Is The Long Dark a scale model of Great Bear Island?


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This is a thought that entered my head when looking at my recent thread where I discuss how fast Will Mackenzie can run. What do I mean?

Basically, the in-game world of The Long Dark is not the same as the "real" Great Bear Island. Instead, the version of Great Bear Island that we know and love is a scale model, showing only the most important features of the "real" island, which is much larger. This is an argument that's been put forth in RuneScape, and there are definitely some points from that page that can be applied to The Long Dark.


Have you ever noticed that many cabins are much bigger inside than out? This is especially apparent in the Angler's Den. From the outside, it's tiny, but inside, it's at least 50% larger than you'd think looking at the outside.

Also, think about the distance from the Mystery Lake Clear Cut to Train Logging Area. It's about 900m. Loading logs onto trucks, driving such a short distance, then reloading them onto the train makes no sense. Especially when you consider that the train trip is only ~2.3 km to Coastal Highway, and then the logs are trucked another ~1.1 km to the Log Sort .... seems like a lot of loading/unloading to me.

There's also a lot of shortwave radio towers in Forlorn Muskeg, and all around Great Bear for that matter. Shortwave radio can travel for hundreds (thousands?) of kilometers in real life, so I cannot figure out why there'd be so many repeater towers around the island, especially given that there appears to be telephone service, unless Great Bear is actually much bigger than we see in the game.

A final point is the number of caves scattered around. There's nowhere that I can think of IRL where there are so many caves conveniently close by, no matter where you are.


Time in TLD passes much faster than in real life. One hour in real life is about 12 hours in the game, if you don't accelerate time artificially (I think - according to the wiki). As a result, when measured in real time, the characters move unusually fast compared to what you would expect (walk 13 km/h, sprint 40 km/h). In reality, a speed of 1.11 km/h in deep snow would be far more likely, especially if loaded down with a heavy pack.

However, another forum member suggested that the time in TLD passes even faster, with each real life hour being 20 hours in game. I'm not sure which is correct, if you know please let know.


If you count the number of houses in Mountain Town, Thomson's Crossing, and the Coastal Townsite (including destroyed ones), none of these locations could be considered a "town" or anything close to it. They're both more like villages -- local hubs of rural communities, with ~20 houses at most. A town has to have at least 500 people as far as I know, and its own council. There is no evidence of any form of municipal government in any of these locations.

The Verdict:

Given that time passes 12 times faster in TLD than in real life, I think that the version of Great Bear we play on is a 1:12 scale of what the "real" island would have been. So, keep in mind: if it's ~950m from Camp Office to Trapper's Cabin in game, the actual distance is ~11.3 km. Given that we walk about 4-5 km/h when hiking (depending on terrain), and it takes ~2-2.5 in-game hours or so to make this trip, this scale seems fairly reasonable.

What do you think? I'd like to hear others' opinions on this matter.

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I think your math-fu is correct. BTW how do you measure ingame distance? Do you just walk and count step sounds?

I also think the distances are scaled. And I think some objects may have slipped from scaling. When you approach some bridges, for example the one near Grey Mother house. I always feel like my character shrank and it is now dwarf in giants world.

I think designers did good job with scaling. We dont have fast travel like in another games. It would be dull experience walking from Clear cut to Loading area. 3 ingame hours means 15 realtime minutes. It would not be nice even with auto-walk.

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@acadaThere are two ways you can measure in-game distances. One is to press F8 and take debug screenshots of your start/end coordinates. The other is to time how long it takes to walk from point to point using auto-walk in seconds, and multiply that by 3.7 m/s. Make sure you're not encumbered or the math won't work out correctly.

To get the "real-world" distance between landmarks and time how long it takes you to walk between two locations. Keep in mind that every 5 real-life seconds is 1 min in game, so every 12 minutes you play is equal to an hour in the game. If you assume an unencumbered hiking speed of 4.5 km/h, the distance between two landmarks. From there...


where t is time in seconds.

According to this calculation, I get the following distances from Carter via the railroad tracks:

0.66 km to Train Loading Area

1.56 km to Derailment

2.41 km to Camp Office

I also measured the length of Mystery Lake. From Camp Office to Lake Cabins is 1.13 km by this math, compared to the 0.57 km in-game as per Whiteberry's map. Therefore, the "walking speed model", gives us a 1:2 scale.

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  • 2 years later...

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