Frequently Asked Questions06.05.2017.
Q: When is THE LONG DARK launching?
A: THE LONG DARK launches on August 1st, 2017, worldwide.
Q: I’m confused. I thought the game launched years ago?
A: We brought THE LONG DARK’s Sandbox Mode to Steam Early Access in September of 2014, and then to Xbox Game Preview in June 2015. These were both “pre-release Alphas”, early in-development versions of the game. On August 1st, we’ll be launching the 1.0 version of The Long Dark.
Q: Will THE LONG DARK remain in Early Access after August 1st?
A: No. The August 1st launch marks the end of our time in Early Access and Game Preview.
Q: Does this mean you won’t be taking community feedback, or updating the game after your 1.0 launch?
A: We plan to continue updating the game after our 1.0 launch. We will continue working on the remaining episodes of our 5-episode “Story Mode” (renamed WINTERMUTE), and we’d also like to continue updating the “Sandbox Mode” (renamed Survivor Mode). Although we’re proud of what we’ve created so far, there are still lots of things we’d like to add and improve! We also know that regular updates help keep our community engaged with the game, which is important to us.
Q: What platforms is THE LONG DARK shipping on?
A: THE LONG DARK Survivor Mode is currently available on Steam Early Access and Xbox One Game Preview, and will be until we launch our 1.0 on August 1st. The 1.0 version of The Long Dark will also be available on PlayStation 4 on August 1st.
Q: I see that THE LONG DARK is available on Steam and Xbox One already. Why can’t I get it on PlayStation 4 yet?
A: Both Steam and Xbox One have “early access” programs, where players can purchase games that are still in development. Sony does not have an “early access” program for the PlayStation, so our 1.0 version will be the first version available on PlayStation 4.
Q: If I bought THE LONG DARK in Early Access/Game Preview, do I need to pay more for the 1.0 version when it launches on August 1st?
A: No. Your purchase of THE LONG DARK in Early Access/Game Preview gives you full access to all the launch and Season One updates (Episodes One to Five) when the game’s 1.0 version launches on August 1st.
Q: You increased the price from $19.99 USD to $34.99 USD. Why?
A: We launched THE LONG DARK on Early Access at $19.99 USD in September 2014. The game has had years of updates since then and we’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and money continuously improving the game. We feel that the $34.99 price represents the true value of the game, while $19.99 has been a very fair price for our early adopters, who have received a lot of value for their purchase.
Also, as a self-funded and completely independent studio, we rely on sales of THE LONG DARK to fund continued development of the game and other games we’d like to make. We work very hard to ensure you feel you get fair value for your money, and our goal is to continue making thought-provoking experiences that challenge genre-conventions. In order to do so, we have to ensure we’re getting a fair price for the quality of experience we’re creating for you, so that we can continue investing in more experiences like The Long Dark in the future.
Q: What happened to Sandbox Mode and Story Mode? Where did they go?
A: They didn’t go anywhere! We just renamed them, as those names were always meant to be placeholders for our in-development versions of the game. Now that we are so close to launch, we’re re-”branding” these game modes as Survivor Mode, and WINTERMUTE. Survivor Mode is the free-form, non-narrative, open-world survival sandbox you’ve been playing throughout Early Access.
Q: What is WINTERMUTE?
A: WINTERMUTE is the name of our first season of “story mode” — five episodes that cover the story of bush pilot Will Mackenzie, and Dr. Astrid Greenwood, as they explore the Northern Canadian wilderness in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster that has plunged their world into “the long dark”.
Q: How many story episodes are included in my purchase of the game?
A: THE LONG DARK’s “Story Mode”, called WINTERMUTE, is five episodes. All five are included in your purchase of the game, although only the first two episodes will be available at launch. The remaining three episodes will be released over the course of the remainder of 2017, and part of 2018.
Q: I backed the game on Kickstarter. Will I have to pay more to get access to the 1.0 version?
A: No way! As a backer, you should have received a Steam key back in 2014. The game has been updating in your Steam account ever since, and will continue to update with all the new content coming in WINTERMUTE and future updates to Survivor Mode. If for some reason you still haven’t received your key, please contact us at info(at)hinterlandgames(dot)com so we can help you out!
Q: Most episodic games have 2-3 hour episodes. How long are the episodes in WINTERMUTE?
A: Since THE LONG DARK is not a purely linear game like most of the other episodic games available to date, play time can vary from player to player. However, in our playtests, we have found episode play times typically range from 4-6 hours. This will generally be our target for episode play lengths moving forward as well, as we think it allows a good amount of time to develop an interesting story while letting players experience the open-world survival gameplay The Long Dark is known for.
Q: I know that I play Will Mackenzie in WINTERMUTE. Will I play anyone else?
