Raphael van Lierop

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About Raphael van Lierop

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    Creative Director

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  1. Let's keep it friendly, people. No need to dogpile on other people's comments, or the reaction to those comments, and let's try to minimize the passive-aggressive stuff while we're at it.
  2. Episode Three is launching on all platforms at the same time. Why do you think the GOG version of Episode Three would come later? We've never delayed major updates on GOG for any reason.
  3. Making The Long Dark terrifying has never been a goal, so your premise is flawed. Making it more appealing to a "wider audience" has also never been a goal. As @Admin said, please try to refrain from jumping to conclusions. (As to the matter of audio stingers -- there is no "music that plays when you find your first indoor corpse" or "sound of doom when you leave a building". These are music stringers that play, occasionally, based on a bunch of internal game logic. Sometimes they will play for these instances. Other times they will play for other events. The only place where you will find intentionally scripted music is in Story Mode.)
  4. Just to be clear before anyone gets too excited about any particular resurrection plans -- our goal with Time Capsule was not to create lobbies for getting old features back. If they were removed or changed, it was for good reason. We have no intention of stepping backwards in any area of the game. Try to enjoy the Time Capsule as a look back on the way the game used to be, particularly if you're a player who came in after some of these earlier updates.
  5. There's no contradiction there.
  6. No, I am an entirely average person, trying very hard to do great things.
  7. Feel free to ask in a future Mailbag and if I think I can offer a useful response, I will. In general though, it relates to what I said in my answer to @MueckE. The short follow-up would be there are many examples of studios that grew too quickly to support the needs of a publishing partner or a hungry community and exploded/imploded along the way. Hinterland is for the long-term so we have to grow carefully, wisely, and those things also usually mean "slowly". We also have a high bar for the people in the studio and a particular work culture, which we are very protective of, so there's really no way to grow quickly. There is also the old project-management adage, "9 women cannot have a baby in 1 month", which is also very relevant here. More people does not necessarily mean faster, or better.
  8. You are welcome to try, but you may want to wait.
  9. I apologize if I took your question out of context, or misunderstood your intention. You have to understand that, unfortunately, we operate in an online culture that is not friendly to developers or anyone who stands in front of a community. And there are dark corners of this community (not necessarily in these forums) where people congregate with the intention of actively trying to hurt my studio. So I always have to keep this in mind whenever I answer anything online. It makes me sad that I understood the question that way too, but I do appreciate you correcting my assumption. In either case, the answer is genuine and true, and I hope it addressed some of your concerns.
  10. Hello community, Apologies for the delay since Dispatch #40 -- I had a couple of Friday's out of the office (once to take my family to PAX, and once for my birthday) which put me behind. We've also been pretty heads-down with development work so you may see the Mailbag frequency taking a bit of a dip over the next few weeks, as this is something I do when I have the luxury of some extra time. Thanks for submitting questions! ***** Question from @hn3475: Yes, we have. You'll notice that the materials clothing items are made of does have an impact on their warmth, waterproofness, windproofness, warmth when wet, etc. characteristics, so we have this idea in the game just not in terms of what you can harvest from clothing (ex. nylon, cotton, wool, etc) -- everything is abstracted down to Cloth (covers Cotton, Wool, Nylon, etc.) and then Leather (for boots). So in this way, Wool is already a more valuable material than cotton or nylon (because of its inherent characteristics). We definitely could add more depth to this system, although I think what would likely end up happening is we'd have to move to more of a consolidation type repair system where you literally sacrifice the bad version of a thing to repair a good version of the thing (Fallout does this). Otherwise we're asking players to maintain an inventory of many different types of materials. Also, if I'm in a survival situation and I have a giant rip in my best parka, I'm probably going to use whatever I have at hand to repair it, and not want to be limited to only using cotton, or nylon, or whatever raw materials it was made with. The UI considerations alone would become quite overwhelming, I think. ***** Question from @ThePancakeLady: I started working professionally in the industry nearly 20 years ago, and I dabbled for a couple of years before that, so it's very difficult for me to offer useful advice for people trying to "break in" today, based on my own experience. I don't know that my path would work today. In general, when people ask me this (usually it's because they want to help their kids break in to making games), I recommend picking up any of the free tools available, grab some reputable online