Interview: Survarium's Past, Present, and Future
Survarium, the free-to-play shooter from Vostok Games, has been receiving updates like crazy over the last 6 months or so. While we've covered each of those updates as they came out (and usually had a giveaway to go with each one) I wanted to spend some time with the team and find out exactly what makes Survarium tick and where it's headed in the future. This past weekend I chatted with Andriyash Kozlovsky, a PR Manager at Vostok Games, to get the scoop on where the game has been and where it's going in the future.
Magicman (MM): First, can you introduce yourself and tell our readers a bit about what you do day to day on Survarium?
Andriyash Kozlovsky (AK): Hi everybody! I’m Andriyash Kozlovsky, a PR Manager at Vostok Games. I am the guy who frequently torments the Mmobomb’s editorial team with offers to share the site visitors with the latest news on online shooter Survarium (https://survarium.com/en/game) or to arrange a bonus-keys giveaway. I certainly appreciate your team’s interest in our project’s news.
MM: Survarium has been around for a while, what separates it from other shooter games in the free-to-play market? What makes it unique?
AK: You are right, at the moment there are many free-to-play titles in the market and it’s important to stand out from the rest. Survarium’s approach would not be an exception here. The PvP mode is still being actively developed, yet we believe our game already can offer some unique distinctive features. For starters, let’s mention the player in Survarium can perish not only from an enemy bullet, but also from the damage inflicted by anomalies frequent on the game maps. This said, you should not keep away from the anomalous zones completely as it is there where you can obtain artifacts boosting your character’s powers. Remember: a timely used artifact can shake the balance of battle in your favor.
The possibility to modify characteristics of weapons and gear is another glaring feature of Survarium. For example, the player can increase the weapon’s rate of fire, modify his boots to increase his running speed as well as improve your health regeneration by tweaking the outfit. The modification is enabled with the help of spare parts that you can obtain by using a bonus code we distribute at MMOBomb now and then.
It’s also worth mentioning that with the release of Survarium 0.40 update the in-game system of weapon modules got introduced, which added even more variety to your modification possibilities. The modules impact both the looks and characteristics of your guns. For example, by installing a laser sight you decrease the scatter of fire when shooting from the hip, the vertical grip would lower the recoil and so on. A variety of play modes already at the stage of PvP is another peculiarity of the game. By the way, some of these modes are unique in the market.
In fact, the story of how Survarium could be interesting to the players can be continued, but we’d rather invite the players to check out the game for themselves.
MM: Survarium has seen about 4 major updates in just over 6 months. That's a big push for new content. What’s changing so fast about the game?
AK: Indeed, a lot has changed in the game for the last 6 months. Unfortunately, the interview format would not let reveal all the changes in detail, so let’s focus on the most noticeable ones. On top of the modules system mentioned above, I would highlight the completely overhauled user interface. We did our best to make it more user-friendly, visually attractive and up-to-date.
Also with the 0.41 update a new graphics renderer became available. The players can activate it in the game’s settings. In this case the performance will grow considerably. The new renderer was developed specifically for the lower-end computers and notebooks with built-in graphics cards, such as Intel HD4000. That said, we’ve introduced daily ratings in Survarium where players contest for the top spots in one or several nominations available. We described just a few recent introductions. For more detailed information we invite the readers to check out the video overviews of the latest updates. We also recommend subscribing to Survarium’s YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on the latest project news!
MM: The latest update made the game easier to access for lower end PCs. Has this led to an increase in players?
AK: I would say with the introduction of the new renderer the owners of slow PCs and notebooks who previous were unable to play Survarium due to low fps rates can finally start enjoying the game. At this moment it’s not all totally smooth and finished, but we are polishing it here and there as we speak. For example, with the last couple of hotfixes we resolved the problem of lengthy loading of textures and most of the critical errors yielding crashes. By the way, we invite you to check out the efforts of our engineers by watching a video comparison of the old and new graphics renderer performance.
MM: The latest update also added the “Heroes of the Day” rating system. Tell us a bit about it and how it is being received by players.
AK: We wanted to introduce a proper ranking system to the game for a long time now. With the recent update we finally could advance in this direction.
