Raphael van Lierop

Milton Mailbag -- Dispatch #16

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Hello everyone,

Before jumping into this week's Mailbag, I just wanted to draw your attention to two things:

1) We published my November dev diary this week; it includes news on our December release plans and a delay on Episode Three. If you haven't already read it, please do so. It also talks about a Story Mode save wipe coming in December: https://www.thelongdark.com/uncategorized/dev-diary-november-2018/

2) We just released the game's soundtrack on Bandcamp. This might be interesting for some of our console players, as before now you could only get the soundtrack on Steam. https://hinterlandstudio.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-the-long-dark-volume-one

And now, to your questions!

*****

Question from @jerry486:

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Thank you for answering my cockpit question in the last MM, I am looking forward to finding it one day. I have some more: 1) What difficulty do you play this game on / find itmost enjoyable? 2) IMO the Ravine is a great region but has lots of potential to become more than just a transition zone. It' s so iconic with its train bridge. Would you consider expanding this region? Perhaps adding some rope spots / cave systems? I would love to sip coffee under that bridge without having to cheat my way down there ;) 

This is a fun little region, for sure! One of the reasons we added the crashed crummy at the bottom and opened up the area a bit so that you can explore and survive down there (sort of) was because we'd like it to lead somewhere in the future. Kind of a "three-way" transition zone, that links up Mystery Lake, Coastal Highway, and [secret place].

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Question from @Tri13:

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Is there a plan for a Christmas version of The Long Dark sort of like 4 Days Of Night.

With us releasing Redux and a new Survival Mode update in December, we won't also have time for a Christmas event. But, we learned a lot from 4DON this year and I think we'd like to do more events like it (not only seasonal ones though), so maybe this is something we can aim for next year. It *is* kind of the game for Christmas time, really.

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Question from @BESt:

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When you are exiting Milton, you can see in your left, right before you enter the Mistery Lake transitional cave, a train. In which map can it be found?

Hmm...do you mean the stretch of highway and the little bridge you can see down the vista point? You're meant to be able to see Mackenzie's plane from there as well, which is why we created that little vista. (You can also see down to it from the ravine you crash into at the beginning of Episode One.) That area is not currently playable space and suggests a future linkage to a future region.

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Question from @MueckE:

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Why wasn't there an annoucement in the Forum about the 4 Days Event? I really wanted to play it this year :(

There was! We created a whole dedicated sub-forum for it. We also posted info on our website, all our social media channels, Steam forums and an announcement, and sent a message out to our mailing list(s). There was even an in-game notification as soon as you started the game.

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Question from @greatwhitegamer:

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Will you ever do a stream or something of you playing TLD? I understand that you are a very busy person, but I think a lot of people here would enjoy it if you did. 

Probably not because it would be SO BORING for you to watch this. There are tons of streamers in our community who are way better at this than me. :) 

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Question from @TropicalSurvivor:

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1 - If the Carter Dam has been disable for decades, from where electricity comes when the Aurora appears in the sky? Does the Great Bear Island have any other source of energy?

2 - The crashed plane hit the Timberwolf Moutain due to some problem during the flight or would it land on the island and ended up hitting the mountain? The plane had an electric pane during the First Flare like Mackenzie's plane or this accident happened at another time? If yes, was it before or after the Mackenzie accident?

 

1 - One of the mysterious things about the aurora is how it can "animate" old technology. This goes way beyond just Carter Dam -- you'll see it on streelights, inside and outside houses, car headlights, etc. 

2 - The plane atop Timberwolf Mountain crashed in the same event that brought Mackenzie's plane down near the outskirts of Milton.

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Question(s) from @thekillergreece:

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Hey Raph! I have a few questions.

1. Estimated time of release on next sandbox update? Or are you focused on delivering Episode 3 first?

2. Will NPCs ever make an introduction in Sandbox mode? If so, how would they behave? Hostile? Friendly? Neutral? Like... Would we see human patrols who would shoot you on sight and perhaps predators attacking them. Open-area shootout would attract deadly predators but I dont think this sounds good idea for this type game.

3. Will there ever be wildlife fights? Like.. a pack of wolves attacking a bear or even the moose. I remember this was in the roadmap but I was just wondering if this is still being considered.

