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Clear Sky - Some thoughts

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  12:17:31  4 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
Messages: 137
Thanks, I'll give feedback later.
  15:14:39  4 February 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
Messages: 2872

---QUOTATION---
StoleitfromKilgore:

- A maybe somewhat petty complaint are the way zombies work. While they still lack awareness compared to human enemies, they now shoot pretty accurately, which in my mind does not really fit them.

---END QUOTATION---


Never noticed that. But in SoC, they seem to hit you even when pointing their guns in a totally different direction.


---QUOTATION---
Still, it's nothing big and part of my annoyance probably comes down more to the initial design of the Yantar-area, than to the way the zombies work.
---END QUOTATION---


What's wrong with Yantar? I love the psy effects (until you fix the cooling system).


---QUOTATION---
- Another small thing that not everybody might see as something important is the bigger number of level-changers.
---END QUOTATION---


A possibly related result is how they make the areas from SoC feel different, due to the changed perspective. Maybe that applies especially to Army Warehouses.


---QUOTATION---
They are also too loud and too talkaktive. This is something that I didn't remember, but it seems that the terrible situation of CoP had its origins here. But don't get me wrong: When I say "talkative" then I'm talking about how they react to the player (too loud, too player-centric), not how they interact with each other.
---END QUOTATION---


That's probably because you move to close to them. Give them some personal space and they'll keep silent. Or you can pester them and enjoy their increasingly annoyed greeting phrases. I think the problem with CoP is more due to the voice acting.


---QUOTATION---
Though the latter is also a problem: I don't think that I have seen a lot of people sitting around campfires, playing guitar and such. Exceptions so far seem to only be the Clear Sky-base, some people in the Flea Market and some loners southeast of the Yantar-lab.
---END QUOTATION---


It should happen in many more places, but perhaps not everywhere.


---QUOTATION---

Maybe I just haven't spent enough time in the individual places, but so far only people in the Flea Market seem to be rather varied in their behaviour. Some sleep, some walk around, some are sitting together in a pair or around the campfire, some are standing guard and using the binoculars...

---END QUOTATION---


Also at the Devilish Encampment in Red Forest.


---QUOTATION---
I'm not sure if this issue has anything to do with the Faction Wars - mechanic, but at the very least most people seem to just be there to fulfill a function, either to take part in the war, to offer quests or to offer their services as guides. And basically everybody is part of monolithic factions, which are very obviously just there to offer functions and to puppet-like dance to the tune of very abstract systems. I understand how systems have to lie at the base of such games, but I don't understand why there is often not much of an effort to conceal these systems. My complaints might seem a bit ridiculous to you, since when I'm thinking about it, SoC worked kind of similar.

---END QUOTATION---


I think NPCs are standing guard due to the impending faction wars, but you can also see artifact hunting in a few locations. In the early stages SoC, NPCs appear to wander around randomly apparently looking for loot (but in reality they're just migrating to replace NPCs that got killed somewhere else), while later on in SoC everybody rush towards Pripyat.


---QUOTATION---

Personally I really like the fact, that the anomalies are more of a danger than in the other games, especially since it makes many of the specific protective artifacts much more useful. It really feels good, when I'm running around heavily toxic or psy-affected areas with some hard-earned artifacts equipped. I think out of the three games, in terms of anomalies and artifacts Clear Sky is probably the most successful at actually giving me the feeling of being a Stalker in a hostile zone.

---END QUOTATION---


Exactly my opinion!
  15:18:24  4 February 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
Messages: 2872

---QUOTATION---
Tejas Stalker:

Most Survival Games Have Problems That S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Solved Long Ago
http://kotaku.com/most-survival-games-have-problems-that-s-t-a-l-k-e-r-s-1683484728?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Facebook&utm_source=Kotaku_Facebook&utm_medium=Socialflow
---END QUOTATION---


Good review, but then he completely spoils it by saying:

"this is coming from someone who considers Far Cry 2 to be one of the best games ever made".
  21:13:03  4 February 2015
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Charcharo
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 06/23/2009
Messages: 1175
People are different. Things are subjective.

I mean...many people like Bioshock Infinite...
And I consider it shit.
  22:05:26  4 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/04/2015 22:30:01
Messages: 137

---QUOTATION---
A maybe somewhat petty complaint are the way zombies work. While they still lack awareness compared to human enemies, they now shoot pretty accurately, which in my mind does not really fit them.

Never noticed that. But in SoC, they seem to hit you even when pointing their guns in a totally different direction.
---END QUOTATION---



Well, I only noticed it in CoP a few months back, but when I recently came back to CS I realized that it had already been like that in CS.


