Adam12341

Was Hinterlands decision wrong?

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So I have been thinking about the long dark and it's realese. The final release of The long dark got the game a lot of new players and a lot of both negativity and positivity. A lot of people criticted the game and said that they were selling an unfinished product. They did state what you get, but that is apparentaly not enough. I wonder if the games release could be better if the story mode would be finished. I know that it is hard for such a small studio to do so much stuff to just finish a game, but I believe that if the game would be released a year or so after the original release date, that the game could be more successful. Personally I didn't have a problem with the release, and think that the game is awesome, but could it that way be better?

I think that maybe if Hinterland released Episodeds of story mode in the alpha, reworked them there and maybe finished one or even two episodeds, then released the game fully. I think that the decision that Hinterland made was due to pressure from the community, wanting story mode and the final release. They had very little time before the release and I feel that stuff was rushed. I don't believe that one more year of developement in the Alpha stage would do the game bad. It had a steady community before the release. I have also noticed that Hinterland is reworking the first and second episode, which I also feel could be prevented with a bit more pre release developement. 

This is just something I thought about and would want to know what you guys think about this. I also want to thank hinterland for all the effort the have put into this game. 

Edited by Adam12341
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Hard to say what it would have been like, if they had released the game a year later. Remember the release date had been postponed several times and then finally been set for good. Blowing it again would probably have caused a public outrage. I guess it was a lose-lose-situation when the release date approached.

A different question is whether it would have been good for the game's development to integrate the first story episode (or the first two) into the alpha. It would probably have done the story mode good to have player feedback before release, but then again the release would not have had very much new to offer after the alpha - meaning no new story episodes. And if there had not been a new 'package' coming with the release, people might have been disappointed.

I guess it's hard to please everyone when you walk down the early access road.

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6 minutes ago, Hotzn said:

Hard to say what it would have been like, if they had released the game a year later. Remember the release date had been postponed several times and then finally been set for good. Blowing it again would probably have caused a public outrage. I guess it was a lose-lose-situation when the release date approached.

A different question is whether it would have been good for the game's development to integrate the first story episode (or the first two) into the alpha. It would probably have done the story mode good to have player feedback before release, but then again the release would not have had very much new to offer after the alpha - meaning no new story episodes. And if there had not been a new 'package' coming with the release, people might have been disappointed.

I guess it's hard to please everyone when you walk down the early access road.

You are right. They really couldn't do any better in this situation. You can never please everyone at once.

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3 hours ago, Hotzn said:

but then again the release would not have had very much new to offer after the alpha - meaning no new story episodes. And if there had not been a new 'package' coming with the release, people might have been disappointed.

This did not seem to affect Subnautica which for me has a much higher replayability than TLD story mode.

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3 hours ago, mystifeid said:

This did not seem to affect Subnautica which for me has a much higher replayability than TLD story mode.

I have not yet played Subnautica. But its ratings after release are really good. I presume you can recommend it?

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10 hours ago, mystifeid said:

This did not seem to affect Subnautica which for me has a much higher replayability than TLD story mode.

Yeah nothing wrong about that. And it still was very successful.

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If they had gone with their original vision for Story Mode that was explained in the kickstarter things may have gone better.

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Hinterland will always be associated primarily with The Long Dark, I believe. However, I went to their website one day and under Games, noticed that, of course, the only one is The Long Dark. This got me thinking - will the game ever reach a state where Hinterland feels they're 'done' with it, and can move on to a new project/game? I'd love to see more games from Hinterland in the future.

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I think there is SO much more potential this game has (more features, episodes, zones, etc.) to offer, they should stick with it for a while.  Especially given the resources they've put into up to this point.

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this may end up being the only game I don't end up removing from my console... they must be doing something right

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21 hours ago, Hotzn said:

I have not yet played Subnautica. But its ratings after release are really good. I presume you can recommend it?

It's well worth it if only for the 3D movement which is akin to flying. But when I started playing the game it was as if they had read through the wish lists for other games and tried to incorporate those ideas. An example: you can make a picture frame, stick it on a wall and populate it with a screen shot.

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I think the main 'problem' isn't the game and the quality of it. Instead I think the cause is mainly 'expectation management' and 'trying to please everyone'. 2 very difficult things to do, in fact trying the reach an end product everyone loves is practically impossible.

In my opinion they're doing a great job looking at how difficult it is to do such a thing. The current situation raises question but I don't think that's a bad thing, they probably couldn't do any better at and it means people care about the project. :)

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17 hours ago, Blinkin said:

is practically impossible

IS impossible! :S

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I agree with @Blinkin: the biggest challenge has been community expectation management. There's a fine line between teasing an update... and then having people assume it will be something else entirely due to the lack of definitive info (because it's a teaser). 

