Milton Mailbag -- Dispatch #5


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Hey community!

Been another crazy busy week at Hinterland -- the team's been working their fingers to the bone (<-- not literally) on making great new stuff for you. I'll be putting together a bigger Dev Diary post for you either next week or the one following, providing a bigger update on development progress, etc. but in the mean time, here's another quick Dispatch to answer some of your pressing questions on The Long Dark.

One quick note as a point of clarification! I've noticed a tendency for people to ask speculative questions, like "have you ever thought about adding X", and when I respond "Yes, we've thought about adding X", they then follow up with something along the lines of "Can't wait for X to be added to the game!". Saying we've thought about adding something is not a promise to add it to the game. :) I only make that distinction so that, like with our old public Roadmap, we don't have community members coming back to use and saying "In Dispatch N you promised you would add X...where the hell is it?". 

Not that anyone would do that. :)

I just think it's helpful to clarify expectations for everyone so there's no misunderstandings. Unless I've written the words "We are working on X and we plan to ship it in a future update", you should assume "yeah we've thought about adding that" is a purely aspirational phrase. As you know, we've thought about adding a lot of stuff that has, as of yet, not appeared in the game. 

Enjoy this week's Dispatch!

*****

Question from @RangerDanger

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Have you ever considered adding bigfoot? Even if he was just in a challenge mode, I think he would be cool, and definitely fit the wilderness setting of TLD.

Yes! We've had various discussions about how fun it would be to throw a sasquatch into the game, but to make the spawn chance so low that it would only appear for maybe 1-2 players at most, and then only have it appear as a fleeting glimpse during a blizzard or something, so that anyone who claimed they had seen one would be immediately met with disbelief. Of course, we'd rather spend our time working on adding more wildlife that *everyone* can see. :)

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Question from @NinJay:

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What are your thoughts on working more closely with modders to add official content? For example, adding Relentless Night as an supported vanilla game mode? I get if you don't want a bunch of randos mucking up your game, of course. ^_^

Once we're able to provide official modding tools and documentation, we're really looking forward to working with the community to promote the best user-generated content! We're really excited to see what kinds of new experiences people can come up with. But, I don't have any info to share with you on that effort at the moment.

For the time being, our stance on unofficial modding is the same as it's always been -- we don't support it and would prefer people not use unofficial mods as they can create support requests for our team or give casual viewers the wrong impression of our game. 

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Question from @iGlugi:

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Can we expect updates to the water system like freezing if left out in the snow, warmth bonus from drinking recently melted snow, and storage limitations like a canteen and containers? (where are all these damn water bottles coming from!!)

Without creating non-compelling micro-management, we'd like to add more depth to the water management in the game. Removing the auto-spawn water bottles has been on our list for a while. It just has a cascading impact on various other systems and balancing choices. The fixes we've made to Cooking and Water Production in VIGILANT FLAME are a good first step, and I'd like to continue evolving those systems further.

Unfortunately, we also have to be mindful that not all our players like this kind of management -- as evidenced by a recent spate of negative steam reviews from people who feel we "ruined" the game by changing the cooking/water system. So if you like the new system and would like to see it develop further along these lines, make sure you make that known in places like user reviews where it is visible to us. We often hear a lot about what people DON'T like, but not enough about what they DO like, which means we could risk changing things for a small group of players that might make a large group of players unhappy. And before you suggest it -- making everything optional is not always viable, or even a good idea!

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Question from @velonews:

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An article in 2015 said the Hinterland team was split half and half between the Cumberland studio and the distributed model. What does the distribution look like in 2018, now that Hinterland has a downtown Vancouver studio, more employees, and is better established?

The team's about 1/2 in the Vancouver studio, and 1/2 spread across a variety of locations, with some small "clusters" here and there (ex. we have 4 devs in Edmonton). We only have one physical studio location and that's in Vancouver. I myself work out of a studio on my own -- Hinterland Bunker #1.

(It's not really called that.)

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Question from @Spakerman:

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Can you give us a short bit of teaser info on another game your working on?

Although I have a scratchpad of 4-5 ideas for concepts I'd like to make next, the entire dev team at Hinterland is working solely on The Long Dark.

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Question from @Jparks785:

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Have you considered more storage options for the prepper style survivalist? Such as possibly adding shelves you can craft or move? Kind of like the ones you find all over the world. It would be epic to shelter down and have a mass amount of supplies stocked on shelving units. 

Yeah we've discussed it at times. I like the idea, as well as other "safehouse improvements" that you could use to customize your space more and make it more valuable. We'd never let you, like, build a house or anything, but I've always liked the idea of being able to create more personalized "safehouses" and have 2-3 of them spread around the world so I have a place to hunker down when I need to. 

