every day on his amazing animations and churns them out faster than I can get them into the game.

Source code wise things are going VERY well. Most of the x64 problems were solved, mainly the physics problem, by Im-Dex (donate to him: I know none of you have) and he is now on his way to multi-threading the major parts of the engine. An off-shoot of his branch plans on adding Nvidia PhysX which I plan to keep an eye on and possibly adopt.

In terms of Radium and where it is going, I realized a major problem that Call of Pripyat has is there is a huge lack of an enemy presence. I've been kicking around ideas on how to solve this and I feel I have some pretty solid ideas on how to solve this problem. What good is a huge arsenal of guns if there is nothing to shoot?

I know one thought would be to make the game entirely for Call of Chernobyl, but I am not interested in doing that as that is not the main intention of this mod. I do plan on adapting some features to CoC at a later point in time, but that is not my priority anymore.

I would like to hear ideas on how to add more enemies to the game. I do have ideas but don't want to kick them around as unfortunately some mods get competitive and tend to steal ideas before the original mod manages to complete them, which is sad since we all do this for free.

In terms of the visuals for a short while I was going for Physically Based Rendering but have since decided against it. I am going to use some of those concepts but not all of them. I have improved the lighting a great deal which is one of the only things people would notice anyway, so I don't see much point in going overboard towards that goal.

I am also slowly re-writing the renderers. I have already partially re-written DirectX 11 and plan to go further. Ideally, I want it to work so there are two renderers: R2 (DX9) and R3 (DX11, unless your card doesn't support it, in which case it would kick down to DX10.1, and if your card doesn't support that then it would kick in DX10).
Oddly after this re-write it did not solve the issues with sun shafts, but I have some ideas on how to fix it now. If not I may rely on a friend on the Lost Alpha team to see if we can work together to implement Nvidia's Volumetric Lighting solution.

In terms of sound, I'm starting to feel I am neglecting this area too much. I really want Radium to sound fantastic. I am pleading with anyone familiar with the Stalker SDK's level editor to contact me. We could use you on the team for both creating certain zones for sound transitions, as well as general enhancements to the maps.

If you are looking for this mod to release soon I have bad news as it won't be happening. I have become a bit of a perfectionist after working on this project for so long, and there is a lot more I want to do and show you guys before it gets released. However, I do promise it will be worth the wait.

Comments
paranoiia8
paranoiia8

Nice to hear that work is still going smooth.

As for enemies, I always wanted to see two things in Stalker CoP:
1. Random encounters with big enemies(eg. pseudo-giant or buffed out chimera) that would be much tougher than normal and would chase you until one of you will be dead. Such encounter would be only in specific places, eg near exits from some places like undergrounds so you would need to at least pass through enemy to even escape, and it would not be that often.

2. Terror Nights, where once per few days at night all there is weird psy storm(not lethal) that make all stalkers run and hide and big group of mutants and zombies fight each other. I know that It would be really heavy for system, but maybe it would be possible to spread smaller groups of enemies so it would look like big mess making lots of noises but in reality it would be just medium amount of mutants and zombies fighting in some most visible areas.

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monolithwarrior1996
monolithwarrior1996

Dude that terror night thing sounds awesome, I hope they use your idea

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Menumorut
Menumorut

Good job friends! Don't rush it!
The longer it takes, the better it will be.

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yodahouse900
yodahouse900

wasn't there spawn point for npc's in CoP ? i thought i came across some squads of bandits who just spawned on the borders of the map in zaton (from my knowledge although i'm not sure the spawns are around the ranger outpost, next to the iron forest and further back the sawmill these are the few spots i think are spawnpoint) but even i agree at some point the zone in Cop felt rly empty especially pripyat (which i think need rework on the smart terrains because some areas are damm empty giving the nice feel of ghost town and other kept respawning the same enemies over and over e.g the "market" thingy near the laundry or the office building above the Xlab).

trough my multiple plays of Cop i started to think more and more that the maps were not designed to be used in a long lasting freeplay but to give the player a impression of an open world with a semi working A life feel to it (since the zone the zone feels empty at one point) CoC managed to reestablish by making spawns more consistent but the Cop maps still feel too stale and bland unlike the others ones.

as for the solution to the repopulation of the zone i remembered the occasional occurrences of manholes on the maps although not frequent the sewer system could be used as a spawnpoint like and entrance to zone for the freshmen somewhat like the snorks tunnels the idea obviously comes from the dead city map prototype.

