Raphael van Lierop

Milton Mailbag -- Dispatch #7

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Hello community! Enjoy this week's Dispatch from the Milton Mailbag.

- Raph

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Question from @Leo13:

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Do you have any information to tell us about the motion picture adaptation of the game? Maybe assumptions about the release date or something else

Nothing specific to share at the moment apart from that the project is still underway.

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Question from @Looper:

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How do you see the long term difficulty increased to avoid stagnation / boredom? 

My sense is it could come from a combination of things. 1) Deeper "primitive" survival tools and mechanics for when you've long run out of handy leftover stuff. 2) Deeper customization options, particularly around shelters/safehouses, so that you can create a sense of "home" that provides an anchor for your existence in the world, and 3) more non-critical activities that help fill up the time. We could also introduce more "mental" aspects to survival but to me something like that would require a deeper overhaul of the game's core systems.

In general I think we have lots of good ideas for how to address long-term survival and make it more compelling, we just have to balance time spent on those features against completing the Episodes.

I also think some element of boredom/passivity is actually very truthful to what long-term survival would feel like, and I personally like how much of The Long Dark is about *not* being busy all the time. If you want constant stimulation, go play a shooter. :)

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Question from @Hovejester

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Will you allow us to move or bury bodies? Its very disconcerting sharing my camp with a corpse. 

Good. It's meant to be. 

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Question from @Sunwolf:

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Would you ever consider adding a mechanic to put clothes on the various corpses scattered around?  After a few hundred days or so, when the character is really starting to lose it, he/she could run dead body fashion shows.  Oooooh, and you could add makeup to the game for the corpse fashion shows!  I can see it now..."And here we have Steve wearing a fetching ensemble from Cabela's, though that left sock is looking a little torn.  Probably a post-apocalyptic derivative from Mugatu's abortive 'Derelicte' campaign, but Steve is so rocking it!"

Sooo....any plans in the works for something like this? :D

 

Err...no?

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Question from @greatwhitegamer:

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Hi Ralph! Glad to finally see a release date for episode 3. My question is that is the picture of Astrid holding the flare gun near that dead orca in the dev diary fan art or offical artwork? Cheers!

Hi! It's Raph. That's our art. We would never use fan art without giving credit to the original creator.

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Question from @Luciën:

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As a teenager, I have been thoroughly playing Ultima Underworld (and more recently, Ultima Underworld II) . I remember the box, with it's disks and of course the map of the first level of the Stygian Abyss. I have never really immersed in a first person game to that extent ever since, except for playing pinball fantasies, perhaps, growling at the machine :). Although, I must admit I am not a connaisseur on (survival) games, so perhaps it has his counterparts. To me, The Long Dark comes close to the  beauty and atmosphere (look through Ultima's pixels). My compliments to the chefs at Hinterland.

What I loved about this Ultima Underworld game, apart from the music, gloomy atmosphere and the suspense was the bartering system (trading items) and trying to figure out weird languages (anyone talking salamander?). The latter is of course more of the fantasy kind of thing, but the bartering is something that I would imagine one doing in a barren world (apart from shooting each other to survive, that is, apparently). Is Ultima Underworld a game that many in the studio are familiar with and am I right that it resembles in quite a few ways? (I could be talking about including a map of Bear Island in the box, as is going to happen)  I was wondering to what extent trading items could add up to players' story.

 

Ultima Underworld is a great game. Yes, I think some kind of trading system would make sense in The Long Dark.

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Question from @amorphea:

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so question: in the beginning of episode 1 when you are trapped in the ravine your quest at a certain point is to prepare yourself a meal bu you have  no cooking pot so are forced to eat the deer meat that you get raw. Will that be changed? will there be a cooking pot drop there somewhere?

You can place the meat directly on the rocks near the fire, to cook it. You don't need the Pot. You should have a Recycled Can in your Pack, to use for melting water.

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Question from @ThePancakeLady:

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I think most Indie devs, whose game gets big, have that "OMG, I can't believe my game got so big, so fast!" thought. Probably pretty often, after it gets big and the small team tries to keep up with production demands. 