Fun fact -- the Trapper's Cabin is actually called "SafehouseA" in the Unity project for the game, as the original concept (way back in 2013) was that you would specifically have these little specific safehouse places that would be your primary long-term shelters in the world. 

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Question from @Baukster77:

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When I started playing the Long Dark a few years ago there worked about 9 people at Hinterland Studio, if I remember well... How many people work there now? Has the studio grown a lot?

There are about 30 people at Hinterland now. That includes all the development team + support staff, people you need to run a business and keep a studio running. We haven't been 9 since about 2014 though. We hit around 25 in 2015 and have stayed pretty much at that level since -- adding a few new people this year. It's bigger but not that big. We'll probably grow some more.

*****

Thanks to everyone for the great questions, and I hope you enjoy the answers. Until next week!

- Raphael

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I wish I could write more reviews for it on steam...already gave a very positive one way back in 2015! Too bad there will always be the (unfortunately loud) inconsolable people whining because X, Y and Z doesn't cater to their wants specifically :( For all the love and devotion and time you spend on not only the game, but interacting with the people playing your game, I 100% believe it is impossible for you guys to ever "ruin" it. :coffee::x

But oh my goodness. The thought of maybe possibly seeing Bigfoot is really exciting. "That wolf looked oddly big....and bipedal...wait a minute." haha!

Eagerly awaiting the next Dev Diary! :fire:

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"So if you like the new system and would like to see it develop further along these lines, make sure you make that known in places like user reviews where it is visible to us. "

 

You're right @Raphael van Lierop. I precised it in my review on steam. The biggest advantage in cooking system is the way I feel the time time passing differently. A day in the game in now less "action to action cutted". The time is more homogeneous. You thought it and made it very well Hinterland ! And I like the multi tasking possibility.

However, I feel the cooking time for coffees and the warming up for liquids a little to much long.

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12 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

We often hear a lot about what people DON'T like, but not enough about what they DO like, which means we could risk changing things for a small group of players that might make a large group of players unhappy.

Well indeed when I'm posting a positive review on a game, I'm not saying every good aspects of it, whether if it's a negative one, I will insist on the bad aspects.

That's why I think you should create some surveys when you release a new update so you can have a realistic overview of players feelings about the new mechanics / changes.

In fact, I would like to give my opinion about small aspects of The Long Dark, however I don't know where I could post my review so that the devs can see it.

Edited by FireCraft78
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So both of my questions were left unanswered. One of which is very important (All items decaying from day 1, making late game Interloper exploration pointless, because all items you find are ruined). I guess im outta here. 

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Always interesting to read!

As for these littles spoiled kids that post negative review because the last update supposedely ruined the game, don't bother about them. Don't let them deviate from your objectives and all those brilliant ideas you have in mind.

Don't bother about his little backlash in review. This game is fondamentaly excellent, the review will eventually get back to what this game deserve.

As for myself, I've done my duty and post my review.

Keep up the good work!

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3 hours ago, Shy said:

So both of my questions were left unanswered. One of which is very important (All items decaying from day 1, making late game Interloper exploration pointless, because all items you find are ruined). I guess im outta here. 

All my questions also remain unanswered, well we have to deal with this at least they answer some questions but I agree it is disappointing.

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57 minutes ago, FireCraft78 said:

All my questions also remain unanswered, well we have to deal with this at least they answer some questions but I agree it is disappointing.

Raph takes his time to answer some questions. Would you rather that he answers each and every question asked, even the ones asked multiple times, rather than writing, performing tasks the head of a studio needs to preform to keep the business running, so he and his team can continue developing a game for you to enjoy, trying to make it better? I got one question answered. With a 1 word answer. I suppose rather than smiling and accepting that, I should have stomped off to a corner, and complained about not getting the answer I wanted or hoped for? :(Wah?

I mean, he could just dump the game and spend all day, every day, answering every single question, so no one is sad...

Seriously. He is taking his own time to answer these. Be glad he and his team are open enough to answer any questions at all. Many studios do not answer any questions at all. Hinterland, and Raph, are exceptionally open to questions, and to answering the ones that would not give away trade secrets or reveal future content for the game. @Shy's question has been answered in regular discussion threads, both in these forums and the Steam forums. Many times. 

 

Seriously, chill. There is only so much time in a day, even, or especially, for a game dev and studio owner. Who is married, has kids, and has a life away from the studio. 

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Thanks for answering my question! But the answer on the bigfoot question... I loved it! I really hope stuff like that makes it into the game.. AND it makes me wonder... are there already things like this in the game that spawn at such a low rate that only a few people have seen it? Question for the next mailbag I guess....

