Q&A with The Long Dark

Q&A with The Long Dark

3 Days ago, Hinterland Game’s Kickstarter for The Long Dark, was successfully funded, raising $256,217 CAD, well above their original goal of $200,000. Described as a “thoughtful, exploration focused survival simulation set in the Northern wilderness in the aftermath of a global disaster”, The Long Dark already looks like a bold addition to the survival-style game, as well as the post-apocalyptic genre. Raphael van Lierop, founder and creative director of Hinterland, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about this indie survival game:


Q: “The Long Dark” seems to have very realistic roots, and you’ve obviously spent time in nature as part of the development for the idea of this game. What other influences have helped your team’s vision of the post-disaster world? Movies? Works of Literature? Extensive camping experience?

A: We’ve been influenced by all sorts of things. Time in the outdoors, thinking about the state of the world, and far too much time reading, watching, and playing post-disaster/post-apocalyptic experiences. Specific influences include (books) Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, George Stewart’s The Earth Abides; (movies) The Road, The Edge, Children of Men, Contagion; (games) Fallout 3, STALKER, Red Dead Redemption, Journey, Dear Esther.

Q: Your team has an incredible pedigree. You’ve talked a little bit on your Kickstarter about the move from AAA to Independent development, but how has this changed the dynamic of teamwork, and what effect has it had on the creative process of game design?

A: We’re a small tight-knit team which means we have to trust each other and we all have to be great at what we do, including the things that are new to us. Communication is key. The creative process is very collaborative and we make decisions very quickly. But there’s no “design by committee”. We’re working to a very clear direction. We don’t have time to screw around.


Q: Will the game have an element of random generation? You already have shown previews of a strong story centered around the character of Will Mackenzie and have talked about narrative gameplay, but nature is random, and often acts in ways you don’t expect. How will you prevent a strong narrative from making the survival experience feel like it is “on-rails”.

A: The relationship between the survival sim and the game’s narrative is similar to what you’ve already seen in games like Fallout 3 or Red Dead Redemption, where there’s a dynamic “living world” element to the simulation, and then a layer of narrative-driven quests or missions planted on top of that foundation. In The Long Dark, we certainly add an element of randomization to things like encounters, resources and supplies you might find, etc. This is critical to creating a sense of serendipity, which is so important to us.

Q: Have you done any prototyping? What have you learned from this and what direction are you headed in terms of Gameplay?

A: We’ve done a lot of prototyping, some of which we’ve shown in gameplay videos.

Q: How did you decide on which stretch goals would come before others? For instance, an Extended game soundtrack appears before enhanced voice-acting. does this reflect something about the teams goals in creating a narrative, or more plainly, does music matter more than voices to you as you construct the experience of “The Long Dark”?

A: Stretch goals are about balancing interesting choices for our backers, with the resources required to deliver on those choices. I guess in that way, they’re a lot like the game!

IndieHangover would like to thank the team at Hinterlands for taking the time to answer our questions, and wish them congratulations on a successful Kickstarter campaign!


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Editor-in-Chief of IndieHangover.com. With a soft spot for epics, sagas and tales of all types, Jacob approaches games as ways to tell stories. He's particularly interested in indie games because of the freedom they have to tell different stories, often in more interesting and innovative ways than Triple A titles.