That said, I would be interesting in knowing how you first envisioned the game size-wise, when your decided on the basic concept, and decided to give it a go, making it real. Did you expect it to stay small, just the original region, much smaller episodes for the story mode, much shorter playtime for most owners? I know you did not originally develop the sandbox (now called Survival) mode to be a separate game mode, that it grew a fan following, and developed its own cult.  Did you ever think your studio's first game would grow as much as it has? TL;DR- did you think it would stay small, and generate just enough money to expand the studio a little, and buy new equipment, to make the next game?

Original expectation was to have all of Season One happening in 2-3 regions. Original plan was for each Episode to be Telltale-length -- so 1.5-2 hours of gameplay. Our world is much bigger than 2-3 regions now, and we'll be adding more new regions in future episodes, so by the time Season One is finished, I expect we'll have built about 10x more game than we originally expected to. That's not even counting survival mechanics, where we've probably gone quite a bit deeper than we would have to support a ~10 hour game. I expect by the time we're finished Season One, there will be more like 50-60 hours of gameplay in WINTERMUTE on top of 100s of hours in Survival Mode.

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Question from @Weston:

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I've died and almost died from this mechanic so many times when I had plenty of perfectly edible food, Xbox one edition. When you go to place food on a cooking stone or stove you go to the quick menu and press y on the food item but often times I'll acctiddentaly press a and eat the raw meat. I think in the event your about to eat raw meat the game should ask are you sure so you don't accidentally kill yourself it would be very nice. Thank you

Yeah, it's irritating! We have a fix for it which we'll be putting out in a few weeks, hopefully sooner.

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Question from @Anomen:

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Hi Team,

Will there be a updated overview map published by you officially including milton and all other new added areas so far?

I've added the old one as a reference. That would be really helpful! (Probably also again with Episode 3 and beyond marked areas for anticipation :-))

 

The in-game map is already more up to date than that one!

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Question from @TheRealPestilence:

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Do animals have condition?

Yes.

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Question from @Chrysoprace:

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Did someone on your staff have a bad experience with tinned sardines? Because I am certain that I have gotten food poisoning from sardines more often than everything else put together, by a very wide margin. :D I don't even eat them anymore at under eighty percent unless absolutely necessary.

Also, first post here, love this game so much and really looking forward to the new episode(s). I grew up in the midwest with a father who loves camping, foraging, hunting, fishing, and survival. As a kid back in the days of 8-bit consoles, riding my bike to school in the winter, hiking with my dad, playing at the local creek, or camping, I imagined a game almost exactly like The Long Dark, and playing it is like seeing that become real. Thanks for that. I hope someday to see a sequel with changing seasons. That would be epic. 

Welcome! Nope, nothing against tinned sardines specifically. Glad you're enjoying the game!

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Question from @TheIncredibleHibby:

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Are there any plans for making bones usable/harvestable from carcasses? Not only are there practical uses but I keep eying the bones I see in the bear caves and honestly...I so want to collect them and use them as decorations around my base because I'm weird like that :P

I think it's a good idea, and makes sense.

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Question from @Smellyfries:

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Are you going to make accessing more buildings without a need for a loading screen like Timber Wolf Mountain's mountain cabin? 

There are already a few. We add them sparingly because of how our rendering system works -- you'll notice that locations like the Mountaineer's Hut don't have the same moody lighting somewhere like Trapper's Cabin. It's nice to be able to see outside the windows but you also lose a lot of the atmosphere of interior spaces, and there are other things we can do with the other type of interior that's connected using a load screen. Unfortunately, when we started making The Long Dark back in 2013, we were using an older version of Unity that didn't support world streaming. With the current version, we could make a streaming world but our current content isn't compatible with it. It's something we think a lot about, but the investment required to go back and remake all our content is huge, at this point, so it's probably not something we'll tackle until our next game.