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I'd hardly constitute this as a Final Release myself.  If anything it is more a Public Beta release considering there is a lot more content yet to come, both features visible and under the hood.

Maybe the response from some hasn't been the greatest but as has been stated, it is to be expected.  Current players and expectant players both have preconceived notions of what to expect, and not all of those expectations will be met.  That's what always comes with hype, and why the likes of Metacritic is such a asinine system for reviews.  Because the loudest will always be those who got themselves so hyped up over their own expectations that when those expectations are not met, then nothing that is presented in the game is satisfactory to them.  I've made it a point to avoid such traps, though it isn't easy.

If I have one complaint about the game, it is that it is too damn good about portraying the dangers and the cold of the environment. This winter has been especially harsh for my area(and there have been places getting it a lot, lot worse), so going into a game that simulates what I'd be experiencing just walking out my front door hasn't ranked high on my fun meter.  But things are finally mellowing out, so TLD will be getting booted up again here real soon.

I look forward to what is yet to come. It's a long road yet. I aim to see it to the actual end.

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Are there folks seriously whining about the game not being finished? I bought the game a good year or so before the story mode was released because Hinterland seemed dedicated to the game. Yes it's taken a long while but jeez, back in 2004 I bought a game for 50 dollars that technically wasn't finished and between biyearly " expansions" that cost close to the same amount as the base game and included game breaking bugs that went unfixed for about 5 months. I feel grateful that Hinterland has promised those of us who bought the game, some even at a steep discount, the first "season" of "episodes" and continues to work hard to make the game better. Yes there have been some bugs. But we had a fix for some of the worst ones in less than a month afterward. I for one appreciate the fact that Hinterland is honest about not knowing how long it is going to take them to get to the point where certain awesome ideas they want to implement, will be ready. At least they're honest and not charging us 10+ bucks per update.

And besides, I may get tired of the game from time to time. Thats why I have other computer and console games and books and the internet and television. Variety is the spice of life.

Any guesses as to the game I refer to as having gone a good 5 months without an official bugfix?

Edited by Ape88
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2 hours ago, Ape88 said:

Are there folks seriously whining about the game not being finished? I bought the game a good year or so before the story mode was released because Hinterland seemed dedicated to the game. Yes it's taken a long while but jeez, back in 2004 I bought a game for 50 dollars that technically wasn't finished and between biyearly " expansions" that cost close to the same amount as the base game and included game breaking bugs that went unfixed for about 5 months. I feel grateful that Hinterland has promised those of us who bought the game, some even at a steep discount, the first "season" of "episodes" and continues to work hard to make the game better. Yes there have been some bugs. But we had a fix for some of the worst ones in less than a month afterward. I for one appreciate the fact that Hinterland is honest about not knowing how long it is going to take them to get to the point where certain awesome ideas they want to implement, will be ready. At least they're honest and not charging us 10+ bucks per update.

And besides, I may get tired of the game from time to time. Thats why I have other computer and console games and books and the internet and television. Variety is the spice of life.

Any guesses as to the game I refer to as having gone a good 5 months without an official bugfix?

I have literally seen people wanting refunds because they said the game was unfinished. It's sad to read stuff like that when you really understand how much effort the team puts in to this game.

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They could release the game with 3 maps and call it a game and everything that came afterwards were just patches. This game didnt even need story mode to be a game. That was their mistake to think it needed storymode.

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That theory would work if it wasn't the fact that Story mode is what the game originally was intended to be about.
Sandbox mode (Survival) was never intended to be released with the full game, it was intended for testing features and finding bugs.

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If you haven't seen Raphael's recent GDC talk it's available online and recommended as it touches upon all these issues. I'd agree that Subnautica managed to blend sandbox and story really well. That said, you can't discount that permadeath absolutely doesn't work for story mode, and is a vital component of sandbox. 

Hinterland were going for something very different and trying to avoid story mode spoilers. The super linear narrative structure didn't land right for me and I'm glad they are revisiting to open it up a bit. A shame that takes a lot of rework but it'll be worth it I think. 

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You know, I seem to remember one of Hinterland's own mentioning something about the fact that survival mode was only ever meant to test out elements for the story mode, but it was unexpectedly popular with the kind of folks who don't always want to play a more structured game.  Yes it sucks that it is taking so long to do the episodes, but that is no longer the only priority.

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I've played a lot of Subnautica and it's a great game. Survival is pretty trivial, but the game world is incredibly immersive.  There's some really fun technology, too. 

Regarding story, Subnautica did a fantastic job of telling their story within the limits of their small-studio resources.  It's far more "sparse" than TLD's story, and told almost entirely via brief voice messages encountered in the open world.  The story guides you to places in the world, but it's not a a different story instance.  You can break from the story at any point and do sandbox-y stuff for a while.  Great voice acting carries the day here, with very little character presentation or 3d animation.  I feel Hinterland bit off an enormous amount of work by choosing to tell their story via 3d animation.

