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Dev Diary – August 2020

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Hello community,

Apologies that it’s been a while since you last heard from me. 

2020 has been a pretty tough year so far. I have a feeling that most of you will agree. The great news is that everyone at Hinterland continues to be healthy -- no COVID! We’re thrilled about this. So that’s one really positive thing and I try to focus on that. We’re also happy that despite things being pretty upside down, we were still able to release our FEARLESS NAVIGATOR update, as well as run our WINTER’S EMBRACE event through July (which also added new content to the game). 

We shut down our physical studio back in March and everyone has been in lockdown since then. I remember at the beginning of this quarantine I found myself thinking, “Wow, think of how much I’ll be able to get done!”. Looking back at that time, I realize how naive that thought was. We’ve been spending a lot more time on Zoom calls, have been doing as many small things as we can to help make the team more comfortable and to keep morale high, and have adapted as well as possible to exclusively working from home. But I’m sure you can all appreciate that this is not a normal way of working. We typically depend a lot on in-person communication for relationship-building, planning, content reviews, and making clear progress towards common goals. Apart from being generally healthy and safe, which we’re grateful for, I think the team also feels a sense of malaise from being in lockdown for months on end. And while I believe the future is positive, I’d be lying if I said that this year has been “business as usual” for Hinterland as a team, or for our work on The Long Dark.

Pretty recently we came to the conclusion that we don’t feel good about releasing Episode Four this year. We had originally hoped to have it ready for launch in December, but with everything that’s been going on, it’s just been tough to work very optimally. We’ve lost some momentum and some parts of our production have been slower than usual just because of not being able to work on things face-to-face, nevermind everyone is also juggling their personal situation at home whether it’s being alone all the time, or balancing parenting duties with work, or whatever new personal dynamic we find ourselves in. Everyone is still focused on the game, and we’re making progress every day, but I just don’t feel good about keeping the team locked to a December release because we don’t crunch at Hinterland and the only way to hit December is if we compromise on quality or scope. We don’t want that, and you don’t want that. So we aren’t going to do that.

So we’re not shipping Episode Four this year. I’m really sorry about that. We wanted to let you know as soon as we decided to delay, rather than wait another few months. 

I hope you and your loved ones have all been healthy throughout this COVID pandemic. I hope that The Long Dark has been able to bring you some solace during these difficult times. We’re still here for you. Just fighting through “the long dark”, in our own way.

I’ll send a more uplifting update within the next couple of months, with some more info on our planned activities throughout the rest of 2020, and into 2021.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.

- Raphael

PS A lot of you have been asking for news about the progress of the Nintendo Switch port of The Long Dark; we created a mailing list you can sign up to to be informed of news about it. 
 

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You're a good boss to understand that people have their own situations going on at home, even while they're expected to be working, and not pushing this. Thank you for being a compassionate studio. I will continue to support Hinterland with the occasional purchase of swag as I have already bought the game several times over now, and I look forward to the next episode - whenever that will be. 

Thank you for the update. The important thing is everyone gets through this trying time safely. 

Wishing you success and health from south of the border. 

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True fans of Hinterland will completely understand. The Pandemic has been brutal, emotionally and creatively for many. You all stay safe up there and we'll keep enjoying your wonderful game. While we're sad it is delayed, I personally am happy to wait with the well being of your team  at stake and  the quality of the episode  in question. I've played all of story mode (loved it!) and 500+ hours of sandbox, and I still am not tired of it. I'll just go see if I can ever beat that bear hunting challenge....

 

Stay safe! ❤️

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That picture!!!!!! I'm imagining all the possibilities of what's inside the prison....

 

I hate you for that tease, but I know it'll be utterly worth it when it's completed!

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thanks for the update, cheers to the whole team

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Raphael, thank you so much for everything that you and the team do for us. Stay safe and God bless you all! ❤️ 

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 I wholeheartedly agree with your decision to stick to your core business principles even while under our current crisis. It really says a lot that not even a pandemic will waver them. Thank you, Hinterland! 

10 hours ago, Admin said:

I hope that The Long Dark has been able to bring you some solace during these difficult times.

The cathartic loneliness has pulled me through half a decade of difficult times, thank you. However, through quarantine I've been taking a break from TLD and started playing The Hunter: Call of the Wild with similar effect. 

BlackRock Prision or not, that concept art is sparking so many questions in my head, and it's beautiful! It kind of reminds me of the game "We were here".

Anyways, I'm glad your team is safe and sending best wishes to them and the community! Hold onto your hope, stow that ember and soon enough our lonely campfires can be shared bonfires again!  :painkillers::coffee:

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for not doing crunch

 

Heh, saying thanks for treating employees with minimum respect...I realise how sad the game industry is when I said that. Poor game devs everywhere else.

Edited by odizzido
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Thanks for the update and for being an understanding, supportive employer. Stay safe.