But think about it, making npc's spawn on map edges where you can't see them only makes the game more lively by giving targets every so often and doesn't make for a long lasting solution it worked in vanilla because the aim wasn't to make a freeplay experience but to enhance the storytelling trough random encounters and the daily lives of others stalkers and in the end you start figuring out that even tho the game doesn't move relatively to your actions it still follows a set course the more you played the less rich the course becomes making encounters of both friendly and enemies less frequent only leaving the mutants and zombies as usual occurrences

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yodahouse900
yodahouse900

And the games devs knew this which will bring me back to the least loved game of the trilogy Clear sky(remember i only played once trough the game 8hours as such it may not be that close to reality and is mostly my assumptions on the game mechanics). i'll overlook the gameplay features which polluted the game and point out the A life related stuff.
the specificity of CS over the other games is the implementation of the factions wars tab.
the idea was to make the player play a part in the raging wars between factions yet it turned out to be mainly centered around the player so unlike the A life system which disregards the players actions the waging wars depended on the player otherwise the war was one sided.
Again the A life made you feel you were one of plenty to roam the zone the war system was more likely to tell you that you are the pillar to an entire war which is weird.

i'll stop there for the problems and come to the two main causes of it's failure.
the first being difficulty, but hell you can't do **** about it. upping the difficulty will only make it unplayable for some and other will overlook it and keep on going as nothin changed look at darksouls or misery as a better example.

"it all comes down to finding the trick"

the second which is somewhat influenced by the first, like i said before
"you are the pillar of an entire war"
Simply because friendlies were defenceless and you were mowing down others alone it was centered on the player. but stalker is as of now a SP game and one shoulder are only so big. what i mean is what if you make so that the player can not keep up with the pace and can not over extend himself further in that case we would be back to the goal of the A life(the player will have to move with the flow).
yet it comes with it's own share of problems the idea (if you haven't guess it) being making a lot of events happen frequently (and randomly to an extent) would make the balance crumble and only deepen the effects seen in CS only that the player won't be able to do anything about it.

the solution(for CS's system) I've come up with would be to make the losing factions strengthen quicker (more squads better equipment or making disadvantageous event to the enemy) proportionally to it's state (over stages eg 60% of original battle power 50% etc) and vice versa to balance everything
(this is an idea i had from Men of war to make battle last longer)

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yodahouse900
yodahouse900

but this won't realy apply to your case since Cop isn't war centered (even tho there is monolithVSloners, DolgVSweed and stalkersVSbandits) but to make the zone more lively you need to make sure you have an homogeneous amount of everything e.g like at a fresh start keeping an eye on the amount of stalkers relative to bandits mutants etc and making events to balance everything or to simply tip it in another direction which it hasn't been in over a long time (if x event no trigger for the last Tperiod then...(more random is better))
most of this system i'm submitting rely on random events the more variations the merrier
like e.g:
-the ideas paranoia made up above(blood moon)
-a wolf pack came from the red forest or a swarm of stray dog came from nearby villages (even tho they should have all been killing by hunters during the liquidation of 1986)
-a new batch of freshmen from that faction came from xlocation trough the sewers
- new imigrants from outside the zone came over and the military are on their heels
- the military makes a raid on some location(helicoter insertion etc maybe even using the BTR-60)
then takes control of the Smart terrain an makes it an outpost spawning more troops etc(i play arma too much these days)
-snorks managed to dig out tunnels in the area
-supply lines between Xfaction main base e.g dolg rostok(mercs monolith freedom and ecolog could also work) and a forward base or smart terrain meaning either yanov or some other place
-famous stalker hunter group entered the region
-merc squad actively roaming the area looking for someone or something (bounty
hunters etc)
-a special group of indepedants have setup at some Smart terrain and have open a shop for a limited amount of time
-weapon deal outside of tradeposts (like the mission with the bandits dealing with duty traitors)

there could also be side effects or consequences to theses events like when too many ppl die bloodsuckers start appearing near
or the fact that a single stalker found too much artefacts enraged the zone and focused mutants towards that individual

of course you can see this as way to balance powers in the zone trough the use of scripted events instead of spawning npc's to fill in the blanks which is technically the same but in a way which is suited to be seen and not hidden and should be used alongside regular spawning mechanics to enhance gameplay.

also note the fact that this solution is not absolute as well as terribly hard to put into practice and balance correctly (may end up giving options to the player so that they will spice up the way they want it)

in the end the best way to my sense to deepen the livelyness of the zone is to connect everything what i mean is that an action kick at least 20 others reactions and so on
e.g : some blowout happens in the aftermath some stalker comes to you and says that his friend couldn't keep up the pace with him when they were rushing towards cover and he asks you to find him figuring out if he died or not but then you found out he was not only killed in the blowout but a controller took control of his zombie form(here the quest could have maybe not triggered at all, the stalker may have been alive safe and sound or under attack by rodents or somethin or he simply died the end OR he was taken hostage when bandits found him before the blowout occured)

this is tough already heavy scripting by making events chain one after another gives a nice feel of randomness but is one hell of job to do. Well even if they don't chain up just making that system is a pain in the *** if guess.

