The 100 Rads

The 100 Rads

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This blog is where you'll find news and updates concerning the Zone Survival Guide - Shadow of Chernobyl and the Zone Survival Guide - Call of Pripyat.

What's to come

ZSG: Call of PripyatPosted by Dawnrazor Aug 01, 2010 23:11:57

As I announced earlier, I am now working on the next version of the Zone Survival Guide focusing on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. Today I'm going to talk a bit about the changes I'm planning, as compared to the existing Zone Survival Guide.

When the Zone Survival Guide was resurrected it included a new feature, the interactive maps. This is definately a feature that's going into the Call of Pripyat site, and it's going to be more of a "first-class citizen", so to speak. This means that I'll include alot more links to those maps, and they're going to be the primary source of "location" information. The Zone Survival Guide for Shadow of Chernobyl features some static maps with stashes and "items in the open" and similar maps are not going into ZSG: Call of Pripyat - instead it'll rely solely on the interactive versions. I still plan to have a "Stashes" page with lists of information, though, since this is a very different way of browsing stash information; hovering your mouse cursor around a map can be useful for certain things, however sometimes being able to see "everything" at once is quite useful as well (and I guess it's better suited for printing, although the ZSG was never very print friendly in my opinion - perhaps I'll get a chance to do something about that sometime, but right now it's not top priority I'm afraid).

Another things I'm definately going to include is modifications, ie. which upgrades or improvements can be made to weapons and armor. Although this is not something that was relevant to Shadow of Chernobyl (since it didn't feature modifications), I felt it's an important aspect of the game that needs to be covered on the site. I have a "prototype" implemented and it looks ok so far I think - well, except for the pink, but I might change that ;)

The idea is to include all the individual modifications for every weapon and armor, including the upgrade "trees", their cost, effect, and details about any restrictions or special requirements there may be (such as the need for specific tools, for example).

The next version of the ZSG will also be more streamlined I hope... more links where it makes sense to make browsing the site easier. I got some positive feedback about the Zone Survival Guide and the way information was presented and layed out, but I have found places where I think it could be even better.

Well, that's about it for now... a few things that are going to change or be introduced on the Call of Pripyat Zone Survival Guide. If you have any suggestions or ideas I would love to hear them, just drop me a line or leave a comment.

Heeding the call...

ZSG: Call of PripyatPosted by Dawnrazor Jul 30, 2010 22:39:47

Ever since the Zone Survival Guide was resurrected I've been pondering the question about the other games in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series; should I create similar guides for them as well?

The answer is almost obvious if it were not for the amount of time it takes to create a guide such as the ZSG. But since I have really enjoyed playing through Call of Pripyat I've finally made the decision:

Indeed, I have begun working on the next chapter of the ZSG covering Call of Pripyat.

And since this is just starting up, you have an excellent chance to influence it right from the start. If there is anything you'd like to see in the ZSG: Call of Pripyat, whether it's new content about things that never made it onto the Shadow of Chernobyl ZSG, new functionality, or... well, anything really, please do let me know. If you have an idea, I want to hear it. I can't promise it'll get implemented, but I'm always looking for inspiration and I'm sure that if you've used the Zone Survival Guide you must have some suggestions as how to improve or expand it!

I'm very likely going to be blogging quite a bit over the next days, weeks and quite possibly months, about this, talking about some of the new features and changes that are going into the next ZSG and in what direction it's headed. In the meantime let me hear what you think... what would you like for it to be.

Over a bottle of vodka...

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. GamesPosted by Dawnrazor Jul 21, 2010 23:33:29

For the most part, being a lone stalker is a life in anonymity... you've come to the Zone hoping to find artifacts, fortune, or just bringing a desire to learn more about what the Zone really is and how it came to be. For those who dare to venture beyond the safe areas, danger awaits, and only few truly fulfill their wishes; either because they've been through some "hostile negotiations" (ie. gunned down by military stalkers) or because they've become victims of the Brain Scorcher. Only the few are lucky enough to make it and attain fame - but that's really a shame; they become legends while everyone else is stuck in Cordon trying to get by with a rusty PMm, a loaf of bread and a bottle of vodka.

But perhaps that can be changed. Perhaps there is an opportunity for even the rookie stalkers to have their voices heard, their tales told, and their backgrounds fully exposed.

Ok ok, enough of this high-spun introduction. I got an idea yesterday and I wanted to to explore it a bit further. It's the thought of doing interviews with stalkers from the community - ie. you guys. Yes, you! After having read what feels like a million posts on various community websites, including the official GSC forums, I think it could be quite fascinating to get to talk to some of you; how did you get into playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R., what do you like the most (and least, perhaps) about the game(s), what's your background, what do you find most fascinating about the Zone, what would it take for you to kiss a snork, etc. etc. Ok, that last one might not be appropriate, but you get the idea ;) And since the community has grown ever since the release of Shadow of Chernobyl, some stalkers have begun to make a name for themselves - people know them from forums, mods, YouTube videos, and whatnot. Personally I think it could be quite fascinating to get to learn something about you guys.