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Question from @StrayCat:

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What is the explanation for replacing the brand by a torch, and replacing brandishing by throwing ? Is there an explanation, coding problem, or anything else we haven't understood ?

The Torch came first. Throwing it is a deterrent vs. wildlife. Then we added the Brand, as a "small torch" and introduce Brandishing gameplay to provide an alternative solution to deterring wolves. That mechanic was hard for players to understand and created  a lot of confusion for people. It also felt redundant given they were two different solutions to the same problem. In the end, we removed Brandishing and brought back the reliance on *throwing* items to deter wolves, vs. waving them around, because it created a simpler to understand relationship between cause and effect.

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Question from @Hotzn:

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Why have candles, binoculars and a rifle scope not found their way into the game?

These items have landed on the wishlist on these forums countless times since the first days, I think they would make sense both theme-wise and mechanics-wise, and I can't see any reason - apart from potential technical issues - why they never came. I imagine that the graphical zoom binoculars or a scope would allow might cause technical problems with the graphics (maybe performance loss, maybe the game is technically not set up to enable a zoom, maybe it would interfere with spawn distances of animals, whatever). With candles maybe it causes problems that... they would have to become smaller and smaller while burning? For candles I really can't come up with an explanation really.

For all the items named above it is not bugging me that they are not there. But it is somehow bugging me that I don't understand WHY they are not there. So a brief explanation would put my mind at rest, and maybe other minds as well...

 

Quick answer -- same reason why lots of things aren't in the game. Priorities. :)

Longer answer -- Binocs and scopes introduce a bunch of rendering challenges for us that we don't have good solutions for, and the work involved with supporting them is not in line with the value they offer players. For Candles...we run into issues of how to visualize candle status and we have to track potentially dozens or hundreds of candle "states" in the world which is tricky.

All of these things are doable if we're willing to invest sufficient time and energy into them, but so far we haven't felt they were worth the effort, despite how often they are requested. You can do anything, but you can't do everything!

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Question from @Doc Feral:

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Have you considered answering more often to the Wishlist? Some "maybe" "yes" or "no way" would avoid the countless cloned topics about cougars, candles, rabbitskin headgear and so on, for good or for ill.

Nope. :) We read it and that's the extent of our interaction with it. No sense in commenting on every Wishlist post, because apart from things we think (today) that we absolutely wouldn't do, or would like to do, both of which could change over time, there's very little for us to say. Also, not everyone in the community is good at differentiating between things we'd like to do, and things we are committing to doing, and so if we say "that's a cool idea, we'll add it to the list" and for some reason it doesn't happen, people who wanted that thing are pissed off and then try to make our lives difficult. It hasn't happened often, but it's happened often enough to not be worth it. 

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Question from @Mystery guy:

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What are your thoughts on a map editor tool to allow players to create new maps similar to jow the free to play game “unturned” handles it?

 

Hey! Mod tools are something we'd like to be able to offer in the future, but they need a lot of documentation and support on our part, because creating content for our game isn't actually that easy. So yes it's something I'd like to be able to offer but not until we can support it properly, especially to ensure that mods don't break other people's games. 

*****

Thanks for your questions and if I didn't get to yours, I'll do my best to respond to it next week! Have a great weekend.

- Raph

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

My sense is it could come from a combination of things. 1) Deeper "primitive" survival tools and mechanics for when you've long run out of handy leftover stuff.

Has anybody actually played through to test exactly how long it would take to completely "run out" of handy leftover stuff?

I suspect it would be many, many hundreds of game-days, even if you weren't being terribly careful or miserly with your stuff. To me the game doesn't really need "primitive" tools, because the point where you genuinely need them is virtually never reached by the vast majority of players. It's not the long, long game where the game starts to stagnate for me: it's the 'middle-part', after you've got over the initial emergency situation at the start and become 'established'. Then you just face hundreds of game-days ahead of you doing more-or-less the same thing, before you even contemplate "running out" of anything.

I might test it myself, actually.

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Really good questions this week, and some really good, honest, and to-the-point answers.  

