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THE LONG DARK is a first-person post-disaster survival simulation set in the Northern wilderness. How far will you go to survive?
THE LONG DARK is a first-person post-disaster survival experience set in the Northern wilderness. How far will you go to survive?
THE LONG DARK is a first-person post-disaster survival experience set in the Northern wilderness. How far will you go to survive?
6,966 backers pledged CA$ 256,217 to help bring this project to life.

Update 17 -- Who is Will Mackenzie? & Oculus Unlock!!

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Greetings, Hinterlanders!

What an incredible day. Today we achieved and exceeded the $100K mid-point for the campaign. What a wonderful feeling for everyone on the Hinterland team, seeing the pledges pouring in and the rally of support to get us there. And nearly a full day early! You all prove that's there's nothing the community behind The Long Dark can't do.

And as promised, we are now unlocking the Oculus Rift platform for The Long Dark, as soon as we hit our $200K goal (bringing it down from the original $250K stretch goal). Thanks for your support!

And now, we want to introduce you to the protagonist of The Long Dark: Will Mackenzie.

Who is Will Mackenzie?

Male, 43. Born in Black Creek, British Columbia, Canada.

Son of a bush pilot, Jack, and logging camp nurse, Marie. Due to his parents’ work, Will enjoyed something of a nomadic upbringing. Will didn’t enter formal school, but his mother was strict about him taking correspondence courses, which Will put just enough effort into to pass and nothing more. Naturally bright but easily bored with book learning, Will preferred the “school of life”, hanging around the camps with much older, rougher adults. He grew up quickly. Not a conventional upbringing, but what his parents lacked in resources they made up for in love and dedication. Will was not spoiled, but never wanted for anything as a child, and grew up feeling close to his parents, and in particular, his mother.

When Will was 23, father Jack had a serious crash which stranded him out in the tundra for days. After a search team failed to locate Jack, it was Will who eventually found their father and managed to bring him back to camp, where Marie tended to his injuries. Grounded, Will’s father was unable to make payments on the hanger space and gear he needed to stay in the air, nevermind getting deeply into debt to buy another plane. Marie’s meager wage as a camp nurse wasn’t enough to keep them going, so losing the plane meant losing the family livelihood. Will had already been working odd jobs around the small towns and nearby camps, but now he’d have to get serious and pick up the slack.

Restlessly bouncing between several jobs, Will eventually got into tree falling and worked the woodlots for good pay. But while this extra money helped keep their heads above water, the Mackenzie family was still struggling, and father Jack’s crash and subsequent long-term (even permanent?) grounding had taken its toll -- Jack turned to drink. Will was 24 and this was the first time he’d sensed trouble between his parents.

Meanwhile, having to step up to help as the primary breadwinner lent Will a more more serious and focused air, which caught the attention of a local diner waitress, Anna. Although there was mutual interest, their budding romance was complicated by the fact that Anna had two young kids from a previous relationship. Unconcerned with this fact, Will pursued her despite several run-ins with her ex, a violent alcoholic who would disappear for months on end to work the tarsands in Fort St. John, only to return flush with cash and ready to burn it all on booze, drugs, and strippers. Will took on the role of informal father-figure to Anna’s two girls, even though he was not yet very experienced with life and didn’t have any first hand experience with children.

After working on the logging crews for five or so years, Will’s father came to him with a proposition. He had found someone who would provide him with use of a plane, which would allow him to get his former remote air transportation business back on track. The family was desperate for money and this could really help solve a lot of their financial woes. But, Jack needed a pilot to make the deal work. If Will would agree to learn to fly, Jack would make him a full partner in the business. Will readily agreed, thinking that the money they could save would be just what he and Anna needed to buy a little house on one of the local islands and get out of this rough camp life. After weeks of intense flying lessons Will was ready to enter the family business: Mackenzie & Son Remote Air Transport.

For years, Will dutifully flew the routes and delivered the people or cargo requested of him by his father, but after a while he began to get suspicious. He began to notice small errors in the manifests. Cargo details were incorrect, shipping weights were fudged, and often the descriptions of cargo he was expected to deliver didn’t seem to match the cargo itself.

