Milton Mailbag -- Dispatch #38


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Hello all,

I missed last week's Mailbag so let's see what questions you left for me to tackle this week. I'll jump right in!

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Question from @mateosega:

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The character of Jeremiah is based on the movie Jeremiah Johnson, both share a name, they were soldiers and hunters, besides that in the film he was deserted from the war (and it is speculated that Jeremiah was military), so the roles we had What to burn before I know evidence of your desertion. Could you confirm this theory please? ☺️

I wouldn't say Jeremiah is based on Jeremiah Johnson. I would say I picked that name partly because I like that film, but any comparisons are entirely coincidental. So, unfortunately, as much as I like your theory, I cannot confirm it.

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Question from @Sceh:

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you kindly answered one of my questions in a previous Mailbag: will we have to move all our stuff out of PV when Episode 3 launches to keep it safe, like we had to do with MT, ML etc for Redux. Your answer basically was "we hope to find a way around this but if we can't you'll get a heads-up".

After the last dev diary I thought "let's actually prep for worst case" and trecked over to the PV farmhouse where I keep all my goodies from that region, to sort through everything and plan for a couple of lenghty hauling sessions.

Then standing in the middle of my buttload of loot it hit me: wouldn't it be enough if I just picked everything up and had it on my person? I'd be severely over-encumbered, but with a little planning I could make it so that I wouldn't have to move from the spot until after the update. Is that a feasible alternative to schlepping everything out into the mine tunnels?

Now, I do realise that it would look hilarious, this hulking bearded man just standong there with about a tonne of equipment strapped to him every which way, but I think I would prefer that to spending countless hours puffing and wheezing my way back and forth through that insane expanse that is PV risking sprains and whatnot.

 

We're working on what I hope will be a better solution for both Episode Three and the game in general -- a system that "protects" your gear items whenever an interior location or container ends up being changed for whatever reason (sometimes this can happen accidentally, for example if an artist is working in a scene and accidentally selects then moves a container item a tiny bit).

The idea would be that we spawn a temporary container, something super obviously not part of the world, and move all your stuff to that magic container until you can get it back. This would hopefully address the various ways in which people might lose lot due to updates, and is generally a good failsafe for us because as careful as we are about not breaking the game or removing your loot, it does happen occasionally and sometimes things slip through our net (ex. one of our players lost a bunch of items they'd stored in the Mountain Town cave that links to Hushed River Valley when we added the cave transition).

That said, I think your solution could also work. If you moved everything outside the PV Farmhouse, for example, and then picked it all up such that you didn't have to move (you wouldn't be able to anyway, you'd be so over-encumbered), the items would be on your character (and not in the scene) and therefore (theoretically) you wouldn't lose anything, and post update you could drop it all back into the world and move it back in.

Not a very elegant solution (ours is only marginally more elegant), but better than losing all your stuff. That said, I think it's on us to find a good way to ensure your loot doesn't get wipe out, so we're working on that.

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Question from @GothSkunk:

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Steadfast Ranger has now introduced a pain mechanic. I feel as though Hinterland has done an amazing job incorporating it into the game, with the visual distortion effects as well as the audio effects. Very much like how the game distorts when a player's condition falls 'in the red.' But given both of these mechanics and the way they're utilized, why hasn't a similar effect been made for when the player's fatigue meter drains?

 

Presently, as the fatigue meter drains below 50%, the only immediately noticeable thing that changes is that our max carrying capacity gradually drops over time to 50% of normal once fully drained. That doesn't seem punishing enough. Sure, an empty fatigue meter has other consequences that aren't immediately apparent, like the inability to sprint, climb, or struggle against wolves effectively, but I was hoping that a fatigue meter in the red would have similar effects to that of condition being in the red, with the player stumbling around and nodding off. If the fatigue meter fully drained, the player should collapse on the spot and sleep. After all, the Emergency Stim's tooltip suggests that's what's supposed to happen. "Provides a short burst of energy, then you'll collapse from exhaustion."

 

Come to think of it, if you're feeling generous, maybe you could answer a second question: Why did you go the route of giving the player the option of choosing to sleep X hours, instead of telling them that, when they go to sleep, they will stay asleep for X hours relative to their current level of fatigue, with the option of waking up when the sun rises? No one I know is capable of sleeping a set amount of time and waking themselves up. At least, not without some sort of loud timer.

