admin

Dev Diary - October 2017

52 posts in this topic

dev_diary_-_v2.thumb.png.bc0307531e2d9e0c66f60e3ac509e828.png

The Road Ahead

Hello, all.

It’s been a little while since you heard much from me. August was our launch month, and kept us quite busy with post-launch support (patching, mainly). Most of the team took September off to rest up, apart from a contingent who worked on some platform support tasks, and now most of the team is back at work and it’s time to fill you in on our plans for The Long Dark, moving forward.

While there were a lot of things to celebrate about our 1.0 launch, one thing it showed us was how 100+ updates to The Long Dark while in Early Access and on Game Preview, didn’t fully prepare us for the challenges of a full 1.0 launch on multiple platforms (including two consoles). Launching a game “for real” involves a lot of extra steps as compared to releasing an update, and while we understood this intellectually, it was only in the last few months of the project that we fully comprehended the scope of the challenge we’d taken on for ourselves. I think that in many ways, we bit off quite a bit more than our small team could handle, and that showed in the first couple of weeks of our launch. As you might recall from my last devblog post, I wasn’t very happy with the state of the game we launched and while we’ve been able to address most of the launch issues, we can’t erase any good-will we lost from the community due to the imperfect launch. This weighs heavily on my mind, as we move forward.

In order to avoid this situation in the future, we’re building up an internal platform and publishing team that will focus on all aspects of getting the game into your hands, including testing, localization, certification, and the promotion and marketing of our updates and future content work. While we’re still sorting out the structure and needs of this team, we’ve already made the first steps towards this plan, and I believe that this approach will help ensure our future launches are as smooth as they should be. This is just the “cost” of self-publishing games, when you are an independent studio.

In terms of the game itself — although our plans for Episodes One and Two were always that they be introductory to both gameplay and worldbuilding, our approach to releasing an open-world game in episodic format was always very experimental. Having been able to better gauge response to this approach, we can see that many of you didn’t like the more constrained approach we took with our Story mode, compared to the free-form, self-directed openness of Survival Mode. Development of The Long Dark has always been iterative, and we see no reason why this approach shouldn’t also apply to helping us make better and better episode content.

While we’re still committed to our episodic structure — as it lends itself well to certain storytelling conceits (ex. playing two different protagonists) and certain production methodologies (ex. we can continue to build the game and world in incremental steps, which means we can remain a small studio) — I think we need to bring our narrative mode more in line with the core experience of Survival Mode. This means, a new approach to how we present story and characters, more variation in our mission type and structure, and more freedom in how you can overcome the various obstacles we throw in your way. This increased freedom means we have to revisit some of the tools and tech we set up for Episodes One and Two, and we also need to rethink our approach to how we create mission content, and how you experience it.

I’d also like to fix some of the areas of criticism in Episodes one and Two, relating to how experienced players found the opening sections of Episode One to be too much of a tutorial, the linearity of missions, the lack of full voice acting in our dialogue sequences, and the over dependence on “fetch” quests. While the fundamental building blocks of The Long Dark’s gameplay do depend on acquiring resources, and those resources take on new meaning in a world where you have to think about people other than yourself, we realize that for some of you, the lack of choice in when and how you approached certain missions detracted from the freedom you expect to find in our game. It’s never good when a game sets certain expectations in one mode, that aren’t fully paid off in another, particularly if players don’t understand this. Although we tried to educate our players around how our Story mode content would differ from Survival mode, it’s impossible to reach everyone, and certainly many players came into the episodes with certain expectations that we just didn’t meet.

I’m not yet fully sure how we will do all these things, but my aim for The Long Dark is to ensure that by the time we launch Episode Three, not only is that Episode a much stronger expression of The Long Dark as a narrative survival experience, but that Episodes One and Two have also been substantially improved.

All of this is going to take a lot of work, so I don’t want to set the expectation that it will happen quickly. We won’t be launching Episode Three this year. We won’t announce a launch date until it’s ready to go.

In the meantime, as we had to put Survival Mode aside while we finished Episode work for launch, we now want to get back to it. We’re working on a big Survival Mode update to launch some time in December. This update will add a few things we know you’re waiting for — for example, Milton as a Survival Mode region, the Moose — as well as a few things you may not be expecting. We’ll share more about the December update as we get closer to launching it. It’ll be a pretty substantial update to Survival mode. I’d also like to try to find a way to balance our resources so that we can get you more frequent Survival Mode updates in the future — it’ll likely mean smaller updates that come more regularly.

With Hallowe’en around the corner, there have been a lot of questions about if we’ll reprise last year’s “4 Days of Night” event. We’re worried about 4DON interfering with other work we’re doing in the game right now, so we *are* going to run the 4 Days of Night event again, but it’ll be in a separate branch of the game. This way, we can roll it out without it derailing our December update. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to run multiple branches of the game on Xbox or PS4, so this will be a Steam-only event. But we think “live” events could be a fun way to create some shared experiences for you, so we’ll be investigating ways we can support more of these types of community events — across all our platforms — in the future.

