Raphael van Lierop

Milton Mailbag -- Dispatch #4

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Hey everyone!

Things are super busy today so I'm just going to kick out a few of these Mailbag responses. I'll try to make more time for next week's Dispatch. Thanks for all the great questions and keep them coming!

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Question from @vanslavich:

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I love the game so much! i know, this may sound a bit crazy, but is there any way to do the map generated procedurally? (it can be new survival mode for example) 

We'd have to re-build our entire pipeline from scratch to accommodate procedurally generated content, so I don't see that happening for this iteration of The Long Dark. Also, a big point of differentiation for our game, I feel, is the hand-crafted feeling of the environments and the fact that you can actually build up knowledge about the world layout over time, which helps you be a better Survivor. Learning to recognize the various landmarks, and becoming familiar with a space you've spent a lot of time in, so that you occasionally get these memories of "coming home" somewhere that's been a good shelter for you, or avoiding a location where you might have had bad experiences in a previous game, etc. I think this approach lets players create a sense of connection to the game space that you just can't inspire in a procedurally-generated world. 

So, I'm going to say that this isn't really a goal we're pursuing for The Long Dark. It doesn't really line up with our general philosophy about the game and the world we're creating. 

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Question from @TropicalSurvivor:

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We're all looking forward to Episode 3, but I'm going beyond.

Wintermute is the Season One, composed of five episodes, of the Story Mode in The Long Dark. Do you have plans for a Season Two or even more?

 

We're focused on getting Season One finished, but I have ideas of how to expand the gameplay and story beyond Season One, so if that's something the team was still interested in doing and people were willing to pay for it, we'd consider it. I imagine we'd probably like to work on another game too at some point, so we'd have to see how all those plans line up. :) I can say for sure that if there's ever a Season Two, it'll be a new standalone game, or at the very least some form of paid DLC. Creating a game like The Long Dark costs millions of dollars so at some point we have to stop giving extra content away for free. :)

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Question from @leusid:

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Have you considered adding more effects of sleep deprivation?  Blurred vision/varying light levels or brief blackouts might make sense for first symptoms as the survivor struggles to keep their eyes open.  Auditory hallucinations would come next, maybe including some wolf sounds to scare you.  If you wanted to go even further, eventually visual hallucinations could set in, and again I can imagine an example being: you turn around and suddenly a wolf is lunging at you snarling, then disappearing as you fall over ready to struggle.  I dunno, something like that, making it both more interesting and more punishing to forego sleep too much?

I've always liked the idea of expanding into the psychological aspects of survival, yes. The challenge is to make it non-arbitrary feeling, so that the psychological afflictions are things players accept willingly in a kind of "role-playing" mindset, vs. feeling frustrated that "I'd never actually feel ____ in that situation...this game is stupid". It's a tough thing to pull off well.

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Question from @TerribleSurvivor:

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Will Buffer Memories in the future be a way to reveal secrets (like stashes or prepper caches). A secret place that only becomes accessible after finding out about it.

Additionally, enabling custom Buffer Memories for new games (e.g. loaded via code) would be kind of thrilling. This way the community could add to the experience of any and each Player.

 

Yeah, we'd like Buffer Memories to reveal gameplay secrets as well as providing narrative background.

Custom Buffer Memories would be cool -- that'd be something we'd probably try to support with offiicial Modding Tools when we can do that.

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Question from @ThePancakeLady:

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Without spoiling the rest of Wintermute... has any thought been given to a Season 2 Story Mode/Survival Mode or a new standalone game, taking place on the Mainland, in a more urban setting? Either continuing as Will & Astrid  or playing as new, unrelated characters?

Yes.

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Question from @Karl Grylls:

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Are you planning to give us the possibility to choose from the radial to consume/produce more than just one item? I suggested it here in 2016 (first point of the list), but i never heard anything of it. I thought this would really make it in the game within the next 2 updates, because it is very easy to put in. At least it feels like that for a non IT-guy.

 My blue bolding. Please don't do this! I know you mean it as a harmless comment, but misconceptions from the community on how easy/difficult it is to do things in games is a huge problem for developers to deal with. If you don't make games, you don't really know. Besides, saying you think something is easy is not going to make us more likely to implement it. 

To your question -- no, we don't have any plans to do that, although we are thinking about ways to improve the Radial.

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Question from @wabbitstewed:

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I have heard rumors and gossip about a motion picture adaptation of The Long Dark.  This would be a fantastic game to adapt, but there is always an issue with trying to fit or condense content from the source material into a limited time frame.

Are there any plans for a motion picture?  If so, would it be an entirely different/new story concerning The Long Dark?  I completely understand if this is a topic you don’t want to discuss because it could potentially spoil the surprise.  I just think, if done with the same effort, talent, and skills used to develop the game, that a film would be incredibly cool.

