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Dev Diary - November 2018

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Hinterland Growth, Episode Three Delayed, WINTERMUTE Redux + Survival Mode in December

Hello community,

I have some news and a progress update to share on how things are going with various parts of the game, and the studio. Some of it is good news, some of it will be disappointing. I hope that for the vast majority of you, the news is mostly good.

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Hinterland Growth

Some of you might be clued in to recent industry turmoil and a spate of closures, Telltale being the highest profile of these. A bit lesser known, but really big news for our local Vancouver game dev community, was the complete shutdown of Capcom’s Vancouver studio. About 200 people lost their jobs, and in the weeks following we scrambled to interview people to see if we could help them, and to see how we could build up our own development strength. 

Fortunately for us, we already had several ex-Capcom Vancouver people in the studio, so we were able to identify high performers who would fit in to our culture well. As a result of the Capcom situation, along with some other people we were interviewing at the time, we’ve hired six new team members in the last month. This is Hinterland’s most significant growth in the past five years.

One area we were really able to bulk up was animation, which has always been a challenge on this project. Our current animation team of three has been able to do some truly incredible technical and creative work over the past 18 months, but we’ve always been limited on how much content we could produce and that’s held us back in some areas of the project. For example, the decision to ship unvoiced dialogue scenes in the original Episode One and Two.  We just couldn’t produce all the animation needed to support full voice over.

For Redux, we adopted some new facial animation technology, and things have improved significantly, to the extent that we’re able to ship Redux Episodes One and Two with full voice-over and fully animated characters. I think this really elevates the quality of the narrative presentation in the game.

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We were also able to purchase Capcom Vancouver’s nearly new motion capture studio (or the equipment from it anyway). This purchase gives us a 36-camera set-up which will be more than enough to carry us through the next few projects. Having our own motion capture equipment means we no longer have to plan our production around a motion-capture studio’s availability, which will give us a lot more flexibility to shoot, iterate, reshoot, etc. 

In addition to the two animators, we also hired two new programmers, a new user interface/visual effects artist, and a new tester. We’re also interviewing additional people who may end up joining us, including some folks from Telltale and other studios that specialize in narrative experiences, all people who’ve been recently let go and are looking for a new home. This is a great opportunity for us to build up our team in anticipation of future work on The Long Dark, and our next game. 

This team growth means we’re big enough to seriously consider splitting the current team into two production teams -- one focused in WINTERMUTE, and another focused on Survival Mode. We’ve long struggled with trying to produce enough content to keep both Story and Survival sides of the project fully resourced. So I’m feeling pretty hopeful for the future of The Long Dark, and our update progress moving forward. Being able to have two dedicated teams will help ensure we can make more consistent progress in both areas of the game.

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Episode Three Delayed

Suddenly having access to all this new development talent and the motion-capture gear makes a huge difference to what we can accomplish in Episode Three. I’ve decided that I’d like to be able to use these new resources -- along with the new motion capture equipment -- to add more content and polish to Episode Three. This means it won’t be ready for us to ship in December.

There’s not much more to say about that at the moment. I know this will be disappointing. 

 

Episodes One and Two “Redux” for December

This may be bittersweet after the Episode Three delay news, but we’ll be delivering the updated “Redux” versions of Episodes One and Two in December. 

While the high-level narrative of these episodes remains the same, the details and the implementation of the missions and narrative content is significantly different from what you played last year. Everything has been re-written, re-recorded, and re-animated. There are also new mission beats that didn’t exist before, things that flesh out the experience and story of WINTERMUTE. In December, you’ll be able to play these Redux episodes and get a great sense of what to expect in Episode Three and beyond, as these now serve as the template for how we’ll approach all our mission and narrative content moving forward.

This also means that with the December “Redux” update, we’ll be deleting your old WINTERMUTE saves. They will no longer be compatible with the game after the update, as so much has changed. So, if you haven’t already started playing WINTERMUTE, we suggest you wait until our December update. And if you really want to finish your current WINTERMUTE playthrough, we recommend you do it soon! If you finished the original Episodes One and Two and want to roll right into Episode Three when it launches, you can also do that, although we hope you’ll go back and experience “Do Not Go Gentle” and “Luminance Fugue” again, as they are much changed and improved since their original iterations.

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Survival Mode Update for December

Just so that we don’t leave you without something entirely new to look forward to before the end of 2018, we’re releasing another free update to Survival Mode this December. 

I don’t want to spoil the contents yet -- that deserves its own dev diary -- but I can say the update will include the following: New Craftable Hat, New Challenge Mode, New Condition Buff, some UI fixes, some gameplay tweaks, and general bug fixes as well. There may also be a few other surprises in there, if we can get them finished in time.

 

Story Mode Save Wipe in December

Remember: we are deleting all current WINTERMUTE saves with our December update. 

  • If you are just starting WINTERMUTE and don’t mind waiting a bit, we recommend you wait for December so you can play the revised and much improved Episodes One and Two. 
  • If you have an in-progress WINTERMUTE game you’d like to finish before we wipe the save, please finish it soon! Pre-Redux (Predux!) WINTERMUTE saves will not be compatible with the game, post-update.
  • If you completed the original Episodes One and Two, Episode Three will be unlocked for you when it releases.
  • This save wipe has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on Survival Mode games. We will not be wiping those. If you play Survival and don’t care about WINTERMUTE, simply carry on.

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We’ll release more info about the December Survival Mode update when we get closer to launching it. Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to discuss this dev diary with other members of the community, please jump into the conversation here in our official community forums.

 

Thanks for reading!