I’ll also do my best to publish a devblog update more frequently moving forward, to keep you in the loop about what the team’s working on. Thanks for your ongoing support!

– Raphael

17

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds very good to me!
recap:

- release things still heavy on mind (not good, I hope it will go away soon you all deserve it!)

- Survivaling +++ on december and then small nice updates. Perfect.

- More complex Wintermute. Needed and doable for the team.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just want to thank you all again.  Your work is much appreciated.

Edited by Prestermatt
5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks, Raphael..

Everything you mention sounds great, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what comes next, and we especially appreciate the intention to keep us more informed.

Onwards and upwards!

5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking forward to it all. Will 4 Days of Night leave residual changes on saves... e.g. pumpkin head storm lantern? or will all event related items be removed once it's over?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For some reason the text on this is completely blank and only shows up when i select it like im going to copy paste, im viewing this on mobile. 

As for the diary:

Really well laid out and written as always, I'm glad you've been keeping us in the loop with things and everything here sounds like a pretty good plan! 

4 days of night on a different branch was a very good decision. While I didnt mind it, i can see where people who just bought the game or are working on a specific achievement dont want to wait until the event is over to continue. 

Im looking forward to December and as always, its always good to hear from you and your team. Thanks for this amazing game. Appreciated!

Edited by MarrowStone
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well that was exactly what I wanted to here:

- new region

- moose

-  survival updates

-  voice act all diaglogue (you might want to look at some of the cheesy written parts and rework the dialogue there)

-  less fetch quests

 

I am very glad you guys see the issues and go on and solve them. Keep up the good work and I am looking forward to the update!

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Rafael, I do not know if you see any comments, but please do not have multiplayer, your game is so special, and multiplayer will destroy absolutely everything. Thank you

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, AlexandraRussia said:

Hello Rafael, I do not know if you see any comments, but please do not have multiplayer, your game is so special, and multiplayer will destroy absolutely everything. Thank you

The way time works in the game would make multiplayer impossible or really weird.

 Whoever wanted to harvest a fir log or accelerate time in any way would have to wait the full game time instead, or accelerate everyone else's time.

I hope that helps. I agree that this game is best meant as a singleplayer experience. It makes being immersed much easier as well.

Edited by MarrowStone
6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, MarrowStone said:

The way time works in the game would make multiplayer impossible or really weird.

 Whoever wanted to harvest a fir log or accelerate time in any way would have to wait the full game time instead, or accelerate everyone else's time.

I hope that helps. I agree that this game is best meant as a singleplayer experience. It makes being immersed much easier as well.

In in, and less nerves will spend, and then still think for your friend.  and worry when a bear or a wolf attacked, and by the way, if they were Losi, they would have done so that they would be stuffed with horns of such cones).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, admin said:

We won’t be launching Episode Three this year. We won’t announce a launch date until it’s ready to go.

For a while ago i was a bit worried that this might happen, but fear not Hinterland, i said i would stay in Mystery River so i didn't spoil the other locations before episode 3, but i moved on to the Costal Highway, i'm back in Mystery River now, but i will go to the other locatios as well in survival mode, but i'm not in a hurry :).

I'm looking forward to visit Milton in survival mode, i have to say i'm very pleased with The Long Dark :wolf:.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Being able to look at one's own creation with constructive criticism is very wise, as much as not repeating the same mistakes. That a huge +1 for Hinterland. It's also incredible how they take our feedback in consideration. Keep on the good work, hats off for all the team !

Question aside : will the work on survival mode also include new challenges, like Nomad or Whiteout ? Or are these treated separately ? It's so great to wander in the snow woth a goal in mind !

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do think it's be better to bring back the roadmap. I understand your reasoning and sentiments for wanting to hold your cards closer to your chest, but if other games I've played and observed is any indication, more transparency is always better than less. And the community will be supportive and forgiving, probably more than you anticipate.

The road map need not have any time line, it's not a milestone map for development, simply a list of features that indicates the game's direction, and always subject to change. 

Lastly consider spreading the dev blog duty around the studio to offer more insight to internal workings... one might reveal more about technical challenges of developing internal tools in Unity, another about VO production process, another about Animation process, etc. And don't be afraid to get a little technical in the dev blogs. 

Edited by KinoUnko
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent devblog, I guess many of us here have been waiting for some info on how TLD will move forward. Good to hear that survival mode will get an update, and even better to hear that more frequent updates with less new content are planned. I find it much more captivating to get a little something added here and there instead of waiting endlessly for that one big thing. In the past, it was always exciting to explore the world anew after an update to see where changes had taken place.

