UPDATE 15 -- Rules of The World, Progress to $100K
What a huge weekend for The Long Dark.
Friday and Saturday were big days for us -- in fact, Saturday was our 5th biggest day so far in terms of fundraising, which is incredible. And where did this surge of support come from? From you. A huge % of the gains were from existing backers increasing their pledges -- we appreciate this so much. We've also brought in many new backers, a lot of them referrals through your social media networks. Keep spreading the word! It is making a difference.
We are closing in on $95K, and it seems that we may hit our $100K Oculus Rift Unlock goal well before midnight PST on Wednesday. With your continued support and evangelism, we can do it!
Last week, we promised that this week's updates would focus more on the World and Story of The Long Dark. When you're creating a fictional world to immerse yourself into, there's always a fine balance between what you share, and what you keep as a mystery to drive ongoing interest. You want to reveal enough details so that people care and know what they are signing up for, but you also want to leave enough to the imagination to keep people's attention and keep them wanting more. Kind of like when running a Kickstarter!
Today, Hinterland's creative director, Raphael, is going to share some more details about the state of the world in The Long Dark. In other words, the "rules" we have to live and play by in this fictional setting.
The Long Dark: Rules of the World
Any good speculative scenario functions according to clear rules. Some or all of the rules may be hidden at the beginning of the game (or novel, or film...), but once rules are uncovered and understood, they should remain consistent.
These rules help us understand something about how the world works, how to create interesting and dramatic gameplay and narrative scenarios, and how to ensure we build a sense of verisimilitude about the world itself so that it is believable despite being fictional.
If we do our jobs well, players will accept the rules and boundaries of this world without question, and in fact will embrace the rules we established. If we do our jobs poorly, they will feel frustrated by the rules and will not allow themselves to become fully immersed in the world or fiction.
This is the state of the world of The Long Dark at the game's outset. This is the baseline we are going from before the "event" transpires, that starts the chain of events that we as Mackenzie get drawn into.
The Long Dark takes place “soon”, but at an undetermined date. It is meant to take place 2-3 years from now, whenever “now” is. The setting is based on the real world, inspired by it and functions according to familiar rules, but it's also fictional, which means we take liberties with locations, names, people, events, etc. The setting should feel eerily prescient and uncomfortably close to the reality we see around us.
A good example of this approach is Rockstar Games' approach to the world of the excellent Red Dead Redemption. This setting is entirely fictional, but is closely based on the real world which gives it a sense of authenticity that allows you to immerse yourself in it, without shackling them to unhelpful details and giving them the freedom they need to create locations, people, historical details, etc. that the game needs to work effectively.
The tone we are going for is one of "heightened reality" -- we are extrapolating from current events and making them slightly more extreme by introducing an outside element or force to shake things up. For many post-disaster works, this outside element is some kind of monster, usually a zombie, or an epidemic.
In The Long Dark, humanity is the monster.
From a standpoint of grounding The Long Dark in the real world, some aspects of the current environmental upheaval we’re experiencing in the world have progressed beyond their current state. Weather has become more extreme. Some stocks of wildlife (ex. fish) have been largely depleted. Food is generally much more expensive, and more scarce. So is fuel. Water is starting to become something people worry about and governments spar over. We are more dependent than ever on technology.
The level of technology is pretty much where it is right now -- there are some advances, but nothing notable or prevalent enough that it would have found its way out to the “fringes”. The exaggeration between the haves and the have-nots is even more extreme than it is currently. Mostly the have-nots live outside of cities. Urbanization is even more extreme than it is now. Since resources are drawn into the cities, and that’s where the work is, many small communities have been generally abandoned, especially by the younger generations. Still, there are people -- including young people -- who are skeptical and distrustful of the cities, and choose to avoid them.
The “event” that triggers The Long Dark is a massive geomagnetic disruption caused by the largest solar superstorm in recorded history. This storm makes the Carrington Event of 1859 look like a party sparkler. In late September, triggered by a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) that covers the distance between the Sun and the Earth in a blazing eight hours, the Earth is buffeted for days by highly concentrated electromagnetic energy, resulting in the following:
- The power grid in North America is taken offline. Multiple transformer stations are blown. Swaths of the transmission infrastructure become so highly electrified that they erupt in flames, creating massive “fire lines” that criss-cross the landscape. In some areas, electricity “pulsates” intermittently and without a clear pattern. Other areas black out completely.
- Satellites are destroyed or disrupted. This knocks out most of the communications and GPS infrastructure. Shipping and commercial airline traffic are disastrously impacted by this, including countless crashes, collisions, and groundings. Most sea-going vessels immediately become unpowered barges, without functioning engines or navigation systems.
- Communications are taken offline. No cell service, no satellite communication. Some landlines still work, but generally nobody has access to this old technology anymore, so its usefulness is limited. The internet is taken down. No email, no online banking, no nothing.
- In general, electronics are neutralized. Anything with an integrated circuit that’s newer than the late 70s is probably destroyed -- 99.9% are, which still leaves the possibility of a small number of things like radios, televisions, etc. functioning. Old tube-based radios and TVs still function, but need a power source.
- Cars with electronic ignition systems, computers, and fuel injection do not start or run. Fuel pumps don’t work. Older cars (early 70s and older) may work. For the most part, highways leading in and out of cities immediately become gridlocked by millions of cars that suddenly can’t move under their own power.
- Within days, some of the larger cities begin to experience food shortages. With no transportation infrastructure able to feed supplies to the cities, millions of people are faced with the reality that they are essentially prisoners in the cities. Many choose to try to leave the cities on foot, causing conflict in the suburban and rural areas, which cannot absorb these “urban refugees”. The have vs. have-not dynamics flare up, often to extreme degrees. Violence is common. The infrastructure of law and order enforced by the police and the military begins to unravel.
- Long distance communication becomes nearly impossible, and political power becomes localized. Information becomes a scarce resource. There is wide distrust and speculation regarding what caused this scenario. Many people refuse to believe it was brought on by natural phenomenon, and suspect foreign powers or domestic terrorism.
- The weather is just beginning to turn cold, and Winter is on the horizon. Without power, fuel, food -- it’s going to be a grim Winter for people in the Cities, and elsewhere. Between the extreme cold, starvation, and predation (from humans and wildlife), most people will not survive the first Winter.
That gives you some idea of what is happening in the larger urban centres.
Of course, The Long Dark does not take place in these locations -- we're exploring the "quiet apocalypse", of the outlying rural and wilderness settings. People living on the fringes tend to be more self-sufficient, but in many ways can also be even more dependent on technology for communications, or on transportation to resupply.
The Long Dark is a world of the crossroad town, the isolated gas station on the lonely highway, the quiet fishing village, the off-season logging camp, the abandoned ski lodge, the forest ranger outpost, the remote weather station, the camp ground. As life in the urban centres begins to fall apart, how will the survivors from the fringes choose to exist? How will they deal with the collapse of civilization around them? How will they react when refugees from the cities reach their doorsteps? How far will they go to survive? How far will you?
These are some of the questions you will face in The Long Dark.
Soon, we'll reveal more details about the Aurorae you see in a lot of our artwork, explain what they represent and what they might mean to the player.
Throw another log on the fire! The Long Dark is coming.