Archives by Day

April 2019

The Long Dark

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: Hinterland
Release Date: Aug. 1, 2017

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!


'The Long Dark' (ALL) Studio Recruit Former Capcom And Telltale Devs, Ep. 3 Delayed, Survival Mode Update

by Rainier on Nov. 7, 2018 @ 8:01 p.m. PST

The Long Dark is a first-person post-disaster survival simulation, set in the aftermath of a geomagnetic super storm that has destroyed North America’s technology infrastructure.

Imagine the lights go out, never to return. Bright aurora flare across the sky, and all humanity's technological might is laid to waste, neutralized in a kind of quiet apocalypse. Everything that has shielded humanity from the disinterested power of Mother Nature is suddenly wrenched from us, dropping us a few links down the food chain. Food and water are scarce. The roads are no longer safe. And winter approaches…

The breathtakingly picturesque Pacific Northwest frames the backdrop for the drama of The Long Dark. You take on the role of William Mackenzie, a newly stranded bush pilot crashed far from the nearest human habitation. Lost, wounded, and with wolves circling, you'll have to quickly master basic wilderness survival skills if you're to last long enough to understand how the world has changed since the aurorae appeared in the sky. And that's just the beginning.

In the first season of this episodic series, players experience this grim new reality through the eyes of bush pilot William Mackenzie, isolated with other survivors in the Northern wilderness as a result of the event. Gameplay emphasizes exploration to gather resources and knowledge about the world, while mastering a deep survival simulation to overcome the myriad natural and man-made hazards of the new frontier. Players will also face difficult moral choices that will affect the outcome of gameplay, story, and ultimately, the course of humanity’s recovery.

While the “Redux” editions of Episodes One and Two are still on track for release in Dec. 2018, the next installment in the story of The Long Dark (Episode Three) is getting delayed until further notice.

In Episode Three, you’ll play as Dr. Astrid Greenwood, and the story picks up in the aftermath of the events of Milton, as experienced from Mackenzie’s point of view in Episode One. You’ll meet new survivors, explore a new region, and find out more about the events prior to, and after, the First Flare event that engulfed Great Bear Island — and perhaps the rest of the world — into “the long dark”.

Some of you might be clued in to recent industry turmoil and a spate of closures, Telltale being the highest profile of these. A bit lesser known, but really big news for our local Vancouver game dev community, was the complete shutdown of Capcom’s Vancouver studio. About 200 people lost their jobs, and in the weeks following we scrambled to interview people to see if we could help them, and to see how we could build up our own development strength.

Fortunately for us, we already had several ex-Capcom Vancouver people in the studio, so we were able to identify high performers who would fit in to our culture well. As a result of the Capcom situation, along with some other people we were interviewing at the time, we’ve hired six new team members in the last month. This is Hinterland’s most significant growth in the past five years.

One area we were really able to bulk up was animation, which has always been a challenge on this project. Our current animation team of three has been able to do some truly incredible technical and creative work over the past 18 months, but we’ve always been limited on how much content we could produce and that’s held us back in some areas of the project. For example, the decision to ship unvoiced dialogue scenes in the original Episode One and Two.  We just couldn’t produce all the animation needed to support full voice over.

For Redux, we adopted some new facial animation technology, and things have improved significantly, to the extent that we’re able to ship Redux Episodes One and Two with full voice-over and fully animated characters. I think this really elevates the quality of the narrative presentation in the game.

We were also able to purchase Capcom Vancouver’s nearly new motion capture studio (or the equipment from it anyway). This purchase gives us a 36-camera set-up which will be more than enough to carry us through the next few projects. Having our own motion capture equipment means we no longer have to plan our production around a motion-capture studio’s availability, which will give us a lot more flexibility to shoot, iterate, reshoot, etc.

In addition to the two animators, we also hired two new programmers, a new user interface/visual effects artist, and a new tester. We’re also interviewing additional people who may end up joining us, including some folks from Telltale and other studios that specialize in narrative experiences, all people who’ve been recently let go and are looking for a new home. This is a great opportunity for us to build up our team in anticipation of future work on The Long Dark, and our next game.

This team growth means we’re big enough to seriously consider splitting the current team into two production teams — one focused in WINTERMUTE, and another focused on Survival Mode. We’ve long struggled with trying to produce enough content to keep both Story and Survival sides of the project fully resourced. So I’m feeling pretty hopeful for the future of The Long Dark, and our update progress moving forward. Being able to have two dedicated teams will help ensure we can make more consistent progress in both areas of the game.

