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‘The Long Dark’ creative director talks story structure and the future of the IP


There’s not doubt that Kickstarter has changed the way games are made. As the years have progressed, it’s given fresh talent an avenue for creation, it’s allowed for the rebirth of franchises long thought dead; the list goes on and on. A few weeks ago we saw yet another contender enter the crowdfunding ring with Hinterland Games’ The Long Dark. Set in the northern wilds after a mysterious apocalyptic event, The Long Dark tells the story of pilot William Macenzie’s fight for survival in a world stripped of its technology.

But even with Hinterland’s impressive pedigree, the world of Kickstarter can be rough, especially when pitching a new experimental IP. To help spread the word, the game’s creative director Raphael Van Lierop sat down with me for a brief chat about The Long Dark and its history up until now. If you’re interested in the full interview, be sure to check back later this week.

When questioned about the episodic structure described on the Kickstarter page, Van Lierop was quick to clear up any misunderstandings.

It’s not going to be episodic in the way that The Walking Dead is episodic. We’re sort of delivering a story in a television feeling format. And basically how we look at it is, the game that we’re working on, the game that we’re launching, the game that we’re Kickstarting is the first season of this experience and it’s winter. And what we’d like to do, if we’re successful with this one and we can continue building on it, we want to continue telling more of the story of what happened in The Long Dark and take Macenzie further beyond where he starts and modify the simulation as we go.

Future plans for The Long Dark are still in their early stages, but the studio definitely has the groundwork laid for later seasons. Van Lierop further explained what the introduction of new seasons and weather conditions could mean for Macenzie.

 The next season logically would be Spring, and we could play on all the themes that are built up around the idea of renewal. But also, what is this new world you’re coming back into and how have things changed, and how does this modify the simulation. So maybe, for example, your less worried about exposure and temperature, but now you have other things to worry about. Maybe wildlife is even more abundant, including predators, and you’re more concerned about things like the storage of your food, and disease can spread more quickly. So we can continue to refine the low level elements of the simulation to account for the different times of the year, for the different literal seasons.

And of course, as is common with many new IPs in today’s industry, expanding beyond the video game itself is always a possibility.

When we talk about episodes, it’s more about the structure of the storytelling and not about how we’re delivering the content. Although, we would love to be able to continue to build on the game that we’re working on right now, and extending that story in the future as well. Whether it’s in, not just complete new seasons, but also other stories. We have been working on this IP with an intent to take this story across different platforms. So not just are we working on it as a game, but we want to tell the story of The Long Dark across other media as well. So graphic novels, or web series’, or whatever.

With only 16 days left, be sure to check out The Long Dark’s Kickstarter soon, and keep an eye out for the full audio interview when it goes live later this week.

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