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1 hour ago, ThePancakeLady said:

Raph takes his time to answer some questions. Would you rather that he answers each and every question asked, even the ones asked multiple times, rather than writing, performing tasks the head of a studio needs to preform to keep the business running, so he and his team can continue developing a game for you to enjoy, trying to make it better? I got one question answered. With a 1 word answer. I suppose rather than smiling and accepting that, I should have stomped off to a corner, and complained about not getting the answer I wanted or hoped for? :(Wah?

I mean, he could just dump the game and spend all day, every day, answering every single question, so no one is sad...

Seriously. He is taking his own time to answer these. Be glad he and his team are open enough to answer any questions at all. Many studios do not answer any questions at all. Hinterland, and Raph, are exceptionally open to questions, and to answering the ones that would not give away trade secrets or reveal future content for the game. @Shy's question has been answered in regular discussion threads, both in these forums and the Steam forums. Many times. 

 

Seriously, chill. There is only so much time in a day, even, or especially, for a game dev and studio owner. Who is married, has kids, and has a life away from the studio. 

Yes but I wasn't complaining, I really enjoy these dispatch etc, I just said it is disappointing to have your questions unanswered but I wouldn't mean it's Raph fault or whatever. I wanted to tell Shy he/she is not the only one but apparently as you said shy's questions has been answered (whether mine hadn't). That's all, I'm not saying  Raph is not doing an impressive job.

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Items decaying from day 1 is kind of the point. Don't change that, it would ruin the game. And late game exploration is far from pointless, it's just that there comes a point where you must get down to dealing with the renewable resources (firewood and game) only. In fact it becomes more important because as wildlife populations decrease hunting territory has to get larger to ensure that you can get the things you need. The further into the game you go the more important a nomadic lifestyle becomes.

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2 hours ago, stratvox said:

Items decaying from day 1 is kind of the point. Don't change that, it would ruin the game. And late game exploration is far from pointless, it's just that there comes a point where you must get down to dealing with the renewable resources (firewood and game) only. In fact it becomes more important because as wildlife populations decrease hunting territory has to get larger to ensure that you can get the things you need. The further into the game you go the more important a nomadic lifestyle becomes.

How its gonna ruin the game? And how is exploration isnt pointless, when ALL items you find are ruined? Im well established in Mystery Lake, i have plenty of firewood, i can fish, hunt (as wildlife respawns anyway), everything, technically i could live forever there. But it gets boring just sitting there doing nothing, so i go to Milton, but every single item i find is ruined. There is no value in exploring in lategame Interloper. Thats a fact, its ridiculuous to state otherwise.

I tried doing Stalker runs, but they are too easy after the Interloper, way too much loot.

If my question was answered, i would like to see that answer, plenty of people on reddit are curious about this issue too, so im not alone at all.

Edited by Shy
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1 hour ago, Shy said:

Como isso vai arruinar o jogo? E como a exploração não é inútil, quando TODOS os itens que você encontra estão arruinados? Eu estou bem estabelecido em Mystery Lake, eu tenho muita lenha, eu posso pescar, caçar (como vida selvagem respawns de qualquer maneira), tudo, tecnicamente eu poderia viver para sempre lá. Mas fica chato apenas sentar lá sem fazer nada, então eu vou para Milton, mas cada item que eu encontro está arruinado. Não há nenhum valor em explorar no Interloper do lategame. Isso é um fato, é ridículo declarar o contrário.

Eu tentei fazer stalker corre, mas eles são muito fáceis depois do intruso, muito muito saque.

Se a minha pergunta foi respondida, eu gostaria de ver essa resposta, muitas pessoas no reddit estão curiosas sobre esta questão também, então eu não estou sozinho em tudo.

all food has an expiration time ... why would not the long dark be any different?
surely the game has to continue like this in my opinion

 

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1 hour ago, Shy said:

How its gonna ruin the game? And how is exploration isnt pointless, when ALL items you find are ruined? Im well established in Mystery Lake, i have plenty of firewood, i can fish, hunt (as wildlife respawns anyway), everything, technically i could live forever there. But it gets boring just sitting there doing nothing, so i go to Milton, but every single item i find is ruined. There is no value in exploring in lategame Interloper. Thats a fact, its ridiculuous to state otherwise.

I tried doing Stalker runs, but they are too easy after the Interloper, way too much loot.

If my question was answered, i would like to see that answer, plenty of people on reddit are curious about this issue too, so im not alone at all.

There is a solution:

On your next run, instead of choosing Interloper, open the Custom game settings and turn down the item decay rate, while leaving everything else the same as on Interloper.

Perhaps the reason Raph didn't answer your point was that you can already solve the issue you're asking about? Perhaps he doesn't want the Mailbag to become an "Ask Raph how to use the existing game menus helpdesk"?

EDIT: on re-reading my post, I think it seems to come across as a bit combative in tone, which I didn't really intend. I just wanted to point out that if you don't like an aspect of the game balancing, then it's worth checking the Custom mode to see if you can fix it yourself - or open a thread on the forum and someone will probably point you in the right direction.