4. Have you ever thought implementing a region inspired from... The Thing? :) - Or even a region based in something more city-like. Obviously this sounds quite a lot resource and time consuming.

5. Will the vehicles ever be more.. useful during Aurora? I have seen in some trailers as well as wallpapers that:

- There was a bridge area where it was filled with more than 20 vehicles something which apparently will not happen or it was for future region.

- All vehicles would flash their car lights and sort of stuff but none of these happen in-game.

I would really love Aurora be something useful. Make fridges usable, ovens usable, radiators usable and so on.

That's all, thanks!

 

I'm going to cherry-pick from this long list:

* Next Survival Mode update is in December; check our latest Dev Diary.

* I have ideas for how to get more of "The Thing" into The Long Dark.

* A lot of cars have their lights flashing during the aurora, so you just need to play the game at night more. :) Also, there are Buffer Memories to be found (narrative collectibles that only appear during the Aurora). Also, there is a Flashlight that becomes usable during the Aurora which works to scare wolves off (when you use the "intense" beam). These are just a few examples of how the Aurora is "useful". It is also dangerous. 

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Question from @JohnWalks:

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What is the next element of survival mode you'd be looking at adding, upgrading or changing? 

My personal wish list would look something like this, 

Bushcraft update, fishing overhaul, hunting and skinning upgrade, repair /sharpening /cleaning mini games  but also able to auto skip, more clothes, more animals etc. 

But literally anything you do is totally fine. 

Kind regards 

John 

 

The *next* elements of Survival Mode we'll be changing are the ones we're adding for the December survival mode update. Beyond that, there is certainly a big list of things we'd like to do, but I try to avoid getting into details because it can create false expectations and sometimes people end up feeling sad/mad about it later. I like your list, though!

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Question from @Temchik:

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Как вы построили ГЭС?  У вас была на примете какая-то станция и вы её вставили в игру или вы сами её придумали? Эх... Помню время, когда она была маленькой и пустой. Когда на ней жил волк. Флаффи, если не ошибаюсь.'

Google Translation:

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How did you build a hydropower plant? Did you have some kind of station in mind and did you put it into the game or did you invent it yourself? Eh ... I remember the time when it was small and empty. When the wolf lived on it. Fluffy, if I'm not mistaken.

We based it on a bunch of reference images of abandoned dams and other industrial locations, but the design and layout is our idea (maybe it doesn't actually make sense if you are a dam engineer!). I wanted to make sure that in addition to this beautiful wilderness, there would be interesting abandoned industrial locations to explore, inspired by games like Fallout and STALKER. The whale processing plant in Desolation Point is another example of this kind of abandoned industrial location. I love the feeling of exploring those spaces.

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Question from @Strategizer:

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1.  Do you have any plans to add craft able headgear/hat?  It could be made of Racoon, Bagger or another new animal.

2.  Are there any plans to add additional Challenges to the game?  AND expand each existing Challenge to include a featured Leaderboard tracking a few (3-6) key things specific to each challenge?  

3.  Are there any plans to add permanent health/"Condition" reduction to your character for each and every serious event the player experiences?  So that you would not be back to a full 100% by taking a aspirin and a nap after a Wolf shreds open your arm.   Say reducing your maximum obtainable condition by 0/1/2/3%  per "event" based on the 4 difficulty settings.

 

For 1 & 2: I would say the best answer is...play our December Survival mode update. :) For 3) We already do this with Frostbite, but it could be extended with future afflictions. Most players don't like the idea of not being able to fully recover, but I could see it working for more challenging Experience Modes. I personally like the idea of becoming this hobbling wreck of a survivor due to my millions of sprains/cuts/bruises/dysentery fails. But, I'm weird that way.

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Question from @hozz1235:

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Regarding the names you chose for regions and buildings, etc.:  How did you decide on those names?  Some are pretty self-explanatory (Broken RR, Ravine) but others are more...unique (Forlorn Muskeg, Quonset Garage, etc.).  Are those based upon real locations, perhaps from a favorite book or just made up?

In the early days I chose intentionally "generic" names because the sandbox world was supposed to be more of the "idea" of what the world would eventually become, so the names would be replaced with more specific names later. But, then the names became the names and we've mostly stuck with that. We try to give the regions more descriptive names so that you get a feeling about them, and the locations are mostly generic also, apart from some specific places that have history in our world, like Milton, or Carter Dam, or Hibernia, etc.

