Chernobylite: Interview with The Farm 51
Chernobylite is a survival horror game based around the events of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1987. Wojciech Pazdur, founder of the game’s developer, The Farm 51 spoke to IND13 about their exciting new project.
What other titles would you consider influenced this project?
Our core inspiration was the real Chernobyl story, which is something personal for us. But apart from the place itself you can find inspiration from games like Fallout, Silent Hill 2, This War of Mine, STALKER, Metro and many others.
Wojciech Pazdur, “We’ve been traveling to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for years now to gather materials and references, taking thousands of pictures and scanning the area with drones.”
Can you describe how you were able to recreate such a notorious and iconic setting with such a high level of accuracy?
We’ve been traveling to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for years now to gather materials and references, taking thousands of pictures and scanning the area with drones. Some The Farm 51 team members visited the site dozens of times. All of this in order to provide the most accurate version of the Zone ever. No matter the dust, the weather, the temperature or even radiation!
The technique we’re using is called photogrammetry – a technology we’ve been developing for the last 7 years, where we take thousands of pictures of buildings, interiors, objects and then recreate them in 3D with specialized software. Actually we made a couple of videos where we show how our work in the Zone looks like. For example this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3KM_Rd1ReE
Wojciech Pazdur, “In general, many things affect the main hero’s mental state, ultimately leading to some kind of hallucinations or health decrease.”
Can you talk about the Psyche system which was hinted at in the gameplay demo?
This system is still being designed and expanded. In general, many things affect the main hero’s mental state, ultimately leading to some kind of hallucinations or health decrease. It’s also related to the story – Igor is obsessed and paranoic about Tatyana’s disappearance and whatever happens to him, influences his perception of the world around.
As the game has elements of many different genres (survival, action, horror etc.), which genre do you think the game best fits into?
You can add more elements there like RPG, Roguelike, Strategy… There are quite a few inspirations for the game but the core is survival and horror with a stronger accent on the first one.
What is the significance of the setting and why did you choose Chernobyl?
Well, the setting is very important for two reasons. One, as mentioned before, is the fact that the story of Chernobyl is not just “a” story for us. Some of us, like our creative director Wojciech Pazdur, remember the day of the tragedy and the impact it had on our society. Many years later when we traveled to the Exclusion Zone for the first time the place actually haunted us. First, we made a VR documentary about the tragedy, Chernobyl VR Project, and later we decided to go further and make a game set in the place. The second reason is – if you were making a survival horror game set in a realistic location isn’t Chernobyl just the perfect setting for that?
Wojciech Pazdur, “We try to creatively solve or omit production problems in order to achieve the best results.”
How did the development of this game compare to previous The Farm 51 titles, given that it is such a big project?
Although Chernobylite is a very ambitious project, it’s actually not very big one. Our team consists of around 20+ people, so a few times less than Get Even or World War 3. We try to creatively solve or omit production problems in order to achieve the best results. Instead of classical 3D graphics, we use 3D scanning, instead of a linear walkthrough we go back to the same locations multiple times and change them accordingly, instead of complex and detailed face animations our characters wear gas masks – after all they’re in Chernobyl!