December Developer Diary


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Hello Survivors,

We just launched our latest update to Survival Mode, called PERILOUS CONSTRAINT. This update includes:

  • New to Survival! Blackrock Region added to Survival Mode. It connects to Pleasant Valley via a Transition zone, and to Timberwolf Mountain via a cave system.
  • New to Survival! The Noisemaker from Episode Four is now available for crafting and use in Survival Mode. Note that the Blueprint unlocks after you find your first Noisemaker, currently only discoverable in Blackrock Region.
  • New to The Long Dark! The Ballistic Vest. It’s the first piece of protective gear in the game and offers strong defense against physical harms from wildlife attacks.
  • Various quality-of-life improvements, including making Crampons repairable, and a new piece of soundtrack music, along with many bug fixes.


You can check out more information about the update here:

Mod Support in 2022

We’re setting up a small internal team dedicated solely to supporting Modding and User Generated Content at Hinterland. Our initial focus will be on supporting The Long Dark, but we plan for this to be a long-standing investment in time and resources, and the things we learn and the modding community we build with you, will hopefully become a strong foundation of more things to come in future Hinterland games.

As first steps, we’re setting up a Modding & UGC section of the official Hinterland forums. We’ll have dedicated focus from our Community team on this area, so please focus your mod discussions here so we can best support you. We’ve also set up a new email alias, “mods@hinterlandgames.com”, which you can use to contact us with any requests or information you’d like to share.

In the Spring, we’ll be sharing more info about our Creator Hub, which will have documentation, some tools, and other resources for modders, and other types of fan creations for The Long Dark. Until then, we’ll be active in the new Modding & UGC section of the official forums, and we’ll also be proactively reaching out to many of you who have been busy modding the game over the past years. We want to know more about what you need in terms of tool support, documentation, and also to provide you a clear path to communicating with us as we grow this area of The Long Dark’s community.

Survival Mode Updates in 2022 & Beyond

We’ve been working on a plan for how to tackle ongoing support for Survival Mode between now and Episode Five’s launch, and beyond. I’ll share more details about our plans in the new year, as there are a lot of technical aspects we’re still figuring out. But as a high-level direction, based on the guidance we’ve received from many of you in our player community through our community poll earlier this year -- and after providing nearly over 7 years of free updates to Survival Mode -- our plan is to move to a more sustainable paid update path.

One of the first stages we’re working towards is splitting Story Mode and Survival Mode into two separate games and executables. This won’t affect your ownership in any way -- everyone who currently owns The Long Dark will automatically have both games. In fact, depending on how we handle this, the split may be mostly on the back-end and invisible to you as a player. This split is mostly about how we structure content and data in the game on the development side.

Until now, Story content has been a layer on top of the core Survival Mode foundation, which has allowed us (over the years) to share the world and mechanics between the two modes, then using tuning variables and a complex system of scene layering to keep the two different experiences separate but relatively cohesive. This was a fantastic decision for us earlier in the project when the game world was smaller and we had less episode content, but as the years have passed it’s become harder and harder for us to maintain this structure, and we feel it’s become overly limiting to our ability to continue to grow The Long Dark for the future.

One illustrative example of this is that every time we change an element of UI, or a foundational art asset or system that is shared between the modes, we have to then test all the episodes, all the survival mode regions and content, and all the Challenge modes against this change. As a result, over time we’ve had to spend an increasing amount of effort on testing and validating our existing content and systems every time we want to release something new, and this has prevented us from updating the game as frequently as we would like. It’s also limited the kinds of things we can update, and we feel that many of the architecture choices from back in 2014 and onward have now become detrimental to the game’s growth and evolution in 2021 and beyond.

What splitting the game into Story and Survival will mean for us is that we’ll be better able to compartmentalize content, features, cinematics, etc. so that every time we make a change in Survival, we don’t have to retest the entirety of the rest of the game, and vice versa. In theory, this should make it easier for us to update the game in the future, both shortening the testing cycle and ensuring it can be more focused on a narrower band of changes. Our belief is that this will help us better maintain the game and ensure a high-quality experience for our players. We’ll share more details about this split in the new year, and as I said our hope is that for most current players this split will be very “behind the scenes”.

