Hinterland Studio creative director Raphael van Lierop delivered some disappointing news yesterday when he announced that the third episode of The Long Dark, which had been set to go live in December, isn't going to make it. But that bad news actually arises from bigger-picture good news—although the good news in question is the result of even more serious bad news. It's all kind of complicated, so I'll let van Lierop explain.
"Some of you might be clued in to recent industry turmoil and a spate of closures, Telltale being the highest profile of these. A bit lesser known, but really big news for our local Vancouver game dev community, was the complete shutdown of Capcom’s Vancouver studio," he explained in a blog post. "About 200 people lost their jobs, and in the weeks following we scrambled to interview people to see if we could help them, and to see how we could build up our own development strength."
"Fortunately for us, we already had several ex-Capcom Vancouver people in the studio, so we were able to identify high performers who would fit in to our culture well. As a result of the Capcom situation, along with some other people we were interviewing at the time, we’ve hired six new team members in the last month. This is Hinterland’s most significant growth in the past five years."
Hinterland was able to "bulk up" its animation department in particular—limitations in its technical capabilities are why the first two episodes of The Long Dark shipped with voiceless dialog scenes—with two new animators and the purchase of Capcom Vancouver's "nearly new" motion capture equipment. It also added two new programmers, a new artist, and a new tester, and it's continuing to interview other people, including former Telltale employees.
It's enough that the studio is considering splitting itself into separate teams, one working on the Wintermute story and the other dedicated to the sandbox survival mode, and it's also completely changed the studio's outlook on The Long Dark development going forward. There's the rub.
"Suddenly having access to all this new development talent and the motion-capture gear makes a huge difference to what we can accomplish in Episode Three. I’ve decided that I’d like to be able to use these new resources—along with the new motion capture equipment—to add more content and polish to Episode Three," van Lierop wrote. "This means it won’t be ready for us to ship in December."
There's no word on when episode three will be out, but on the bright side, he confirmed that the Redux versions of episodes one and two will be ready in December. "Everything has been re-written, re-recorded, and re-animated. There are also new mission beats that didn’t exist before, things that flesh out the experience and story of Wintermute," he continued.
"In December, you’ll be able to play these Redux episodes and get a great sense of what to expect in Episode Three and beyond, as these now serve as the template for how we’ll approach all our mission and narrative content moving forward."
The darker side of the bright side (I told you it's complicated) is that existing saves won't be compatible with the Redux release, so Hinterland will be deleting them. If you haven't started playing Wintermute yet then you should probably wait until the Redux chapters are live, and if you're in the middle of a playthrough and want to finish it, get on it.
The Long Dark is currently on sale on Steam, by the way, for 75 percent off—that's $7.50/£6/€6.