I also appreciate very much that Episodes 1 & 2 get worked over. There certainly is room for improvement there.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This all sounds like an excellent approach. I am greatly looking forward to the new features in survival mode, and it sounds like you've learned excellent lessons from the Wintermute feedback. I have every faith in the Hinterland team's ability to do great work with what you've learned! 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Story mode was great but if you play long enough you will find that the heart of the game is in survival. This coming from a console player who had never played before 1.0 launch. I think jumping back to survival is the right choice and take your time with Story Mode. The game is fantastic and unlike any other survival game.

Good Luck.

Long Live the Long Dark.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a bit surprised to see that Hinterland is going to be adding fully voiced dialogue. That would mean full animation for faces (which IS easier than a full cutscene) but still takes time and resources. As long as they can do it I'm happy! 

And for Survival Mode, kinda expected the Moose to come at this point. And Milton as a region. But I'm intrigued by the things we wouldn't expect. Really looking forward to it.

Keep at it Hinterland!

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds good, although you also sound a bit too harsh for yourself. The Long Dark 1.0 still is way more than I expected it to be a few years ago when the crowdfunding was going on. :)

There's one thing I'm curious about, might be something that will be added later on in story mode as it's currently missing: willpower. A statistic about your mental and emotional state as a player.

By the way, reading these change logs with the Long Dark music of Sascha in the background is the best thing! :D I love his music!

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Blinkin said:

although you also sound a bit too harsh for yourself.

I second that Hinterland :).

5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the timely update and well written too!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly trading in that dusty roadmap for a more frequent devblog was a very good idea in my opinion. Roadmaps, build expectations, expectations that are unrealistic even if you plaster "aspirational" all over the list, and give a false sense of "tansparency".

Devblogs, allow us to hear about current workings and more short term goals being accomplished. It may ruin the surprise of new features being implemented, but it wont leave us looking too far forward either.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit that the Devblog was music to my ears!  While I understand that story mode is a commitment they made buyers which they must fulfill, I still feel the future of this product is in the Sandbox mode.  I am glad to see they have not forgot what it is that keeps people playing this game hour after hour.  I am trying not to get my hopes up over the coming December update, because quite frankly that whole countdown to a countdown thing was BS.  Yes, yes, problems happen etc, etc.

On 10/23/2017 at 4:08 PM, admin said:

I think that in many ways, we bit off quite a bit more than our small team could handle

This has been a reoccurring theme it seems.  Hence goodbye Roadmap, hello months of silence.  The Devblog the last two months is a positive step in the right direction to avoid biting off more than they can chew.  Let us hope that after a few years they are finally dialed in to what they can and can't do in a given amount of time.  On another note....  When the day finally comes that story mode is complete and Hinterland finds themselves in need of new revenue, then I would be more than happy to pay for some new DLC for Sandbox.  Most people commenting on this forum would probably agree that they have gotten their money's worth out of the Sandbox.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only got to playing a little of the story when it came out, and I liked what I played.  I haven't gone back just yet (among other places, I went visiting Hinterland's part of Canada instead :D)  I didn't really follow the details of the release, so wasn't particularly aware of the problems.  What I'd perceived was good...  There was the announcement about August release, then it was August, I had the download in Steam, then I played it some.  I did stay away from the forums etc because I didn't want to see any spoilies ;)

 

Whether the devs will see these posts directly or not, not sure, but either way:

Negative reviews and criticisms aren't great to receive, but can be valuable, as you've clearly recognised and utilised.  Much respect to you all at Hinterland though, I reckon you've produced something very special.  My old-person-sounding generalisation is that "gamers these days", with Steam and such like, there's so much demanding negativity, seemingly for the sake it.  TLD is an example of early access that's worked.  Seems it's a risky business; a lot don't see 1.0, or if they do, don't deliver what was promised or intended, for whatever reasons.

 

As to the difference between Sandbox and Story, and the "constraints":  How else could it be really be done!?  Sandbox is that, a sandbox...and story is a story.  If Episode 1 starts with Will in Milton, what literary sense does it make for him to trot off to say, Desolation Point when his story has him doing stuff in Milton?  What would he (therefore the player) see and do there?  Even considering different paths/routes through the story, it still has to follow a something...isn't that what makes it a story.....  So why shouldn't it be constrained to such an area, or certain activities suggested or likewise constrained.  It is a balance though, I get that.

If it's fully open, like Skyrim, they've done it so I suppose it can be done, but how many problems, extra work and resource does that introduce and require?  Maybe sections of logical, progressive narrative could be circumvented.  Maybe if you wandered out of the "current" area, you'd just end up going through a region where there's nothing happening.  Or anything else that just doesn't make sense, which could ruin the experience as much as people claim invisible barriers and potentially-obvious debris/blockages do.

 

Anyways, all the best for what's next.  Have fun with it :)

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, honestly, I adore surprises), your team does not cease to amaze, and it's wonderful), I have only one desire, to be honest, I would like the seasons as it was written in plans, I know it's complicated, but I think it's for you  under force, if anything I wait.  Those who wait will always receive a reward :).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now