Beyond this, our plan for 2022 and beyond is to introduce some form of a paid update path for Survival Mode. We’re still working out the details of this -- and there are many! -- but our primary goal in developing this strategy is to focus on: 1) fairness to our current players, 2) creating multiple entry-points so that players can opt-in depending on what they want and what they can afford, and 3) long-term sustainability for the development team.

Part of our update plans also include how to handle next-gen visual enhancements. Thus far the only way to play The Long Dark on Xbox Series X|S, or PlayStation 5, has been through backwards compatibility. We want to create some next-gen native visual enhancements that really capitalize on the greater processing power and memory in the new consoles, and also on high-end PC, but again because of how our game is structured -- and because of how the platforms prefer developers to handle this content -- it’s been tough to reconcile the dev work required to make these changes with the impact they would have to our bottom line. We think we have a good plan for this and we’ll share more news about our approach and the list of enhancements we’re tackling at the same time we roll out more details about the paid update path for Survival Mode.

And just to be crystal clear -- none of these changes will have any impact on the delivery of Episode Five. This will still be free for all existing customers. If you own The Long Dark, you will not have to pay extra for Episode Five.

And speaking of Episodes, in case you missed it, we released Episode Four: Fury, Then Silence, in October. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, we encourage you to play it over the holidays!

Studio Closure

As usual for this time of year, the Hinterland team will be enjoying well-deserved rest with loved ones this holiday season, and the studio will be shut down from December 20th to January 3rd. If you run into any issues with the game during that period, and wish to contact us, please use our Support Portal. Please keep in mind that due to being on holiday, our responses might be delayed.

We’re excited to share more news with you in the new year, but until then, get some rest, stay safe these holidays, enjoy time with your loved ones, and we’ll see you in 2022 to begin a whole new phase of The Long Dark.

All the best, and thanks for your support this year.

- Raphael 

*****
 

 

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Hello Survivors, We just launched our latest update to Survival Mode, called PERILOUS CONSTRAINT. This update includes: New to Survival! Blackrock Region added to Survival Mode. It connects

This is absolutely fantastic. Lots of great info and things to look forward to. Really curious how modding goes for the game in the future, and also hoping that paid Survival updates include more

I'm ready to pay for more frequent and epic survival mode updates. I kinda start feel bad to play this game over 5-6 years and just paid $10 6 years ago. Keep the good works and feelings. Happy h

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Very awesome, thank you for the update!  edited for nonsense - so does this mean you'll make a dlc with a dog?  That would be cool!

 

Edited by Jolan
usual player nonsense
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Awesome updates in this post, thanks for letting us know about the directions TLD will take, the modding ability will be a tremendous one, can't wait for all these updates to take place!

Edited by yoli
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The end of one phase and the beginning of another. This is a breath of fresh air for everyone. The split between Story and Survival mode is excellent in planning and updating for the future. All the additions being included are incredible. We wish you the very best for what's to come in 2022 and beyond in the Quiet Apocalypse. Thank you for always providing excellent updates to us! Take care and stay safe during the Winter everyone! Enjoy Blackrock Mountain!

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Edited by MonadoBlade2016
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This is absolutely fantastic. Lots of great info and things to look forward to.

Really curious how modding goes for the game in the future, and also hoping that paid Survival updates include more regions. I wonder if splitting the game will also make things much easier for Story Mode to be 'complete' after Episode 5, and then basically left as-is, and then resources can be poured into the Survival game and paid updates. Sounds like a flexible approach.

You guys do a great job, and TLD just keeps getting better. Thank you for all the work put into the game this year - Episode 4 was awesome - and thank you for sticking to your commitments even through a tough pandemic, and for continuing to give players more fresh content and great plans in the future.

Happy Holidays to the team - enjoy your time off!

PS- in the interest of supporting the game - if you ever reopen the Swag store, I'll be making some purchases! :)

Edited by Sherri
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Exciting update, thanks! I'm currently two-thirds through Episode 4 and am enjoying it immensely. As Pleasant Valley is my go-to retreat from the stress of the real world having the moody but useful Blackrock region to hand is going to be pretty useful. The bullet proof jacket should be useful for hunting expeditions when tackling dangerous game, but I can see it not bringing much in warmth benefits so there's going to be a bit of risk in using it. 