 

Well you get more feedback than just carrying capacity being reduced -- you will hear, multiple times -- feedback from the character indicating how tired they are, and these cues will become progressively more serious as you become more Fatigued. We have experimented with some more screen-fx type solutions for Exhaustion, Freezing, etc. but haven't added them to the game yet. We might in the future. I agree that some more physical responses to being Exhausted (like stumbling, falling, blacking out for seconds, etc.) would be a good addition.

Regarding giving the player the choice to rest X hours -- since Sleep is a resource, we leave it up to the player to manage it for themselves. If we locked you in on sleep based on how tired you were, I think it would feel quite frustrating to have this choice made for you, and since Sleep = Time and Time costs so many other things (Calories, Cold, Hunger, etc.) it needs to be up to the player to manage this as they see fit. We have discussed the idea of becoming "overtired" and oversleeping (rendering the timer setting a bit moot in those cases) and adding an Egg Timer item that you could use to wake you up, but we didn't add it because it felt noodly and overhauling the Sleep/Rest system isn't the most pressing thing for us. But, we might revisit this system in the future and come up with a deeper Fatigue simulation.

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Question from @Themadlad94:

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Kinda similar to the question about why the arrows are called simple arrows and not just arrows, but will we ever expect more bears? The reason I say this is because the current bear pelt is called the black bear pelt, and not just bear pelt. So could we expect other bears with different pelts?

I don't like anyone to "expect" anything because then they are bound to be disappointed. If you are asking me do we have plans to add any more Bears into the game, the answer is, at the moment, No.

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Question from @FrozenCorpse:

 

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Could you please tell me, according to the present aiming mechanic, whether the bullet should theoretically hit the red dot closest to its' center in either A,B or C?

The Plain View is just the bare sights, I've added orange cross-hairs for orientation purposes, and the assumption is that the shooting conditions are optimal:  Weapon is 100% condition, the range is not excessive, player is level 5 with full health and stamina; without any significant fatigue /exhaustion and negligible aiming fatigue.

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TYVMIA

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I would expect you to hit with aiming profile B. (The crosshairs seem to be a red herring, IMO, as they suggest the middle of the "circle" is the targeting area, when in fact you are lining up your front post with the rear "scoop" and trying to get your target right above the post.)

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Question from @Skelegutplays:

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Was gray mother blind from birth? If not than what made her blind?'

Grey Mother was not born blind. How she ended up blind is a story for another day. :)  

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Question from @Faithful Cartographer:

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What kind of survival game do you think is the main competitor of The Long Dark? It seems to me that this simply does not exist...'

I'm honestly not sure, but I'd love to hear what other people think. I think there are a lot of great survival games out there but they are all focused on different aspects of survival from the ones we're focused on...I think? I don't tend to think of The Long Dark as something that exists within a "genre", and I don't think too much about how we compare to those other titles, so I can't really say. I know a lot of people talk about Subnautica as offering a similar "feeling" as The Long Dark, so maybe they are the closest?

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Question from @ajb1978:

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Each time I play through Wintermute I catch one new detail I missed previously.  This time around it's that Methuselah is wearing a hoodie with what appears to be a gold Omega symbol on it.  So, assuming that is an Omega, is there anything you can reveal about that?

Thanks as always for taking the time to do these Q&A sessions!

 

Nope, there's nothing I can reveal about that. But it's nice to hear people notice these little details.

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Question from @SpanishMoss:

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I understand that you are hesitant to give dates for the upcoming ep3 update, but I think I speak for everyone here, can we at least get an estimate? Not like a estimate that is close, but an overestimate, so it gives you time to finish all that needs to be finished, but isn’t a demanding timeline. Think of it as a maximum finish date. The date doesn’t need to be just one day, it could be a week or even a general part of a month! We are all excited to see ep3 come out, so I hope you can do this little service to us. (By the way) thanks for the hints in the dev diary!

-SpanishMoss 

 

I can see why you might feel like me making up a general "outside date" for when Episode Three will arrive would be a good thing, and that it would somehow be "doing a service" to you, but it wouldn't be at all. And it wouldn't be helpful to us either.