He eventually confronted his father, who angrily denied any wrongdoing, but finally relented and admitted he had arranged for several regular “no questions asked” flights with certain clients. Faced with the realization that he had been smuggling drugs, or guns, or worse, Will faced a tough call: abandon his father and deal with the consequences of crossing paths with these wealthy and potentially dangerous “no questions asked” clients (and also lose out on the healthy revenue stream provided by their transportation company, putting his and Anna’s dreams on the backburner). Or, Will could simply ignore what he had discovered and continue making the flights.

In the end, Will chose future prosperity and decided to continue flying, but only if his father would agree to wean the business off these sketchy clients, and focus on more legitimate (albeit less lucrative) interactions. He just couldn’t live with the idea that his parents, and the girl he hoped would become his wife someday, or her children, would suffer due to his discomfort with a few forged manifests.

The flights continued for several more months, and despite his misgivings, Will was drawn deeper into his father’s business dealings. At one point, to protest his father’s unwillingness to cut off the illicit flights, he quit flying for a week. When his father came to find him the elder Mackenzie had been roughed up badly. Apparently the people behind these “no questions asked” flights wouldn’t take no for an answer. Will resumed the flights to help his father, and much to his chagrin he realized that they were now working for organized crime, or worse.

The lies and duplicity started to take their toll on Mackenzie. It was one thing to hide the truth about the flights from his mother, who seemed blissfully unaware of the work he was doing on his father’s behalf, but how could he lie to Anna? Mackenzie withdrew from Anna, trying to create some artificial distance between them to protect her from his “dirty” work, and Anna sensed this, fearing the worst. A chill overcame their relationship. Anna started having second thoughts. They were now in their 30s, her kids were growing older, and she was ready to make a change, with or without Will. But Will would not talk to her about what was going on with him, and remained cold and withdrawn. Anna pressed him, eventually imposing an ultimatum -- she would forgive and forget whatever he had done and was hiding from her, provided he would put it all behind him and escape with her. The next day, she would pack up her car, load the kids into the back, and wait for Mackenzie for one hour. If he didn’t show up, she would leave, forever.

Will longed to pursue her but also knew that abandoning his father would likely mean his parents’ death at the hands of violent mobsters. In fact, Anna was better off leaving him behind -- best she not get entangled in Will’s messy life. At least, that’s how Mackenzie justified it in his own mind. The next morning, Mackenzie approached Anna’s small house and from a distance watched her pack the car, load the kids, and check her watch. Mackenzie struggled between his selfish desire to be with her, and his fear that if he joined her, she’d end up in the crosshairs of his messy life. Anna waited until the hour was up, then drove off. Mackenzie felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. But he knew this was the best thing for both of them.

For several more years he continued flying the bush plane, transporting cargo and passengers, many legitimate, some not. He remained relatively speaking, a loner, never really taking up with friends or other women for more than a couple of weeks at a time. None could hold a candle to the fire of his Anna. And so, he flew seemingly endless miles through the deep dark Northern wilderness, a faded Polaroid showing Anna and the two girls taped to his plane’s dashboard.

And it just so happens that his thoughts were with Anna -- not an uncommon thing, really -- considering for the millionth time that it was finally time to put the past behind him and pursue her, to look her up and try to right a wrong, the moment he flew through the mountainous valleys of the remote Sitka Islands. Suddenly his instrument panel went dark and he lost power. Mackenzie’s DeHavilland Beaver, plummeting without grace, went into a nose-dive while he experienced the proverbial “life flashing before your eyes” moment. The last thing Will saw through the cockpit window, before the plane impacted with a dense stand of fir trees, was the bright flare of an aurora borealis, unusually vivid for this time of year.

The plane crash was a blur, but Will awoke hanging out the plane’s window with the aircraft suspended in the dense trees, about 30 feet off the ground. With his seatbelt and harness holding him in place as small fires burned at the foot of the trees around him, Mackenzie began to lose consciousness, but not before seeing a pair of wolves staring up at him from the forest below. He had only a moment to reflect on the irony of the crash, finding himself in the same predicament that grounded his father and set Will on this path so many years ago. The last thing he saw before slipping into unconsciousness was the bright flare of an aurora, undulating in the sky above him. And the wolves, coming closer.