Regarding the proposed split of the games, mod support and DLC - it all makes sense. I think the probable logical route is to have a cheaper Survival Mode only and for those who begin to be really intrigued by the lore of the main game an upgrade path would be convenient. You could probably introduce the survival audience to trying the story mode by including the odd new indication of MacKenzie and Astrid having passed through via notes / visual clues left behind by them.

Mod support is pretty interesting, especially as I've never tried a mod for Long Dark yet, though there seems to be some interesting early attempts out there.  As for DLC I'd be happy to spend the price of a high quality £4 ale on added feature packages. I really crave something for those of us who are less nomadic and view the Long Dark as a comfortable space to dwell in, especially in these winter months. So to that end anything involving tidying and decorating the interior of a house, moving limited furniture items would be good. I'm not talking Minecraft / Animal Crossing base-building, just the ability to tidy up, make rugs, whittle wood carvings, knit blankets. light candles... perhaps with an optional Survival mode feature where it helps combat isolation / cabin fever. Another DLC where you have to take care of another survivor with severely reduced mobility, where you hunt and scavenge for them and they in return cook and tend to your wounds when you're injured, and where you gradually build a relationship - that would be great. You could find them in the wilderness and carry them back Episode-3 style to your base of choice, with it becoming a place you always have to return to when their supplies go low. 

Anyway, I predict an exciting future for The Long Dark and I can't wait to see what you've done with the Survival Update once I've finished Episode Four. To all the team and your loved ones I wish you a very merry Christmas / winter solstice, and thank you for all your hard work and the great experience you have given us with this wonderful game. 

 

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40 minutes ago, Artech said:

I'm ready to pay for more frequent and epic survival mode updates. I kinda start feel bad to play this game over 5-6 years and just paid $10 6 years ago.

Keep the good works and feelings. Happy holiday ❤️

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Ah, Artech is here. My boi. He has some great content.

 

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Oops, just took my main run to Broken Railroad and set up camp there; now I have to tear everything down and haul my stuff to the complete opposite side of the map to Blackrock lol. 

Thanks for the update! Looks awesome!

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1 hour ago, Artech said:

I'm ready to pay for more frequent and epic survival mode updates. I kinda start feel bad to play this game over 5-6 years and just paid $10 6 years ago.

Keep the good works and feelings. Happy holiday ❤️

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Exactly! I spent over 500 hours in this game - more than any other game I own. You guys deserve my money ^_^

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Glad you are commenting on the next-gen update, as some of us are waiting to play episode 4, until that update has landed. I was hoping for something more concrete in this update, but hopefully the next update regarding paid update path for Survival Mode and next-gen, is not to far into 2022.

Thanks.

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  • As is Black Rock Prison is a better survival mode region than bleak inlet.
  • I'm a bit confused as to why noise makers aren't craft able from the start, but it not something I view as actively negative. I do think they are the best implementation of a grenade that could be done and I do understand the desire to make wolf encounters easier to survive for beginning players, but I'm worried the will be to strong of a first order optimal strategy. Ultimately an unnecessary item, but not a damaging one.
  • I'll agree with Lord of the Long Dark on this in asking why. While the ballistic vest isn't as pointless as the spray paint I don't see any one except beginners using it without an increase in the amount of damage done by animals attacks. Is that part of the point. To dilute the amount of useful gear.
  • I haven't used the crampons much yet so, I'll have to wait to see on them being reparable. 
  • I'm gonna kind of miss some of my favorite spots to fall into the void at.
  • I'm both exited to make mods for the long dark, but a little apprehensive that no one will play Hinterlands game any more. Thus muddling it as a work of art. Only time will tell.

It seems like there's been a greater emphasis region specific stuff in an attempt to get players to explore the new region. If so why? If the game as a whole is good players new and old be able experience each region out necessities generated by the core gameplay loop. 