1 hour ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

 

Question from @Looper:

My sense is it could come from a combination of things. 1) Deeper "primitive" survival tools and mechanics for when you've long run out of handy leftover stuff. 2) Deeper customization options, particularly around shelters/safehouses, so that you can create a sense of "home" that provides an anchor for your existence in the world, and 3) more non-critical activities that help fill up the time. We could also introduce more "mental" aspects to survival but to me something like that would require a deeper overhaul of the game's core systems.

In general I think we have lots of good ideas for how to address long-term survival and make it more compelling, we just have to balance time spent on those features against completing the Episodes.

I also think some element of boredom/passivity is actually very truthful to what long-term survival would feel like, and I personally like how much of The Long Dark is about *not* being busy all the time. If you want constant stimulation, go play a shooter. :)

*****

I hate shooters.
I just want Pancakes, and to be able to make candles in TLD.
So I can watch the world burn, one tiny flame at a time.  ¬¬

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5 hours ago, Pillock said:

Has anybody actually played through to test exactly how long it would take to completely "run out" of handy leftover stuff?

I suspect it would be many, many hundreds of game-days, even if you weren't being terribly careful or miserly with your stuff. To me the game doesn't really need "primitive" tools, because the point where you genuinely need them is virtually never reached by the vast majority of players. It's not the long, long game where the game starts to stagnate for me: it's the 'middle-part', after you've got over the initial emergency situation at the start and become 'established'. Then you just face hundreds of game-days ahead of you doing more-or-less the same thing, before you even contemplate "running out" of anything.

I might test it myself, actually.

Primitive tools have other advantages. For example if people want to try surviving on hard in only timberwolf mountains chances are they will find no tools, no weapons, and very little clothing. Since tools are required to make anything, that's it, you run around in your underwear forever and eat rabbits. It would be cool to be able to make a knife and work your way up from nothing without any pre-existing items.

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1 hour ago, odizzido said:

Primitive tools have other advantages. For example if people want to try surviving on hard in only timberwolf mountains chances are they will find no tools, no weapons, and very little clothing. Since tools are required to make anything, that's it, you run around in your underwear forever and eat rabbits. It would be cool to be able to make a knife and work your way up from nothing without any pre-existing items.

You're right, but I don't think it's particularly necessary within the scope of the game as it is now. And it wouldn't really do anything to address the question asked in the Mailbag, which was this:

Quote

How do you see the long term difficulty increased to avoid stagnation / boredom? 

If anything, the ability to make primitive tools - unless other parts of the game were significantly rebalanced - would make the longer-term difficulty less.

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1 hour ago, Pillock said:

You're right, but I don't think it's particularly necessary within the scope of the game as it is now. And it wouldn't really do anything to address the question asked in the Mailbag, which was this:

1 hour ago, Pillock said:

How do you see the long term difficulty increased to avoid stagnation / boredom? 

If anything, the ability to make primitive tools - unless other parts of the game were significantly rebalanced - would make the longer-term difficulty less.

Perfectly honest, I think looking at "making the game more difficult" as the way to combat boredom and stagnation is a HUGE error. Make it more interesting, not more difficult. With all of the sales the game has had, and I mean %-off pricing , not numbers of units sold, more casual gamers, who may have never considered the game before, decided to pick it up and try it. And enjoy the more casual experience modes of Pilgrim, Voyageur, Green Survivor. Not every one wants or needs "MOAR HARDER PLZ!!!!".

We have custom settings. You're a masochist? Set everything to as hard as possible and knock yourself out. I'll sit on the sidelines and watch people do that, then find reasons to complain about "Interloper Custom is *easy*, but needs more tools, and more ways to pass time, and more foods and more crafting and..."