tutorials, and just try to make something simple. If you enjoy making something simple, make something more complex. Then bring in a friend and make something together. If you can make things with other people, and you have the dedication required to learn new tools and be open to picking up skills that you don't already have, then you can probably find a place in the industry. If you get frustrated by how difficult it is to make something very simple, and you can only find happiness if your output is like what you see in today's triple-A games, then you will probably not make it. You have to be able to start on very simple, small things, and remain dedicated over the long-term. I don't think you can learn that in any particular school, to be honest. I think those are just life skills and personality traits that you either have or are willing to develop, or you don't have and are not willing to develop. Regarding different paths -- at various times in my life I wanted to be an astronaut, doctor, architect, and novelist. I'm enjoying what I'm doing right now and I still feel I have some work to do before I'll feel ready to move on to something else. ***** Question from @mastercylinder: I think you see this because the skybox is a sphere but the texture is flat. But your theory is also fun! ***** Question from @CalNieDaGtarGuy: Regarding Digital Extremes and Warframe -- I'm thrilled that the game has done so well for them. Their fans seem to really like it, their business appears to be thriving, and really those are things every developer wants for themselves, so I have nothing but positive feelings for them! Regarding F2P games specifically -- I think it's a viable business model for certain types of experiences, but of course no business model is perfect. We can see stories about how the growth of some F2P titles puts a huge strain on the dev teams to produce regular updates lest they run afoul of their community (there was a story about the Fornite team really struggling around this recently) -- and even though we are small and our game is relatively small by comparison, we certainly feel that same pressure even though our game isn't free! I'm not sure if I'm answering your question, so please feel free to reframe it if you have something more specific in mind. ***** Question from @Alex Azrael: Hi Hinterland Team, Hi Raph. Sounds like an interesting film! I've never heard of that technique before. ***** Question(s) from @yollarbenibekler: 1) Yes I dream about other projects. They have their own art styles. None are super photo-realistic, though. 2) I rarely think "damn I should add that feature to TLD" but I do get inspired by other games, for sure. 3) That was me. 4) Yeah I like the idea of there being things in world fiction that cannot be easily answered, and which players spend a lot of time speculating about. It's fun for us! ***** Question from @Skelegutplays: My assumption would be it's a stag head, but it does have a very ALIEN aspect to it, doesn't it? ***** Question from @MueckE: I'm going to ignore the subtext in your post, which seems to come from feeling I have been dishonest about the information I've shared. What I will say is: 1) updates don't come out as quickly as we would like, either, 2) the team is working very hard on making new content for both Story and Survival mode, and 3) my goal is to build a long-term sustainable business with a fulfilled, engaged team, and I run my studio with that priority in mind (i.e. I'm not focused on short-term goals, but on long-term studio health). This means that we work hard, but reasonable hours, and we try not to feel pressured or rushed into releasing things before they are ready. That was a mistake I made in August 2017, when we released the first two episodes of WINTERMUTE. We spent an entire year trying to fix that mistake. We could produce updates faster but it would mean either pushing the team irresponsibly, growing the company irresponsibly, or putting out lower quality content than we are happy with. I won't do any of those things, no matter what people might think about it. If you believe in supporting sustainable, honourable business practices in an industry that is not well known for them, you should support the way we are making the game. Things were easier in 2015/2016 because we were making more isolated updates (sandbox only) and the impact of each change was much smaller. It's easier to build small modular things with smaller teams than it is to build large complex things with larger teams, which seems obvious. In Redux (which we worked on for most of 2018), we improved a ton of tech and processes, as well as adding people and equipment, which allowed us to hit a higher level of quality in Episodes One and Two (which were pretty much completely redone). Episode Three builds on the Redux foundation, as it was intended, and that's what I was referring to in my Nov 2018 dev diary. (I should say that I write all this fully expecting it to end up in some unmoderated forum where it will be used as an excuse to attack me or my team, which makes me very sad. But, the words still need to be said.) ***** Question from @Serenity: We found that hitting Rabbits with stones was frustratingly hard, and since they are generally intended as an "early game" source of resources, we felt it would be more useful to make them a little bit more achievable for players. Snares are still useful as a passive way of gathering resources -- in fact, they are the only "passive" resource gathering that exists in the game, currently. ***** Question