---QUOTATION---
Still, it's nothing big and part of my annoyance probably comes down more to the initial design of the Yantar-area, than to the way the zombies work.

What's wrong with Yantar? I love the psy effects (until you fix the cooling system).
---END QUOTATION---



There were simply too many zombies for my liking. Especially during the mission to fix the cooling system (so many exos). It's the kind of design that reminds me too much, that I'm (as the player) at the center of everything, when STALKER is best at creating a believable world that can mostly work without the player.


---QUOTATION---
- Another small thing that not everybody might see as something important is the bigger number of level-changers.

A possibly related result is how they make the areas from SoC feel different, due to the changed perspective. Maybe that applies especially to Army Warehouses.
---END QUOTATION---



Since you are mentioning the Warehouses, I had to point something out. The last time I played I arrived at the Red Forest and took a look at my PDA-map. I then realized that I had never been to the Army Wareheouses in CS.


---QUOTATION---
They are also too loud and too talkaktive. This is something that I didn't remember, but it seems that the terrible situation of CoP had its origins here. But don't get me wrong: When I say "talkative" then I'm talking about how they react to the player (too loud, too player-centric), not how they interact with each other.

That's probably because you move to close to them. Give them some personal space and they'll keep silent. Or you can pester them and enjoy their increasingly annoyed greeting phrases. I think the problem with CoP is more due to the voice acting.
---END QUOTATION---



I know, but if I have to talk to somebody, am passing through a camp or want to stay in one... It's just something that reliably ruins the mood. But at the moment I can't really remember how it was done in SoC. The point is the quick mechanical reaction that NPCs give when the player is near. Again, it reminds me that I'm playing a game. Too player-centric and thus unbelievable. But yeah, CoP is probably far worse.


---QUOTATION---
Though the latter is also a problem: I don't think that I have seen a lot of people sitting around campfires, playing guitar and such. Exceptions so far seem to only be the Clear Sky-base, some people in the Flea Market and some loners southeast of the Yantar-lab.

It should happen in many more places, but perhaps not everywhere.

Maybe I just haven't spent enough time in the individual places, but so far only people in the Flea Market seem to be rather varied in their behaviour. Some sleep, some walk around, some are sitting together in a pair or around the campfire, some are standing guard and using the binoculars...

Also at the Devilish Encampment in Red Forest.
---END QUOTATION---



Good to know. I'm just heading there.


---QUOTATION---
I'm not sure if this issue has anything to do with the Faction Wars - mechanic, but at the very least most people seem to just be there to fulfill a function, either to take part in the war, to offer quests or to offer their services as guides. And basically everybody is part of monolithic factions, which are very obviously just there to offer functions and to puppet-like dance to the tune of very abstract systems. I understand how systems have to lie at the base of such games, but I don't understand why there is often not much of an effort to conceal these systems. My complaints might seem a bit ridiculous to you, since when I'm thinking about it, SoC worked kind of similar.

I think NPCs are standing guard due to the impending faction wars, but you can also see artifact hunting in a few locations. In the early stages SoC, NPCs appear to wander around randomly apparently looking for loot (but in reality they're just migrating to replace NPCs that got killed somewhere else), while later on in SoC everybody rush towards Pripyat.
---END QUOTATION---



But there are far too many guards. Usually there is at most one guy sitting at a campfire. It often just seems like most of the social interaction between stalkers has been sucked out of the world. It's also a problem that too many of the traders, technicians and so on seem so forced... You know, the way how you need 1 trader, 1 technician and perhaps 1 barman per base. It's simply the standard complement of functions mostly there to serve the player. They are not characters. Simply giving the more important people some walls of text does not a character make. It also doesn't help that their physical appearance is usually not different from all the other people.

The detector-thing is a neat addition, but unfortunately it's also very transparent that they are not really looking for artifacts.

The wandering around being random is not the point, I'm aware it's not random. In fact, I happen to believe that completely random A-Life would be problematic. Places and the people that inhabit them should matter. With very dynamic and random A-Life people are randomly killed off and the feeling of the NPCs actually being of importance diminishes. In SoC how places are inhabited and how the movements to them occur feels very deliberate in comparison. And of course, as I have mentioned before, there are simply too many people and too many battles too actually care about any of them. Well, at least it's harder to care about them.



---QUOTATION---
Personally I really like the fact, that the anomalies are more of a danger than in the other games, especially since it makes many of the specific protective artifacts much more useful. It really feels good, when I'm running around heavily toxic or psy-affected areas with some hard-earned artifacts equipped. I think out of the three games, in terms of anomalies and artifacts Clear Sky is probably the most successful at actually giving me the feeling of being a Stalker in a hostile zone.