In my honest opinion, more difficulty only appeals to the masochistic crowds, and that is likely NOT the majority of players. Adding things to the game that all players, on any experience mode, vanilla or custom, can find ways to play with, use in unique and maybe unexpected ways. Some of this may have to wait for official Mod support, to allow players to create new content. But I think Hinterland should try to add more ways to add QoL to the game. Thins as simple as washing/bathing, making soap, making candles, combining foods to make more complex recipes, adding new animals like a fox, an owl, a cougar, ect. But honestly, more little things, to give me more to do with my time. Yep. Boredom is part of survival in extreme cases. But, if I had a knife and a branch, IRL, I would be teaching myself to carve a walking stick, or whittle figurines to make a chess board, making snowmen/snowwomen outside, to substitute for human company (similar to haw we use computers and social media to substitute for face-to-face contact with other people... chimpbot and other interactive AI are more popular that one would expect. Little things that simulate what we *might* do if this were a for-reals situation. Humans would find ways to amuse themselves. As a species, we always have done so.

Difficulty isn't the answer in my opinion. A variety of things, possibly useless in terms of survival, but more engaging in terms of immersion, are what are needed to motivate some of us to try to survive for more days, and overcome some of out boredom after playing for a few thousand hours. Just my *strong* opinions on it. Your Mileage May Vary. Widely.

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Actually Pancakelady I think you completely miss the point. The game shouldn't be harder. It should keep the difficulty from the first 20-30 days with new survival aspects the next 30 days. As said in several posts including above the game becomes somewhat repetitive after initial crisis over. For me survival should pose new challenges when initial crisis is over:

  • Bad nutirition from eating only meats. 
  • You need baths to avoid long term illness requiring lot of heat and water
  • Dry wood and possible heating interior to not sleep and live in winter clothes.
  • Maybe longer and colder blizzards come in to force you to heat interiors for like 2-3 days to survive. This would support the "plan ahead" idea of the game. 

Further there should be incentives to go explore. F.i. in my current run ive based in ML around 50 days with all gear crafted. I've visited PV, ML, CH, TWM, FM. I can live of fish and game in the cave almost indefinitely. Why would I go to MT or BR? Right now to get more wetstones.

One aspect of long dark which is compelling could be the search and use of books. Books is by far the most demanding mechanic in Interlooper  since it requires nutrition thirst, warmth and well-rest plus considerable time. So maybe more middlegame books. There are some features that a survivor wouldn't know without guidance f.i. books for crafting-skill.

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15 minutes ago, Looper said:

Actually Pancakelady I think you completely miss the point. The game shouldn't be harder. It should keep the difficulty from the first 20-30 days with new survival aspects the next 30 days. As said in several posts including above the game becomes somewhat repetitive after initial crisis over. For me survival should pose new challenges when initial crisis is over:

  • Bad nutirition from eating only meats. 
  • You need baths to avoid long term illness requiring lot of heat and water
  • Dry wood and possible heating interior to not sleep and live in winter clothes.
  • Maybe longer and colder blizzards come in to force you to heat interiors for like 2-3 days to survive. This would support the "plan ahead" idea of the game. 

Further there should be incentives to go explore. F.i. in my current run ive based in ML around 50 days with all gear crafted. I've visited PV, ML, CH, TWM, FM. I can live of fish and game in the cave almost indefinitely. Why would I go to MT or BR? Right now to get more wetstones.

One aspect of long dark which is compelling could be the search and use of books. Books is by far the most demanding mechanic in Interlooper  since it requires nutrition thirst, warmth and well-rest plus considerable time. So maybe more middlegame books. There are some features that a survivor wouldn't know without guidance f.i. books for crafting-skill.

Lol! I think you missed the point, that what I wrote is basically the same as what you wrote, and neither has anything to do with "difficulty". My objection was to the word "difficulty" being used.

Difficulty = make things harder.

Variety = make things more interesting,, more varied, more to do, things that may or may not increase "difficulty". 

Semantics.

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16 hours ago, Pillock said:

Has anybody actually played through to test exactly how long it would take to completely "run out" of handy leftover stuff?

Any time I have played a serious world-tour game in which I search everything, loot everything, and amass a hoard of gear, I have never come even close to running out of anything.  I technically did come close once, but that's because I was playing a run in which I started in, stayed in, and never left Mystery Lake.  It was over 400 days in that I started to run low on arrow shafts.  But that's 400 days on JUST Mystery Lake. I still had the entire rest of the world I could have explored and looted.

