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Raphael van Lierop

Milton Mailbag -- Dispatch #1

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Hello community!

Today, we start a new community-mailbag feature called Milton Mailbag, where I answer a few questions about The Long Dark or Hinterland, mostly solicited from our social media accounts, and from you all here at This doesn't replace our Dev Diaries, which are longer but will come less frequently, or the Signal Hill podcast, which we hope to start up again soon. We'll try to run Milton Mailbag on a weekly basis so keep the questions pithy so we can keep up with the frequency!

And now, for Dispatch #1.

Question 1 from Twitter user @steamengineace:


"Would you consider making backpacks found in game other than random stationary forms of storage? Will we ever be able to pick them up to expand space and set them down, like the moose hide satchel?

Thanks for the great question, Cace. The way the current inventory (pack) is set up in the game, there's no notion of it being separate from the Survivor, meaning, the game code looks at what you're carrying as part of the character. That's why the Moose Hide Satchel essentially serves as a modifier on carrying capacity -- from the perspective of the game itself, it doesn't "see" the Pack or Satchel as being containers that are separate from the player. Changing that so that specific items you're carrying are held in separate containers that can be added or removed by the player would require a complete overhaul to our Inventory system, which is a pretty big change, and this system sort of reaches deep into game systems that have existed for nearly 5 years. 

One thing we could do, however, is introduce more things like the Moose Hide Satchel, which basically serve to modify the amount of stuff you can carry. But that wouldn't solve the problem of being able to "take off the pack" and "put it down". 

In the past, we have talked about adding functionality like that, also so that you could drop your pack to get a speed boost when sprinting from predators, for example. We've held off on pursuing this due to the complexity of those systems and how much effort would go into revising them. But, if you've played our game for a while you'll know we do occasionally go back and change major game systems so this could be a change we look at in the future -- no promises though. :)

Question 2 from Twitter use @estee_bek: "


Will a future episode feature POV of Astrid from where she wakes up from the plane?"

Thanks for looking out for Astrid, Estee. Indeed, you'll play her in Episode Three, and get to experience her "side" of the events after the plane crash. We opted to give Mackenzie and Astrid their own stories vs. taking the "Mass Effect approach" of having the same story playable by two different characters. We hope players like this approach, and if they do, it could be something we do more of in the future, with "side stories".

Question 3 from Twitter user @4m_n3ll:


"What games inspired the design of Long Dark? It's absolutely stunning. :x I get some Firewatch vibes from it and that's great."

Thanks, James! It's great to hear you like the game's look. I assume by "design" you mean the artistic direction and not the gameplay design. The goal with The Long Dark was to make it look like a playable watercolour landscape painting. We knew early on that as a small independent studio in a crowded marketplace, we'd need a unique look to help the game stand out, and so we developed this artistic direction to differentiate from other "indie" games that were (at that time) mostly using pixel-art or trying to achieve photo-realism.

Regarding Firewatch, it is a beautiful game! I think they did a great job translating Olly Moss's incredible concepts to an interactive experience. But, Firewatch actually came out after The Long Dark, and was not an inspiration. 

Question 4 from Twitter user @ExtremisAntares:


"How will the Bear Spear be used in the game? "The Edge" style or have you guys come up with a different method?

Thanks for the question! For the most part, we like to balance the cost/benefit equation across all our gameplay tools, so for the Bear Spear, we're balancing the benefit of a craftable weapon that could take out a Bear -- a high-value resource if you can kill it! -- with the risk of engaging with it and "failing". So right now we really like the risk of having to face the Bear up close and "pay" for the potential to win a fight. This is a riskier way than, say, shooting it with a Rifle. It also fulfills a strong wilderness survival fantasy. All that said, like most things in our game, we're constantly tweaking and refining systems so if we find a solution for the Bear Spear that we think is better, we'll change it. 


Thanks to everyone who sent questions in! If you like the Milton Mailbag, feel free to upvote this post or let us know on our social media channels. That way we'll know to try it again next week. :toque:

Enjoy the weekend.

- Raph


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