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News on the Upcoming December Update to The Long Dark

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A note from The Long Dark’s Creative Director, Raphael van Lierop

***

Hello everyone,

The team’s hard at work on finalizing the (still un-named) December update and with a bunch of new players joining us thanks to the Steam Autumn Sale, it seems like a good time to preview a few of the treats we have in store.

Mooooose!

First off, you’re all waiting to hear more information about the Moose. The model, animation, audio, and core behaviour is all finished. We’ve populated the world with Moose — it’s a pretty rare animal so don’t expect it to be easy to find — and we’re now just tuning the AI behaviour and some of the Moose’s unique capabilities to make sure it feels balanced.

Mooseface1.thumb.jpg.e8639442103e4656b8730beb167439e2.jpg

This guy does not look happy to see you.

TheLongDark_MooseSign.thumb.jpg.1c4cf847dc527282e0c90a37f4add2b5.jpg

Keep your eyes for these scratches on the tree bark; this might indicate Moose are in the area!

We have some other fun updates to Survival Mode coming in December, but I’d like to talk about a couple of things we’re doing for Story Mode in the December update.

WINTERMUTE Experience Modes

A common piece of feedback we received after launching WINTERMUTE was that the first two episodes were far too easy for our experienced Survival Mode players. This made the introductory segments feel slow-paced and too “tutorial-y”, and yet these sames parts could be quite punishing for players who didn’t know anything about the game. It was challenging to balance Episode One for brand new players, and also players who had put 1000s of hours into the Sandbox, and we were reluctant to add the notion of “difficulty modes” for the Story experience, because we wanted everyone to share that experience the same way. Also, having multiple “difficulties” would create a ton of additional tuning and bug-fixing overhead for us while we were trying to finalize our first two Episodes, and we were nervous about taking that on in addition to all the other finaling tasks on our plates.

However, we really want everyone who plays WINTERMUTE — new or veteran — to have a great experience with this narrative mode, and we were sad to hear so many veteran survivors just didn’t enjoy Episode One as much due to the level of challenge, so in December we’ll be rolling out three new Experience Modes, specifically for WINTERMUTE. These loosely map to “difficulty”, and are similar to how we tune our Survival Mode Experiences, but to be clear, these are specifically tuned for WINTERMUTE (i.e. they are different from the Survival Mode experiences of Pilgrim, Voyageur, etc.).

5a160fa48c252_preview-lightbox-ScreenShot2017-11-14at11_57_29AM.thumb.png.dcb7f619955e89c822933eb63c0b476b.png

Three new Experiences should provide a good range of choices for WINTERMUTE players, from the Greenest to the most Hardened survivors.

This should give both the newest, and most veteran player of The Long Dark, a little more control over the type of experience they have when playing WINTERMUTE. (Please note the new Experience Modes for WINTERMUTE will only work on games started *after* the December update.)

WINTERMUTE Save System

Another issue we encountered, post-launch, were challenges around our implementation of the Save system for WINTERMUTE. Unlike Survival Mode, which is Permadeath (i.e. once you die, we delete your game), WINTERMUTE has a two-slot save system. Saves were triggered using the Bedroll or resting in a Bed (as in Survival Mode), and also by Autosave (as in Survival Mode), but we found that this introduced too many restrictions for players, discouraged experimentation, and also often resulted in players getting “stuck” between two bad saves, sometimes in an irrecoverable situation. This was terrible for some people, and we feel really bad about it.

So with the December update, we’re rolling out a completely overhauled Save System for WINTERMUTE. You can now save pretty much anywhere, with between 20-25 save slots (depending on platform) shared between WINTERMUTE, Survival Mode, and Challenges. We also let you reload from an Autosave, or a Checkpoint (these are triggered by mission progress), so between those systems, we feel that players will have LOTS of choices in terms of how often or how rarely they want to save, and will have a much better chance to recover from a bad situation, or create their own “branches” when they want to experiment with different things in a given Episode.

For anyone that already has Saves for WINTERMUTE, this revision doesn’t change anything. You’ll find your existing saves in the list, and you should be able to create new saves using the revised system.

And to be 100% clear — WE HAVE NOT CHANGED THE WAY SAVES WORK IN SURVIVAL MODE (or the Challenges). Both are still permadeath experiences.