So what do you think, is it an idea you see going somewhere, something you would be interested in? Either as a participant or as a listener?

In other words, would you care to share something about yourself over a bottle of vodka? ;)

Your favorite moments?

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. GamesPosted by Dawnrazor Jul 20, 2010 22:56:56

I can't even remember the countless of times where I've experienced something really cool in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games - and I'm not talking about all the neat things that are supposed to happen (scripted as part of a mission, for example), no I'm referring to those situations where things just happen because of the non-scripted AI - cool firefights between factions, lone stalkers getting torn to pieces by a pack of dogs, and NPCs running into obvious anomalies ;)

I wish I had taped all those moments - some of them have surely been trivial but probably still fun to watch. However I did once manage to catch something cool on tape - at least I liked it alot; it features a rookie stalker that is leaving the Bar area in ShOC but then being prowled and eventually killed by a merc. Obviously I would have loved to save the poor rookie, but as you probably know, shooting someone - even obvious enemies - in the Bar area means trouble for you. The Duty guys will usually ignore it, but the other stalkers in the area probably won't. I can just imagine the conversation - from behind cover - I would have with them:

Me: Hey, why are you shooting me?

Them: You shot someone in the Bar territory! Die, scum!

Me: But it was a merc, he was about to gun down your friend!

Them: If only, we could have looted him then... he's supposed to be carrying some neat stuff!

Sigh...

Anyways, I've been meaning to add a videos section to the website for a long time featuring videos with moments like that - the cool, the odd, the... wonderful? Sadly though I haven't really had time to do it and I guess the real issue is of course having Fraps or a similar recording program running at just the right time when a situation like the one above comes up; even if I did add a videos section for stuff like that, I just don't have any suitable videos except for the one linked above. Perhaps I should always play with Fraps (or a similar recording program) running in the background, just in case.

But I'm guessing the situation mentioned above is pretty trivial so let me ask you, what are your favorite moments in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? What has been the coolest, the most cruel, or just the weirdest?

New videos

ZSG: Shadow of ChernobylPosted by Dawnrazor Jul 17, 2010 10:49:05

Just wanted to let you know that I've added to new videos.

The first one is an exploration video demonstrating how to get outside the playing area in Wild Territory. When you enter Wild Territory from the Bar area you'll see a truck in front of you; you can jump onto that and from there onto the pipes behind it. Following the pipes back towards the entrance, you can jump onto the roof and drop down behind the transition spot. Unlike many of the other videos, this one simply shows you how to get outside - the exploration is left up to you. That is something I wish I had done with all the videos since it's much more fulfilling to do the exploration yourself. The video can be found here.

The other video is pretty much common knowledge for most of you; it's just a walkthrough of the tunnel in Wild Territory, however it's something I've been meaning to do for a long time. And since I'm currently playing through ShOC again I just thought I might as well get it done when I pass through Wild Territory. The video is located under Item Location Videos and will show you where to find a Pellicle artifact, the Big Ben and Black Kite (along with the dead stalker, Freeman), as well as the family rifle for hunter. You can watch this video here.

Have a great weekend!

It's back... so what now?

Zone Survival GuidePosted by Dawnrazor Jul 15, 2010 23:40:18

Wow, what a tremendous relief. The Zone Survival Guide just went back online at http://www.zsg.dk and it feels good. In fact, I think my brain just released a dozen different chemicals into my body; or perhaps I'm feeling the influence of the Brain Scorcher. Hmm, I sure could go for some brains right now!

Ok, time for me to get a grip. As you may know, the ZSG went offline earlier this year as described in a previous post; I had pretty much let it go by then, but after LoboTheMan got in touch with me, I must admit that I have been anxious about getting the Guide back online. The last week or so has been busy in many ways, so finally seeing the site up and running again sure does feel good.

But it does spark some questions. What now? Where should the ZSG move from here, and what should the focus be? How about starting two more sites for Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat?

Well, to be honest, I'm not sure right now. I think I need to let the chemicals wear off before I do too much thinking, or before I go "New project" in my website editor for that matter.

But I guess I could ask you those questions. What should the Zone Survival Guide be like? What would you like to see?