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Questions from @NardoLoopa:

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When originally envisioned, did you think of the game as being naturally terminal?  That is, eventually even the most skilled players would exhaust the resources of Bear Island to the point where perpetual existence is unlikely.  There are several things that point to this beautiful fatalism: cloth, metal, maple and birch are not renewable.  I personally, find this a poetically satisfying part of the game, though I assume I'm in the minority.  It's one aspect of the game that makes it stand out: the inevitability of death -- only something that can be deferred, never truly conquered (much like how you never really become invulnerable to any of the dangers of the game).

If so, what was your team's opinion on how many days the most skilled survivor could have possibly lived? (maybe around v1.0)  What report of survival (in Days), first surprised the team?

Has the vision changed as the game seeks a wider audience?  Many of the suggestion in this forum, about where the game should go, would undermine an inevitable demise.  E.g. Just adding a craftable hat is a brick from that wall.

 

Yes, I always saw Survival Mode being naturally terminal. I think this, plus permadeath, creates a sense of very high stakes where your choices really matter, and I wouldn't want to lose that. WINTERMUTE needs something different because the player psychology there is very different. But for Survival, it's very thematic to be this small nothing in this vast uncaring nature and so eventually you WILL die, and maybe you SHOULD die. Everything we add to the game -- including new gear items or craftable clothing like the new Hat -- maybe help extend your life, give you one more chance to keep going, but eventually you ARE going to die (unless you cheat). There's just no way you will NEVER end up in a situation where you are too lost, too cold, too hungry, too weak from injuries, etc. Even if you store tons of supplies and hunker down in your favourite place and just pass time for days and days...you're going to go crazy and need to get outside and...maybe do something risky just to feel alive again.

When we first started working on the mechanics, it was a challenge to survive 5-6 days. Now it's very achievable. Partly because you have way more tools, way more resources (can't find something in a house, go to another house; stripped a region of human-made stuff, move to another region, etc.). Part of the challenge is building an experience that can cater to a lot of different play styles and levels of skill/interest in survival vs. people who just want to soak up the atmosphere and explore.

I don't think the vision has changed as the audience as broadened. It's also possible to balance things out by introducing new risks -- we may focus on giving you new toys to play with, but then we can also bring in new things to toy with you. :) In short, I think the fact that you can't "win" Survival Mode is really core to the experience, was always the intention, and isn't going to change.

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Question from @Pillock:

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Do you think it would ever be possible (technologically) to have buildings or other structures catch fire or be destroyed or damaged during the course of a single game (by fire, or perhaps severe weather)? Do you think this would be a desirable gameplay feature?

"Ever" suggests a pretty long timeline, so yes when we get to that scale it's entirely possible. It's not possible in the game with the way the world is currently built. We try to "simulate" this by swapping intact houses for burnt our husks as part of the "randomness" of our regions, to suggest that this house or another was burned out in a fire. 

In terms of fire propagation as a gameplay feature -- I love the idea of it, and I think it can be really interesting in certain experiences (ex. Far Cry 2), but I'm not sure if it would be useful for us at this point? Maybe in a future game.

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Question from @Serenity:

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1.) Are there any plants to update the animal pathing a bit? Deer often get stuck on fallen trees or in corners. And when shot animals sometimes take weird routes up steep hills that make them impossible to track. Though I realize that that's difficult to fix

2.) Why do bear noses glow in the dark?

 

1) Yes. 2) Allergic to aurorae I guess.

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Question from @AndrasLibor:

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Also thought about repairing clothes. What I like about the game is that you can make so much clothes from hides of different animals. What happens, after you run out of sewing kits - I mean ALL, that can be found - and you want to repair your clothes? Are there any ideas about repairing clothes with an "all-natural" sewing kit - nails from bones, etc.

You can currently use Fishing Hooks/Lines in place of the Sewing Kits. I could see is expanding to use Bones as a material in the future.

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Question from @ThePancakeLady:

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A great number of things have gone right, and a few have gone wrong. Such is life for everyone and everything. And we all look back and wish we had done a thing or things differently.  Hindsight is NOT always 20/20, but it tends to sharpen our view of what may have made things easier or more difficult. Looking back, what ONE thing do you wish you had done differently, and what do you think the results of that different choice would have been? I know, choosing one single thing is difficult, and pays no attention to how things are intertwined in the life and growth of a creative process and product. But you don't have time to write a novella for an answer, so one thing only, the "If I had only..." thought that flicks the back of your brain the most often. 

