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Interview with Nikita Buyanov (Director of EFT Project)

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Hey all,

I am sure a lot of you watched the GDC stream with Nikita Buyanov (Director of EFT Project) on gamespots streams. A lot of people reached out to me wishing there was more depth in the game mechanics and questions talked about. So here I was sent a video of Nikita Buyanov having an interview with a Russian talk show host, Goblin. I've had all the questions translated from @Borscht whom is a native Russian and English speaker. I went through each question and edited them slightly to help with the language barrier. This is a pretty long one, but has a lot of great info about the development of cars, up to 20-30 players in a game at a time, weapons, development goals and process, Beta and Full Release of EFT, medical items,  and much much more. Enjoy!


Please, introduce yourself

My name is Nikita Buyanov, I am from BattleStateGames, Saint Petersburg, I am the managing director of the company. We will be discussing Escape from Tarkov. I am the product manager, art director and a lot of other positions.


Main question! Tarkov or Tarkov?

Tarkov. Tarkov, Krakov. There’s a lot of cities with similar names that sound like that with the accent on the first syllable. It is an imaginary city, geographically located above Vyborg, Saint Petersburg. Everything was made to make it “feel” like a real city. Infrastructure, history, we even have a fake wiki page! Everything made to encourage the feeling of a reality (real location). It’s actually a whole region – named Norvinsk Oblast’ (Oblast’ is a region in Russian Federation, think equivalent to States in USA. Each with it’s own “main” city and it’s satellites. -Borscht). It has Tarkov, Norvinsk. Everything is happening in this alternate reality, that’s happening in our time. Those cities are considered to be central after Moscow and S.Petersburg in innovational economics, etc.. All the in-game events are centered around that area. All those events will leads to a global meltdown and collapse of the global world order (Survive Earth sequel? -Borscht)


So what happened there, that you gotta run away?

The history began in Contract Wars (Previous project by BSG -Borscht). Large Western Corporation Terra Group and it’s worldwide branches began to expand into Russia and started doing it’s “shady business” there. Spreading its’ tentacles everywhere…


So the Russian Government is sending BEAR to investigate Terra Group?

Yeah! Why? Terra Group began using the PMC USEC as their security and logistics aide. It was using it to solve various…interests using forceful methods. Russians did not like that and established BEAR abroad. Abroad because you can’t establish a PMC in RF (Russian Federation) by law. And so the conflict began. First legally and then is slowly grew into a full blown armed conflict in the city. As a result the city became a War Zone. The city was surrounded by RF Armed Forces and UN, effectively blockading the city from civilization. That’s where the player is entering the game. We are playing as one abstract PMC – USEC or BEAR. No contact with command. The only thing that’s known is the exit point in the Port. That’s it. Do what you want. First, the game dictates the survival behavior, afterwards, the further you go into the story – not everything is simple. It’s not just Terra Group, the conspiracy will thicken, and you will have moments where you stop running after loot and try to stop this “World Evil” (Illuminati confirmed -Borscht).


So why  try and Escape Tarkov? Don’t you have a mission to solve? That’s why each faction is active there in the first place.

Escape from Tarkov has 2 elements. Physical and…mental. Physical – you gotta survive. Somewhere towards end of the game you understand – that’s it. The End of the World has begun. You gotta run and save yourself. But then you understand that not only you have to save yourself, there’s also civilians. You have to do something. But there’s also another side to EfT – stay in Tarkov and become the new King. Escape from yourself and find the new self in a world that is slowly becoming neofeudal. All these things give the player a freedom of choice on what to do – escape from Tarkov physically or think “Hey, it’s all good here as is. I have a gun and ammo. Food and water.” Our current way of life – work, family, etc. can be destroyed in a moment and in that world you can become the King of your own actions. You are not limited by law and morals. It’s like a reboot. Same thing for a PMC soldier with conflict zone experience. He understands that here I can find my own place and use my abilities to impact the world positively or negatively. That’s more or less the thoughts we want to awaken in our players.


First time I heard about the game in 2015. I follow the industry, a project of such scope just magically appeared! Where are you from?