Interactive maps

Zone Survival GuidePosted by Dawnrazor Jul 15, 2010 14:31:20

A new feature that is being added to the Zone Survival Guide is interactive maps. Well, technically it's not really a new feature since I began working on it back in 2008, but because it was never made public I guess you can call it new. Kind of. And while I'm nitpicking, I guess the name "interactive maps" is not really precise since there's not much you can actually do with the maps besides exploring them... perhaps "dynamic maps" or "detailed maps" would be more appropriate; but alas, I've settled on a name and for now I'm sticking with that.
The interactive maps allow you to explore key areas of all the different regions in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., such as Cordon and Garbage. They currently hold information about factions, enemies, mutants, stashes, items in the open (stuff just waiting to be picked up), missions, and general information that is not covered by the previous categories.

I guess my vision is for these maps to include as much information as possible. Unlike many of the other pages on the ZSG, the maps are not dedicated to one type of information and can thus be expanded to include all kinds of useful things - locations of unique armors and weapons, targets of optional missions, where to find traders, etc. To speed up the process of creating the maps and adding information to them in particular, I've developed a small tool I call the "STALKER Map Editor".

While the tool was intended for creating the interactive maps, the "technology" behind the tool and the maps is actually pretty generic so perhaps I'll find other uses for it. I would love to make the tool available sometime, but at the moment it's kind of a single-user application; it saves each map as a separate file and there is no easy way to merge two maps or work collaboratively on a single map. But the thought of it is pretty cool, and it would open up for the possibility of all of you seasoned stalkers contributing to the ZSG in a neat way... but I guess that's for another time and place.

Anyways, while there is still alot of work to be done on them I hope that you'll find the new interactive maps useful and perhaps even interesting. If you have any ideas or suggestions for new features or other ways to improve the maps please leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Cheers!

Welcome to the 100 Rads

Zone Survival GuidePosted by Dawnrazor Jul 14, 2010 11:36:42

Greetings and welcome to the 100 Rads, the place where you'll find news and updates regarding the Zone Survival Guide.

Now, if you've been following the Zone Survival Guide over some time you'll know that it has been haunted by a number of downtimes. For the most part these has been minor outages that lasted usually a couple of days, a week perhaps. However, earlier this year the Zone Survival Guide disappeared for good... well, almost, seeing as it's currently making its way back online.

About a year and a half ago the hosting company for the Zone Survival Guide was taken over by another company. I believe the original hosting company was pretty small, at least when I needed to contact them about support and other issues I usually wrote directly to the owner through e-mail. Needless to say, a company that allows that has got to be either pretty small or quite un-organized. Over time I got the feeling that they were both. Anyways, the new company that took over seemed alot more professional; they had web support, an online ticket system, and dedicated employees to handle support issues.

I was quite happy when I learned that the Zone Survival Guide would "switch" over to a new hosting company. Sadly though, the problems seemed to move along with the website. Only a few weeks after the move, the ZSG again suddenly disappeared from the web. Fortunately, contacting the hosting company was pretty smooth, and I soon got an answer explaining something about an "error in the DNS configuration" or somesuch. The site came back shortly after. I crossed my fingers and hoped it was just a lone bump in the road. Sadly I was mistaken. More downtime followed and more support tickets were created; in the beginning the replies from the hosting company made sense but over time they were reduced to "we're looking into it" or "try again".

The last straw came in early February. The ZSG once again disappeared and once again I created a support ticket. After two weeks, without a reply, I contacted the hosting company to ask them if they were aware of the issue or if they had even read the ticket. No reply. I sent them another e-mail but again I got no reply.

That's when I decided to just let it go. I know it sounds like a very simple thing to do, but it was in many ways heartbreaking. Not just because of the time I had spent on the site, but more because of the dedicated community that was following the ZSG. The forums had gathered quite a number of followers, and it was a steady growing resource of information regarding not only the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games but also everything directly and indirectly related to them.

Fast forward to the 1st of July, 2010. I got an e-mail from a guy called Mark asking if I would consider getting the ZSG back up and running again; he'd even be willing to pay the hosting company. Let me be honest, I did not see that one coming. For a number of months I had considered the ZSG dead and buried. But it made sense, getting the ZSG online again at a new hosting company, and one that actually knows what "reliable" means.

A few e-mails back and forth and it was set in motion. I scrambled to piece together the site again, realizing that I had about three different backups from different time periods covering various parts. Fortunately I had most of the original source and media files, however certain things were missing. To my luck it turned out that Romulous from the GSC forums had at one point made a local copy of the original ZSG, and thankfully still had the files lying around. After a shared effort by Romulous, Mark and myself I got my hands on the files, the last piece of the puzzle so to speak, and has since then been working on getting the site back into a complete state. Hopefully it's just a matter of days now before the site is relaunched.

So, here we are. The Zone Survival Guide will soon have a new home here at http://www.zsg.dk. Stay tuned for more news and updates!

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