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Posted (edited)

Oh... it looks like we might indeed get to see Blackrock Federal Penitentiary. 
I definitely think that's something to look forward to. :)


:coffee::fire::coffee:
Thank you Hinterland.

The Summer Event was wonderful.
I appreciate the update.  Folks are doing what they can, and that's admirable... but definitely keep the team safe.

I think the fans & supporters understand, and will still be here when we make it thought to the other side of this rough time.

Edited by ManicManiac
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23 hours ago, Admin said:

I’d be lying if I said that this year has been “business as usual” for Hinterland as a team, or for our work on The Long Dark.

I don't think any company can honestly claim that.

I'm happy for the team's health, and I hope it stays that way.
I'm not enjoying 100% remote work as well, but that is a small price for helping the world to recover from this pandemic as fast as possible.

Peace and love.

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I'm not very active here anymore but still play the game from time to time.
I just wanted to say thank you for the communication. And stay say out there, take care. :)

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im hyped for the prison and what it has of environmental storytelling. it looks cool and would be a cool place to setup base

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I think it is safe to say that work hasn't been "normal" for quite some time now and having been experiencing the same boatload of zoom calls and remote work in the past six months for sure have taken a toll on me and the rest of the team I work with as well, Imagine getting voice acting done amidst the travel regulations, or coordinating with remote people to build screenplay and do creative stuff? Tough stuff.

I don't think anybody of a healthy mind would desire HL to overwork or crunch towards a self-imposed deadline, if anything, redux showed us that you folks can tell a very compelling story when you work at your own pace and strive to achieve ambitious design goals without compromising on quality or scope. This year has been a massive outlier for everyone, I'm just glad everybody at HL is healthy and safe. 

Oh and  amazing artwork as always, that black rock and background could be an amazing poster. Wouldn't mind hanging it out of a wall at my living room.

 

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We (I) understand and support you!  Take your time and continue to deliver excellent material like you always do!  Thanks for the update.

Luckily, I'll have enough games to keep me busy - Wasteland 3 and Baldur's Gate 3 both coming out soon!

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Aww man that picture, it's reminding me of the Giovanni stronghold in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.  I hope we get to explore it, and I hope it's creepy and nasty!

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Posted (edited)

Wow at first i thought castle, then seen the barbwire and tower guard so yeah must be the Prison. Looks awesome. Love the huge mountain behind. Will be interesting to see what other areas we get to explore. some more teaser photos soon maybe? Keep up the great work Hinterland.

Edited by nicko

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Posted (edited)

Well that is disappointing, but it is a rough situation, hopefully the situation improves a lot in North America soon.

That also means EP4 will release after PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X has been released. Has there been any information on how Hinterland is going to handle next gen consoles? I'm guessing they will play fine via the built-in backcompability mode, but any chances we are going to see versions optimised for next gen consoles? Off course getting EP4 and properly the switch port out, is more important, but down the line, it would rock with optimized versions for next gen :)

Edited by Erroneus

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8 hours ago, nicko said:

...Love the huge mountain behind...

The slope looks as if it's possible to walk straight to the top and enjoy the view directly into the prison yard! Can't wait!

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That picture got me all hyped up. I swear if we ever get to explore such a building, with creepy and macabre atmosphere, I'll be glad to wait a whole year. Cheers from Spain, Hinterland team.

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Hi Raphael,

thanks for the update.

I also hope that you all at Hinterland and your loved ones have all been healthy.

Many mentioned the cover picture of your post, I personally thought of a possible new Region of Survival Mode. (I played through the three Episodes of Story, but I am not sure it is for me, so I prefer playing Survival Mode.) One thing occured to me, thinking on the possible new Region: I'd rather see new options in the existing world, such as fixing furnitures or the roof of Mountaineers Hut in TWM, or cleaning up the inside of houses, or nailing animal hides on walls to develop thermal insulation inside. I know there are mods, but Hinterland do not officially support them, and I don't like them either (irrespectively of game title).

But I also understand, and know, these are difficult times, so I am just waiting patiently.

Best wishes! 🙂

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The Long Dark is definitely my comfort game and I've absolutely lost myself in the quiet apocalypse this year. (Is it still this year? How is that possible?) Working from home is a whole thing. I hope Team Hinterland continues to stay healthy!

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I feel you. I am part of development team as well. Zoom is not good enough substitute to the kitchen where you meet your coleagues, hear some news, get some new ideas over coffee. I miss the immediate communicatino with my coleagues as well. And it seems my company plan this to the end of this year or longer.

Work from home has its perks too though. Like son jumping on my head, wife not realising, that my body is at home, but I am working....

As a player and QA I could not agree more with not releasing a version you are not OK with.

I hope you folks are OK. And thanks for the possibility to go to Canadian wilderness from time to time.

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