I am from S.Petersburg, but originally I am from Viluchinsk, Kamchatskaya Obl. Closed city, etc. (I am from one as well! Watch City 40 on Netflix if you want to understand what the whole concept of Russian Closed towns is about -Borscht)


Yeah, yeah, I visited it. The game, such a complex project…

It’s sort of a voice of a concept of my life that I am trying to introduce to my co-workers and friends. Only like this you can achieve something good, something great. You need to act ambitiously. There’s a swear word that fits here…


Yeah *laughs*

You gotta move forward, you have to crawl forward. If you understand something is your niche – bet everything on it. First we made Contract Wars, a web browser shooter, that we made to understand technology, understand what we can do, make some money. We didn’t and still don’t have any investors, everything is our.


No way!

Yup, everything is ours!


That’s some serious money for something like this. Can you finance yourself on your own?

Yes. We worked for it and still are working for it. It was very hard and very special. The fact that we jumped out and made our name on our own is intriguing and worrying a lot of people. Especially large developers and publishers, cause they don’t know who we are. So that’s what happened! We gained some experience, we decided on a sequel. Game (Conflict Wars -Borscht) is done, let’s do a new one. We started making a completely different game, I’m not going to name it here, because we will make it later. Different setting, different genre, we decided to take a break from shooters, we all got tired, right? But then I thought about it and…I thought we should go back to the origins. Make more hardcore stuff! Everybody got taken off that other project and we started making a game that was called Project 0.


You are located in S.Petersburg, right?



How many people are working for you?

Now 50+ people inhouse and 20 people outsourced. Also backoffice…15 people. I think we have around 80 people. Everyone who works for us are people who made their name on their own. They started with us and learned everything by themselves. We didn’t have a situation where a guy showed up at our door and said: “Hello. Go somewhere else, pay me X amount, I’ll do everything myself”. None of those. We started from almost nothing.


Hmm. Really good for human resources.

Yup, really good, but you also have the opposite side of the coin, where we are making an AAA project. It requires a different attitude. We make our own publishing. Usually when you talk publishing it’s about 1000 employees, we have…5 people working on it. So the publishing company starts saying “You need marketing, advertisement, etc…100k $”. We show them our data and they look at it stupefied. Something isn’t right. They don’t understand.


You have to push the project. Make appropriate advertisement.

Well, for example you have The Witcher, where millions of dollars were spent on advertising and marketing. But Witcher is brand, you have books and so forth! But they still had to advertise it. But in the end they made a billion! We don’t have such resources and we have and army of fans that love us and an army of haters (actual name he gave them -Borscht). We’ve got an environment where we can develop and this environment is achieved by viral methods, player interests.


Let’s change the subject a bit. You said that you can play for different sides – what are the objectives?

Objectives are different. Like I mentioned earlier, first you escape. You begin in the center of the city and you have to slowly head for exit from the blockade. You have to breach those cordons, minefields, passing these locations-raids, in each location-raid you have different objectives such as simply exiting. They can be different – such as just a location on the map where you enter…and exit. In the future you might be able to bribe someone, bring them something valuable. Do trader missions and he will let you use a certain UN checkpoint. Main objective is to escape. Side Missions are good old quests. From simple quests “Go kill all the marauders in this sector” to game events, that you have to investigate, find clues, etc.


So shooting is important, but you also have to look for clues and talk to people.

Yes, shooting is an integral part. Such that if for example the raid is dictating not to kill people from your or another faction – you get negative karma for these actions. Traders will dislike you for example. I have an idea where some weird stuff will start happening to you – such as a magazine falling out from the gun in the middle of the firefight, you can trip, get sick. Karma! You just have to have some mystical element!


So you are building the game yourself. Is it hard?

I did not play the game yet. I do test, but not play. Because if I see something bad and not working, my mood will go down and I will just feel bad in general. I want everything to be ideal.


Somebody can get hurt…

Maybe, maybe. It’s like building the car of your dreams. A master is building a supercar. He won’t drive it until it’s ideal. Engineer-tester will. But he will touch it and feel if it’s ready. Same with me. If we are working on gameplay, battle system. In my head I have formulas, descriptions, discussion with programmers. I have a dream on how it should like. When a feature gets implemented I want it to be the same as in my head.