Edited by Pillock
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1 hour ago, Pillock said:

There is a solution:

On your next run, instead of choosing Interloper, open the Custom game settings and turn down the item decay rate, while leaving everything else the same as on Interloper.

Perhaps the reason Raph didn't answer your point was that you can already solve the issue you're asking about? Perhaps he doesn't want the Mailbag to become an "Ask Raph how to use the existing game menus helpdesk"?

EDIT: on re-reading my post, I think it seems to come across as a bit combative in tone, which I didn't really intend. I just wanted to point out that if you don't like an aspect of the game balancing, then it's worth checking the Custom mode to see if you can fix it yourself - or open a thread on the forum and someone will probably point you in the right direction.

I didnt try Custom Interloper because there are alot of people saying its bugged. Too much loot/loot you cant find in regular Interloper/etc.

Here is a quote from one guy on reddit:

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After you quit and restart a custom mode game, all loot settings will be reverted to default, i.e. Pilgrim difficulty. The reason why this happens (I think, not 100% sure anymore) is because the custom difficulty settings are loaded too late, i.e. after the loot in containers has been determined.

I created an entry in the bug database for this bug, but it hasn't been fixed yet. I'm somewhat hopeful that this will be fixed in the upcoming survival mode update, but then again...

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Shy said:

I didnt try Custom Interloper because there are alot of people saying its bugged. Too much loot/loot you cant find in regular Interloper/etc.

I wasn't aware of that, but I've been using Custom settings for a while and have found them to be fine. I'm not totally familiar with Interloper's loot balance across multiple maps because I never really got into it that much, but the settings I use are based on Interloper and there is a LOT less loot than Stalker has. (And for the record, I have the Item Decay set to 'Medium' for exactly the reason you highlight in your original question!) All I can tell you is that it works for me!

But in any case, if the custom settings are indeed bugged, then that is your problem and that's what wants fixing: it doesn't follow that the preset Interloper settings should be changed to compensate for a bug somewhere else in the game.

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On 7/6/2018 at 6:43 AM, Shy said:

Can you make high-end items spawn on Interloper, but with really low chance, to make exploration more exciting in the long Interloper runs?

On 7/9/2018 at 5:31 AM, Shy said:

Can you make so the items were generated when player first enters location, like it was before?

These really aren't questions about the game or developer, these are requests. They might be better suited for the Wishlist.

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Not all questions are answered every week. Perhaps your question will be addressed in the future. It is not an attempt to personally insult anyone whose questions were not answered. 

If someone suggests a game mode that will address you request try that. 

If your question is also a request make a post in our Wish List subforum. 

 

Thank you. 

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8 hours ago, velonews said:

These really aren't questions about the game or developer, these are requests. They might be better suited for the Wishlist.

Most of answered questions are requests anyway. "Can you add bigfoot pls", "Can you add mod support pls", "Can you add more storage options pls". Just different phrasing.

People are asking questions about the stuff they find important, yet missing in the actual game. Its fine.

And there are no rule in the Milton Mailbag stating your question shouldn't be a request anyway. 

About the importance of my "requests", okay, maybe first one is a "it would be cool if"-type question, but second, about loot being ruined everywhere past day 80 or so, seems like an oversight in the game design of a major part of the game. I could rephrase the question, by asking "Was the change to make loot spawn globally on day 1 and start decaying immediately a conscious design decision? Did you intend for all items to be ruined on Interloper after day 80 or so, or it was unintended consequence?"

 

I'll try the Custom Interloper though.

Edited by Shy
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I like the Bigfoot idea, because one feeling I'm missing in TLD Sandbox: story telling and anxiety (like you hear some shots in the night, or you find a corpse (but not the normal corpse which spawns in the world), which give you the feeling that you are not alone outside...

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@Shy I've messed around a fair bit with custom interloper and the loot levels seem normal when you use the Custom > Interloper preset as a start for your customization.  The topmost setting, Baseline Resource Availability, is the big one... it must be Low.  Changing settings under Gear can also give you more loot than typical under Interloper.

What doesn't work is the code.  I've never had a code I've copied to text restore the identical settings when pasted for a new game.

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6 hours ago, Ruruwawa said:

What doesn't work is the code.  I've never had a code I've copied to text restore the identical settings when pasted for a new game.

Really? It seems to work ok for me. But I usually start from scratch each time anyway, purely because I can't be bothered copying down the codes out of game and then trying to remember which one I want. I really hope they tidy up this aspect of it by letting you save the codes in the game with your own description or something like that. (And obviously fix any issues with codes not actually working, or giving the wrong settings, or settings not corresponding to what they should, etc. - but I@ve never noticed any of that, personally.)

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