Dev Diary – PERILOUS CONSTRAINT Update

Hello Survivors,

We just launched our latest update to Survival Mode, called PERILOUS CONSTRAINT. This update includes:

You can check out more information about the update here:

Mod Support in 2022

We’re setting up a small internal team dedicated solely to supporting Modding and User Generated Content at Hinterland. Our initial focus will be on supporting The Long Dark, but we plan for this to be a long-standing investment in time and resources, and the things we learn and the modding community we build with you, will hopefully become a strong foundation of more things to come in future Hinterland games.

As first steps, we’re setting up a Modding & UGC section of the official Hinterland forums. We’ll have dedicated focus from our Community team on this area, so please focus your mod discussions here so we can best support you. We’ve also set up a new email alias, “mods@hinterlandgames.com”, which you can use to contact us with any requests or information you’d like to share.

In the Spring, we’ll be sharing more info about our Creator Hub, which will have documentation, some tools, and other resources for modders, and other types of fan creations for The Long Dark. Until then, we’ll be active in the new Modding & UGC section of the official forums, and we’ll also be proactively reaching out to many of you who have been busy modding the game over the past years. We want to know more about what you need in terms of tool support, documentation, and also to provide you a clear path to communicating with us as we grow this area of The Long Dark’s community.

Survival Mode Updates in 2022 & Beyond

We’ve been working on a plan for how to tackle ongoing support for Survival Mode between now and Episode Five’s launch, and beyond. I’ll share more details about our plans in the new year, as there are a lot of technical aspects we’re still figuring out. But as a high-level direction, based on the guidance we’ve received from many of you in our player community through our community poll earlier this year — and after providing nearly over 7 years of free updates to Survival Mode — our plan is to move to a more sustainable paid update path. 

One of the first stages we’re working towards is splitting Story Mode and Survival Mode into two separate games and executables. This won’t affect your ownership in any way — everyone who currently owns The Long Dark will automatically have both games. In fact depending on how we handle this, the split may be mostly on the back-end and invisible to you as player. This split is mostly about how we structure content and data in the game on the development side. 

Until now Story content has been a layer on top of the core Survival Mode foundation, which has allowed us (over the years) to share the world and mechanics between the two modes, then using tuning variables and a complex system of scene layering to keep the two different experiences separate but relatively cohesive. This was a fantastic decision for us earlier in the project when the game world was smaller and we had less episode content, but as the years have passed it’s become harder and harder for us to maintain this structure, and we feel it’s become overly limiting to our ability to continue to grow The Long Dark for the future. 

One illustrative example of this is that every time we change an element of UI, or a foundational art asset or system that is shared between the modes, we have to then test all the episodes, all the survival mode regions and content, and all the Challenge modes against this change. As a result, over time we’ve had to spend an increasing amount of effort on testing and validating our existing content and systems every time we want to release something new, and this has prevented us from updating the game as frequently as we would like. It’s also limited the kinds of things we can update, and we feel that many of the architecture choices from back in 2014 and onward have now become detrimental to the game’s growth and evolution in 2021 and beyond.

What splitting the game into Story and Survival will mean for us is that we’ll be better able to compartmentalize content, features, cinematics, etc. so that every time we make a change in Survival, we don’t have to retest the entirety of the rest of the game, and vice versa. In theory this should make it easier for us to update the game in the future, both shortening the testing cycle and ensuring it can be more focused on a narrower band of changes. Our belief is that this will help us better maintain the game and ensure a high-quality experience for our players. We’ll share more details about this split in the new year, and as I said our hope is that for most current players this split will be very “behind the scenes”. 

Beyond this, our plan for 2022 and beyond is to introduce some form of a paid update path for Survival Mode. We’re still working out the details of this — and there are many! — but our primary goal in developing this strategy is to focus on: 1) fairness to our current players, 2) creating multiple entry-points so that players can opt-in depending on what they want and what they can afford, and 3) long-term sustainability for the development team.

Part of our update plans also include how to handle next-gen visual enhancements. Thus far the only way to play The Long Dark on Xbox Series X|S, or PlayStation 5, has been through backwards compatibility. We want to create some next-gen native visual enhancements that really capitalize on the greater processing power and memory in the new consoles, and also on high-end PC, but again because of how our game is structured — and because of how the platforms prefer developers to handle this content — it’s been tough to reconcile the dev work required to make these changes with the impact they would have to our bottom line. We think we have a good plan for this and we’ll share more news about our approach and the list of enhancements we’re tackling at the same time we roll out more details about the paid update path for Survival Mode.

And just to be crystal clear — none of these changes will have any impact on the delivery of Episode Five. This will still be free for all existing customers. If you own The Long Dark, you will not have to pay extra for Episode Five.

And speaking of Episodes, in case you missed it, we released Episode Four: Fury, Then Silence, in October. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, we encourage you to play it over the holidays!

Studio Closure

As usual for this time of year, the Hinterland team will be enjoying well-deserved rest with loved ones this holiday season, and the studio will be shut down from December 20th to January 3rd. If you run into any issues with the game during that period, and wish to contact us, please use our Support Portal. Please keep in mind that due to being on holiday, our responses might be delayed.

We’re excited to share more news with you in the new year, but until then, get some rest, stay safe these holidays, enjoy time with your loved ones, and we’ll see you in 2022 to begin a whole new phase of The Long Dark.

All the best, and thanks for your support this year.

– Raphael