STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl Tweak Guide
[Page 4] Patches & Mods
STALKER has received a new patch, bringing the game up to Version 1.0006. Note that there are three different versions of this patch, for US, Non-US (Worldwide) and Downloaded versions of the game respectively, so find the correct one from the link above, or update directly from within the game (see further below). The latest patch contains a range of multiplayer-related fixes, and the addition of the Battleye anti-cheat system as an option. It also appears to increase the size of some interface fonts. Importantly you can use your saved games from the previous 1.0005 version after applying this patch.
To check for an update to STALKER at any time, go to the main Options menu and under the Game tab, click the 'Game Updates' button. I will always post details and links to the latest patch here once it's released, so check back here regularly.
No-CD Patch/Copy Protection
STALKER uses the SecuROM copy protection system, which requires that the CD/DVD be kept in the drive while playing the game. For legal reasons I can't provide any details of a No-CD or No-DVD, or other methods of bypassing copy protection. I can however say that SecuROM can cause issues, particularly startup problems - see Page 3 for details. Note that the Russian version of the game uses the StarForce protection system, which is much worse than SecuROM. It appears the North American version of this game does not have any copy protection, and hence has no DVD check either. Hopefully THQ will remove the CD/DVD check component of the copy protection for other regions in a future patch.
As luck would have it, STALKER's X-Ray Engine is capable of being modified, and STALKER fans are already at work releasing new mods, despite the absence of a proper SDK from GSC. Making modifications to the game is relatively straightforward. You will need to extract the game's various assets from .db* archives held under the \Program Files\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl directory. To do this, you can use this STALKER Extractor Utility. Once the files have been extracted to their relevant subdirectories under the main \Program Files\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl directory, they can be edited or modified as desired. You can read this Modding Tutorial for more details, and the Russian developer notes have been translated to English here.
To use modified files with STALKER, you will first need to open your fsgame.ltx file found under the \Program Files\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl directory. Open this file with a text editor like Notepad, and find the following line:
$game_data$ = false| true| $fs_root$| gamedata
Change the false to true, i.e.:
$game_data$ = true| true| $fs_root$| gamedata
This will tell STALKER to first load up any game asset files which exist in appropriate subdirectories under \Program Files\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl, before loading them up from the archived .db* files. In other words this allows you to extract files from the archives, modify them, and have STALKER recognize and load them instead of the original versions. If you've downloaded a mod, follow the directions which come with each mod as to where it should be placed. Typically all you need to do is just extract it to the directory above and it will create the appropriate subdirectories.
There are some great mods coming out for STALKER, and a few of the more prominent ones are listed below:
Float32 Shader Mod - Float32 makes the graphics more realistic by adding better lighting and sharper surface effects for example, and can also improve performance.
Update: The original site for the Float 32 mod has gone down permanently. The mirror above contains one of the newest versions and should be safe to use.
GSC has also released the STALKER Multiplayer SDK, allowing modders to edit and create custom multiplayer maps. The Singleplayer SDK is due out after the MP SDK is finalised. There is also a STALKER Mod Wiki that goes with the SDK to help modders learn more.
Obviously many more mods will come out as modders get to work on STALKER. Keep an eye here and also at places like Filefront STALKER Mods, The Official STALKER Mods Forum and Oblivion Lost Mods Forum both for new mods, and updates to existing mods.
Thanks to Jonas Beckman for his help in providing useful details on STALKER modding.
The next section of the guide looks at the In-Game Settings for STALKER.