Wait "I have become a bit of a perfectionist after working on this project for so long,"
welp guess it's his choice to do it or not
*looks up at the scrollbar*
*gulp this shiet is long and it's mess too*
hits 5000 character limit


******

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TaxAkla
TaxAkla

And, why not an Vulkan renderer and physics with Bullet? Let me dream.

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Lachesis580
Lachesis580

Ok thanks for the answer =D

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The_Preacher
The_Preacher

Thank you Matthew for a regular news regarding the project ! Glad to hear everything goes smooth ...

Regarding the adding enemies into the game - check the Warfare submod for CoC . Its something like faction warfare in CS , but much much better . It is highly interesting because it has in mind full customization by player - enabling player to fine tune many factors . The mod is being constantly updated , and there will be certainly some features that will elevate it even more .

In general , the maps were always a problematic thing in STALKER franchise for me , personally . Not all of them - but some were too small ( especially when we talk about urban areas - the limitations of engine were the most obvious over there ) and spawns of enemies werent exactly realistic . It would be ideally to have bigger maps , if possible - I do really wonder how will Ray of Hope huge two maps look like - something like that has the capability to completely change the way how faction warfare is waged , and how spawns are set . But , ofc , something could also be achieved on separated maps , that are slightly extended , expanded ( example : Lost Alpha maps ) .

I always thought how mutant spawns could create "hordes" over time , for some types of mutants ( for example , Pseudogiants could have max limit to 2 , Chimeras to 3 ... dogs to 10 , etc ... ) and that hordes would be created over time , not instantly . At one point , they would go directly for human encampments . Some mutants could have some specialities - for example , Bloodsuckers could spawn closer to encampments in general , or in general , in urban areas , simulating their "infiltration" inside the area .

Enemy factions would create various squad sizes ( already possible in Warfare submod ) . Bandits would create bigger squad sizes ( 7-8 ) , but they would be lower tech . Army would create smaller fireteams ( 3-4 ) for spec-ops and military stalkers , and higher squads ( 7-8 ) for ordinary grunts . Sometimes , they could have support of attack helicopter ( I do wonder , if BTR behaviour could be made to follow certain patrol routes , and possibly even to create an invasion routes - Army attacking Monolith with APCs and similar ) . These are just examples how things could be done ...

When you mention sounds ... there is also interesting things to implement . There was that mysterious light in the sky that would appear in CoP Complete ( didnt like the mod , but liked that feature , that detail , a LOT ) , with static in background . Such things were deeply immersive , even eerie , and would add a lot to the mysteriousness of the Zone . For example , even adding some weird sounds that trigger randomly , but not too often , on some particular places , it could be enough to make the player feel uneasy . "What was that ?" - the answer onto that shouldnt be given , it remains a mystery ... the mystery that will follow the player for the rest of the time in the Zone , around every corner , and everytime they hear something similar ... :) ... Some audio and maybe even visual mysteries could add onto the atmosphere immensely . Some could repeat themselves regularly ... some could be more random , some could be triggered within particular time and place .

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Prowox
Prowox

The main reasons for the lack of enemies/firefights in COP seem to stem from two things (at least as far as I've noticed), few respawning stalkers (wether friendly or hostile) and a general lack of hostility towards the player outside of missions.

There are only really two factions that are hostile consitently towards the player, Monolith and Mercs. Even though you can choose to side with either Stalkers or Bandits in Zaton, and Freedom or Duty in Yanov, the faction you don't side with won't really turn hostile unless you actively try to kill them.

The solution could be to add hostile Bandit/Merc/Monolith squads that respawn somewhat frequently and roam the maps while sometimes occupying key areas, and also have larger hostile squads respawn at some quest areas some time after the quest there has been completed (for example new Mercs could spawn at the Waste Processing Plant).

Later on in the game, if the player sides with any faction, that factions enemies should also become openly hostile to the player. Friendly/Neutral squads of Stalkers/Duty/Freedom should probably also need to spawn so that more firefights will happen naturally during the game, and so that there can be hostile squads if the player sides against them.

Most of these things are admittetly how M.S.O tries to solve the "emptiness" of COP, and for the most part it works really well.

Of course implementing some kind of Faction War like system would also help make the maps more lively.

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AoXo
AoXo

In hindsight I seem to have written a small essay here. I apologise, but hopefully someone finds it interesting.

I think in a lot of ways the maps themselves impact and influence the way players "progress", or I guess experience the gameplay loop. Many of the original maps from SoC and CS are corridors in disguise and they don't really facilitate players deviating from that style of gameplay. Any time you want to move through an area you need some form of content there. And because this isn't a true open world and because many of the maps are so linear enemies tend to be packed in the same spots. In Call of Pripyat it's almost the exact opposite issue - enemies are far and few between, but the maps themselves are wider and more open and as such have too much visibility. In Zaton and Yanov you can pretty much see the whole map from most major locations which often means you can see enemies a mile away.