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Emily, Logan Griffith, and 3 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Hinterland Creator on October 3, 2013

      @John: We're glad you brought that up, because it's important that you have the right expectations of The Long Dark. For perspective, The Last of Us (an amazing game!) is a $50-75M production with a team of over 100 developers. The Long Dark's budget will be more like $1.2-1.3M with a much smaller team. The Last of Us has a goal to create a very realistic portrayal of the post-disaster world 20 years after the fact. The Long Dark is a slower-paced, more stylized representation of a quiet post-disaster wilderness setting. They delivered photo-realistic graphics and animation. We are focused on creating a very stylized, atmospheric world that looks like our concept art. The Last of Us is a highly scripted, linear game. The Long Dark is more of an open-world simulation.

      We believe that The Long Dark will feel fresh and different from games like The Last of Us, in that it offers the player more freedom, and the gameplay is much more simulation focused.

      If our two projects were movies, the Last of Us is the summer blockbuster, and we are the small indie art film. That said, we have great ambition for The Long Dark and will do our best to deliver on expectations. And believe us, nobody's bar for quality of experience is higher than our own!

      Hope that helps to set expectations appropriately!

      @Jonas: Thanks for your faith in us.

    2. Jonas on October 3, 2013

      I had chills while reading. Good job, Hinterlanders! You guys raise my expectations with every detail. (I don’t know, if it’s good for us all [you, the community and me] but I have big faith in you.)

    3. Missing avatar

      John Burton on October 3, 2013

      Wow, love this.

      Everything about this game has showed so much promise so far. I'm praying for a good execution! I'm really hoping that they keep this as 'realistic' as possible, i.e. avoid making it to sensationalist to appeal the masses!

      And the other thing that concerns me is The Last of Us. I hope the experience of this game has worn off by the time I play The Long Dark. Though the gameplay wasn't the best ever, TLoU raised the bar SO high in terms of the characters, setting, graphics and emotional story telling! I'm worried that with the similar settings, I will be constantly judging TLD by TLoU's standard (imo the best game in the last decade - joint with Dark Souls). You never know, TLD could match or surpass TLoU (at least in some respects)!

    4. Missing avatar

      jonathan wood on October 2, 2013

      Lol, Oh @Runar. Of course games aren't made with only ME in mind. That doesn't mean I can't pay especial attention to games that look to take place somewhere I can identify with, and if that changes I can express my disappointment in a project I am helping (however limited) to fund.

      Also as COH was developed by a Canadian developer I hoped that they would take the opportunity to acknowledge the Canadian troops that did fight in places like Juno beach on D-Day, etc. I know that they did put in a CAN Artillery unit in one of the expansion packs, which had abilities derived from the advancements in artillery warfare made during the attack on Vimy Ridge in WW1.
      I wasn't looking to have a Can campaign or anything, I'm not unrealistic enough to think that would sell to the US players, just more of a nod.

    5. Missing avatar

      jonathan wood on October 2, 2013

      "We don't think you'll find a more Canadian game than The Long Dark"

      I am intrigued! Do you have more details on how it expresses this beyond Black Creek? I did like that Mackenzie flew a Beaver, as I am very familiar with them. I grew up in Stewart, and they were a common sight in the sky.

      I think I'll stick around for a while and see what else comes out, I really like the gameplay concepts you've laid out so far and can't wait for those Canadian touchpoints. If you can give it half as much of a Canadian flavour as 'Sir, you are being Hunted' did a British one, I'll be more than satisfied.

    6. Missing avatar

      Eric on October 2, 2013

      Cannibal Nazi's are so 200X. How about something new: Communist Vampires? Anarcho-Liberal Mummies!

    7. Runar Jenssen on October 2, 2013

      @jonathan wood: Games are not made with only YOU in mind. What kind of CANADIAN content would Company of Heroes have? What, the Canadian campaign? When Canadian soldiers defeated Nazis in Canada?

      I'm Norwegian, but you don't see me complaining that Age of Conan doesn't have any Norwegian content.