from @romerabr: I don't share speculative "release dates" because if I miss them people get mad. There will be a project update fairly soon. ***** Question from @StrayCat: This is a good example of a question where there is no good answer. If I tell you this is just in your imagination, the magic will be ruined. If I tell you it's a real system, some players will be betrayed by that. So I'm not going to answer. ***** Question from @Jendo: The people who wrote the books. ***** Question from @musrass: There may be many reasons why a particular location might not be a valid placement location, including the terrain, an angle, something already occupying that space, or proximity to another item. So, just because it "seems" like a place should be a valid location, doesn't mean it is. The solution is already there -- preventing you from placing something in an invalid location. ***** Question from @JeremiahJohnson: I have some ideas for how to improve Arrowheads and Arrows in general. Using a whetstone to maintain them sounds like a good idea. ***** Question from @Vinceofpyrenees: Hello! I haven't played Unreal World, no, but I have heard of it (of course). It seems like a very detailed, hardcore simulation! If our goal was to make a very detailed, hardcore simulation, I'm sure we could learn from that game. ***** Question from @GothSkunk: Lighting in the game is very tricky because we have so many different scene, plus outdoor scenes, and all are lit differently, and have to account for time of day and weather conditions, and the aurora, which creates a ton of permutations. Occasionally a scene will get relit or the settings might change on purpose or by accident. Also, in general, lighting in The Long Dark is such a big factor for gameplay, unlike most other games where it's only about ambience/atmosphere, so we have to be careful not to completely nullify entire systems (light sources, fires, fuel and firestarting economy, etc.) due to making our interiors too bright or too dark. Regarding the Hatchet -- it has characteristics around harvesting, defense, and crafting, and just like all the tools it is balanced within an ecosystem of things that are available to the player, so it should not be evaluated independently of this. The question shouldn't be "why would I take a hatchet instead of X?", but "does a Hatchet provide me with the range of characteristics I need based on my goals at the moment?" ***** Question from @Southerner in Snow: Cool idea! We'll add it to the long list of Merch items we'd like to make. Episode Three dev work is going really well, thanks for the kind words. ***** Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! There we a lot of them so I skipped over a few that either weren't obvious questions, looked like they were mainly about trying to pick a fight, or felt like duplicates or wishlist items more than questions about the game. - Raph
  11. Wait wait -- please don't use "realism" as an argument for or against a game mechanic (or any tuning around it). You've played this game long enough, or been in this community long enough, to know not to do that. We don't design for realism, and we don't use it as a metric to determine how something should or should not work in the game. Our only "north star" is -- does something create the possibility for interesting choices to be made, choices that will deepen the player's experience in some way. I also don't think the argument that suddenly losing 5% condition from losing the buff "doesn't make sense" from the point of view of existing mechanics. You don't typically gain 5% Condition without some other drawback, and you certainly don't gain it suddenly. By this logic, gaining it suddenly suggests losing it suddenly is also valid. I still see the POV (and agree with it) that the way we handle the Condition increase/decrease may not be ideal, but let's be consistent in how we evaluate game systems. It can't "make sense" to suddenly get 5% Condition for being Well Fed, but "not make sense" to suddenly lose it when the Well Fed buff expires.
  12. That was my initial take too, but understanding it better I can see that what is needed is clarity -- the Buff and the changes to the Condition Bar need to be clear enough that people understand the associated risks, so that they can plan better. It's difficult to own failure if you failed because of imperfect information. In the case of Well Fed, the "fix" will probably end up being modifying it so that it "expands the container" but does not confer the extra Condition. But if you debuff while you have over 100%, you will be dropped to 100%. I can't say with 100% certainty that the current feedback is clear enough to communicate what is actually going on and therefore we have work to do. Once the feedback is clear, well then if you make a mistake and die...don't come crying to me.
  13. Yes, I can understand that perspective. We should do a better job of explaining, through UI, what is actually going on.
  14. Ok I see -- apologies for adding to the confusion. I should have been more clear. I was thinking about "expanding the bar" from the POV of a full bar, i.e. we add Condition (not just make the bar bigger, we literally add Condition to the player's current level. So if they are at 100 their Condition goes to 105 (for example). If they are at 20 it goes to 25. When the Buff is removed we remove the extra Condition that was granted. But yes I can see how this could be problematic in certain circumstances. For the most part I've been ok with that but perhaps it warrants a revisit.