So I think the best thing is maybe to be patient, and when you encounter a developer in the industry who has had to change a release date for whatever reason, maybe be one of the people who supports them and doesn't attack them or try to destroy their reputation, so that they can feel safe in sharing tentative dates.

But no, I won't do this, because it won't give you what you want, and it can only hurt us. You're excited about Episode Three, we're excited about finishing Episode Three, and that's what we're focused on. I think delivering a good experience when it's ready is the best thing we can do.

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[Skipping a bunch of wishlist questions since that's not really what Mailbag is about.]

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Question from @thepatsbro:

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i was wondering how big the long dark world is, in terms of km? and maybe how much it will be after the new region you mentioned coming hopefully soon. 

Last we checked it was over 50 square kms. Bigger than Skyrim, I believe.

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Question from @selachias:

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I'm pretty new to steam and gaming in general, so this might be a silly question, but... In getting the achievements for The Long Dark on steam, do they all need to happen in a single survival mode playthrough? For example, I wanted to get the Pacifist achievement but I did some fishing on Mystery Lake. Can I still get the Pacifist achievement on a different survival mode save? Also, thank you for making such an incredibly challenging and enjoyable game. I love every minute of playing it.'

Not a silly question at all. Some of our achievements need to be completed within a single session, and others can be completed across multiple sessions. We specify in the description itself. Good luck!

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Question from @Pixel:

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1. What computer games have you really loved the most and why (from the 70s up to now)? 

2. What kind of computer game (other than "The Long Dark") would you like to create? 

3. What is your computer game of your dreams that has not been created yet?

 

1 - Half-Life/HL2, STALKER, BioShock, Deus Ex...I think I've answered this elsewhere, maybe someone can point you to the response.

2 - You'll have to wait and see. :) 

3 - You'll have to wait and see. :) 

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Question from @slvrsrfr:

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I'm curious about the process of steam cards and achievements. I generally have very little luck getting information about it. Was it tedious? Was it labor intensive? Did someone spend a great deal of time preparing it? Was it a straight-forward process with steam? Was the profile background as simple as drag and drop, and assign rarity? Did you get to choose how many cards? What was the max? Could you have different or unusual types of cards? What other items could be made available? Do you assign the gem values to objects? Does this process cost the company money? Is there opportunity to utilize it different ways than intended? Can you grant unique badges to people? How many hidden achievements can there be? Or normal ones for that matter...Did you know that you get cards drops for not actually entering the game? Are you planning to change the items that are in use now? Expand it? Do you have any links to information? Can we have a :twig:?


 

That's like...a hundred questions. https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/features/achievements/ach_guide

There's definitely some work involved, both on the back-end and content side. But nothing terrible.

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Question from @PlayerPawn:

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In previous mailbags, you've mentioned that Hinterland uses Max and Maya for your modelling and animation which you mention is pretty standard in the industry.  However, big companies like Epic Games and Ubisoft have very recently joined the Blender Foundation's Development Fund which helps further develop the free and open-sourced 3D modelling/animation program, Blender.  Has Blender ever been a consideration for implementation at Hinterland, or is it something that is on your radar at all?  I ask because a massive update is about to drop for it and it seems to be getting a lot of attention and with Epic and Ubisoft joining the development fund, I'm curious if the industry is slowly starting to adopt Blender as a replacement to the industry standard.  It's also free and has no licensing fee's, but I'm not sure how big a dent those costs make in the overall budget.


 

We haven't had a look at Blender at all. We have a lot of tools and pipelines set up that use Max/Maya so I don't think switching to a different modelling package would be that time or cost-saving for us, initially, but yes the licensing costs for Max/Maya add up to 10s of thousands per year so they are not insignificant.

I can't speak to whether the industry is shifting to adopt Blender -- I would say that unless all the additional plug-ins and tools we use that are based on Max/Maya workflows are also compatible with Blender, it would be quite difficult to switch over. But we could look into it for a new project. It would also depend on how much work is involved with transitioning artists to new tools and workflows.

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Question @TrAlfred:

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Why is the bear so scary😭?

Scary? He's just trying to give you a BIG HUG.

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Question from @Moll:

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Why you dont release periodical devblog with a few screens and a short testament every week? Rust did that pretty well, even small details can help to keep attention of players for game. 