Regarding replayability, TLD seems a lot stronger to me.  Subnautica's game world is much smaller than TLD's.  It's a little hard to compare sizes when you're riding in a submarine instead of walking, but in terms of travel time I'd compare Subnatica's entire world map size to a single large TLD map (CH or PL or TWM).  They've packed in a lot of different biomes and creatures, and there's base building too.   But once you've see all that replaying Subnautica gets boring because of the small map, and the ease of avoiding threats and becoming self-sufficient (you could live forever without leaving your base for any reason).

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I think it's fair to say that the first year of TLD's full release hasn't been as successful as Hinterland would have hoped, in terms of the story mode's progress and overall form. But perhaps releasing it when they did was positive in that it allowed them to get a lot of player feedback about the mission structure and narrative flow, which they are now using to make improvements and effectively re-release the game a year (or so) later. Overall, the shaky start to its existence may well end up meaning Wintermute is a better game as a result.

To me, a big problem with Wintermute was that it sidelined the survival elements of the game so much: I've played through Wintermute 4 or 5 times now, and even on the hardest difficulty setting that we now get I never do any hunting or trapping or fishing or crafting. You don't need to, because of the amount of resources available to loot in the story's locations. For me, a major part of the reason that story mode gets a little dull is that there is too much story! (If that makes sense). All you do is follow the narrative, the cutscenes and the missions - there is no imperative to actually survive in the world (other than avoiding wolf attacks), and so the thing can get a bit mind-numbing after a while. If lootable resources were much more limited (especially in the harder difficulty setting), it would force the player to take breaks from the intensity of the mission narrative in order to build up supplies for the next stage of the journey, and that would provide some relief, I think. There seems to be no time-restraint on finding Astrid, on getting to the next stage of the story, or even on completing individual missions, so I see no reason why giving the survival aspects a more prominent role in the story mode and giving the players something else to concentrate on as a diversion would cause any damage to it; indeed I think it would improve it a lot - it would provide a logical link between the freedom of the open world and the more structured linearity of the narrative, even after they have changed the mission structure to be more flexible.

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9 hours ago, Ruruwawa said:

've played a lot of Subnautica and it's a great game. Survival is pretty trivial, but the game world is incredibly immersive. 

I think you shoul have said "submersive" :)

 

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14 hours ago, Pillock said:

To me, a big problem with Wintermute was that it sidelined the survival elements of the game so much: I've played through Wintermute 4 or 5 times now, and even on the hardest difficulty setting that we now get I never do any hunting or trapping or fishing or crafting. You don't need to, because of the amount of resources available to loot in the story's locations. For me, a major part of the reason that story mode gets a little dull is that there is too much story! (If that makes sense). All you do is follow the narrative, the cutscenes and the missions - there is no imperative to actually survive in the world (other than avoiding wolf attacks), and so the thing can get a bit mind-numbing after a while. If lootable resources were much more limited (especially in the harder difficulty setting), it would force the player to take breaks from the intensity of the mission narrative in order to build up supplies for the next stage of the journey, and that would provide some relief, I think. There seems to be no time-restraint on finding Astrid, on getting to the next stage of the story, or even on completing individual missions, so I see no reason why giving the survival aspects a more prominent role in the story mode and giving the players something else to concentrate on as a diversion would cause any damage to it; indeed I think it would improve it a lot - it would provide a logical link between the freedom of the open world and the more structured linearity of the narrative, even after they have changed the mission structure to be more flexible.

This. Also the problem that the story so far has not been told very well. It's as if several people had contributed to it, each with a different imagination what it should look like...

A: "Let's make this like a road movie, with over-the-top characters, like Pulp Fiction. I already have this idea of a blind old woman sharpshooter in my mind...".

B: "Yea, but there needs to be deep meaning and a love interest! An old love reappearing, and ever so much unsaid... a blast from the past...".

C: "But don't forget the mystery in the background... nay, in the foreground! That mysterious personal loss which has alienated the love interest. That mysterious incident which fried all electric devices... I mean electronic devices... whatever. Secret societies formed by freemasons, preppers, trappers and eco... whatever!".

I know this is a bit mean - being the occasional author, I feel how important it is for writers to get positive feedback and recognition. But mind you, episodes 1 & 2 did not start off very well from a storytelling perspective. And I'm not talking about linearity vs. open world. Mainly I am talking about characters and lore not being quite believable and raising too many weird questions. Pulling the strings together in the coming episodes will be no easy task, but I have my hopes up Hinterland can do it. :) 

 

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