No countdown for the lead up to our launch trailer/PS4 reveal in 2017. I just really misread that moment. I was so excited to FINALLY be able to share a release date, a trailer showing off the first footage of our story mode content, and share news about bringing the game to PS4, and I just thought everyone would be as excited about it as I was. The event ended up turning a bunch of people against the studio and me personally, led to lot of hostility and personal attacks, soured a relationship with an entire part of our community, and made me feel a lot more protective of my team, and drove me to do as much as possible to shelter them from exposure to this kind of hostility in the future, by really limiting access and insights into our studio and people. 

To be clear, a lot of studios get it a lot worse than we did (and do) and a lot of individual developers (mostly women) experienced way more serious harassment than I did (and do), but the whole thing kind of made me (temporarily) lose faith in the people we are making the experience for, and it really sapped some motivation and put us on the defensive heading into our launch. So, if I hadn't done the countdown thing we probably wouldn't have ended up in that place. I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm comfortable with my choices there and how it's hardened my feelings about our role as a studio and creators with regards to our community and the industry as a whole. I guess the short way of saying it would be, I regret that that test had to happen, but the test ultimately helped harden some resolve around certain beliefs I have and so in the end I've come to find peace with it.

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Question from @PlayerPawn:

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In the trailer, towards the end, there is a quick clip of a bear rushing the player with a flare gun and you hear a distinctive *click* indicating that the flare gun wasn't loaded.  I know I've seen numerous posts here and elsewhere where people attempt to use the flare gun only to realize they forgot to reload it.  Obviously it's user error and often results in a humorous anecdotes of people doing the same.  Just curious if that was a sort of nod to this.

Yup. Not automatically loading/readying the player's weapons as part of our "no hand holding" philosophy. That moment in the trailer captures it pretty perfectly. :)

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Question from @StrangerFromTheInternet:

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was really surprised when I heard that The Long Dark would be removed from the GOG store. Can you shed some light on what made you take this decision?

Just a business decision, like dozens I make every day. We'll continue supporting the GOG build for our existing customers so nobody is negatively impacted by this removal.

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Question from @Skelegutplays:

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Will thetre be any mutually exclusive (pick one and you cant pick the other) choices in the story mode redux?

Yes.

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Question from @Faithful Cartographer:

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1. In what about half of December will the update be released? First or second?

2. You wrote in the developer diary that a new challenge will be added to the game. There's a chance it'll be a The Hunted, Part Three?

 

1 - Second half.  2 - No, it's something else.

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Question from @peteloud:

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I have seen references to TLD v1.39, but not in this forum.  What is TLD v1.39?

That's the update that turned off our 4DON event, once it was finished.

*****

So that's all the Mailbag questions for this week. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to submit questions and I hope you find the answers interesting. See you for the next Mailbag! And don't forget about the November Dev Diary and Bandcamp Soundtrack, mentioned at the top of this post.

Enjoy your weekends!

- Raph

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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.

If you want to know if a topic has been addressed please check the Milton Mailbag Index.

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A dev diary and a mailbag on one day. Lovely to read again, thanks for investing time into this. Much appreciated! :D
I couldn't resist laughing at why bear noses glow in the dark. x'D

About the countdown in 2017, the mixed feelings in the community were weird to experience. Some reactions (looks at writing negative reviews as respone) were way out of proportion. But I think you also have a very good and positive point, this is a nice and healthy community compared to what most forums and devs have to endure. I like going to this forum, cheers on everyone!

I'm looking forward to the next mailbag!

Edit: before I forget: thanks for sharing the reasoning about the GOG change. Much appreciated. like really I do appreciate it. :)

Edited by Blinkin
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I'm glad Raphael brought up the topic of the community's harsh reaction to the "countdown to a countdown" thing. I wish more players would read that. It's quite chilling that "we the gamers" can so recklessly throw around insults and threats towards other human beings.

Take care, people...