In terms of practicality, I do not think you can run out of anything, provided you take the time to gather all of the game world's resources, and do everything in your power to maximize their usability.   You're more likely to make a simple mistake that ends up getting you killed, or grow tired of that run and start over.

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1 hour ago, ajb1978 said:

In terms of practicality, I do not think you can run out of anything, provided you take the time to gather all of the game world's resources, and do everything in your power to maximize their usability.   You're more likely to make a simple mistake that ends up getting you killed, or grow tired of that run and start over.

@ajb1978  totally agree... Those are the "ends" that happen to me usually.. Get cocky and waltz int an area i know a bear is patrolling cause i m in day 400+ right?, so the bear is not he..ARRRGggHHHHHHH!!!

That's one of the things i love about the game, it makes you as your best enemy. Not the wolves or bears or blizzards. You and your wrong decissions, either out of panic or cockiness.

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3 hours ago, MrBlack said:

@ajb1978  totally agree... Those are the "ends" that happen to me usually.. Get cocky and waltz int an area i know a bear is patrolling cause i m in day 400+ right?, so the bear is not he..ARRRGggHHHHHHH!!!

That's one of the things i love about the game, it makes you as your best enemy. Not the wolves or bears or blizzards. You and your wrong decissions, either out of panic or cockiness.

Quonset has punished my cockiness more times than I care to admit.

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23 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:
Quote

How do you see the long term difficulty increased to avoid stagnation / boredom? 

My sense is it could come from a combination of things. 1) Deeper "primitive" survival tools and mechanics for when you've long run out of handy leftover stuff. 2) Deeper customization options, particularly around shelters/safehouses, so that you can create a sense of "home" that provides an anchor for your existence in the world, and 3) more non-critical activities that help fill up the time. We could also introduce more "mental" aspects to survival but to me something like that would require a deeper overhaul of the game's core systems.

In general I think we have lots of good ideas for how to address long-term survival and make it more compelling, we just have to balance time spent on those features against completing the Episodes.

I also think some element of boredom/passivity is actually very truthful to what long-term survival would feel like, and I personally like how much of The Long Dark is about *not* being busy all the time. If you want constant stimulation, go play a shooter. :)

I like this answer a lot.  I look forward to small additions of optional complexity that add depth and variety without growing the checklist of things I NEED in order to survive. Things that will give me a benefit but could be ignored or used as I saw fit.

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14 hours ago, ThePancakeLady said:

Lol! I think you missed the point, that what I wrote is basically the same as what you wrote, and neither has anything to do with "difficulty". My objection was to the word "difficulty" being used.

Difficulty = make things harder.

Variety = make things more interesting,, more varied, more to do, things that may or may not increase "difficulty". 

Semantics.

I think it is to do with difficulty. Variety of activity is all fine and good, as well, but it's not the most important thing for me. The appeal of the game for me is as a survival challenge. That is, if I don't feel challenged to keep my character alive, then the game becomes less appealing (and at that point I normally quit a run and start a new one, or just take a break from playing TLD altogether).

The difficulty (ie. the level of challenge) at the start of the game can be quite intense, depending on where you start and which settings you're using. But it tends to flatten out in my experience, regardless of experience mode, custom settings or starting location, after about 20 or 30 or 40 days, to a point where your character has all the necessary equipment to keep going at a fairly consistent rate. The next logical 'phase' would be the depletion of resources forcing you to adapt and change your routine. But the problem for me (and it may not be seen as a problem by all players) is that this next phase of gameplay won't occur for hundreds - if not thousands - of further game-days. And I think it's fair to assume that most people don't have the patience to wait that long. I don't, anyway.