Exactly my opinion!
---END QUOTATION---



Haha, at least one point of agreement


Edit:

As far as FC2 is concerned: In some ways it's a very different game from the STALKER-titles, but I happen to believe that it actually does some things better than them. The wind for example, or some aspects of the behaviour of human enemies. There is no A-Life in FC2, but in combat they behave a lot more believable and the stealth-system is actually pretty good. On the other hand, they just respawn. The weather is lacking real thunderstorms (no thunder/lightning) and the nights are far too bright. Aside from the night sky not looking convincing at all.

These points are all valid, yet not the ones that people usually point to when explaining their dislike of FC2. In my experience it's pretty hard to get to the bottom of subjective preferences and often people just seem to take hold of some easy explanations, when they actually don't understand the exact reasons. Personally, I often find it very difficult to put my finger on the exact reasons for my hate/love (and everything in between) for a game.
  23:48:07  4 February 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
 

Message edited by:
Three Mile Island
02/04/2015 23:51:59
Messages: 2872

---QUOTATION---
StoleitfromKilgore:

There were simply too many zombies for my liking. Especially during the mission to fix the cooling system (so many exos). It's the kind of design that reminds me too much, that I'm (as the player) at the center of everything, when STALKER is best at creating a believable world that can mostly work without the player.

---END QUOTATION---


You're right, though I've never been bothered by it in Yantar.


---QUOTATION---

Since you are mentioning the Warehouses, I had to point something out. The last time I played I arrived at the Red Forest and took a look at my PDA-map. I then realized that I had never been to the Army Wareheouses in CS.

---END QUOTATION---


Initially you have to move through Red Forest to get there.


---QUOTATION---

at the moment I can't really remember how it was done in SoC.

---END QUOTATION---


Don't you just get a dialog text prompt in SoC? Can't remember either, despite playing SoC just a few weeks ago.


---QUOTATION---

The point is the quick mechanical reaction that NPCs give when the player is near. Again, it reminds me that I'm playing a game. Too player-centric and thus unbelievable.
---END QUOTATION---


In my first CS playthroughs I occasionally felt a little stressed by the aggressive voices of Clear Sky faction NPCs, but it didn't actually ruin the mood. Bandits are aggressive too, but also funny.


---QUOTATION---

Also at the Devilish Encampment in Red Forest.

Good to know. I'm just heading there.

---END QUOTATION---


Don't get your hopes up too much, they're just ordinary stalkers. Make sure to manually save before the mission, in case it fails and the NPCs die.


---QUOTATION---
But there are far too many guards. Usually there is at most one guy sitting at a campfire. It often just seems like most of the social interaction between stalkers has been sucked out of the world.
---END QUOTATION---


You're right, but it's never bothered me that much. I kind of envision them anticipating an attack any minute when you arrive.


---QUOTATION---
It's also a problem that too many of the traders, technicians and so on seem so forced... You know, the way how you need 1 trader, 1 technician and perhaps 1 barman per base. It's simply the standard complement of functions mostly there to serve the player.
---END QUOTATION---


I disagree, the Loner bases in Cordon and Agroprom lack bars, and Flea Market has two traders. In Red Forest the repair technician and trader are at different locations. Yantar only has a trader. Army Warehouses has nothing.


---QUOTATION---
They are not characters. Simply giving the more important people some walls of text does not a character make. It also doesn't help that their physical appearance is usually not different from all the other people.
---END QUOTATION---


I disagree, I think the above business people have very good characters in CS. This is mostly thanks to the excellent voice acting, but there are also several relatively unique face textures(?) like Cold, Gray, Sid, Kolobok/Father Valerian, Borov/Yoga, Sakharov and Forester (in fact I didn't realize until now that a couple of them look the same).


---QUOTATION---
The wandering around being random is not the point, I'm aware it's not random.
---END QUOTATION---


Maybe random was the wrong word, but in SoC some NPCs give an impression of being independent stalkers with some unknown goal in the Zone (that they may or may not tell you about if you ask). In CS this is admittedly a bit limited, you never encounter lonely generic stalkers (except for scripted events).


---QUOTATION---
there are simply too many people and too many battles too actually care about any of them. Well, at least it's harder to care about them.
---END QUOTATION---


That's true. On the other hand I've never cared much for even the unique NPCs in SoC --I hardly remember the names of people like Bes or Mole, and I've never understood why people bother tracking them and try to keep them alive. To me the truly unique CS characters (like Limpid) are much more memorable, but maybe that's partially because they tend to stay alive...


