Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl developer GSC Game World has had a rough time of it these past 12 months. Like many Ukrainians, Putin's war on the country has led to incalculable losses, but through it all, the team has strived to finish its upcoming game. Lead producer Maria Grygorovych has spoken about the challenges the studio and its staff faced in the wake of the war.
As reported in an interview with Wired, Grygorovych said, "Emergency buses were ready at the GSC office throughout the winter, with drivers ready for action." Tensions before the invasion were high, but many hoped war wouldn't break out. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry, and Grygorovych added, "The evacuation plan with all the timings and meeting points was ready as well: The employees were aware of their organizing responsibilities if the action would be needed."
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The report states that GSC offered to relocate its staff to Uzhhorod, a smaller town further away from where the fighting would be and closer to evacuation points. 200 employees and their families took the offer, with others going to Budapest. Now, the team is split between Ukrainne and Prague, with some even fighting against Russian troops on the frontlines.
It wasn't easy to convince the staff to leave their homes, however. "Some people living in the Kyiv region were confident Bucha or Irpin [two suburbs in the city] would be relatively safe in any scenario," said Grygorovych. "It’s a miracle we convinced them to leave in the end, considering all the terror that happened after."
The studio managed to evacuate 500 people, staff, families, and pets. "Renting a car was an almost impossible task, and the railway and bus stations were flooded with people," Grygorovych explained. Wired also reported that managers at the studio were getting just "two—maybe three—hours of sleep as they worked day and night to find a soft landing for GSC."
She continued, "We needed to be extremely concentrated every second. The emotional overflow came much later, when the majority of the evacuation process was completed."
Despite all the colossal work that's gone into moving everyone and dealing with the enduring effects and aftermath of the invasion, GSC is still chugging away and developing Stalker 2. A new gameplay trailer was revealed just before the new year, and the team celebrated international cat day with a mutant feline.
As for Stalker, after the invasion, GSC decided to change the name to the Ukrainian spelling, rather than the more widely recognised Russian. "It was a game about Chornobyl, which is actually located in the Kyiv region, made by a Ukrainian team before the war, and it became something incomparably bigger after the invasion started," Grygorovych explained. "It’s a national product now, aimed to show that Ukraine is not only exceptionally effective and brave on the battlefield, but also equally valuable in a sense of cultural legacy. Something to be shown to the world."