To me, the game would be improved if the basic survival challenge - finding/catching food, keeping warm, keeping hydrated, being able to sleep - was more consistently difficult beyond the initial 20, 30, 40 days when you're getting your desired equipment together, and well before the theoretical 5000th day when supplies run out. You can have accidents, get careless, run into a dangerous animal, etc., and that can throw a spanner in your works temporarily - but generally, once you're set, you're set.

To me it doesn't matter how many 'extra' tasks are available - more crafting, base customization, ornamental wood carving, whatever. If the survival challenge isn't present any more after a certain point, the game loses it's appeal then and there. And giving players even more ways to achieve their survival imperatives (primitive tools/firestarting?), especially at an early stage of the game, would only serve to exacerbate this, I think.

It's not about wanting to be masochistic: it's about wanting a more consistent difficulty curve (if that's the right terminology) over the course of a play-through. I like the Custom settings a lot, and I've found that they can certainly increase the starting-point difficulty level, and they can also extend the initial "survival-challenge" period by a bit; but I haven't found a way for them to entirely get rid of this 'difficulty-plateau', or to significantly bring forward the Day When Supplies Run Out. I've tried.

Instead of adding a greater variety of long-term luxuries, distractions, or crafting options, I'd be much more in favour of the devs adding more long-term health afflictions, sudden pitfalls and disaster management! Rather than stuff that relieves tedium by distraction, I'd prefer simply not to allow any tedium to occur in the first place.

Maybe I should just go play a shooter? 

Edited by Pillock
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@Pillock - I suppose we will have to agree to disagree. 

I really enjoy the early game the stress, the struggle, the fight to get my feet under me. And yep. Once I get settled, kitted out, and able to fend for myself, I do get bored, and abandon runs. But making the game more difficult, making me struggle constantly, for 100, 200, 500, 1000 days, with no break, never getting settled, never "winning"... I would quit. Quit playing, altogether. The issue for me is not a drop in enjoyment of the game, but boredom from lack of things to do. IRL, I get bored, I actually do make soap from fats and lye water. I actually do make candles from scratch. I actually do knit and crochet. I actually do clean my home and organize it. I actually do arts & crafts, and a number of other things, including playing video games and tabletop games.  I don;t need to be "buzzed" constantly IRL, I don;t want to be "buzzed" constantly in a video game. But I do want more to do than sit on my hands waiting for nothing. Activities that would be somewhat labor intensive, that I would need to collect materials and resources for, that I would need to decide for myself if I wanted to quilt a blanket out of old mattress stuffing and scrap cloth... Give me things to do that have some gameplay benefit to them, but aren't necessary. Quality of Life. Matters in the real world, matters in games. I roleplay. I want to make my lonely, solo, isolated life as comfy and mentally pleasing to me as possible. And keep my hands and mind busy while I do it. As myself, in real life, and as my character, in my in-game roleplaying. I don't get bored because I am "comfy". I get bored because not having enjoyable things to do from time to time is boring. I can't even read all of the books that are lying around in the world. I can only burn them. Jeezus, if this were real life, I would be reading evey scrap of paper I found, just to keep my mind from rotting away.

So... we agree to disagree. I have my opinions and you have yours.  :)

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@Pillock I don't see it as an either/or scenario, which is why I said I think the issue can be addressed by multiple things. Having more "primitive" gameplay and tools may not appeal to you, but you are one type of players. Also, the question was how to deal with long-term boredom/stagnation, not how to strengthen the mid-game. If that had been the question, my answer would have been different. :)

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20 minutes ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

@Pillock I don't see it as an either/or scenario, which is why I said I think the issue can be addressed by multiple things. Having more "primitive" gameplay and tools may not appeal to you, but you are one type of players. Also, the question was how to deal with long-term boredom/stagnation, not how to strengthen the mid-game. If that had been the question, my answer would have been different. :)

Being the one who asked the question I can say it was aiming at precisely the things described by Pillock so well (good semantics).