At the moment Survarium offers daily rankings in three nominations available to the players:
- Best player
To occupy a prize-winning spot the player needs to gain more scores in a battle than other players.
In this nomination players with the longest killstreak in a battle compete.
Gain as many victories in a row as nobody else to win this nomination.
When you top-score in one of the categories you get a bonus to experience, reputation and silver. As well as a unique badge displayed next to your nick in the game.
The in-game ranking system will be evolving with the subsequent updates.
MM: Your recent letter on Steam says that PvP is about 80% complete and while it does mention PvE, it doesn’t go into any great detail. Can you elaborate on your PvE plans for Survarium?
AK: We plan to gradually introduce the PvE elements in Survarium. Within the next 12 months we’d like to introduce co-operative playthrough experience as well as non-player characters (bots). Possibly other cool new features too, but let’s keep those a secret for now. All should happen in its due time.
MM: Six months ago is when your team really started to address performance issues for a while but this led to being stuck behind some big issues for a while. Are these resolved now so that content can start becoming a bigger factor in future updates?
AK: Yes, six months ago we set some challenging targets and most of them have already been achieved. Still, with the introduction of new graphics renderer we have to resolve numerous stability issues right now. This has been a top-priority task and we expect to finalize it shortly. Our next plans would be to step back from the technological improvement and start moving more in the direction of expanding the in-game content.
MM: What is the status of Freeplay?
AK: As of today the Freeplay mode is in its basic state: we have the concept document ready, the preliminary technical tests and evaluations have been made, art concepts of monsters have been done. It should be noted that currently we work on Survarium with a small team of developers. The forces we have right now are enough to keep improving the PvP part of Survarium and gradually integrate the PvE components. Yet our resources are absolutely insufficient to deliver the Freeplay mode in the near future. We are hoping the positive dynamics and general increase in the number of players following the recent updates 0.40 and 0.41 will allow us to gradually expand the team and speed up the development.
MM: Any target for an official release date yet?
AK: Let me remind the readers that Survarium is an online game. Therefore, from our point of view the notion of ‘Game Release’ is a point hard to fix in the case. The game is constantly being updated and this will be continued in future, all to improve and change Survarium for the better. Therefore let’s target the release date as the day when players are able to play all the initially announced play modes.
MM: What does Survarium do to avoid the “Pay to Win” title?
AK: You know, we always smile when someone is calling Survarium a pay-to-win game. For sure those guys haven’t spent enough time with the game to get to know it well enough. Let me give you a couple easy examples. When buying a set of premium gear the player receives bonuses to earning extra in-game currency and reputation with his faction, so as he’s able to play on higher levels – all this to save him time to upgrade and develop his character. Yet, he does not receive any advantage in the form of bullet-proof outfit and a gun mercilessly wreaking havoc on his opponents. Or here’s another one. With the help of premium currency the player can install modifiers and modules on his weapon straight away. This said, the modifiers can also be purchased with standard in-game currency and weapon modules get unlocked as you kill more opponents with your gun.
Therefore, as you can see it’s hard to label Survarium a pay-to-win game. We are more focused to ensure that in such competitive mode as PvP the player’s skills matter more than slick guns or gear.
My thanks to Andriyash Kozlovsky for spending some time with us!
About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.
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I played it for about 2-3 months and for me to play a game this long, it clearly means it has something to offer. At around May I stopped playing it and only came back for a day in June, when I bought ESO and succumbed to it. I installed Survarium upon the 0.40 and 0.41 updates and I was finally able to play the game in my native resolution 1366x768. It was interesting to test out how it would do and I was really amazed. But not in a good way. All this time I thought that I was doing bad at the game, because of the performance issues. But that wasn't the case. The game's shooting mechanics are beyond all kinds of criticism. You just can't get a feel for the weapon you are holding and how to use it, I got a few kills here and there out of fluke. There are people with snipers camping every possible f-ing corner to the point where they drive as back into our spawn point and we can't leave, because there are snipers everywhere, on every entrance. SMGs and ARs get inside the building and won't even let us leave before destroying us. Killing them is out of the question, because:
1. the gunplay is horrible and even if you want to do something, the game has something else in mind
2. differentiating characters from the environment can sometimes be impossible
so to sum it up: - I can't kill enemies in my base, because of the horrible mechanics and even if I could, out of fluke, I still can't because I can't see them even if they are in front of me and by the time I see them, I'm dead.
