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Stalker - missions with meaning
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Stalker - missions with meaning Reply with quote

I accidentally completed Stalker. It has multiple endings and by doggedly following just the core missions you can trigger one of those endings quite quickly. Sadly it leaves a lot of unanswered questions and my complete reliance on quicksave meant I couldn't undo my progress. Stalker - fantastic ambition, but somewhat rough.

So I started again.

This time I making a point of asking everyone for missions and trying to complete all of them. Of course, some are miles away and have severe time restrictions that mean you can't complete them without careful planning - oh Stalker, why do you punish me so?

Anyway, one of the optional missions that I didn't bother with on initial play through, almost did something amazing.

First, some background. Something very odd happened around Chernobyl nuclear plant and the zone was created. It's very dangerous, highly radioactive and is filled with physics defying weird artefacts that bestow enhanced abilities on the wearer. The military immediately quarantined the area and now shoot anyone trying to get in. Some individuals snook in and now either cannot or don't want to get back out. They are called Stalkers. They are criminals who track down the artefacts and sell them on the black market.

The only friends Stalkers have are other Stalkers. They create makeshift camps where you can rest in safety, buy food and ammunition, sit around the campfire, drink and sing songs. Seriously, you see other Stalkers drinking, singing and playing the guitar. Stalkers are always sick with the radiation and it is at the camps where you can buy medicine.

So after many hours of play I was rather fond of my fellow Stalkers. Then I had a chat with my mentor at the local camp. He isn't a Stalker and seems a bit of scum bag. He had a rather odd optional mission for me. It seems another Stalker who I hadn't met had sold him some dodgy artefacts and then was bad mouthing him around the other camps. My mission was to go take him out.

I immediately did a double take here, I'm supposed to kill a friendly Stalker who has never done me any harm. The fact I had to think about that for a minute immediately marks this mission out as very good. I had a location for the guy and assumed he'd be out in the zone on his own. Off I went.

As I got closer I realised he was sat right in the middle of a fully occupied Stalker camp - oh dear. He was sat singing and drinking with friends. Now, other Stalkers freak out if you point weapons at them so I knew what would happen if I took him out. I waited and he didn't move. This was going to be bad, I contemplated not killing him, but I needed the reward. I readied all my weapons, planned my escape route and then made my move. I approached from behind and took him out with a single shot to the head. The entire camp went ballistic and I had no choice but to slaughter everyone. I only just made it out alive.

That single optional mission had more emotional impact than everything else in the game (that I've seen so far). Maybe it's just me, but I really think they missed something there. As with every other game there was no real consequence for what I'd done. What would have made the mission's impact even more powerful is if there were real consequences for that action. It doesn't have to be as ridiculous as changing the entire course of the game with me labelled as a murderer and shifting the whole flow of play.

Here's a few possibilities.

1. One or two Stalkers escape. News of my actions spreads and people treat my with fear/respect in conversations. My nickname changes from "marked one" to "killer" or similar. The dead Stalkers friends come looking for me at a later point in the game.

2. Nobody escapes. When asking Stalkers for info (which you can do) a few might start mentioning the mysterious "camp massacre". My mentor tells the dead Stalker's friends it was me for money. At the end of the game when I don't need him any more I get the chance for revenge.

3. He doesn't just sit there forever, he gets up now and then to do some hunting so I can bide my time and follow him to a lonely spot. His friends ask about him and trigger a mission to recover his body or items he was carrying. If I've already sold what he had they could find out it was me and come looking. Perhaps I could leave the item somewhere and tell them about it so it triggers a big fire fight at another Stalker camp which could relate to some other mission I have.

So, as usual Stalker shows hints of something remarkable, but doesn't quite deliver. This is why I'm so looking forward to the sequel. I know games have done this kind of thing before, but they always seem so unsubtle about it. This game is all about the lonely life and fragility of Stalker existence, how reliant they are on the camps. To just slip that mission in and not make a big deal of it actually helped increase its emotional impact. If only they'd followed through.
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Joined: 25 Nov 2004
Posts: 480
Location: Karlsruhe, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like your precise analytical view on games and game design. It's always a pleasure to read your thought. I hope you don't stop posting stuff like this due to the lack of feedback/response.
That "fear" is basically the reason I'm writing this reply. Smile
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Location: Olympia Washington

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slyh wrote:
I really like your precise analytical view on games and game design. It's always a pleasure to read your thought. I hope you don't stop posting stuff like this due to the lack of feedback/response.
That "fear" is basically the reason I'm writing this reply. Smile

It doesn't stop me.

Still this board has a serious lack of response. You'd think you guys weren't actual interested in discussing video game design.
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Ren Fraggle

Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know so much about game design to make worthwhile comments about it, but I like reading about it. At this point I don't have much time and patience to learn something like that by myself as a hobby. If I were serious about it, I'd probably have to take classes to actually learn something.

Anyway, I also like to read everyone's thoughts posted here. It entertains my childhood fantasies about making video games. The best I was ever able to do were a couple simple RPG type games on a TI-86 calculator in high school. I've since forgotten how to use the language on it.
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