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Catching Up with Vostok Games

Catherine Daro Posted:
Interviews 0

Vostok Games has opened up Survarium to anyone interested to try it out via Steam since our last interview earlier in 2015. We managed to catch up to the busy devs to find out what's new since then. See what they had to say in our exclusive interview.

MMORPG: Please, introduce yourself and give us a bit of your background with the project.

AK: Hello to the readers of MMORPG.com. My name is Andriyash Kozlowski and I’m a PR manager for Vostok Games. Our studio is currently developing the MMO-shooter Survarium.

MMORPG: Since our last chat in January, what development milestones have been reached?

AK: The first few months of the new year have been very important for Survarium. In February we released a major update 0.40, which was in development for over six months. The interface was redesigned in an attempt to make it more beautiful, modern and convenient. Players can now use weapon modules to upgrade their weaponry. Modules affect both the characteristics and the appearance of guns. The gameplay in Survarium has been greatly affected by the release of the update. It is not possible to tell about all innovations within a single interview, so we would just invite the players to evaluate those and many other changes that happened within the game themselves.

As for short-term plans, currently we are finalizing update 0.41. One of the main components of the update is the new graphic renderer. We hope that the introduction of the new renderer will seriously improve optimization of the game, first and foremost on lower end computers.  

MMORPG: Survarium is currently a PvP-oriented game. What are the PvP game modes currently included? (Capture the Flag, Holdout, Deathmatch, etc.)

AK: At the moment there are three PvP-modes in Survarium. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

- Team Deathmatch. A game of Team vs. Team; the winner is the group that has destroyed the largest number of enemies;

- Research. It is necessary to keep special locations under control while they produce points of abnormal activity research. The first team to complete the research to 100% wins;

- Charger. The player’s task is to find batteries and bring them back to the charger located on their base. In addition, you must take care of protecting the base as the opponents can steal your batteries and thereby tip the scales in their favor. The winner is the team that gathered the greatest quantity of the batteries.

We have tried to give players a good choice of PvP experience, and hope that everyone can find something to enjoy.

MMORPG: In the earlier interview you mentioned that PvE gameplay will be added in 2016. With Q1 already behind us, do you have a window for when players might see some of these fea­tures?

AK: I cannot name a precise date since, as it often happens, it is hard to predict the date of completing the work on a large piece of the game. As usual, the team has a great number of ideas and plans, but our resources are limited, so we have to set strict priorities in development. At the moment our main strategy is to bring the PvP-component of the game to a state of full readiness before freeing the resources to work on the next big task, which is the PvE game mode. We plan to reveal more about the development plans for the next 12 months via dev diaries on the game site. Keep an eye on the updates.

MMORPG: In the long term do you see Survarium being PvP or PvE oriented and how do you plan to balance the two?

AK: In spite of the fact that PvP-mode is almost 80% complete, we are planning to continue improving it, add innovations and more. In parallel, we plan to develop the PvE component of Survarium within the existing game. Potentially, we are considering various options going as far as launching the PvE-mode as a separate game if PvP and PvE communities and gameplay turn out too different to co-exist. But at this point it’s a completely open question.

MMORPG: Since launch you've banned hundreds of accounts for using third party programs to gain an advantage over others and have even posted their account names on your site. Will you continue to take such an assertive approach to hackers and cheaters?  

AK: ­ Yes, definitely. We strongly believe that players who use prohibited software do not belong in Survarium. I’d also like to add that we plan to implement a new anti-cheat system in the game. With its introduction, we will be able to fight cheating players even more effectively.  

MMORPG: At this time, you seem to use a reactive strategy to cheats. What pro-active steps are you planning to put in place to prevent third party programs being used in Survarium?

AK: You’re right. It’s more logical to prevent disease than to treat it. We are trying to keep a hand on the situation and close the groups that distribute the prohibited software to our game. For example, recently we have blocked several major communities that were spreading cheats, and we do not plan to stop there.  The introduction of more efficient algorithms to detect third party programs will allow us to block access to violators much earlier than it happens now, which in turn will reduce the amount of complaints from honest players.

MMORPG: Survarium has been in early access for a year now. Do you have a loose timeline on when the full release will take place?

AK: You cannot imagine how frequently we’re asked this question and every time we point out that Survarium is an online game. There can be no such thing as a “release” in the full sense of the word. The game is constantly being updated – something changes, new elements are being added. From our point of view, the concept of “active” or “inactive” development is more logical here. To elaborate on it: right now we’re actively working on Team Deathmatch mode. When the main tasks are completed, we will begin intense work on the PvE part. However, that doesn’t mean that all work on PvP will be cancelled. While most of our assets are concentrated on Team Deathmatch, there are still some who are working on the earliest phases of the PvE. Perhaps a point when players can access all of the stated Survarium modes can be considered an intermediate finish.

MMORPG: There are several game packages, including in-game gold, equipment packs and stash maps, currently available for sale. What can you tell us about those? How do you assure your players that bonuses provided by those do not make the game pay-to-win?­

AK: Gold is a premium currency in Survarium, that allows players to purchase the convenience items for the game. For example, after acquiring a premium account, you will level up your character faster and get access to higher-tier weapons and equipment ahead of other players. And by using stash maps you will get a way to open more stashes after the battle, which often contain expensive and unique gear and guns.

With regard to pay-to-win, we have always been against such a system. Primarily, that means that in such a competitive mode as PvP we do not sell “Power” for money. Additional convenience for the player comes down to saving time.

Let’s take a look at an example of a set of premium equipment. By purchasing a set, players get bonuses to earning extra currency and reputation with their group, and can immediately start playing on higher levels of difficulty – all of that saving time for leveling. But players would not get a superweapon able to kill three opponents with one bullet or an impenetrable uber-suit. Another example. Players can spend gold to install modules and modifiers onto their weapons. But the same modifiers can also be set for in-game currency, while weapon modules will be unlocked for certain amount of kills.

Thus, the key to success in Survarium will always be players’ skills and not “cool stuff” bought in the marketplace.

MMORPG: Tell us why you opted to make early access free for all versus selling founders' packs as many other games do?

AK: Actually, we were offering the opportunity to purchase a guaranteed invite to Closed Beta of the game prior to Steam Early Access. We offered players to become “Founders of Survarium” and purchase one or more of the corresponding packs, which in addition to game bonuses and souvenirs also contained guaranteed access to CBT of the game. Yet, at the same time, every day we were having an online lottery with the CBT access as prize for players opting to participate. Thus many players got their chance to participate in CBT for free. With Steam Early Access, the audience of CBT participants has grown even greater.

MMORPG: Is there anything else you'd like to add for our readers?

AK: We’d like to thank the readers of MMORPG.com for the interest in the project and invite them to Survarium to check out the latest changes in the game. Special thanks to the editors of the site for the opportunity to have this interview. We hope there would be further cooperation.


Catherine Daro