A Newbie's First Feedback


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Let me start this by saying that I've owned The Long Dark for about 48 hours and on my current (and best) run I've survived about 13 days. So far I've stayed inside Mystery Lake while I've learned the mechanics and techniques for survival.

In the real world, I'm a fairly experienced backpacker, camper and outdoors enthusiast. While I've (thankfully!) never been in a true survival situation, I do practice my bushcraft and survival skills regularly and like to think that I'd stand a decent chance if my plane ever went down in the Yukon in February.

After the first few hours of play, I've already hit a few places where things don't feel very realistic and while I'm sure many of them have been brought up before here, I figure the worst thing that happens is the repetition moves the folks at HInterland to consider the changes more seriously.

  • Calories - A healthy North American has an incredible store of calories on his/her body (stored as muscle tissue and fat). The fact that your character can go from full to literally starving to death on the first day in the wilderness is nowhere near reality. Even in a frozen environment where extra calories are being burned to stay warm and perform chores, a healthy human could go for 48-72 hours with no food before even the fat and muscle stores start to get used up. Once that point is reached, surviving for another week without food is still not outside the realm of possibility. It seems that caloric consumption is easily double and possibly even triple what it should be.
  • Food - In my current playthrough I came across a wolf just as it took down a deer, then shot the wolf in the head with my rifle. At that moment I had a very healthy supply of meat which should, in reality, last a single human for weeks. In the game, I'd eaten it all in less than 2 days. This is probably tied to the exreme rate of caloric consumption, but it feels like the survivor gets hungry way too fast, way too often. A hearty slab of venison and a can of beans should be plenty to get a man through a single day of chopping wood.
  • Time - One of the most critical elements of survival is time management. I do like that this game presses that point and makes it feel like there's never enough time in the day to do all of the things that need to be done, but in a few instances it feels forced rather than natural. In a prime example, I set up a fire in one of the fishing huts to not freeze to death while fishing for a few hours. In the real world, I would have also set up a pot of snow to melt/boil while I was fishing, but the game forces you to do these tasks one at a time. Since ice fishing in particular is such a passive activity, I could also have used that time to sharpen my hatchet, repair my socks and whittle some fresh tinder plugs. When the cold is creeping in and the wolves are howling, it is infuriating to imagine my survivor sitting there staring at his fishing tackle for 3 hours instead of doing something else in between. And then, with 4 freshly caught fish, why not just cook them all at once? Why do I have to cook one and then the next and then the next and then the first one is cold? It's probably far too late in development to change this, to make it something like the way cooking and smelting works in Minecraft (set it up, let it run, walk off and do other things, come back later to get your stuff) but it would feel a lot more realistic. There's no reason anyone should have to babysit a pot of melting snow for 2 hours!
  • Work - When it's freezing out and blizzard wind is slashing your cheeks with ice, you don't stand out in the open to chop up a log. You grab it, drag it to shelter and then break it down there. Same thing with a killed deer - you gut it, leave what you don't need and carry the rest to someplace warm to skin and clean. The game could really use a 'drag' option for moving the larger, time-intensive chores someplace else.
  • Travois - On the theme of dragging things, having the ability to craft and use a travois would make exploration and long-distance movement/relocation more friendly to the survivor. These are ancient devices used precisely for this reason!

All in all I feel like too much of the game is spent on repetitive tasks for very little net gain. Travel is slow and punishing without preparation, and preparation takes so long that by the time you're ready to go, you've run out of something else and need to start all over. A little bit of tweaking could really shift the focus of the game away from menu clicking and into more exploration and interacting with the world, making it all a much more rewarding experience.

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Calories and Food.

I agree. It's wrong that you can go from a full belly to dead from food shortage so quickly.*

(Rule of thumb is 3 weeks without food, in this game death may come sooner from no food because when your body goes into 'starvation survival mode' you have a harder time keeping your core temperature up, and you become listless and sleepy...so you actually die of exposure')

This same issue factors into TIME...because of this food issue you can't really prepare and make a journey.

Drag - this is a great idea. It shouldn't work with everything though. Fresh kill? Yes. Frozen kill? may be frozen to ground, probably not draggable. Many limbs also may be undraggable as they are just embedded in snow if not also frozen to ground. Digging out may be just as time consuming as chopping there. Maybe go with limbs that have recently 'spawned' are draggable for up to a day, as they have been freshly blown from tree, and after a day are considered frozen to ground/bogged down in snow.

Also, dragging fresh deer carcass should leave a nice bit of blood ribbons in the snow behind you...that wolves will notice and follow to your door!

Travois - great idea too. Would need balance, otherwise would make the game too easy. First balance is if it doubles your carry load you should be moving at 75% speed. Second balance is it should require a lot of material to make - hide and cloth and cured gut and sapling - meaning you either delay how soon you get your bow and deerskin pants or how soon you get your Travois.

Now, time and cooking!

It depends on what is going on when cooking. Out in the wilderness at your campfire, I imagine you are cooking your fish or wolf meat by having it on a stick and holding it over the fire. In this manner cooking taking all your attention makes sense.

But on a stove....there is always a pan! Now you should be able to toss items in and let them cook on their own! Solution, make pan an actual item, and make it be found at most stoves. Pan means you can cook up to 2 items at once, and can do other stuff while cooking. Pan has a decent amount of weight, so player needs to decide if it is worth carrying the pan with him outdoors for the benefit of cooking. (use 2 pans, cook 4 items! )

Cans = should cook like a pan even without a pan!. You just get it open and set it near the campfire or on the stove.

Now snow.

That's a little different. Fresh snow is 10X as voluminous as water, but it can be packed some. I imagine you pack a liter of snow into a coffee pot or something and melt it to get 0.1 water and repeat that 10 times to get 1 liter finished product. This is something that would keep you relatively busy (even more indoors where you have to run to the door and scoop snow and run back to fire) so there might be a few tasks you could do at the same time like take a few swipes with the whetstone, MOST tasks would be hard to do while melting snow, so saying that it keeps you fully busy, yes that makes sense.

(until they introduce a 10 gallon washtub for melting snow without having to do so much busywork)

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