On “The British Indie STALKER” Thing

When we first revealed our intentions with Sir, You Are Being Hunted, one of the descriptions which stuck in people’s imaginations – and therefore found its way into various articles on the game – was the phrase “British indie S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”. Predictably, I wanted to explore what I meant by that.

The GSC series is one of many influences on what we’re doing. Specifically what we enjoy these kinds of open world games is their intention to have things going on in the world independent of the player. The philosophy of the Stalker games – which created FPS experiences in an open worlds that were available to explore and exploit, rather than being corridors of enemies that needed tidying away, is the sort of experience we aspire to. Just as Stalker’s bandits and monsters patrol their world, so our robot gentlemen are wandering our gloomy pastoral landscape looking for you, and for the vital bits of a machine that you are searching for.

The challenge for a tiny studio like us is how to produce large worlds without a team of artists and level designers to handcraft spooky valleys and ruined villages. Sir’s engine produces procedurally generated islands, which means each playthrough, and each individual player’s playthrough, will be rather different. We’re also not aiming to create a game with the most high end visuals and hi-res textures. Ours is a lo-fi approach that captures some of Stalker’s reliance on a unique atmosphere.

Like Stalker, combat in Sir will be lethal. But I should also mention our reliance on sneaking, stealth, and running away. We certainly feature guns – most notably a shotgun and a hunting rifle – but fighting will usually be a last resort. If you’re in a stand-up firefight, then you’ll probably die. Hiding, staying out of sight, setting traps, and shooting hunters in the back will all be recommended approaches to staying alive. Sir is more an open-world stealth and survival game than it is an open-world shooter.

Finally, the other reason we feel that we are spiritually connected with Stalker is that we are mythologising something close to us. The Kiev-based team took on the nearby real-world Chernobyl zone, mixed it with post-Soviet myth-making and the Tarkovsky/Strugatsky fictions, and created a uniquely-flavoured game which they had personal resonance with. We live in the English country-side, love robots, tea, and class-war, and want to make something funny and sinister from the offbeat materials of British science fiction and fantasy.

Ultimately, though, we want to make a game that has the same kind of significance for people. We know that’s a big challenge, and there’s only four of us. Nevertheless I can promise that you will see more on Sir, You Are Being Hunted quite soon!

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