Our John is real into the sandbox mode of Early Access survive 'em up The Long Dark [official site], but while I dig its frozen setting I'm not really into surviving for survival's sake myself. So I was jazzed about December's news that The Long Dark's story mode would be coming in spring. Alas, I have to let myself down easy - breathe, Alice, and remember you have so many other games to play - as it seems the story's held up once more. It's for a good reason, mind. Developers Hinterland Studio have expanded their campaign plans once again, going bigger and fancier.
As Hinterland's Raphael van Lierop explained in a blog post today, their plans kept getting bigger. Along the way, Story Mode has ventured into brand-new areas not seen before in the sandbox, gained a second playable character with her own point of view, gone from 2D animated heads for cinematics to full 3D models with motion-captured performances, and added whole new systems. Van Lierop teases:
"Without giving away too many spoilers, these mechanics relate to how you choose to survive in a world with other survivors in it, how do you navigate this world and the knowledge you've gained in it, and how is the presence of the Aurora changing the world around you?"
And... all of this takes time. Spring is now upon us, but Story Mode is not. The plan is now for it to launch with two of Season One's five planned episodes, one more than planned before ("you can't launch a 2-hour game in this competitive, Steam-refund, Youtube-orientated marketplace", he says). The two together will 4-6 hours to finish.
But they can't, or won't, give a hint of when we might see them. Van Lierop says he won't speak about that "until we are close enough to being done with it that I can say with 100% certainty, and give you a definitive date that I know isn't going to end up with us pushing out an experience we aren't 100% satisfied with."
Hey, take your time - I'd rather wait for something great than settle for something rushed. We're hardly experiencing a drought of good games.
Hinterland do plan to keep players better informed of development and resume sandbox mode updates, which had been placed on hold while they focused on story. For now, you can see their goals on the development roadmap. In a bit, they plan to launch an optional 'experimental' branch for players to try out features as Hinterland fiddle with them. And they've made this pleasant video to show some of their progress:
I mean, I'm broadly on board with anyone who proposes a nice bit of drowning. Here's how Raphael van Lierop closes the post:
"Thanks for your continued support. Without it, we wouldn't have made it this far. All we want is to make something that is great, something we can be proud of for the rest of our lives, and the only way we know how to do that is to go all out. We aren't saving anything for the swim back to shore.
"We are going all the way. Come with us.
I'll pack my swimming costume.