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11 minutes ago, RegentRelic said:
  • As is Black Rock Prison is a better survival mode region than bleak inlet.
  • I'm a bit confused as to why noise makers aren't craft able from the start, but it not something I view as actively negative. I do think they are the best implementation of a grenade that could be done and I do understand the desire to make wolf encounters easier to survive for beginning players, but I'm worried the will be to strong of a first order optimal strategy. Ultimately an unnecessary item, but not a damaging one.
  • I'll agree with Lord of the Long Dark on this in asking why. While the ballistic vest isn't as pointless as the spray paint I don't see any one except beginners using it without an increase in the amount of damage done by animals attacks. Is that part of the point. To dilute the amount of useful gear.
  • I haven't used the crampons much yet so, I'll have to wait to see on them being reparable. 
  • I'm gonna kind of miss some of my favorite spots to fall into the void at.
  • I'm both exited to make mods for the long dark, but a little apprehensive that no one will play Hinterlands game any more. Thus muddling it as a work of art. Only time will tell.

It seems like there's been a greater emphasis region specific stuff in an attempt to get players to explore the new region. If so why? If the game as a whole is good players new and old be able experience each region out necessities generated by the core gameplay loop. 

I’m betting the ballistic vest has a few reasoning points to it. 

1. It’s likely to find at a prison so it’s realistic.

2. It’s useful, especially to new players, with the sheer number of Wolf encounters in the region. 
 

3. Now you can get your hands on those wolves a few times for some H2H  

4. It’s probably ridiculously heavy, just like in real life.  Thus forcing players to be strategic in their weight management. 
 

5. There are ALOT of players I’ve seen comments from on this forum that won’t even play certain levels because they’re”too hard” and they give up.  
 HTL has to make the game playable for all levels.  Or they lose an audience base.  It’s balance for interlopers and for pigeons….

 

 Just my opinion though, I can’t download the update until tomorrow 🥲😢
 

 

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4 hours ago, Artech said:

I'm ready to pay for more frequent and epic survival mode updates. I kinda start feel bad to play this game over 5-6 years and just paid $10 6 years ago.

Keep the good works and feelings. Happy holiday ❤️

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This has been the best value game i have ever bought in my life. AU$15 for the PS4 version on sale, and I've done hundreds of hours so far, and expect to do hundreds of hours more! Best. Value. Ever. :)

Edited by Levelgrinder
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Cool this all sounds good :) I am glad you are all getting a couple weeks off. In an industry of abuse and crunch and murder this pleases me.

I am pretty happy about you guys splitting off the story and survival mode too. There are a lot of games that constantly break as they're updated and if you can make the story mode and patch it all up to a good state and it stays that way that will be great.

Also I am looking forward to the mod support. If I can easily modify spawn rates and meat amounts that would be nice.....I will hope for but not expect to be able to mod animal spawn and existence areas as well as animal track duration so the game will be less predictable and maybe have some tracking/hunting in it. Personally that would really improve my experience with the game. House heating is great too, but there is a mod for that already. Anyways I really do look forward to mods.

 

But yeah anyways nice work with everything so far. I am glad I decided to purchase this game before it was finished to support development.

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I like to hear about the paid updates and what they will bring. New Region for sure. New items? An updated Skill system? The ability to build your own workbench in your favourite base? moving furniture? Make the placement-system better? new achievements for the endgame?

And be careful with your expectations about what they will cost. I can see a new region update easily at 10-20€

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We want to create some next-gen native visual enhancements that really capitalize on the greater processing power and memory in the new consoles, and also on high-end PC

I'd really be interested in higher resolution textures. This doesn't have to be some super high-res 4K texture pack that updates literally everything. But even by current standards some of the textures are pretty poor. Like wall or furniture textures when you stand directly next to them. I think some things can be improved without sacrificing the watercolor graphics style there.

Another really bad texture I noticed is the shadows. It's especially noticeable with power line shadows. I played around with ReShade and forced Anti-Aliasing. It's a great improvement, but I eventually concluded that the low resolution shadow texture is probably the main problem.

The other thing is draw distance. This will always be an issue in large open maps, but even at pretty close distances there is tons of object pop-in with things like grass, carcasses, camp fires and items on the ground.

Edited by Serenity
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