---QUOTATION---

These points are all valid, yet not the ones that people usually point to when explaining their dislike of FC2. In my experience it's pretty hard to get to the bottom of subjective preferences and often people just seem to take hold of some easy explanations, when they actually don't understand the exact reasons. Personally, I often find it very difficult to put my finger on the exact reasons for my hate/love (and everything in between) for a game.
---END QUOTATION---


Yes it can be hard both to analyze and articulate what's wrong with a game. Sometimes you don't even have the stamina to find out, since there are just too many things wrong with it (hence my disbelief when someone claims to have found something good).
  10:59:25  5 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/05/2015 11:17:41
Messages: 137
@ThreeMileIsland: Will try to respond later.

@Decane: Thanks, but so far it either does not work at all, or it has made things worse. I changed the values in the user.ltx and put the "r3"-folder into the "shader"-folder just beside the "r2"-folder. I'm assuming that I haven't done anything wrong.

I will try again later, with: 6, 60, 40, 1536. I hope the latter doesn't hurt performance too much. The latter three values are taken from some old thread. Danlo seems to have used them. I will keep experimenting. (By the way, why should decreasing the gloss factor improve anything? I'm not sure that it is the reason, but the only significant change I noticed yesterday is that all the effects seem less visible.)
  12:26:30  5 February 2015
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Decane
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/04/2007
Messages: 1705

---QUOTATION---
@Decane: Thanks, but so far it either does not work at all, or it has made things worse.
---END QUOTATION---


You still get stripes? (The wet sheen on clothes is supposed to be there when it rains.)
  19:34:39  5 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/06/2015 1:08:27
Messages: 137

---QUOTATION---
@Decane: Thanks, but so far it either does not work at all, or it has made things worse.
You still get stripes? (The wet sheen on clothes is supposed to be there when it rains.)
---END QUOTATION---



No, I didn't see any, but I also didn't see anything else. Splashes (because of lower gloss factor?) are barely visible and the same goes for the flowing water.

But the way it has worked for me so far it's hard to tell if it's just the "wet surfaces" - feature doing what it wants (as usual), or if something further got broken by the fix.

Edit:
The wet sheen on people and surfaces has sometimes been there during my current playthrough, sometimes not. Also didn't work yesterday.
Also, I just remembered that there was one stash at the Devilish Encampment where the flowing water on a vertical surface actually worked. The only surface I saw it yesterday.

Edit 2:
Ok, have tested it and aside from "r2_gloss_factor 6.", which is simply ridiculous, things seem to actually be working now. Hurray!

There were two separate instances today where it rained during nighttime and daytime. I hope turning down the gloss factor to 4 won't change it for the worse. I'm assuming it was the increase in the resolution which made the difference.

So it's like this now (in the user.ltx):

- r2_gloss_factor 4. (changed back from 6 just a few minutes ago)
- r3_dynamic_wet_surfaces_far 60.
- r3_dynamic_wet_surfaces_near 40.
- r3_dynamic_wet_surfaces_sm_res 1536

Some examples:

First, two examples of what gloss factor 6 does to your game. Bioshock-levels of goodness.

http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/Schattensucher/media/STALKER%20-%20Clear%20Sky%20Complete%20-%20Dx-10%20effects/ss_user_02-05-15_22-32-51_military_zpsfelqirzl.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1

http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/Schattensucher/media/STALKER%20-%20Clear%20Sky%20Complete%20-%20Dx-10%20effects/ss_user_02-05-15_22-35-20_military_zpsr9awvhvw.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0

Plus four examples for wet surfaces actually working. Metal surfaces still look the best, but I could mostly also see a comparably weak effect on stalkers, wood and most brick/stone walls.

http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/Schattensucher/media/STALKER%20-%20Clear%20Sky%20Complete%20-%20Dx-10%20effects/ss_user_02-05-15_23-30-38_military_zpsdlsivem5.jpg.html?sort=3&o=3

http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/Schattensucher/media/STALKER%20-%20Clear%20Sky%20Complete%20-%20Dx-10%20effects/ss_user_02-05-15_23-28-04_red_forest_zps5gedkh0d.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1

http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/Schattensucher/media/STALKER%20-%20Clear%20Sky%20Complete%20-%20Dx-10%20effects/ss_user_02-05-15_23-27-31_red_forest_zps58kbwodw.jpg.html?sort=3&o=2

http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/Schattensucher/media/STALKER%20-%20Clear%20Sky%20Complete%20-%20Dx-10%20effects/ss_user_02-05-15_23-32-18_military_zpsqcrxig1t.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0
  17:10:57  7 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
Messages: 137

---QUOTATION---
Since you are mentioning the Warehouses, I had to point something out. The last time I played I arrived at the Red Forest and took a look at my PDA-map. I then realized that I had never been to the Army Wareheouses in CS.

