Dev Diary – August 202020.08.2020.
Apologies that it’s been a while since you last heard from me.
2020 has been a pretty tough year so far. I have a feeling that most of you will agree. The great news is that everyone at Hinterland continues to be healthy — no COVID! We’re thrilled about this. So that’s one really positive thing and I try to focus on that. We’re also happy that despite things being pretty upside down, we were still able to release our FEARLESS NAVIGATOR update, as well as run our WINTER’S EMBRACE event through July (which also added new content to the game).
We shut down our physical studio back in March and everyone has been in lockdown since then. I remember at the beginning of this quarantine I found myself thinking, “Wow, think of how much I’ll be able to get done!”. Looking back at that time, I realize how naive that thought was. We’ve been spending a lot more time on Zoom calls, have been doing as many small things as we can to help make the team more comfortable and to keep morale high, and have adapted as well as possible to exclusively working from home. But I’m sure you can all appreciate that this is not a normal way of working. We typically depend a lot on in-person communication for relationship-building, planning, content reviews, and making clear progress towards common goals. Apart from being generally healthy and safe, which we’re grateful for, I think the team also feels a sense of malaise from being in lockdown for months on end. And while I believe the future is positive, I’d be lying if I said that this year has been “business as usual” for Hinterland as a team, or for our work on The Long Dark.
Pretty recently we came to the conclusion that we don’t feel good about releasing Episode Four this year. We had originally hoped to have it ready for launch in December, but with everything that’s been going on, it’s just been tough to work very optimally. We’ve lost some momentum and some parts of our production have been slower than usual just because of not being able to work on things face-to-face, nevermind everyone is also juggling their personal situation at home whether it’s being alone all the time, or balancing parenting duties with work, or whatever new personal dynamic we find ourselves in. Everyone is still focused on the game, and we’re making progress every day, but I just don’t feel good about keeping the team locked to a December release because we don’t crunch at Hinterland and the only way to hit December is if we compromise on quality or scope. We don’t want that, and you don’t want that. So we aren’t going to do that.
So we’re not shipping Episode Four this year. I’m really sorry about that. We wanted to let you know as soon as we decided to delay, rather than wait another few months.
I hope you and your loved ones have all been healthy throughout this COVID pandemic. I hope that The Long Dark has been able to bring you some solace during these difficult times. We’re still here for you. Just fighting through “the long dark”, in our own way.
I’ll send a more uplifting update within the next couple of months, with some more info on our planned activities throughout the rest of 2020, and into 2021.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.
PS A lot of you have been asking for news about the progress of the Nintendo Switch port of The Long Dark; we created a mailing list you can sign up to to be informed of news about it.