And don't even get me started on the progression part. Usually progression and gameplay go hand in hand. They still do in Survarium, but the problem is that the grind is too heavy and the game mechanics are so horrible that grinding can't be fun. You either have to pay premium or go away.
The idea of having a STALKER - based online FPS is not a bad idea, but there was Unreal Engine 3, Unreal Engine 4, CryEngine, Frostbite... even Unity... why did they have to make their own crappy engine that it took them years to make it halfway optimized?!
I've had my fair share with this game and I'm pretty sure I'm at least entitled to this opinion.
The idea is good, the execution is horrible. What makes Counter-Strike the most popular competitive shooter for the last 16-17 years? I'll tell you - the accessibility and balance - you can see enemies and considering you learned how to operate your weapons, you can kill them.
I'd advise people to stay away from this game. It's not worth it at this point and it will never be. If the gunplay mechanics are THIS bad at THIS point of development, don't expect them to change much after.
Wanna play a cool Online FPS that's set in a future after atomic war? Play Ghost in the Shell: First Assault. You can sign up for Early Access and be granted a key, or you can pay $5 and get access instantly. I've been playing this game since October 2015 almost every day and it is amazing. There is a content update every month and every two months, there are new guns in game. You can buy everything for free, including attachments, and the only things that cost premium are skins for characters and guns. I've been playing this game so much lately that even when I sleep I'm having dreams that I'm still playing the game.
The grind is almost non-existant, because the gameplay is fluid and fun. You need roughly 200 000-240 000 GP (the in-game currency) to buy a new gun and rougly another 200 000-240 000 GP to install the weapon attachments you want. If you perform well in a match, you earn between 1 500 and 2 000 GP in a single match. Every time you log in, you get a daily bonus - XP or GP booster - ranging from 15% to 500% or you can get a GP voucher 500. 1 000, 3 000, 5 000 GP that you can immediately use to gain the amount of GP. There are about 5-6 starter weapons, which you can unlock just by playing, as well as their attachments, and you can buy them ten times cheaper, meaning that if a gun costs 250 000 GP, if it's unlockable, you can unlock it for 25 000 GP, attachments for those guns are also 10 times cheaper and those guns are really good, I've seen many people destroying whole teams with the basic weapons.
Each time you level up, you are awarded 50 0000 GP. With the GP boosters, you can easily earn about 60 000 GP (or even more) in a single day after you get past level 20. It basically takes you three days and playing about 4-5 hours a day to earn enough money for a new gun and considering how fun and fluid the gameplay is, you can earn the money for your new weapon's attachments in no time, because you have a new weapon to play with, and by the time you fully learn how to operate it, you already know which attachments you need, so you don't have to risk it and buy things you don't need.
Unlike Survarium's devs, who have their heads in the sky, First Assault's have been developed the game since 2011 and most of the game is already in line, just needs to be balanced out. The devs already know what players want and are bringing it ASAP. Whoever is familiar with Ghost in the Shell, should be hyped, because it's the best an online GITS game can ever be. There was a poll to ask players about their opinion on PvE and PvE is already in the works, there will be a huge announcement later today on their livestream so check it out.
I have a feeling that PvE and OBT will come really soon, so I suggest you check this game out. I've been playing games like this, namely Alliance of Valiant Arms for the last 5 years 2010-2015 (before I quit due to the Aeria Games cash shop heist). So don't waste your time with this Survarium joke (Survarium will have a BETA level of quality even 2 or 4 years from now... if it ever SURV-ives that long... :D), join the fun in First Assault!
The game then got on Steam and I once again asked - and they answered that it was very soon to be announced. Keep in mind, these questions started back in late '13 (when I first got access to the game) and what they talked about, is still nowhere near a "working state", apparently..
I've simply don't think, that they will ever do what they set out to do. The game will be no more than the F2P shooter it is today (in my eyes).
Truely F2P, friendly comunity, and yet still more to be expected!
Cant wait to free mode :hype: