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Dev Diary - September 2017

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Hello Community,

Our latest Dev Diary is now live. In it we take a look at our launch and what's in store for The Long Dark going forward. 

http://www.thelongdark.com/news/dev-diary-september-2017/

Please also note the information at the bottom of the post regarding studio and community activity during the month of September.

Thank you!

- Hinterland Team

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"To that extent, the entire team will be taking September off to recuperate."

Enjoy your well-deserved rest.  You've made a great game.

  • Upvote 7

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Dang. I hope everybody takes the time to read this.  @Raphael van Lierop :  as always, you accept and shoulder more blame than you deserve. Regardless of how many issues there were, or if the launch didn't go as you planned, it went well. There were relatively few issues. Gamers tend to be a critical bunch. You and your team have produced an extraordinary game, have a uniquely supportive community behind you, and deserve huge kudos for what you've accomplished. Sir, you have little to apologize for, less to be ashamed of, and nothing to regret.  Don't ever let criticism of your writing get you down.  It's yours. Not anyone else's. If they could do better, then  they are welcome to. I made a statement earlier this week that sums it up:  All stories have to start somewhere. It isn't the stories fault that many of us didn't need what chapter 1 and 2 had to provide. 

You and the team DESERVE the month off. Enjoy your vacation with heads held high for a VERY WORTHY ACCOMPLISHMENT, and thank you for having us along through the process. It's been an honor to be part of this games devrlopment. 

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I havent even finished Episode 2 yet (Im trying to spread it out, while trying to avoid spoilers) but im pretty happy with it thus far. I originally bought the game because of the stories of personal survival it generates in the Survival Sandbox. Even if im somehow disappointed by the end of 2, the game itself is still easily worth far more than charged. It saddens me to think that anyone would be turned off by the rough start. You guys are amazing. You created something so awesome I actually joined a forum and engaged in an online community (something ive never done for a videogame, as much as i love playing them). Honestly, I dont believe you even need to add much more to the Sandbox other than more regions as you see fit. And perhaps the moose :) Its honestly that awesome of a game in my (and hopefully other's) opinion. With that said im nervous for it to change too much, yet excited to see what comes of it. I was nervous and unsure when i heard of the UI changes and the addition of the "radial menu" but i love both. Sorry to rant so much, but i just love this game So. Damn. Much.

Edited by The Gentleman Bastard
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After several years of feeling “under the gun” about delivering to promises already made, it’s good to be in a place where we can step back and take stock of what we’ve created, and how it can be improved moving forward. We’ve learned a lot about what worked and didn’t work about our approach to Episodes One and Two. Some of these things would have naturally been addressed by our plans for Episode Three, but probably not to the extent we now realize they need to be.

That's an oxymoron. He says they realize that they have to extend things, but in the sentence before he writes that they will step back. I don't want to knock you guys, but maybe a different formulation would have been better. After all, i wish you a recreative month off. I just started with E2 due to my state examination, so i'm happy that i will have time to play it in my own speed and way.

Quote

This means I am revisiting the scope of Episode Three and our approach to how we unify narrative with our survival sandbox gameplay. Based on how our launch went, I feel that Episode Three now has to answer for the issues with Episodes One and Two, to some extent, so while we couldn’t do anything about the August 1st date once we were locked in on it, we’ll now take the time we need to ensure Episode Three, and beyond, have a more solid foundation to build on, and set the bar for what The Long Dark will be. This refers not only to systems and content, but internal processes and tools, as well as people. We have to rethink some aspects of how we’ve approached our story mode, and that goes beyond cosmetic changes. The fixes have to go deeper.

Don't worry. Things like Early Access or public alpha were mainly thought for exactly that (correct me if wrong): The player's possibility to influence the game by being part of it at an early state. Okay, you released TLD a month before, but we still have the chance to take influence. That's a very important point and means a big bonus to the player. After many failures many Early Acces games have experienced, the reputation of Early Access and co. has been damaged. But these boni are still there and i think players often forget that.

Quote

It’s also time for us to get back to Survival Mode. We still have a lot of things we’d like to add — more regions, more wildlife, new and improved survival mechanics, modding support, etc.

*slobber*

One last thing to @Raphael van Lierop : I want to express you my regards for your leadership. Yes, you and maybe some others made a heavy mistake with handling all the expectations caused by the countdown (i still resent to the community mods, that they haven't done much to prevent the disappointment). But you were there and took all the blame on you. You faced up to the hate and protected your colleagues. You give them a whole month off when they need it, regardless of the loss of money or maybe the wrath of all the players. You don't find that very often in days like these. You are not a boss, you are a leader and there should be more like you :)

Okay, enough rant, time to go to bed. Hopefully i won't dream about bears... :D

Edited by Karl Grylls
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Thank you, @Raphael van Lierop, for that very open and honest explanation of how it all went. It means a great deal, and I hope will earn you a lot of respect in the community.

Quote

In early July, we encountered a crash in the game that knocked us down. In 4 years of development, we’ve never encountered one so utterly baffling. It took most of our engineering and test capacity working on the problem for weeks to narrow down the issue. Although we managed to stabilize the game in the final days prior to our launch — for the most part — we had lost almost a month of polish and bug-fixing time, as a result.

Man.. that explains SO much. My sympathy and commiserations to your entire team. I can't even imagine what a headache that was.

One thing though.. If you'd come to the community openly back when that horrendous bug hit, and told us what was going on, I'm pretty sure you'd have encountered nothing but understanding and patience. Even with an on-schedule release, it would have defused so much of the frustration and anger you subsequently encountered, before it even had a chance to get going.

Please never forget, we love your game, and we see its potential.. and that's why some of us are sometimes so hard on you guys.. it's not hating, even if it sometimes feels that way.. it's because we want TLD to be as good as it can possibly be.

Enjoy your richly-deserved vacation, Hinterland, and we look forward to seeing where things go from here!

Edited by JAFO
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55 minutes ago, JAFO said:

Thank you, @Raphael van Lierop, for that very open and honest explanation of how it all went. It means a great deal, and I hope will earn you a lot of respect in the community.

Man.. that explains SO much. My sympathy and commiserations to your entire team. I can't even imagine what a headache that was.

One thing though.. If you'd come to the community openly back when that horrendous bug hit, and told us what was going on, I'm pretty sure you'd have encountered nothing but understanding and patience. It would have defused so much of the frustration and anger you subsequently encountered, before it even had a chance to get going.

Please never forget, we love your game, and we see its potential.. and that's why some of us are sometimes so hard on you guys.. it's not hating, even if it sometimes feels that way.. it's because we want TLD to be as good as it can possibly be.

Enjoy your richly-deserved vacation, Hinterland, and we look forward to seeing where things go from here!

That is basically what happened to the Battletech people too. I believe they were using Unity as well and in July the new Unity update caused them to basically have to rebuild they whole game from the ground up. Which took them an additional month as well, but they just pushed the release of the beta access back another month about one month before it should have been released....

And they were like, "Sorry the whole game just broke, see you in another month...."

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4 minutes ago, Thrasador said:

but they just pushed the release of the beta access back another month about one month before it should have been released....

Unfortunately, as Raphael explained in the diary, that wasn't really an option for the full release.. but admitting ahead of time there was an issue which would be addressed as quickly as possible after release, could still have headed off all the animosity.

Edited by JAFO
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35 minutes ago, JAFO said:

Unfortunately, as Raphael explained in the diary, that wasn't really an option for the full release.. but admitting ahead of time there was an issue which would be addressed as quickly as possible after release, could still have headed off all the animosity.

True....I was just mentioning basically the same exact thing happened to another group of devs, and they handled it a completely different way. They told the community what happened, and then said we would have to wait.....because expletive happens....

Edited by Thrasador

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I enjoy this game. Hands down. It is complete. Sure, one can always add, but what makes it a "complete" experience to me is seeing how responsive this company is to feedback that I've seen. Also, please consider that, when players suggest things, it is more often than not about enthusiasm, not criticism. It's the excitement of getting into what this game is about and saying, "Wait! Wouldn't it be cool to add..." That's what I want to express. Realizing that any additional/new idea (if it is decided to be added) will involve all that it will to make it happen, I wish to say that I too hope you all enjoy a much deserved (& needed) rest. Don't be disheartened. Anytime one goes to do something, there will always be those who go beyond constructive feedback, and there is a difference. The fact that you have listened to & added and included content in response to your fan base is proof more than enough of your commitment. There are plenty of games out there that are put out by companies "as is" with little to no regard to their fan base. You are no such company. I appreciate what you have done with this game, and I look forward to exploring every aspect of it. Now, stop reading this, and go get some rest! Your eye icon is drooping. LOL  ;-)

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Raph, this not a good way to live ''with the feeling to have a gun pointed from the players". Take deserved holidays. Don't mind about the angry players.

  • Upvote 4

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Enjoy the vacation.

As someone who came to the game after launch, I started with story mode. I thought you did a great job of teaching the basics. I also really enjoyed the story and can't wait for the rest of it.

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I'm not as active in the forums as I've been in the past, but I just wanted to jump in and give, once again, thanks to @Raphael van Lierop and the whole of Hinterland Team for this amazing experience we have been so lucky to enjoy over the years... and will continue to do so. 

I'll completely subscribe @TROY post. You have nothing to apologize or feel sorry for. This is one of the best games I've ever played, and you made it with a very small team. Perfection is a goal that is never reached. Is good to look for it while being aware that you'll never quite get there. But that doesn't mean you need to feel sorry!

Enjoy your holidays, we'll be waiting for you guys in this very same spot :) 

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Great diary entry.

Provided clarity and perspective.
Cya in October guys, take care.