A: Actually, WINTERMUTE is the story of Will Mackenzie AND Dr. Astrid Greenwood. So, while you play Mackenzie in Episode One and Episode Two, you will play Dr. Greenwood in Episode Three, and we’ll switch between the two playable characters for Episodes Four and Five.
Q: Do I have to play the game as Mackenzie OR Astrid? Can I play through all the episodes as one character?
A: No. When you play Mackenzie or Astrid, you’re experiencing their part of the story. We feel it’s important that you get to experience that character’s point of view of the story as it unfolds, and that the story presents different situations for each of the two characters. We didn’t want there to be only one story that remained the same regardless of who you happen to be playing.
Q: Why did you make your Survivor Mode an open-world sandbox, but your “story mode” episodic?
A: Survivor Mode is about the player experiencing their own story of survival in the world of THE LONG DARK. WINTERMUTE is about you experiencing the story of THE LONG DARK that we want to tell. We feel there is room for both experiences, and separating the game into two “modes” like this allows us to ensure that each experience is tuned to be as compelling as possible given our specific goals for it. This is a bit of an unconventional approach — in fact, we don’t think there’s another open-world game that is structured quite like this — so it’s also a big experiment for us. We’re looking forward to hearing what you think, so that we can continue refine our approach in the future.
Q: You’ve published a pretty big “wish list” of Sandbox features in the past. Are you still planning to implement any of those, or is the list irrelevant now that the 1.0 version is launching on August 1st?
A: The “wish list” was always meant to be aspirational, and our heavy focus on preparing our launch content for WINTERMUTE definitely impacted our development bandwidth for Survivor Mode (AKA Sandbox Mode) in the first half of 2017. We didn’t manage to get all the new “Sandbox” features and content into the game that we would have liked to for our 1.0 launch, but we have added a lot of new stuff, even for Survivor Mode players who aren’t that interested in WINTERMUTE. We still have a lot of things we’d like to add to the game, in terms of mechanics and content, and we’d like to continue updating THE LONG DARK with updates well into the future. The frequency and scope of these updates will depend partly on how players respond to WINTERMUTE.
Q: Do you have any plans to bring THE LONG DARK to other platforms?
A: We have nothing to report on future platform expansion beyond Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. That said, we’d like to see as many people as possible get to experience THE LONG DARK, so we’re definitely open to bringing the game to new platforms in the future, provided we’re certain we can provide a good experience to players there. Whether we take this step, or what platforms we might consider, aren’t questions we can answer right now.
Q: There’s been some talk about a movie based on THE LONG DARK. Is this happening?
A: We have nothing to report on this at the moment. We’re glad that people are enjoying the game so much that they’d like to experience it in other media. We think there are lots of stories to be told in the world of THE LONG DARK, and it’s possible that we won’t be able to tell all of them in the game.
Q: Will my saves from Early Access carry over into the 1.0 version of the game?
A: While we managed to maintain backwards compatibility with previous saves for our nearly 3-year run in Early Access, due to significant changes to the save architecture required to support our launch, we will be rendering all old saves obsolete as of the FINAL Sandbox update (currently targeting late-May/early-June 2017). In other words, your old games won’t work with the final Sandbox update before we launch our 1.0. It’s worth noting that your Profile data will carry over, however, which means progress towards Feats, or any Badges you’ve unlocked, will carry over. We will provide ample warning before making this switch.
Q: If you’re going to wipe all our saves, why not wait until you launch the 1.0? Why do this one update prior to your launch?
A: We want to make sure that when we launch our 1.0, the save system has been thoroughly tested, so players can have the best experience possible. Releasing the update to the save system one full update cycle before we launch will help ensure that. The good news is that the saves from the last Sandbox update should remain intact in our 1.0 launch.
Q: Do you have any plans for paid DLC?
A: At the moment, our focus is on pushing as much value into THE LONG DARK as we can for the $34.99 USD price. We believe that five story episodes and continued updates to the sandbox will help ensure you continue to feel good about your purchase. That said, if we found that our community was hungry for paid DLC outside of WINTERMUTE and the sandbox updates, we would consider it.
Q: Are you ever going to add multiplayer? How about VR?
A: We’re still focused on making THE LONG DARK the best single-player survival story we can. That said, we’re always looking for ways to make THE LONG DARK experience even more compelling. We think there could be an interesting VR experience set in the world of THE LONG DARK, although we have no illusions of making the entire game playable in VR — the controls and locomotion challenges alone are staggering. If we found a way to create an experience for more than one player that was true to the spirit of THE LONG DARK, we’d consider it. But, it’d likely be a separate, stand-alone game, as THE LONG DARK has not been designed, nor its systems or code architected, to support more than one player. And as you might imagine, creating these different types of experiences requires a lot of effort and resources. We’re a small studio that cares very much about quality, so this means focusing on doing one thing very well, before moving on to new things.