Suddenly having access to all this new development talent and the motion-capture gear makes a huge difference to what we can accomplish in Episode Three. I’ve decided that I’d like to be able to use these new resources — along with the new motion capture equipment — to add more content and polish to Episode Three. This means it won’t be ready for us to ship in December.

There’s not much more to say about that at the moment. I know this will be disappointing.

This may be bittersweet after the Episode Three delay news, but we’ll be delivering the updated “Redux” versions of Episodes One and Two in December.

While the high-level narrative of these episodes remains the same, the details and the implementation of the missions and narrative content is significantly different from what you played last year. Everything has been re-written, re-recorded, and re-animated. There are also new mission beats that didn’t exist before, things that flesh out the experience and story of WINTERMUTE. In December, you’ll be able to play these Redux episodes and get a great sense of what to expect in Episode Three and beyond, as these now serve as the template for how we’ll approach all our mission and narrative content moving forward.

This also means that with the December “Redux” update, we’ll be deleting your old WINTERMUTE saves. They will no longer be compatible with the game after the update, as so much has changed. So, if you haven’t already started playing WINTERMUTE, we suggest you wait until our December update. And if you really want to finish your current WINTERMUTE playthrough, we recommend you do it soon! If you finished the original Episodes One and Two and want to roll right into Episode Three when it launches, you can also do that, although we hope you’ll go back and experience “Do Not Go Gentle” and “Luminance Fugue” again, as they are much changed and improved since their original iterations.

Survival Mode Update for December

Just so that we don’t leave you without something entirely new to look forward to before the end of 2018, we’re releasing another free update to Survival Mode this December.

I don’t want to spoil the contents yet — that deserves its own dev diary — but I can say the update will include the following: New Craftable Hat, New Challenge Mode, New Condition Buff, some UI fixes, some gameplay tweaks, and general bug fixes as well. There may also be a few other surprises in there, if we can get them finished in time.

Story Mode Save Wipe in December

Remember: we are deleting all current WINTERMUTE saves with our December update.

  • If you are just starting WINTERMUTE and don’t mind waiting a bit, we recommend you wait for December so you can play the revised and much improved Episodes One and Two.
  • If you have an in-progress WINTERMUTE game you’d like to finish before we wipe the save, please finish it soon! Pre-Redux (Predux!) WINTERMUTE saves will not be compatible with the game, post-update.
  • If you completed the original Episodes One and Two, Episode Three will be unlocked for you when it releases.
  • This save wipe has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on Survival Mode games. We will not be wiping those. If you play Survival and don’t care about WINTERMUTE, simply carry on.

We’ll release more info about the December Survival Mode update when we get closer to launching it. Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to discuss this dev diary with other members of the community, please jump into the conversation here in our official community forums.

Thanks for reading!


  • Immersive first-person exploration gameplay featuring a stunning, original art style. Players take on the role of franchise protagonist, Will Mackenzie, as he navigates the savage beauty of the Northern Wilderness and faces the hazards of the new “post-digital” frontier.
  • Be on the lookout for potential supply caches, all the while using survival skills to overcome hazards introduced by harsh weather, wildlife, lack of food and water, and other survivors.
  • Deep survival simulation gameplay where every decision matters. Explore a large open world in search of resources, and balance Condition and Willpower against the needs of your daily survival.
  • Morally challenging scenarios that challenge players to answer the question: “How far will you go to survive?” Any survivor you meet in the world can be friend or foe. Will you risk your life to discover what they know and selflessly sacrifice for the common good, or live — and potentially die — by the adage “might makes right”?
  • Rich episodic fiction featuring dozens of locations, a cast of memorable characters, and a mature post-disaster storyline inspired by the creative risk-taking we see in many of today’s exciting television series. This isn’t the end of the world, but you can see it from here.
  • urvival Story mode provides hours of narrative-driven exploration gameplay where you play as Will Mackenzie, struggling to understand what has happened to the world. Survival Sandbox mode provides potentially hundreds of hours of free-form survival gameplay where you push yourself and your skill to last as long as possible in a variety of survival scenarios.

The Long Dark is currently available on Steam Early Access for $19.99, but will be increasing to $34.99 USD later this month.

More articles about The Long Dark
blog comments powered by Disqus