Now that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 studio GSC Game World has closed its doors and the game has ceased production, the team has moved on form a brand new studio: Vostok Games. While their next game follows in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s post-apocalyptic footsteps, the team had to make some major changes to ensure that it would survive the development process.
The new title, a free to play shooter dubbed Survarium, marks the Ukrainian team's first attempt at making a multiplayer focused online game. It's a distinct change for a group that previously focused on creating atmospheric solo experiences, but Vostok project manager Ruslan Didenko said the team had to make that switch to secure its funding.
"It was a tough decision to make," Didenko told Gamasutra. "After the shutdown of GSC, our team had a choice: whether to scatter around other companies or stick together and try to attract funding to keep the development going."
While looking for funding from local venture capitalists, Vostok realized that it couldn't make it on single player games alone. "Those games take a long time, cost a lot, and leave a lot of revenue in the pockets of publishers," Didenko said. It wasn't until the team made some major adjustments that it finally secured its capital.
"What we realized is that while we had been preoccupied with delivering single player titles one by one, the world changed, and we have to change too. Therefore, we decided to take a dramatic step and switch to online."
With the new online focus, Didenko said Survarium will ditch S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s lonely, sprawling game worlds, and will instead offer smaller, instanced multiplayer maps for cooperative and competitive play.
Despite making some major changes to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. formula, however, Vostok still wants Survarium to capture the essence of what made those games great. The game might focus on online multiplayer, but Didenko said atmosphere and strong visuals remain paramount to the Survarium experience.
"We've worked on post-apocalyptic games for so long that it is beyond our powers to create something completely different in the near future. On top of that, we've got a colossal amount of ideas that will be impossible to bury in our consciousness. We treat Survarium as an heir to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Similar to that series, we still want to pay much attention to the atmosphere and visuals."
Vostok's remaining tight-lipped on further details on Survarium for now, but Didenko says the game is on track for a full release in 2013.