Simply upping the NPC spawn rate doesn't help much either. When more enemies respawn more loot is farmed which can break the economy, so many modders combat this by making the economy/loot table tougher which can make looting pointless because a whole back pack worth of guns will barely cover the cost of resources it took just to travel (let alone the resources for combat). Depending on the mods used this means you can trudge around forever through artifical difficulty, and other times have more money than you will ever need.

Meanwhile, STALKER has two main ways to interact with the game world: shooting and talking. Shooting is obviously a focus, but is the gateway to progression and tied in with many other game systems (resource management, economy, trading, NPC spawns, so on and so forth). Talking on the other hand is, more often than not, negelcted. Talking to NPCs often only facilitates a reason or cause to be moving from one location to another in order to shoot things.

What am I trying to say here? Well, I think that when a game world feels empty because there's not enough enemies it's really because there's not enough to do in general. Think about it: in a pure shooter like Call of Duty or Halo, when you run out of enemies that's usually because you've cleared a section. So you need something else to do. In most shooters you move on to the next section, the next room, the next level, etc. You can't do that in a psuedo-openworld game and Stalker doesn't have a big enough world to travel or any other game mechanics to fill that gap betwen combat scenarios. What really needs to happen is that more time is spent between each combat situation filled with other activites so that players aren't simply waiting for the next wave of NPCs to spawn in, and on top of that, that combat is tweaked to be a longer experience without simply being a save-scumming affair.


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AoXo
AoXo

What those activities are depends on what the modding team is able to produce and in general I think Stalker is in a poor situation to remedy the problem. For example in games like Skyrim, Fallout, Deus Ex, that time can be spent reading journal entries, or emails, or any other number of in-world items that add depth to the game world and give the player a distraction from combat. In those same games many locations have much more detail in their environments and there is a plethora of items to be searched for loot, rather than the same few items in predetermined locations which must be spawned in. In other words, in Stalker, a player is never going to go to a location to "look around" because we know in advance there is nothing there. In other games there are many characters to talk to who are all almost tied to quests - content. In Stalker few NPCs provide quests, even fewer provide interesting quests, but the large majority of NPCs serve almost no purpose.

It would be great if players could approach NPCs and find content instead of "Don't know anything". NPCs could drop PDAs or notes which have information (descriptions) which the player can read (maybe even stashes described in words but not put on the PDA system so the player must use their wits) - maybe traders will buy different kinds of PDAs. Selling a PDA with scientific data on it to a loner won't fetch as much as it would to a scientist. Maybe different NPC groups could have different interests (i.e. some are more interested in buying drugs, warsaw weapons, western weapons, hunting gear etc) so each time you find a new NPC group you sell them specific things. Maybe random NPCs could have branching dialogue instead of a single reply so that conversations are more interactive. Perhaps these conversations could impact how they view the player? If the player is rude the NPC will end the conversation or refuse to trade. If the player is considerate maybe the NPC will give a discount or be willing to buy other items. Maybe random conversations could involve player choice to include their mood (helpful, mean, sarcastic, etc) but might also require handing over items or money to the NPC to hear the story. Maybe the story will end with a stash location in some cases.

In terms of slowing down combat, maybe combat doesn't need to be as deadly, but could require the player to instead focus on resource management. I know that sounds boring, but I'm thinking more like DayZ where you can get shot once and if you don't die you might manage to escape. And now "shooting" is only one part of combat; you're bleeding out slowly and your vision is losing colour, and your leg is fractured so you cant run at full speed, and you're going into shock so the screen is shaking; but you also need to escape the area so you're thinking about how far you can run before you need to stop and address your medical situation and hope you have what you need to patch up. Bandages and morphine and a splint. And you need to apply all of these one at a time after the other - no magical "medkit" to fix everything.

The goal of all of this would be that the player spends more time doing stuff other than combat. If you play Stalker with the mindset that it is just a shooter then of course you'll run out of things to shoot, so we need to distract the player. But that's probably not the answer you were looking for. :D

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✪Sparrow
✪Sparrow

You said about enemies, and what to shoot, that reminded me when I played with SDK in the CoP, what I did was I took out the NPC's (Mercenarios) from the Substation Workshop and put them in Jupter near Yanov Station, I put the Bandits, the Bandits always went out to fight at 6 in the morning and came back at 10 at night, the same with the Stalkers in Skadovsk, I became the enemy of the Bandits, and that mission in Jupter that you have to pay the (I can not remember his name), I created a script when I activated that mission, the Bandits were Neutral until I finished it, but I was meeting LUA at that time, and it was a bit messy, but I liked the idea, the Mercenarios that will be near Yanov, always died by Duty or Freedom, but I did not take it seriously because I wanted to play with SDK only, it was more or less cool, hehe, but I wish good luck with RADIUM, I'm waiting for him with lime ma

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