- Raph

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Absorbing new folks is always a short-term boat-anchor, but a long-term sail.  Enjoy the new recruits.

 Sorry to hear you're missing the December market window.

Looking forward to the Survival updates!  Good luck!

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Excited about the new changes coming in December! The craftable hat will be a nice treat. I wonder if it's made with a mountain lion pelt? ?

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Looking forward to the future of this game.

Also, when you said this:

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Just so that we don’t leave you without something entirely new to look forward to before the end of 2019, we’re releasing another free update to Survival Mode this December. 

I suspect you meant to say 2018 but wanted to draw it to your attention in case it was a typo.

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It's a pity that episode 3 is delayed but still would be good to have something to play in the new year 

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Really, I've just been waiting to play the Redux episodes. I never finished episode two and am really excited to go back and play with the new dialog and flow. I've been purposely staying away from the game for the last few months just to build up the excitement again. Can't wait. Episode 3 "when it's ready" is just fine.

Congratulations on the new acquisitions - personnel and equipment! Always nice to have the right tools and people for the vision! 

Cheers!

Edited by MindFog2287
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Im glad Hinterland is taking a bit more time to work on the story. Gonna be worth the wait! Super excited to see the upcoming updates. Thanks for working hard to get us new content ?

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It is both heartwarming and spectacular to hear the studio is making the best of the bad situation of the recent closures by taking some of those affected under its wing!

There is no doubt that this growth will help take the pressure off of the animation team and give it more freedom to produce better content! I am also stoked to see what you can accomplish with your new motion capture equipment!

I am very excited for the update in December, the redux alone would have sufficed but a new challenge mode and (most importantly) a craftable hat?

You spoil us, Hinterland. 

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I will allow that I'm a little disappointed that Ep 3 won't be coming out in December, but only a little, hearing about how things are shaping up for you guys. It must be exciting times in the studio between the new people and the new gear to play with... new toys are always fun! :D

I'm also excited for the rabbit hat, and I'm guessing that one pic depicts the new bear spear you mentioned some months back. I'm definitely looking forward to having a new defensive option to deal with some of the wildlife... though I'll allow I'm hoping that it won't render bear and/or moose very much less threatening; the fact that once they close you're helpless adds so very very much to the tension of the game, esp. when you're trying to bring them down.

Thank you very much for taking the time to keep us in the loop, I'm really looking forward to seeing what the new animators will mean wrt adding more wildlife (mountain lions... I want mountain lions.; they are terrifying) as well as whatever other stuff you can think of bringing into the game.

Take it easy!

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With the new animation team members and the new technology, I am sure they will add Cougars, Horses and dogs (maybe?) in no time! They all require extensive animation work and as Raph stated, it was very hard to get them done due to animation work.

It's fine Raph, take your time. At least we are getting the Redux Episodes. :)

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:)Oh is that also a craftable gun/weapon rack I see in the bear spear pic?

If so then I'm really happy this has finally been added. Has been much requested.

Edited by sierra 117
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Very happy that hinterland will support all those people and at the same time expanding its crew and available tools for making more awesome content.

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I have already restarted ep 1 and part of ep 2 after previous updates. Currently I am somewhere inside ep 2, not sure how far from the end. Now I learn that unless I complete ep 2 within a month, I will have to restart all over again. Really bad news. I am not sure I want to start it all over again, and I don't want to rush (I am not playing often) to complete ep 2. It may well be that I'll just drop Wintermute, not sure yet. I am totally against killing saves on long running games. I can't believe this would be such a technical challenge to preserve saves. At worst, you could reset the inventory (bring a default set of equipment instead), world state but preserve the player's progression, location and state. I am really disappointed by this decision to drop the saves, and I know that whatever I will say about it, even proposing alternatives, will be completely ignored. This is sad.

Edited by yoli

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Hey Hinterland Team,

thank you for this dev diary.

Although I am a tiny bit disappointed about delay of Episode3, I can understand your motivation behind this and I believe that it will be for the better of what will finally get released as Episode3. And of course, giving us at least some new stuff for Survival Mode is in my opinion nearly as good as giving us a new episode. My only concern is that GoG users will - once again - have to wait longer for the update compared to Steam users. Please try to shorten the waiting difference for GoG players as much as possible if this is in your powers.

Having seen the pictures you attached to this diary raised the wish that much of them will be available in the Survival Mode update. But I suppose that's just too high expectations. :)

Please keep up the good work and thank you very much for giving us such a great game.

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I ordered a pizza for delivery yesterday with a soda that ended up costing me around $30 USD. That was pizza satisfaction for a night. The Long Dark for the same price has given me entertainment for this entire year.

I am sad that Episode 3 is not this December, but I can hang. This game and Hinterland has me confused on how they keep operating. This video is 5 years ago, and the way it looked then to now has me amazed.

It sounds like Raph wants to release something that is up to par with gaming standards, and grow the Hinterland studio for another release. I commend them.

Edited by Vonwoah
grammar a another, to another
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Love the direction the studio is taking. I'm happy to wait for a better 3 version, replaying the new 1 & 2  story modes will keep me going for ages.

also love how Survivor mode saves will not be effected. This is my other true game play love. Really look forward to the new objects in game and any other bug fixes / additions.

Edited by nicko

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34 minutes ago, nicko said:

yeh looks a bit odd the hat?

I thought it looked fantastic! Very artisanal and rough, what you'd expect from an inexperienced furrier and a creative mind. 

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I’d like to know if the 4K and HDR enhancements for Xbox One X will be part of the December Update. I stopped playing Wintermute for these improvements and it looks like it was a good call now that the saves will be deleted. 

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