Unrelated—How does one get involved with writing a game’s storyline?  How does the writing process usually work (at Hinterland specifically or in general)?  What sort of credentials would someone need to enter this sort of position?

Thanks!

Wabbitstewed/Liz King

 

Yes, we're making a film. The story is different from the game's, but obviously it takes place in the same world and touches on the same events. You may have already seen our short film Elegy; this touches on how we think we'd adapt the aesthetics of The Long Dark to live-action: 

Regarding the craft of game writing -- this is a particular skillset just like anything else (programming, art, etc.). You have to be skilled as a writer, but also understand interactive storytelling (which is very different from linear storytelling as in film, TV, etc.) because you usually don't control what the player thinks, sees, or does. And, there are tools and technical skills needed in order to be able to support the game's production.

At Hinterland, thus far, I've written everything in The Long Dark. That may change in the future as we grow to producing multiple projects, but I'm passionate about story and will always have a hand in it.

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Question from @StrayCat:

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Will we have more "Canadian flavor" added to the game (I'm looking at you, maple syrup) ? I really enjoy that "proud to be canadian" attitude of HTL (even though I'm french), it creates a whole new atmosphere and makes the game stand out.

Don't you mean, "flavour". ;) Yeah, I think the game is pretty Canadian already, in its setting and themes, but we can always get more Canadian-ness in there. And if you're French from Quebec, you're still Canadian. :) 

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Question from @Skap:

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I don't know if this has been asked before and I'm sorry if it has, but you've mentioned before a "TLD 2". I've seen you mention it several times when asked about implementing seasons into the current game. And I realize this is probably several years into the future and it's way too early to tell, but I was wondering if you had any ideas(even vague ones) about how different you'd want to make such a "sequel" compared to the original game? I'm asking about anything from gameplay mechanics to the artstyle here. 

Yeah, I have some ideas, for sure! I think our art style is pretty iconic and so we'd keep that but of course evolve it, since there's a lot of new tech and different tools and approaches to content creation that you can consider when you're building a new world from scratch (vs. dealing with a lot of assets that were built a certain way). In terms of survival mechanics and narrative, I think there are a lot of interesting ways to take the content of the existing game into the future, when you consider how the world would gradually change in the months and years after the events of WINTERMUTE.

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Question from @huntergathers:

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How do you feel about adding a thermos for hot drinks to the game, or a hot stone for the accessories slot as a kind of temporary warmth boost you could carry after warming it up at a fire? I really like the warmth bonus mechanic, but it is generally something that's hard to hang on to long enough to use more than once in a while, so I'd love to see more ways to take advantage of it and make more out of fires.

I like the idea; we have it on one of our internal lists. I think a Thermos makes a ton of sense given the benefits of warm drinks in the game.

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Question from @Awestin1993:

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This question is pretty important for me! 

I just want to know if you plan on placing future titles of yours also within Canada?

As a proud Canadian, i love to see our country represented a bit more, so many talented artists in Canada yet so few are spreading Canada itself. (which they're under no obligation to)

 

I just hope, if it's another survival game, that it's set in Canada again!

 

I think we'll always find  a way to weave a Canadian identity into the games we make, even if they aren't always as overtly Canadian as The Long Dark.

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That's all I have time for today! Hope you enjoy these responses as much as I enjoyed responding to them. :)

Enjoy your weekend.

- Raphael

 

 

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Please use this thread for discussion of @Raphael van Lierop's answers. However while we will be monitoring the thread, he won't be following up on questions here. If you have more questions please post them in the main question thread and they may be addressed in a future Milton Mailbag.

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Interesting, thanks. I really appreciate how the Milton Mailbag brings more direct interaction between developer and community to these forums.

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I remember a while back on the developer roadmap there was a long-term goal of adding seasons... Any progress on that? I would really like to see how the world changes after the events of Wintermute and the Aurora.

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It amazes me you still have time to answer our questions among everything else you do, wow you guys are amazing ?

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While I have been in this for awhile I would really love more tone of mystery besides buffer memory’s and notes but what about screams in survival but being to late to save some body or maybe even seeing somebody with a lantern at night in the distance whilst humming in a blizzard. Must say that last one there would give me goose bumps but regardless I know this team goes for survival not necessarily horror expect for the the 4 days of dark. Also maybe having the ability to create a radio signal in the aura borealis to see who else to struggling to survive in the apocalypse.  Also PS: Love the team that listen to their community, please remember that we’re all here to survive, and one more thing can’t wait for the movie!

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I like the Milton Mailbag forum, it builds up a stronger community, and we can learn new things about TLD and Hinterland and where the game is currently

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