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3 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

...I personally like the idea of becoming this hobbling wreck of a survivor due to my millions of sprains/cuts/bruises/dysentery fails. But, I'm weird that way.

dreams.gif.e396040deb1937a59c2cd3909b4c6182.gif

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4 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

Allergic to aurorae I guess.

That explain why they are so angry?

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I have a technical question regarding the organization of Milton Mailbag:

I've posted a question in August:

... and it still hasn't been answered. Is there some "First come first served" system, so that earlier questions get answered first, or are only questions posted since last dispatch selected, or simply: How would I know if my question remains un-answered because it is being ignored, because it was rejected, or because it's still in the queue? 

 

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48 minutes ago, Alcator said:

I have a technical question regarding the organization of Milton Mailbag:

I've posted a question in August:

... and it still hasn't been answered. Is there some "First come first served" system, so that earlier questions get answered first, or are only questions posted since last dispatch selected, or simply: How would I know if my question remains un-answered because it is being ignored, because it was rejected, or because it's still in the queue? 

 

Maybe your question did not make sense? or they thought maybe its not the right time to reply to that question yet? 

Either way they have told us all that they may reply or may not to any questions !  Hey they haven't answered a lot of my questions but yeah I just think Ok that's fine, maybe they don't have an answer at this time of point, or yeah that was a question they taken on board, else a stupid question! and hey maybe in future you see a result.

Edited by nicko
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In the august dev diary you said, that in episode three we will be "exploring a new region". Will it be a totally new region, that isn't in the game yet, or will it be an existing region, that we haven't yet seen through the eyes of the story mode?

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4 hours ago, Forogueman said:

In the august dev diary you said, that in episode three we will be "exploring a new region". Will it be a totally new region, that isn't in the game yet, or will it be an existing region, that we haven't yet seen through the eyes of the story mode?

That is better asked in the MM Questions thread, rather than here. Raph generally does not answer questions asked in the comments after a Dispatch, but will see and maybe answer it if it is in the Questions thread.

http://www.hinterlandforums.com/forums/topic/21075-question-thread-milton-mailbag/

 

Edited by ThePancakeLady
Added link to MM Questions thread

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On 09/11/2018 at 3:21 PM, Raphael van Lierop said:

Why do bear noses glow in the dark?

Wait, I think I've heard this one before. 

Is it, "Bi-yogi-lumines-scents"? 

... 

(I'll l get my coat...) 

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On 2018-11-09 at 5:21 PM, Raphael van Lierop said:

When we first started working on the mechanics, it was a challenge to survive 5-6 days. Now it's very achievable. Partly because you have way more tools, way more resources (can't find something in a house, go to another house; stripped a region of human-made stuff, move to another region, etc.). Part of the challenge is building an experience that can cater to a lot of different play styles and levels of skill/interest in survival vs. people who just want to soak up the atmosphere and explore.

Right now it feels like there needs to be something that makes your character feel more terminal.  With the size of the game world as it is, on Interloper, there are still hundreds of days worth of non-renewable resources.  When the game first came out I loved the feeling of my short romps around Mystery Lake - struggling at first, then a relatively easy time once equipped and clothed, then slowly wearing down due to lack of resources.  Clothing runs out eventually - but with the addition of the craftable hat that is not as big a deal anymore - 2 bearskin coats, 2 deer pants, rabbit gloves and deer boots is not the best gear but it is perfectly serviceable.

Even my outerloper (no entering man-made structures with a loading screen) character still has some cloth and huge amounts of metal left on day 100.

All of my long term interloper characters die of boredom or sudden bad luck - I get sloppy and get attacked by a wolf, or turn a corner to meet two wolves.  I'm also not great at smashing the mouse button...  Once you have some meat saved up, your archery gear and animal clothes made and your skills up you are basically invincible until you screw up or run out of resources - which takes a very, very long time.

A mechanic where you take a small hit of permanent damage similar to frostbite from wolf attacks, falls, etc would put the pressure back on.  Or it could just get colder forever until even the forge at the Riken can't save you....

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Are you planning to expand the game? For example, planting plants and fruits, or hunting birds, adding smoking cigarettes? can you add  this property to the game that when you bring the camera down and into the legs, we can see our limbs, including the chest of the hands And legs. It really feels like we're a human and we're wearing something! Are we going to make bullets in the future? And if so, what new ideas will be added to the game? Thanks for the time you gave us.

Edited by Farhadyazdani

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