Would you like to see gameplay systems surfaced more?


Would you like to see gameplay systems surfaced more?  

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Our philosophy in designing The Long Dark has been to not hold the player's hand throughout. We have embraced the "simulation" paradigm in how we communicate mechanics and expectations to the player -- as much as we can, we try to have systems behave the way you would expect them to in the "real world". The belief is that this approach lets us avoid having to over-explain game systems up front, saying "this is how things work". Rather, we can say "this is the data in response to the decisions you are making -- the rest, you have to figure out".

I'd be really interested in hearing from you, if you think we've found the right balance. Please respond to the poll to help us gather data around this point. Thanks!

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Hey Bill -- I think that choice is captured in the "I think you could guide the player more" response. Too much granularity in a poll like this makes it hard to parse the answers. People will need to choose between whether they like the current direction, whether they'd like more explained, or whether they would like A LOT more explained. :)

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People will need to choose between whether they like the current direction, whether they'd like more explained, or whether they would like A LOT more explained. :)

That quoted wording was perfect -- exactly what I needed to understand the differences being sought from the voting answer. :)

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I want this game to be as realistic as possible.

A pilot with limited survival experience crashing in the wilderness will have to figure things out. I like that.

As the game progresses, there will be online guides, this forum, and fansites for those who need a boost.

With this game, Less is so much more IMHO.

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I want this game to be as realistic as possible. A pilot with limited survival experience crashing in the wilderness will have to figure things out. I like that. As the game progresses, there will be online guides, this forum, and fansites for those who need a boost. With this game, Less is so much more IMHO.

I tend to agree -- and there really is a huge sense of satisfaction with each discovery: "Wow, I've been doing this the hard way -- this new technique will make it a helluva easier now that I've figured it out" type scenario

I think Hinterland is really onto something with the very little hand-holding approach to gaming... it's something that has been missing for years.

Most games that had the approach didn't do it intentionally [they just didn't want to bother adding in programming] -- so it was mostly frustration since those games seemed to skip what was necessary.

In The Long Dark, very different feel -- you know from the start you've got to learn and discover how to survive... the techniques are in the game, but you have to find them and then figure out how to use them. That leads to continued replay value.

Each new discovery makes the game feel fresh and new again

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I want this game to be as realistic as possible.

A pilot with limited survival experience crashing in the wilderness will have to figure things out. I like that.

As the game progresses, there will be online guides, this forum, and fansites for those who need a boost.

With this game, Less is so much more IMHO.

I completely agree with Rob and I like how the game is currently set up. I think half the fun of the game is the aha moments that allow you to last that extra day like, "Oh crap, I can boil water at this camp fire, no more dying of dehydration."

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We also need to think about how others (not us the people that love the game from inception) will see the game. If they play 10 times and can only survive for 2 days at most, which is about ¾ hrs gameplay, they won't be coming back to it too often and then will be complaining about how hard the game is to play.

There needs to be a balance for this that 'know' survival, and those that don't, and this that don't think outside the box.

I admit, I have struggled further than 2 ½ days, while still getting to understand the mechanics of the game, trying to work out whats useable and what isn't, and when to eat and when not too, and I have felt that the eating Pork and beans and 2 Peaches and a MRE (which is quite a lot IRL) doesn't last long in the stomach and next thing I know I'm dying of starvation. . .

there is going to be a fine line, and thats where Raph and the team are going to do the hard yards, because even though in the Alpha, I feel the elements have it over us as too whats in our backpack . . .

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You have to remember though Mac, this is just survival mode. There will also be a story mode, which I assume regular players will be more into and more linear. I think making survival mode, being the open world sandbox that it is, less obvious and more work, makes sense.

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All good feedback, guys. Keep it coming.

Yes, I expect pure sandbox to be harder than story mode, partly because of what story mode needs, and partly because the majority if players will play story first, then go to sandbox to extend the experience.

But story mode is based on the same core mechanics so the level of challenge, if too great, will still be an issue there.

This is really an important question for us since it's really core to the design of the game, and has informed it from the very beginning.

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Make it tough ladies and gentleman, remember how hard Defender, Zaxxon, Tapper, Pacman, Ms. Pacman, Zork, Myst, Ghosts n Goblins, Star Wars pinball, Contra, or even Mario Brothers was?(I can list literally hundreds of hard old games if needed) Bring back the toughness even though it's not to get us pumping quarters into a machine.

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I can see all the points. I voted for "a little more guideance".

I find myself in an discussion with myself, asking me, if this is too hard for me.