In addition to Milton being playable in Survival Mode in December (mentioned in our October Dev Blog), we have some other cool stuff we haven’t shared yet – we still want you to be surprised! — but hopefully this outline gives you a bit of a better idea of some of what you can look forward to in the December update.

TheLongDark_MiltonBasin.thumb.jpg.86d5c2a95d536d75ccc73d55340302dc.jpg

Thanks for reading! We’re really excited to see how you like the December update, and to all the players who are joining us for the first time — Welcome to the Quiet Apocalypse!

Raphael

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So you ARE listening to the customer! Fabulous! If only more companies actually did that. Thanks!

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Yay for new areas! Yay for new enemies! Yay for new things to kill! Yay for new textures! Yay for new difficulties! Yay for everything!

 

yay

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Excellent news. Looking forward to our Christmas present from TLD!

Any yule tide food and drink this year?

 

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This all sounds great, especially the update to the save system, which sounds like a substantial change, and I'm impressed.

So... (slight spoiler) for the bear hunt in story mode, I've always thought that the auto-save is an unfortunate meta-hint that the bear is nearby.  I wonder, since there will be so many new options for saving, could that particular auto-save point be removed?

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1 hour ago, KinoUnko said:

yay Mountain Town! Who Run Mountain Town?!

The Moose and wolves of course!

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I really hope moose live in Milton. That would make exploring Milton so much better!

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I hope you guys fix 'Faithful Cartographer' achievement :D

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News at last, great! I am curious what the moose will bring to the table in terms of gameplay. Good thing it is rare and hard to find. However, the thing that I am looking forward to most is that ruined bark on the trees as a sign of moose presence. The game should have much more of those environmental signs the astute player can read. Just like the weather patterns. Or the circling crows indicating carcasses/corpses. Yes, more of that!

Milton will surely add more variety to the sandbox. On the other hand, it will add to making Interloper easier - it just seems inevitable that the larger the world gets, the more resources it offers. And Milton as a whole town is bound to offer some rare resources, otherwise going there would mean disappointment. I guess the problem of abundant resources with a growing world cannot really be helped... unless... unless an old Hinterland idea is revived to make the transition from one map to another a meaningful choice (again). Talk about dangerous transition zones (oh, I would love that - could the mine not be a dark maze, with slippery passages, pitfalls etc.?) or zones which would consume precious resources when they are crossed.

The different experience modes for Wintermute surely are an improvement, but to be honest - I consider myself quite an able TLD player, but it was not the lack of difficulty that disappointed me a bit. It was rather the weaknesses in story and dialogue. I will be interested to see if that has been worked on in some manner as well.

The save system overhaul is a good thing, I guess. The save system was hard to understand, although I never really had to rely on it.

There is one important point missing: I would really like to know whether all achievements will be bug-free as of the December update (there has been some discussion on these forums revolving around this point), and it would be nice if Hinterland could cover this point in the release notes when the update comes out. I'm usually an achievement hunter, but I definitely do not want to waste my time hunting for achievements which are potentially unattainable due to a bug.

Just my two cents. Keep up the good work, looking forward to the update!

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Appreciate the news! The moose sound pretty unforgiving, I doubt a single arrow or rifle round would drop them either. 

As for the story, it was good, the most interesting parts were the fix my rifle quest,  the first 5 days, discovering milton, the bear part, lake gunshots, and moving through the hydro dam. Plenty of exciting missions but they were spaced out with "boring" fillers where you go out and fetch x amount of some material just to get the npc to release a bit more information, i think thats what most players complained about. The part with grey mother worked fine because the player was still "learning", but by episode two, survival school should be optional. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Hotzn said:

I am curious what the moose will bring to the table in terms of gameplay.

I think it will attack us if we are getting too close, so i think we have to approach the moose in the same way as we do when we hunt a bear, with caution :o:D.

Mooseface1.thumb.jpg.e8639442103e4656b8730beb167439e2.jpg

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That makes me feel good to read a developpement diary. Moose, Milton map, scratheed trees, new affliction, are very good additions. I wish also more wildlife behaviors, like bear vs wolves fight, females and children deers.

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The update being available at GOG would have been nice to hear, especially since Steam was mentioned.

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2 hours ago, ingrobny said:

I think it will attack us if we are getting too close, so i think we have to approach the moose in the same way as we do when we hunt a bear, with caution :o:D.

