“This is my cat’s carrier. My cat died in the bombing in the first week of the war.” – says one of the developers. Development of Stalker 2 continues, but key team members are now fighting for Ukraine. GSC Game World gives an insight into what its staff are going through.
The release of Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl was recently delayed until 2023. GSC Game World, the game developer, is based in Kyiv but has been facing the worst conditions since Russia invaded Ukraine. It has had to temporarily suspend development while it helped some of its employees flee the conflict and vacated its old offices. In contrast, other employees volunteered or enlisted in the Ukrainian armed forces.
The Xbox and Bethesda extended presentation included a video of what happened to the GSC Game World staff. The video starts with a few clips showing the studio in happier times, then cuts to footage from Kyiv on February 24. We see the bombed buildings around the GSC offices and the evacuation of some of the studio’s employees. We then see a heartbreaking shot of the almost barren Kyiv offices, where these people once dreamed and implemented their ideas: today, there are only rows of empty chairs, deserted monitors and desks covered with silk carpets that no one wants.
“The working day starts with a siren,” says Anton Kukhtytski. “During the bombing we rush to the bomb shelter. We see a black cat. This is my cat’s carrier bag. My cat died in the bombing in the first week of the war.”
Not all employees left or were allowed to leave Kyiv. We see a community manager, Maxim Tkachenko, whose office is now a bathroom. Daria Chepkova, the game’s narrative designer, says: “I lived and worked in this corridor for three months. A one-eyed dog rescued from Hostomel lives with me. It’s not easy to write violent missions when there’s a war outside your window.”
The GSC describes how some of its employees volunteer for the war effort, juggling between their “day jobs” and real-life events.
“I am from Mariupol,” says animator Alexander Levchenko. Mariupol is one of the worst-hit regions of the war. “Since the beginning of the war, I have had no contact with my parents. It’s an indescribable feeling not knowing if your loved ones are alive.”
Dmitriy Iassenev, the game’s lead AI developer, speaks to the camera while holding a mounted weapon. “I never imagined a war in Europe in the 21st century,” says Iassenev. Many GSC staff have volunteered for the Ukrainian army.
“My name is Max,” says Maksym Hnatkov, dressed in military fatigues and holding a rifle. “I am the narrative designer of Stalker 2. After our victory, we’ll return to the game.”
“I’ll see you at launch,” adds Iassenev. “Slava Ukraini!”
This phrase means “Glory to Ukraine.” It symbolises Ukrainian sovereignty, resistance and an official salute to the country’s armed forces.
A text note afterwards reads. Many of our colleagues cannot share their experiences publicly for security reasons.”
GSC Game World is currently relocating to Prague. The studio has previously condemned the “inhuman cruelty of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Source: PC Gamer