Initially you have to move through Red Forest to get there.
---END QUOTATION---



My mistake. I have to have been there before, because I actually finished the game a few years ago. I simply couldn't remember.



---QUOTATION---
at the moment I can't really remember how it was done in SoC.

Don't you just get a dialog text prompt in SoC? Can't remember either, despite playing SoC just a few weeks ago.
---END QUOTATION---



In SoC they just say some things in Russian and make some gestures, if you have your weapon out. Other than that they mostly ignore the player. Basically there is a strong reaction to the player's weapon in SoC and other than that not much. In CS the NPCs seem like they are constantly upset. It's a bit irrational, but I think it's also the fact that the NPC-comments are now in English, which annoys me a bit.


---QUOTATION---
The point is the quick mechanical reaction that NPCs give when the player is near. Again, it reminds me that I'm playing a game. Too player-centric and thus unbelievable.
In my first CS playthroughs I occasionally felt a little stressed by the aggressive voices of Clear Sky faction NPCs, but it didn't actually ruin the mood. Bandits are aggressive too, but also funny.

Also at the Devilish Encampment in Red Forest.

Good to know. I'm just heading there.

Don't get your hopes up too much, they're just ordinary stalkers. Make sure to manually save before the mission, in case it fails and the NPCs die.
---END QUOTATION---



Northwest of the Forrester, there is also a Duty-encampment, where quite a few people where sitting around the campfire. They were constantly pushing other people out of the way, getting up, sitting down etc., but still... They also pushed me into the fire once.

Same for the Freedom-encampment on the other side of the level-changer (Red Forest-Army Warehouses). No campfire, but a few people that were sleeping during the night.


---QUOTATION---
It's also a problem that too many of the traders, technicians and so on seem so forced... You know, the way how you need 1 trader, 1 technician and perhaps 1 barman per base. It's simply the standard complement of functions mostly there to serve the player. They are not characters. Simply giving the more important people some walls of text does not a character make. It also doesn't help that their physical appearance is usually not different from all the other people.

I disagree, the Loner bases in Cordon and Agroprom lack bars, and Flea Market has two traders. In Red Forest the repair technician and trader are at different locations. Yantar only has a trader. Army Warehouses has nothing. I disagree, I think the above business people have very good characters in CS. This is mostly thanks to the excellent voice acting, but there are also several relatively unique face textures(?) like Cold, Gray, Sid, Kolobok/Father Valerian, Borov/Yoga, Sakharov and Forester (in fact I didn't realize until now that a couple of them look the same).
---END QUOTATION---



Maybe I exaggerated a bit. Some of them, like Cold for example are actually quite fine. I just had to deal with the Duty-technician and -trader quite a bit and also with their two equivalents in the Agroprom-loner-base. The latter two could as well be cardboard-cutouts. Part of the problem comes down to how they are placed. There are simply too many people locked in some place or behind some counter or desk, which are hard to distinguish from most other stalkers. There is some variety in how they are placed, but not enough. It's not just that though, it's also that they are often isolated from the rest of the base/group. Just try to compare the Agroprom-loners with the Flea Market-loners for a moment. In the latter case the traders can also be somewhat hard to distinguish from the rest, but they also seem integrated into their surroundings. It doesn't seem as standardized.



---QUOTATION---
The wandering around being random is not the point, I'm aware it's not random.
Maybe random was the wrong word, but in SoC some NPCs give an impression of being independent stalkers with some unknown goal in the Zone (that they may or may not tell you about if you ask). In CS this is admittedly a bit limited, you never encounter lonely generic stalkers (except for scripted events).

there are simply too many people and too many battles too actually care about any of them. Well, at least it's harder to care about them.

That's true. On the other hand I've never cared much for even the unique NPCs in SoC --I hardly remember the names of people like Bes or Mole, and I've never understood why people bother tracking them and try to keep them alive. To me the truly unique CS characters (like Limpid) are much more memorable, but maybe that's partially because they tend to stay alive...
---END QUOTATION---



Yep, it used to be similar for me. I still don't care for them as characters, but if you pay some attention to developments and movements (who dies, who replaces them), it really helps build a connnection. It's really problematic with Freedom and Duty though, especially the latter (in SoC, I mean). You wouldn't believe how hard it is to actually care if everybody wears the same uniform and has the same weapon.
 
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