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Hey! It’s a new episode of Quinns’ weekly video series in which he examines one mechanic in one game. This week: how first-person survival game The Long Dark [official site] uses item degradation as more than a nuisance, creating tension and reward among its chilly snowdrifts and ferocious wolves.
It’s grim up north. The northern parts of Canada portrayed in early-access survival adventure The Long Dark, that is. We sent Duncan Geere to explore its icy landscapes for Survival Week, and he came back with a tale of a single day in the life of a lost cartographer, trying to map the wilderness as it slowly kills him.>
The first sensation is one of bone-chilling cold. I open my eyes, and I’m blinded by bright light from all directions. What is this place? Am I dead? If I’d known that heaven would have been this chilly, I’d have brought a thicker jumper. But no, after a few seconds the whiteness fades into shapes. Shapes of trees and mountains. Slowly, the memories come back.
I was on a plane – a plane flying into the far north of Canada to study an odd geomagnetic anomaly that had appeared close to the magnetic pole. My skills were needed to map the affected area – I’ve been a cartographer for fifteen years. But while in flight, the anomaly grew larger and the plane’s navigation systems failed. In vain, the pilot hunted for a safe landing site, but when the fuel ran low we were forced out of the door with a few basic survival supplies and a parachute. Now I’m somewhere in the Canadian wildernerness in the worst possible state for a cartographer to be. Lost.
The Long Dark has arrived on Early Access, with a bunch of new features since we first looked at it, including a choice between a male or female protagonist, a lot more variation in loot – clothes, food, equipment – as well as some new locations to discover. One thing they haven’t done is made it any easier to play. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s gotten a whole lot more difficult. Here’s my diary entries for my return to the game.>
It’s not often you’ll get a phwoar out of me, but: phwoar. As if the oncoming no-technology apocalypse wasn’t enough to get my juices flowing, The Long Dark devs Hinterland Games have only gone and posted the most incredible looking series of screenshots. While there had been mock-ups, renders and concept art before these are the first taken from inside the engine to be released. The survival game is shaping up rather sexy> after the successful++ Kickstarter campaign. If the gallery of prettiness below isn’t enough for you, take a look at it in motion here or read an interview from October here.
Kickstarter can rattle your faith in humanity a little sometimes. The Long Dark, for instance, seemingly had everything. An intriguing premise, wild ambition, and the legacy triple-A chops to pull it off. And yet, despite all that, potential backers passed it by for weeks, leaving it cold, starving, and alone. It just wanted a hug, you guys>. Well, that and $200,000. Fortunately, with only a few days left on the clock, Long Dark hobbled past its goal, and now its crowdfunding drive has closed out with a grand total of $$256,217 in Canadian monetary units. What happens now? Er, in a rather Star-Citizen-esque move, more funding apparently.
There’s a lot that can be said for the life of a successful triple-A developer. Job security, financial stability, and having your name in the credits of a game that sells millions of copies are all nice to have. So why would someone in the enviable position of being one of those big-name developers decide to quit their job and make an indie game with a few friends instead?
It turns out there’s quite a few reasons, actually. Mitch Bowman spoke to three gentlemen from Hinterland Games, a new indie studio put together by a handful of long-time industry veterans, to find out what they are, and how they’re affecting the development of The Long Dark.>