My Playtest thoughts so far


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I am really enjoying the alpha so far. I figured I'd post some of my observations, from having played the current alpha (0.73) and a bit of the previous.

Judging by what I've read from other players, I'm rather terrible at this game (I've only just now finally stumbled upon the trapper's cabin) but I am pleased with The Long Dark and very glad I backed it.

Anyways, I apologize for the long-winded read, but wanted to toss out all my thoughts at once. Plus I'm actually suppose to be working on something else and won't be able to play again for a while :(


I enjoy exploring the landscape and finding new zones and building a master plan/strategy, so that with each new playthru I survive a bit longer than the previous.

Getting lost in blizzards and losing sight of a cabin, even when I am only a few meters away, is brilliant and reminds me of growing up in the north. The beautiful stillness, of just being alone in the wilderness, is captured perfectly. Just watching wolves hunt or birds fly overhead, is rewarding.


1. The load times, even on my newer machine, between inside and outside is frustrating. I tend to stick to outdoor buildings, because I don't like loading into the interiors.

2. The Survival Panel.

This is a biggy.

I'd love to see the survival-panel experience either merge better with the strong exploration elements of the game, or become somehow stronger on its own.

I do not have a solid suggestion for where to take this, but it feels at odds with the rest of the game right now. In some ways it feels unrealistic (I've lived in northern Canada all my life and couldn't tell you exactly what the temperature is or how strong the winds are, beyond relative categories like "cold" and "really frickin' cold"). It is also overwhelming. There are a lot of tabs.

I like clicking on the work table in the trapper's cabin to bring up that interface. I think that works. I like clicking on a stove to light it or to cook food. That makes sense.

I think somehow all of the survival tab stuff should be triggered from in-game actions. I'm not sure how to pull that off. Obviously you don't want every tree to be clickable (to invoke foraging). Other actions, like repairing and harvesting, probably could be triggered from interacting with the items in the inventory. Keeping the survival tab as an all-in-one clearinghouse for survival actions, would probably make sense though... it helps the player understand all the various functions available to them. But short-cutting them, during exploration, would improve the experience, in my opinion.

(In story mode I would definitely recommend a gradual approach to adding the survival tab elements into the game, as the player recovers items and learns new game systems.)

3. Interface interaction.

Even with the hotkeys, I find certain interaction actions a little cumbersome, and this pulls me from the otherwise strong exploration experience. (i.e., I think eating and drinking should be quicker, somehow.)

4. The degradation system.

Item wear, for most things, makes sense. I worry though that for simplification's sake, this generic system has been applied to every item. Sometimes it strains reality.

Generally a can opener is going to survive all the usage you throw at it, unless it breaks right away, or is used inappropriately (i.e., to bash a wolf over the head). I have owned the same can opener for most of my life. I trust it.

Likewise items that already have a fuel cost (lantern, rifle), probably should not have a second cost associated with them. And a rifle doesn't really need to be repaired, so much as cleaned regularly. I realize custom item-maintenance systems is going to be prohibitively expensive, but just using the wearing out system for everything, makes a fairly realistic experience, unrealistic. In some cases it might play better if certain items do not have wear (unless used inappropriately).

Also regarding this system, I wonder if the percentage values (the wear) should be replaced by relative labels instead. I find the raw numbers jarring (again removing me from the experience). Plus, if the numbers weren't shown explicitly, you have a bit more design lee-way to play with the system behind the scenes (i.e., players won't be explicitly number crunching). An example of what I mean is that the player would simply have categories like "Perfect Condition" to "Worn out" to "Broken/Unusable."

This really comes down to design intent. If you want players number crunching, give them the numbers. If you just want them managing item wear, they only need relative labels.

5. Hunger and Thirst

Right now I feel thirst and hunger have too large an effect on the character's status. Even when I'm being careful not to exhaust myself and to keep warm, I'm struggling to get enough calories and to remain hydrated. I understand that exposure makes survival more difficult, but it just feels like food and water is not giving me the expected mileage.

I expect the game to be difficult. But I guess I worry that if it feels *unrealistically* difficult, it might deter some players. When paired with being frozen, or spraining an ankle, or suffering a wolf bite, I'm okay with needing more calories and water. Just not when I'm otherwise ok and sheltered.


While the exploration of the landscape is enjoyable, I wonder that over time, once I've visited every place several times, this will lose its luster. I don't have any real advice here, as clearly a fully generated/random world does not make sense for this game.

What I might suggest is that for the sandbox (not the story mode) the areas themselves might be stitched together in a more random fashion. I can think of about a million technical concerns with doing this, but the advantage would be that in sandbox, the player will always have new discoveries to make. The zones themselves remain the same, but the items within them are randomized (as they are now) and the routes/connections between them would also be randomized.

A second advantage of this is that new content zones might be added over time, replenishing the player experience.


I know controller support has only been temporarily removed (if I read the notice correct). I just want to toss out a vote, to make sure it comes back!

I was a PC gamer for about twenty years. Then I transitioned to console gaming for a few years because I enjoy gaming in the living room more than in my stuffy office. But I'm back to PC gaming, but PC gaming in the living room. I actively search for titles that I can play with a console controller and I think The Long Dark works well with this setup.


Anyways, really delighted with the game and I am excited about how the final product will come out. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Guest Alan Lawrance

Thanks for your thoughtful feedback --

For load times, it's very much on our radar to reduce the loading time when transitioning back to outdoors. There are some non-trivial issues to iron out, but I feel confident we'll have this completed before Early Access launch. If all goes well, transitioning to from inside->outside should be very fast (1 second or less).

Controller support will definitely come back. Once the interface supports gamepad controls and we get proper testing on the gamepad controls, it will be re-enabled.

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