So the natural follow up would be: How do you see the middle-game survival difficulty increased to match the early-game ultra-fun struggle to survival ? How will you strengthen the middle game? :) 

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@Raphael van Lierop Thank you for the response. I'm happy that these things are / have been in your thoughts in terms of making improvements. It's your game and your vision, and I'm happy with that as a bottom line in terms of judging the game; but it's also very encouraging to know that you are listening to players' feedback and taking it into account. I look forward to whatever new additions there may be - especially if they involve greater depth in the survival challenge aspects!

And @ThePancakeLady: I don't disagree with you completely. I am not totally opposed to the idea of adding more 'quality of life' tasks or items. I think base customization would add a lot to the sense of immersion in the scenario, even if it didn't add anything to the core survival elements. It'd be a positive change. Likewise, I think primitive tool-making or firestarting techniques would add an interesting new dimension to the gameplay, and I'm all in favour of that sort of thing; my only concern would be how that were balanced against the availability of existing equivalent tools in the gameworld, but I'm completely sure that Hinterland would be on top of that if they did decide to go ahead with it!

There's one thing I would pick you up on, though, about putting in "time-filler" crafting options, like making candles, soap, blankets, whittling ornaments, knitting, and so on:
In a real situation, it would be the act of making something that would appeal to me, above anything else, rather than necessarily using the finished product. Like you suggest, it'd be a way of keeping your mind active and staving off boredom. But in the game, how would it work? Would it make for the same appeal? The way crafting currently works is you click on a menu, select the item you want to craft, select the time you want to spend on it, then you watch a time-accelerated progress bar. That whole appeal or purpose of actually occupying the time and your mind in an activity isn't fulfilled - at all! It would be the same as giving players the option to "read" the non-skill-based books you can find: it'd just be another time-acceleration method without results. And therefore fairly worthless in gameplay terms. 

In general, I think if the devs want to add more ways to keep players occupied in their longer-lived runs, it'd be better if they prioritized primarily keeping us on our toes with necessary survival tasks and threat-to-life problems to overcome, rather than with lots of extra "stuff to make" that we don't actually need. But I'd hope there is room for both - QoL aspects are important for the atmosphere and immersion, and that's a big factor in this game's appeal. I also do pause to appreciate the scenery and sunsets, to watch the wildlife, and write in my journal, and to contemplate the nature of the predicament my character is in. I like that that aspect of the game exists. My only niggle is that the Mid-game flat-line of survival challenge urgency is too long-lasting - it's literally into the 1000s of days - and there's just a bit too little potential for disaster to interrupt it and throw you off course after that point.

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Again, very interesting Dispatch. I find it totally amazing to be able to follow the development of TLD in so many aspects. Did I really only pay 20 € or so for this experience? Unbelievable.

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"I also think some element of boredom/passivity is actually very truthful to what long-term survival would feel like, and I personally like how much of The Long Dark is about *not* being busy all the time."

This is actually one of my favorite elements of the game! I go long stretches sitting in my little cabin, nothing to mend or cook or read, waiting for the sun to rise or the blizzard to pass. It's a stark contrast with the frantic, adrenaline-filled seconds of an unexpected wolf attack, or the slow, tense dread of a long trek to the next safe location, constantly listening for footsteps and barks. I like the meditative pace. The indifference of nature imposes its own schedule.

Also, these mailbags are super fun to read, and Raph has the patience of a saint to answer all our silly questions. :)

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Point of clarity @Raphael van Lierop,

Regarding the question and answer below.  You indicate that there are no plans to allow players to move bodies in game.  Aside from the fact that "it's meant to be," would part of the reason there are no plans for it be due to technical reasons?  I ask simply out of curiosity as there are no other "containers" that can be moved in game.  Sorry to equate bodies to containers but they do function as such. 

Will you allow us to move or bury bodies? Its very disconcerting sharing my camp with a corpse. 

Good. It's meant to be. 

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On 13/08/2018 at 12:01 PM, Swales said:

This is actually one of my favorite elements of the game! I go long stretches sitting in my little cabin, 

Oi, what I wouldn't give to be able to sit in one of those friggin' chairs, or lie down on one of those couches. And, I mean, in-game-- with camera animation for any of those moves to/from furniture.

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