How long have you been working on the project?

2 years


What stage are you in?

Extended Alpha, almost Closed Beta. A lot of stuff is done but it’s almost ready. A lot of additional features are yet to come. For example before NY we launched the Extended Alpha Test. We added a new location, more weapons, more functionality. We also promised we will remove NDA restrictions. We partially removed it for select people and people rushed. So a funny moment happened. We didn’t even have an icon and on Twitch, EfT was on the second place with a question mark. As if “Who the heck this is?”. It shook down our servers, we had to work throughout the holidays. (Russia has 1-2 week vacation after NY -Borscht) It was brutal, but we made it. We found lots of problems and it was a positive experience. Right now we are adding new content, items, quests. We have a war simulator. Well, officially this a Combat Simulator in Dangerous Conditions.


What difficulties do you have?

Main difficulty is…people. Working with people.


Those that work for you or will play?

Everyone! People that work, they are awesome! Good job guys! We are working until we’re out. If you want to do something you have to put your whole self into it. We worked nights, trying to finish by deadlines. It’s hard. 2nd issue is people that play the game or even the people that don’t play, but try to tarnish the game. It’s as if they have a daily task – wake up in the morning and poo all over our game (lmao - Klean). What are our options? We go to the forums and write how bad it is! People Write calling out game a moneygrab and setup. Even when we go into release they will still keep saying not to believe BSG and it’s all a moneygrab. It’s just the nature of trolls.


So, the game is Russian, so obviously you present Russian weaponry in the game. People say you went to Concern Kalashnikov and even to brothers in Lobaev.

Not only that, but even Molot.


Interesting! How was it?

Amazing! I love guns. Firearms have been my love from childhood. Pretty much most of our employees love guns, militaria, etc.


I always say, that if your boy doesn’t like guns, something is wrong with him. Unless he’s not really a boy… 

We love this. When big people start talking to us it’s a very special moment. We loved going to Lobaev. We are introducing SVL right now. Our gun modification will have no alternatives. All the sounds and models are done from the real thing. We even recorded sounds at Kalashnikov. We met Lebedev chief engineer. Molot allowed us to record machine gun sounds, indoor sounds. Everybody is very interested. We started working with the West now. We are trying to integrate both Eastern and Western ideologies. For example our face in the West is a US Marine that likes us and Russia. We are trying to branch out from Battlefield style of them vs us.



 Yes, you shouldn’t conflict with others. But yeah, a lot of potential projects, maybe we will partner with Magpul, etc.


Titanic workload, do you see the light in the end of the tunnel?

Yeah, but when you reach that light, you just keep going onwards into the darkness. Keep improving. But it I can feel the changes. Last year was hard. Very very hard. Sometimes even made me doubt myself.


Most important IT question. Every time you would ask: “Where is Quake 2, Quake 3?”, you would get an answer of “When it’s done.”

Release should happen this year. CBT/OBT – hopefully before summer. Everything can happen, but we will try. We wanted to do it last year, but we had to change a lot of things. For example allowing a lot of people to play. People don’t notice it, but it’s the background stuff that we have to rework a lot.


What about the bane of all modern games? Pay shop items?

No. We have a B2P game. We sell it for money, from the get go. Our starting kits have different bonuses, but they will all be achievable in the game. Maybe it will take a lot of time, but it’s possible. We are against real money shop. We will have DLC, that will open or change existing locations. Add new feature. We will have events that…finish the game, but DLC will show what happens later. For example; season changes, location changes, such as partial destruction.


Intriguing. How do you get into Alpha?

You? For free!


What if the viewers want to get in? and preorder


What do the people that got in are busy doing?

They test, shoot each other. Or look for…interesting things, that I even personally snuck into the game. Maybe someone will find the 5 toilets that are sitting in absolutely random locations… But for now they are testing and combating.


So you will have a storyline and people will be playing together?

