Is Story Mode Genuinely Worth the Dev Time?


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I'm curious whether people think it's worthwhile to have so much development time go into a one shot thing like story mode, compared to something with the replayability and depth of survival mode.

I wasn't a fan of Story Mode at all, I found chapters 1 & 2 dull before the redux and somehow even more dull after. Chapter 3 was the worst yet.

The writing is very poor. None of the characters are even attempting to be realistic except for the protagonists, for the entirety of chapter one in particular - the chapter when you'd be most expecting everything to still be nearly 'normal' - they all have silly names and silly over the top dialogue which feels completely out of place in such a grounded, semi-realistic game. Grey Mother felt cartoonish, the apocalypse happened about 8 hours ago and you're already calling yourself Grey Mother and talking like you're from Mad Max? Oh, apparently she did that even BEFORE things went south, that's even stranger. Perhaps I could at least borrow that gun of yours to fight off the wolves while I'm risking my life getting you some damn pearls? Methuselah was even worse, suddenly we're talking to some guy with a Biblical name talking like he's from a Cormac McCarthy novel, it just felt pretentious and credibility stretching even before he started magically teleporting around. And Molly is the worst yet, an actual serial killer who openly admits she'll kill the ex-husband you're looking for if she finds him. Your reaction? Yup, fair enough, good luck to you, I'll be off! Makes sense... Where are all the real people, the actual plausible survivors? Why is your character the only one who feels like they could exist in the real world? How much lead are they putting in the water supply on this island?

But writing is subjective. Maybe you thought it was great, who knows, stranger things have happened. But from a purely gameplay perspective, the Story Mode doesn't seem to stand up. Everything is a fetch quest or an escort quest. Survival mode is about a gradual accumulation of skills, knowledge, equipment. Nothing feels like a waste of time, even if you just blunder out, get caught in a blizzard mid scavenge, hide in a cave trying to make a fire for half a day then stumble back on 10% condition - your character has at least improve their fire making skill. You will have mapped things out a little more. It all feels like it's contributing to a greater something. Story mode, there's none of that. The world ends when you complete the objectives, so why care about anything unrelated to those objectives? Why bother with side quests? Why bother with anything? The experience gets switched off in an hour or so.

Story mode actually made me like the game as a whole less. It made me look at gameplay mechanics I'd really enjoyed as a dull grind. Once I'd seen the game from the perspective of "just rush from point A to point B" or "just amass X amount of food and wood", it took the magic away from it, even in survival mode. I'd genuinely be hesitate to recommend a game I've been recommending to people for years now, because if they play Wintermute first they're going to bounce off it hard and complain I wasted their money.

It wasn't ALL terrible. I quite liked the scripted aurora bit, that was rather tense and beautiful. Fighting the bear was quite good, killing it rather sad. But my lord there's so much fat on the bones to get to the occasional good bit.

Overall, even if story mode was 500% times better - are you really going to ever replay it, when it's basically a glorified tutorial? Even if the quality of the hours you sank into those grinds and fetch quests was improved, I can't see people wanting to repeat them. A good tutorial is still a tutorial. Survival mode is the heart and soul of the game, it has incredible replayability and a single save can be hundreds of hours. A quick glance at the Steam achievements shows how few people keep up with story mode. 20% for even finishing chapter one?

So: is it worth it? Would people, if they had a say in the matter, rather development time was spent on refining the core experience rather than a one-off tutorial (the quality of that experience aside)?

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I trust Hinterland, and their ability to make story mode 'good'. I think the reason most people think that it is so bad, and sorts is because it's unfinished. There are still two more episodes that are going to come out, and I think that these episodes will truly explain, and make reason to how most of the characters are written, and really make sense of everything that people have been wondering about for years. Think again too, Wintermute, and survival mode take place in two different realities, whether we like it or not. Great Bear is an island, in the middle of nowhere, cut off from people for years. Of course people are going to be, weird, and unhinged, unlike Will, and Astrid, who are from the mainland. 

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Absolutely worth it.  Story mode is the reason I bought TLD, and seeing the story finished is one of the major reasons I still come to play it.  Furthermore, it is what is basically driving the addition of new zones to the game and changes like the major improvements made to Pleasant Valley when Chapter 3 was released.  I don't think Survival Mode would be half of what it is today if Story Mode wasn't inspiring/influencing the devs.  It would be truly tragic if the devs abandoned their story now... it would probably also mean the abandonment of new additions to Survival Mode.

As far as the writing, I find it easily on par with many RPG's... and YES, I as likely to replay it as I am any RPG I own.