Mooseface1.thumb.jpg.e8639442103e4656b8730beb167439e2.jpg

It's probably just like a big dog, with big antlers. this is a screencap of the moose licking your face. cures frostbite

Edited by KinoUnko
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4 minutes ago, KinoUnko said:

It's probably just like a big dog, with big antlers. this is a screencap of the moose licking your face. cures frostbite

Hahaha, i don't know man, look at his eyes, he dosen't look too friendly :D.

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2 hours ago, KinoUnko said:

It's probably just like a big dog, with big antlers. this is a screencap of the moose licking your face. cures frostbite

:D 

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Very, very cool! Now I must go and delete some saves I don't need. :)

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4 hours ago, Jolan said:

Very, very cool! Now I must go and delete some saves I don't need. :)

You might not need to. The number of save slots are expanding after all. 

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11 hours ago, Hotzn said:

News at last, great! I am curious what the moose will bring to the table in terms of gameplay. Good thing it is rare and hard to find. However, the thing that I am looking forward to most is that ruined bark on the trees as a sign of moose presence. The game should have much more of those environmental signs the astute player can read. Just like the weather patterns. Or the circling crows indicating carcasses/corpses. Yes, more of that!

Milton will surely add more variety to the sandbox. On the other hand, it will add to making Interloper easier - it just seems inevitable that the larger the world gets, the more resources it offers. And Milton as a whole town is bound to offer some rare resources, otherwise going there would mean disappointment. I guess the problem of abundant resources with a growing world cannot really be helped... unless... unless an old Hinterland idea is revived to make the transition from one map to another a meaningful choice (again). Talk about dangerous transition zones (oh, I would love that - could the mine not be a dark maze, with slippery passages, pitfalls etc.?) or zones which would consume precious resources when they are crossed.

The different experience modes for Wintermute surely are an improvement, but to be honest - I consider myself quite an able TLD player, but it was not the lack of difficulty that disappointed me a bit. It was rather the weaknesses in story and dialogue. I will be interested to see if that has been worked on in some manner as well.

The save system overhaul is a good thing, I guess. The save system was hard to understand, although I never really had to rely on it.

There is one important point missing: I would really like to know whether all achievements will be bug-free as of the December update (there has been some discussion on these forums revolving around this point), and it would be nice if Hinterland could cover this point in the release notes when the update comes out. I'm usually an achievement hunter, but I definitely do not want to waste my time hunting for achievements which are potentially unattainable due to a bug.

Just my two cents. Keep up the good work, looking forward to the update!

I've suggested blocking off certain regions entirely as it will make it significantly harder. For lower difficulties that is.

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10 hours ago, MarrowStone said:

Appreciate the news! The moose sound pretty unforgiving, I doubt a single arrow or rifle round would drop them either. 

As for the story, it was good, the most interesting parts were the fix my rifle quest,  the first 5 days, discovering milton, the bear part, lake gunshots, and moving through the hydro dam. Plenty of exciting missions but they were spaced out with "boring" fillers where you go out and fetch x amount of some material just to get the npc to release a bit more information, i think thats what most players complained about. The part with grey mother worked fine because the player was still "learning", but by episode two, survival school should be optional. 

 

 

Except here's the thing, knowledge IS a resource. The game relies around it. Without knowledge of the surrounding areas, survival and other things like the potential wherabouts of Astrid, the story can't advance. Sure there are other ways to accomplish this other than fetch quests. Maybe if fetch quests were reliant on the actual resources to help the NPC asking for them rather than fetching an unimportant item *lockbox* or fetching items that won't benefit you or the NPC *survival school*. 

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Like I'm used by Hinterland: a great update is coming with some surprises. :D
I love surprises, can't wait for this new update!

Since I've stopped playing Wintermute partially through episode 2 due to less spare time and some bugs I'm thinking about restarting the Story mode so I can try the difficulty system, that's something I didn't expected to be implemented but I do see this as a huge step forwards! :D

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22 hours ago, Fuarian said:

Yay for new areas! Yay for new enemies! Yay for new things to kill! Yay for new textures! Yay for new difficulties! Yay for everything!

Did he tell us about new textures? Did i miss something? Maybe he wrote a second note i didn't see?

11 hours ago, Vinceofpyrenees said:

That makes me feel good to read a developpement diary. Moose, Milton map, scratheed trees, new affliction, are very good additions. I wish also more wildlife behaviors, like bear vs wolves fight, females and children deers.

Where do you see a new affliction?

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