We produce dev diaries and I respond to questions in the Mailbag every week (more or less). Not enough?

We always have to balance the time taken to produce updates like dev diaries and Mailbag entries against time spent making the game. I think we do a good job of communicating stuff out to our players but we're always open to feedback re: how we can improve.

I think Rust's approach makes sense for a game that isn't trying to avoid spoilers. A lot of games use a progress report and "roadmap" update to keep people interested, and while we've done that in the past, it often just fuels disappointment when things don't go according to plan, so I think our approach, while it might be less satisfying to people who are looking for constant updates, is probably better for us.

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Question from @Khan_Drichthyes:

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Hello, and great work on the game!

If Episode 3 winds up not being released before Halloween, has there been any consideration of Timberwolves making their big debut in the next 4DON?

 

We haven't considered that, no.

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Thanks everyone for the great questions! Remember, Mailbag isn't meant to be another wishlist thread, so please try to keep your questions related to development, game dev in general, or general references/inspirations, and don't ask me to share stuff you are are spoilers, because it's just going to be disappointing for both of us.

Have a great weekend.

- Raph

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The way I see it, The Long Dark really helps define and refine the survival genre... a lot of the other games have what I would call "survival elements" but the core of the game is another genre... (horror, action, rpg...)  For me, this is one of those precious few games where survival is the heart and soul, and everything else is built around it.  :) 
 

Edited by ManicManiac
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43 minutes ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

 

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... We have experimented with some more screen-fx type solutions for Exhaustion, Freezing, etc. but haven't added them to the game yet. We might in the future. I agree that some more physical responses to being Exhausted (like stumbling, falling, blacking out for seconds, etc.) would be a good addition.

Regarding giving the player the choice to rest X hours -- since Sleep is a resource, we leave it up to the player to manage it for themselves. If we locked you in on sleep based on how tired you were, I think it would feel quite frustrating to have this choice made for you, and since Sleep = Time and Time costs so many other things (Calories, Cold, Hunger, etc.) it needs to be up to the player to manage this as they see fit. We have discussed the idea of becoming "overtired" and oversleeping (rendering the timer setting a bit moot in those cases) and adding an Egg Timer item that you could use to wake you up, but we didn't add it because it felt noodly and overhauling the Sleep/Rest system isn't the most pressing thing for us. But, we might revisit this system in the future and come up with a deeper Fatigue simulation.

 

 

I'm so glad that you agree. Any such changes would be welcome, at least from me.

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and offer insight on the development side of the game with respect to these matters.

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On 7/7/2019 at 2:25 PM, Sceh said:

Now, I do realise that it would look hilarious, this hulking bearded man just standong there with about a tonne of equipment strapped to him every which way, 

Surely @Sceh was inspiration for this art by @Kiom.

 

Edited by Ice Hole
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@Ice Hole you made my friggin day XD I hadn't even seen this before. Brilliant! @Kiom love the way our minds sync up hahaha! I spit coffee all over my keyboard. I don't think I've ever laughed so heartily about anything TLD related. The longer you look the funnier it gets. You guys have a lovely weekend!

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Oh and of course thanks @Raphael van Lierop for answering my question. Glad to hear that my solution would work. I super like the idea of the magic container as well though! It would spare me about 6 hours of hassle that would be better spent getting hyped for future Episodes or updates ^^

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13 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

Question from @ajb1978:

Nope, there's nothing I can reveal about that. But it's nice to hear people notice these little details.

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Well...at least I can take that as confirmation that it is in fact an Omega symbol! :D  I'm going to be on the lookout for an Alpha now...  Unless I already saw one and missed it... Now I'm all paranoid, like...normally I play it in-character.  Like I need to find Astrid, I can't afford to dilly-dally around while these rabbit hides cure.  I need to get moving!!

I think I'm going to start up a Green Story mode game with the aim of taking my sweet old time.  Play it like I would Survivor mode, only advancing the plot when I'm confident I've not missed any little detail anywhere...

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I also can't think of a survival game like this. I know I've combed through Steam several times to find a game like this but in a greener setting. Unfortunately all of them seem to be more focused on enemies, PvP, or base-building. Now I wouldn't mind being able to plant and farm ingredients, but I also don't want building to be the main drive for gathering resources. As it is, TLD is pretty unique.

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