Fans of the chilly survival game The Long Dark have been treated to an update on the progress of Episode Four by the game’s creator, Raphael van Lierop. In the developer diary, Raphael outlines the approach to developing an episode, including the decisions behind removing or adding elements, and also looks toward the future of the game and the studio.
The latest developer diary for The Long Dark dives into what it has been like for the team to be developing a narrative-focused episode, one which Raphael describes as “some of the most complex we’ve produced”. The post goes into some detail on the challenges the studio has faced during this global pandemic.
It was only last year in August that Raphael addressed the community in a developer diary that outlined the delay to Episode Four. In it, Raphael explained how COVID-19 had a major effect on the team’s ability to get the latest episode out the door.
One thing that has caused a slowdown is that members of the animation team were unable to travel to the studio due to COVID. To make up for this, the team used home-based capture suits and keyframes for animation, including facial animations. This is a laborious task and one that was typically faster in-studio, especially in Episode Three, thanks to some of the tools and tech available.
The post goes on to talk about the development process of creating these episodes and how it always involves cutting content or adding content where necessary. This tweaking ensures a more nuanced and tighter experience for the player. “In the specific case of Episode Four, this includes adding a new section of gameplay and a new mechanic we’re experimenting with,” writes Raphael. This sounds like players could be in store for a new type of gameplay element that hasn’t been done before.
For those hoping for a release date, there’s not one yet. However, the dev diary does note that the team is now on the final stretch. Players can expect a teaser trailer and date announcement before Episode Four launches.
Beyond Episode Four, and Episode Five, the Raphael focuses on the future of The Long Dark and the studio as a whole. There’s a helpful survey players can fill out to give their thoughts and opinions on where they would like to see The Long Dark go once the episodic releases have concluded.
The developer diary caps off with a look at how far The Long Dark has come since its inception. To date, there are some 8.5 million players that have experienced the frigid survival conditions in this unique title. Of these numbers, some 3.5 million have been brought in through Xbox Game Pass and the Epic Games Store.
There’s plenty to unpack here, so make sure you go and read the full developer diary. You can also take shelter by the Shacknews The Long Dark page for more news and insights into this gorgeous and sometimes harrowing survival game.
Sam Chandler posted a new article, The Long Dark dev diary asks players what they want from the future
Bill must be super excited.