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Thanks for sharing these informations and your thoughts about the launch with us, Raphael. As a great Sandbox fan I'm especially happy to hear Survivor mode is going to get more attention again in the future. :)

And I for one think the team did a great job with Wintermute. The launch may not have been perfect, but it went pretty well overall in my opinion. The first steps are always the most difficult ones - and you guys really did an amazing job releasing the game on that many platforms at once.

Enjoy your well-deserved holidays and recharge your batteries!

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Just want to thank @Raphael van Lierop and all the Hinterland team, for pulling off such a great console release in the face of all the challenges they experienced. As some one who has been eagerly awaiting the PS4 release of TLD for months after being unable to play on steam. I have to say that it met and exceeded my expectations. 

I hope everyone enjoys their long over due rest and I eagerly await what ever you have in store for us in the future.

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I didn't follow the whole launch, I can only imagine what a pressure it means to have to do something like this with a small team and all the choices that Lierop pointed out. I can only say congrats and have a good rest. Work always sucks :)

Big up for how everyone is taking the hits of negativity in a complex creative process. We all learn by doing, nothing can be perfect immediatelly. Sandbox improved with time and I'm sure wintermute will do it as well.

If the roadmap didn't work for the team so be it, doesn't matter that much.

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On 9/1/2017 at 5:40 PM, Prestermatt said:

"To that extent, the entire team will be taking September off to recuperate."

Enjoy your well-deserved rest.  You've made a great game.

Let's hope they drink some herbal tea.

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 I would like to start off by saying that what this team has done in the creation of The Long Dark is absolutely phenomenal! I understand that there will always be those who whine  and complain about every little thing that they do not feel meets up to their expectations. However, in an undertaking as vast as this game, I think what you have done is beyond any possible expectation by any reasonable person.

 I also believe that @Raphael van Lierop's  humility and willingness to shoulder the responsibility and except perceived blame is commendable, but unnecessary.  You sir, should be proud as a freaking peacock with what you and your team have accomplished here!

This game has captured my attention and my time like no other game has in my 50+ years.  In fact the only other game that has enamored me as much as this one is Elite Dangerous and between the two of you I find no time for any other entertainment as far as games are concerned.  

 I am happy to join in the chorus of those here who willingly say that I am more than satisfied with the progress that you've made and look eagerly forward to the continued improvements to not only story mode, but to the survival mode aspect as well.

Enjoy your much deserved rest...do not look back and second guess...yes, lessons have been learned, however that does not mean that mistakes were made, merely that, like all evolving things, you and your team have been growing and moving forward.  

Remember this, "Those who try and run forward while looking behind them will never know where they are going, only where they have been."

Edited by L²
Fixed typos

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Thank you again @Raphael van Lierop for being open and straightforward with what is and was going on - like you always have been. It saddend me a bit to read some of the negative feedback and how quickly people forgot that their critizism is targeted at hinterland, the studio which brought us this amazing experience in the first place, was always very close to the community and as far as I can judge stayed true to what it set out to accomplish. This was not a "No Man's Sky" disaster launch where only 10% of what was promised got delivered, it was simply bad luck as you described in the Dev Diary.  On the other hand, people only critisize what they are passioned about and I believe very much that you'll get many of the critics back if the launch of Ep3 will be more smoothly.


But, if you’ve put 100s of hours into the Sandbox, or you’re coming to The Long Dark with Skyrim or Fallout -sized expectations about the level of freedom to explore and opt-out of core narrative you’re going to have, I can understand why The Long Dark’s episodes could feel overly tutorialized and unfavourably constrained.


Honestly, I don't understand this and I think you are too hard on yourself or listen to the "wrong" voices. You always said that Story Mode will be released in episodes and being a passioned sandbox player myself I was amazed to see how much freedom we have in Story. As I've said several times before, my biggest fear was that Story would bring us a "Telltale Games Experience" completely separated from Survival Mode, an interactive movie rather than a real game. But that's not the case, when playing Story I can leverage 90% of what I've learned in the Sandbox (don't have to deal with Cabin Fever, yey :D) and that's a huge achievement on your side.

So enjoy your free time and come back with new fresh energy, I'm very excited to see what will come next.

One last thing though: please make the guy responsible for the Flare Cache first fix the bug before he goes on vacation - you are the boss, you can order him to :P

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It's good to get things off your chest.  Good read.

I found the transfer between the voice-acted scenes and the subtitles only sequences rather jarring at first, but I've grown accustomed to it. It actually allows editing of the conversation trees which will no doubt be necessary as the game gets more fleshed out.

I will admit I got spoiled to how good the survival mode was feeling that I didn't even realize you guys were still wet behind the ears in a lot of things. But that's a-ok.  Coming in fresh to a certain play type also means new ideas for it.  And I am liking the ideas you guys have been putting into Wintermute.  When I first came across that bus in Milton....Chills, Man, Chills!

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Great to hear feedback from devs like this.  Well done too you all and thanks for your hard work!  In a world of abandoned early access games you are a shining light.  

 

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