You will have a storyline that will branch out following player’s choices. But not everyone likes to play story. For example, right now we have good close-medium range combat and professional soldiers feel it! They even started training others in military tactics. Somebody just likes to kill…


What if you kill a character?

He loses everything except what’s inside the “magical” container. (Secure container) We will have insurance on top of it, however, it will be recovered only if nobody carried it out of the raid, why? To stop people doing insurance frauds!


What if you got wounded?

You can try to heal with a medkit, inject morphine.


Morphine? Nothing newer?

We will have newer, better stuff as well. We even have people asking – what about…drugs? Isn’t it 18+? We are...thinking about it. You won’t have instructions how to cook meth, but we will have…something. For example, everybody knows the game “This War of Mine” (Check it out on Steam, it’s incredible -Borscht), I call it Kosovo Simulator. They have realistic display on how it went there. We read a lot of literature and we will try to make Tarkov similar to that. We want to make the game as close to reality as possible. For example if you kill someone and escape it give you a trainload of positive emotions, but also the reverse, where you get in with NV, tuned AK and a guy runs up to you from behind and hits you in the head with a hatchet.


What about drinking, eating?

Not like DayZ – every 5 minutes, but once…say a day.



Will happen. (Yay! -Borscht)

Alcohol effects?

You’ll feel happier, might go philosophical later… *laughs*


You mentioned somebody sneaking up with an axe, what about if he sneaks up with a club?

Same thing pretty much. We don’t have anything that will cause you to temporarily lose consciousness. If you go down – you go down, time to start anew. The most mainstream idea is not to trust anyone, even your friends.


So you lost a gun, what now?

Loot, find money, find a bronze horse and sell it, if you’re still not making it, then you’ll get a welfare package. Say you have your AK – try to do something. Try to sneak around and rush and get a favorable position. Get exit keys, etc.


Cars, planes?

For now, no. When we get to the stage of the big, big open world location – presumably we’ll have that. (So we’re probably not going to see open world until much later on -Borscht) For now we have small-medium locations. But for example you might have an exit option of refueling a car. But the car has space only for 4 people. Similar idea to L4D and it’s Mall level. You don’t get in and go drive around.


What about leveling? You have a specialist, why level? It seems strange.

You could level your PMC. He is experienced, but you can improve your attributes based on how often you use it. Faster moving, position changing, looting, etc. For example you have to search everything slowly piece by piece.


There’s a point in that?

Well, it’s not like you can find a backpack, open it and suddenly realize what’s inside. Then proceed by “pouring” it into your own and go on your own merry way. No you gotta check, look, etc.



For now not, but in the future yes.


How many people can play together?



What about in the future?

Scavs. Scavs go in and make everyone’s life really really bad. So we should be able to send in 10 players and 10 scavs. So 20 people more or less. That’s for now, but sometimes something happens and you get 30 people on the Factory map, that’s supposed to have only 6. I don’t know why, but something makes the matchmaker do that.


Gunshot sounds. Very specific from one side, but not everyone shot from inside the building where you become deaf.

For now grenades do that, but in the future we are planning to introduce that for guns as well. For example active headphones are already in the game, but we want to add them capability to dampen out the gunshot sounds and help you keep firing with a shotgun in an indoor environment non stop and you will not go deaf.


Serious stuff. So let’s say some time by summer.

Beta – probably. Release – towards the end of the year.


Nothing can really compete in our homeland right now with the quality of your project. I want to wish you luc and send haters to a very well known place.

Thank you!

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Good job on setting this up @Kleanuppguy and @Borscht . We appreciate the time and work put into putting it together. We will also be releasing an English subtitle of it shortly.

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20 minutes ago, Borscht said:

@Natalino any chance to get in on this or future subtitle action or you guys have professional translators working on it?

We do have BSG translator working on it but I will also keep this in mind. Thank you sir :) 

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23 minutes ago, Natalino said:

We do have BSG translator working on it but I will also keep this in mind. Thank you sir :) 

Aww, shame!

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2 hours ago, Wenuz said:


"We also promised we will remove NDA restrictions"

Do you have a date?

No dates yet. Probably, probably within 2-3 months. 

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