Re:  Achievement Data.. As opposed to the 1.62% who have completed the Stone-Age Sniper achievement on Xbox One or the 0.04% who have the Challenge Mastery Achievement on Xbox One... notwithstanding as well that the Stone-Age Sniper can be achieved within Story Mode as well as in Survival Mode. 

Or how about compared to the 8% on TrueAchievements who have survived 10 days in a Survival Mode game.  On TrueAchievements, BTW (just sp I'm citing data from one source), 18% have completed Episode 1, 6% have completed Stone-Age Sniper, and 0% have completed Challenge Mastery.

Edited by UpUpAway95
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The thing is that there are WINTERMUTE players and Survival Mode players and then people who play both (as well as Challenges). We get people telling us that we shouldn't develop Survival Mode and focus only on WINTERMUTE, and this thread obviously is the opposite.

Neither is right, or wrong, it's all opinion. 

The fact is that we've promised and sold the game as having a five episode WINTERMUTE Story and we are committed to doing that. Survival Mode was something that was surprisingly popular to us and we are happy to support it and continue growing it but the plan from the start and the people who backed the game at the start were promised a finished WINTERMUTE so we'll deliver that.

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I actually played WINTERMUTE before I did Survival Mode or challenges and it's actually what really pulled me into TLD. I think its slightly unfair to intensely criticize the storyline, characters, and dialogue before the final two episodes have been released. It kinda seems like reading half a book and deciding its crap and doesnt make sense... like of course stuff doesnt make sense because the whole thing hasnt been read yet. Yes the names are weird, some of the characters are weird and alot doesnt seem to quite add up, but we just dont have the whole story yet. 

I feel your ridicule of Molly is quite far off. Its clear she was in an abusive marriage, and she wasnt able to properly cope and heal which instead resulted in her hatred of men which festered into homicidal ideations and actions. Your question where are all the real people... Molly is one of them. Her story is quite realistic. Acting like it isn't is rather naive.

WINTERMUTE is most definitely not a glorified tutorial. 

I mean no disrespect when saying this but this angry rant over how much you hate WINTERMUTE and how you think its a waste of time for the devs and players combined reads like a salty, indignant teenager. This isnt me saying everyone has to love the storymode because not everyone has to, but implying that WINTERMUTE is a waste of time feels rather disrespectful to the people who put their time and effort into creating it. 

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I read your post @Wintermoot and you  make a couple of observations that really made me chuckle.  
Molly being a secret serial killer, good one!  Yeah, killing the bear was fairly anticlimactic.  I would have enjoyed being able to carve him up afterwards and cook me a big ole celebratory dinner.  🍴

on the other hand,
I'd have to agree that story mode does feel a little linear when it comes to following the quest line and your running back and forth covering the same ground for the sake of moving along in the story as compared to setting your own agenda while wandering about GBI in survival mode.  But it certainly wasn't a "glorified tutorial."  It's too bad imho that story mode was so rigid that it limited the player to having to follow the story and quest line in order to move about in the world.  I would have loved to have been able to play story mode in a survival mode setting with a completely open world map.  Being able to move about freely from region to region while still pursuing the story line would have brought so much extra depth to the game had that feature been enabled.  I gonna put that idea on the wish list for next time!

Yeah, I'm still looking forward to Chapter's 4 & 5 and am eagerly looking forward to finding out what happens next.   Here's to looking forward to what happens next!

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The proposal is not believable - they value it, will continue do so, and many players find it both enjoyable and valuable.  I don't you can truly explore "should they just drop story mode" with any believability.  They are committed and it's important to the game.

I think the OPs main reason for posting was therefore not that in any way, but really just to present their feeling or opinion and associated analysis on why they dislike story mode.  Thanks for your opinion.

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I saw the episodes as a way to learn the basics.  I had played sandbox for a while first. The only interesting character I found is the enigmatic weirdo you meet at the campfires. If there was no story mode I'd still be playing it. Any back-story, believable or not, doesn't interest me at all.  One thing I've come to terms with is TLD isn't ever going to be the game I'd like it to be because It's not really a game. It's a struggle. The Loooooooong Struggle.

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I purchased this game in early access at my own risk to help fund the story mode. That is what I want to play the most but I am waiting for it to be done before playing. It's my number one wish for this game, though obviously having a better survival mode helps with the single player too.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/21/2020 at 7:51 AM, Wintermoot said:

So: is it worth it?

Considering the devs promised to finish the story mode to their backers and included Wintermute in their advertising, do you actually ask if it worth it NOT to deceive their customers and NOT to practice false advertising?

How are you planning to treat people, who bought the game because of the story mode?

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