I love games but I most of the time I get a bit tired of playing it, if I haven’t at least a little reward. For example, in Far Cry 3 I have loved the crafting system. It shows me, what exactly to collect to improve my surviving skills. This type of thing gives me motivation. Having no orientation is part of the game, I know, but at least cardinal points or something to rely on. Or an optional minimalistic map. Will is a pilot an has (at least) some orientation skills, right?

I know, this is the alpha. But without a target on my list, it feels a bit frustrating when starting again and again.

And I agree on tattooedmac’s opinion.

We also need to think about how others (not us the people that love the game from inception) will see the game. If they play 10 times and can only survive for 2 days at most, which is about ¾ hrs gameplay, they won't be coming back to it too often and then will be complaining about how hard the game is to play.

There needs to be a balance for this that 'know' survival, and those that don't, and this that don't think outside the box.

I admit, I have struggled further than 2 ½ days, while still getting to understand the mechanics of the game, trying to work out whats useable and what isn't, and when to eat and when not too, and I have felt that the eating Pork and beans and 2 Peaches and a MRE (which is quite a lot IRL) doesn't last long in the stomach and next thing I know I'm dying of starvation. . .

there is going to be a fine line, and thats where Raph and the team are going to do the hard yards, because even though in the Alpha, I feel the elements have it over us as too whats in our backpack . . .

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Hearing everything you are saying guys, and thinking about this *a lot*. I think this is really one of the most important questions I hope we can solve through our Alpha playtesting process.

On one hand, it'll come down to intended direction/vision, and I've always said I'm willing to stay the course and make a very challenging game that rewards player investment and (gasp!) *thinking*, even at the expense of sales.

BUT, I also know that if you miss out on many of the game's systems and the nuances of what we have poured into this thing, that's not great either.

Looking for a much larger sample of responses to this question to get a better sense of what the community as a whole thinks, but I know we're sort of blazing some new trails here in terms of overall accessibility/usability and most of what we are trying flies in the face of established, mainstream design and interface as it's existed for the past 10-15 years, so we don't take this lightly. It's a huge philosophical question that lies at the heart of everything we're doing.

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I remember, during the fundraising period or shortly thereafter, that there was some discussion regarding difficulty settings and having a user friendly mode vs. a more hardcore mode. Perhaps a way to solve this would be an option to enable tool tips. I don't know how hard this would be to implement but perhaps have a text popup the first time a user with this function enabled interacts with an item that may need some explanation, and if the setting is disabled, the text doesn't show up.

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If it has to be easy vs. hardcore mode, please give the hardcore players something more than a badge on some dumb network. If you play hardcore there should be an entire different depth in story line and complexity. Part of this for me is having a game I don't throw away after 24 hours of play.

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I don't think it's realistic to expect an entirely different game for "easy and hardcore" players. This isn't a game for "easy" mode. And having different "storyline complexity" for different levels of difficulty isn't realistic either.

I have some ideas for how to handle this "knowledge surfacing" issue -- we'll see if we can't roll some of them out in test builds soon. I don't think conventional difficulty levels are really appropriate for this game. When I think about "hardcore" mode, I think of permadeath and no saves. :)

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Hearing everything you are saying guys, and thinking about this *a lot*. I think this is really one of the most important questions I hope we can solve through our Alpha playtesting process. . . . .

. . . .BUT, I also know that if you miss out on many of the game's systems and the nuances of what we have poured into this thing, that's not great either.

You hit the nail on the head here Raph. THIS is going to be the biggest thing IMHO to work out. Its already been shown that all of us has thought something should of happened/worked for us, because 'x' did, and when we tried it didn't, and you think why not . . .

I dont agree there has to be a easy and hard game, as you blokes have poured blood, sweat and tears into this one game, and thats how it should stay. No East, Intermediate, or Expert modes, because that takes away from the Story of Will crashing his plane, and you have worked hard on the back story and where he come from, so to suddenly make him a Expert is un realistic. . . .

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  • 1 month later...

I'm coming into this late, but just thought I'd mention (after about an hour or so of play):

- the game being hard is ok but a lot of stuff is buried. A UI overhaul will improve this (I agree that subtle guidance is the way to go). I am really enjoying it, but I don't think I would enjoy it any less if certain things were a bit more obvious.

- if the intent is to have short playthru experiences, then some kind of global reward should be provided... an overall goal that the player is working towards (i.e., I play some "death comes quickly" games that, with each playthru, move the player closer to unlocking some new mini-feature or item). So death, in these games, becomes an expected feature of the experience. Basically, when you die, you are actually happy because you know you are still making progress.

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Make it tough or count me out... less is more. Discovery is part of what makes this game appealing to me. If you hold my hand I will crush it with a crowbar or a can opener :] In a lot of ways this game is statement about how games are made... to appeal to the lowest common denominator would be a failure.

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