      What does the name of the place matter? Are you pissed because Minecraft doesn't take place in Canada as well? Aren't you happy that there is finally a game coming out that is based on the Canadian wilderness and the Canadian culture?

    8. Missing avatar

      Drew Hickcox on October 2, 2013

      Does the DeHavilland Beaver not have a mechanical control system? It should be possible to maintain control of the aircraft even in the event of a complete power failure. A crash would still occur due to an inability to create enough thrust for level flight, but you'd at least be able to maintain a steady rate of descent and crash in the least threatening set of trees available...

      That's assuming of course that the aurora borealis/apocalypse thing only removed the ability to generate electricity, and doesn't affect vehicles in some other way

    9. Hinterland Creator on October 2, 2013

      @Don: Or Nazi Cannibals! You heard it here first.

    10. Hinterland Creator on October 2, 2013

      @Jonathan: Fair enough. Many of the place names in The Long Dark riff on or are inspired by names we find in this part of the world. Sitka is not only the name of a place in Alaska. And, as we've pointed out in other updates (including update 15 where we talk a bit about the fictional setup), the game is not set in a specific real-world location, and it isn't set in Alaska. We're sad that you're disappointed about our choices in one of the location names in the game. We don't think you'll find a more Canadian game than The Long Dark, but each backer has to make their own choice, so we wish you good luck with yours!

    11. Missing avatar

      jonathan wood on October 2, 2013

      @Raphael. Um...lol, ok. Look for my new game coming out set in the entirely fictional setting inspired by large US cities, I'm calling it Chicago! (no relation to the actual Chicago, sorry if that's confusing) :P I did notice the place of birth and that added to my enjoyment of the setting for the game, yes.

      My own personal feedback is that if you want to create a fictional setting, create a fictional name to go with it. If you are going to set the game somewhere people can place on a map with the same name and flora/fauna typeset, then it's no longer fictional.

      I'm sorry I'm hitting on this point, it has really irked me to see it even nominally set in Alaska. I won't bug you about it anymore and will decide on my own if the project is still something I want to back. I know setting is only one minor aspect of a game like this, but a lot of my decision to back came from the Canadian connection.

      @Eric I am fairly sure there are plenty of islands off the coast of BC. Fairly sure. :)

    12. Don Reba on October 2, 2013

      > @Don: You'll find out!

      Zombies are out, so that leaves Nazis and Cannibals.

    13. Missing avatar

      Eric on October 2, 2013

      @Jonathan I would imagine a lot of reasons got them to Sitka.

      Islands make it easy to corral or partition the playable area without having to resort to obnoxious invisible walls. It also give a pretty obvious visual clue to advancement to a player; heading towards the mainland (and British Columbia) is probably going to feature pretty heavily in future episodes, if it doesn't happen in the Winter portion itself.

      Also, a nice, isolated island is a good place to be to avoid the Dying Times that are going to be going on on the mainlands through winter and spring, I imagine.

      Speaking of those, I imagine we'll probably get a chance to see what the aurora's and flares do to a larger city at some point, Vancouver seems like to choice to show off what happens to a big city when the food stops coming in.

    14. Hinterland Creator on October 2, 2013

      @Don: You'll find out!

    15. Hinterland Creator on October 2, 2013

      Hello, Jonathan. In our fiction, Sitka Island is not Sitka, Alaska. The game is set in our own entirely fictional setting that is inspired by Vancouver Island, Northern BC, the Yukon, and Alaska. Also, Sitka is a town (city?) in Alaska, on Baranof Island. But we can understand where that might be confusing. (For the record, I like the original Russian name for the real Sitka: New Arkangel - Raphael).

      Perhaps you noticed Mackenzie's place of birth? That should make you feel at home.

    16. Don Reba on October 2, 2013

      > He realized that they were now working for organized crime, or worse.

      What is worse than organized crime? Disorganized crime?

    17. Missing avatar

      Eric on October 2, 2013

      .....

      OK. I'm ready to play the game now.

    18. Missing avatar

      jonathan wood on October 2, 2013

      Hi! I was so proud to back a Canadian developer making a game based in my area of the world! I was looking forward to details that were familiar to me instead of the inevitable setting in the US.

      (This goes back to frustration at my favorite developer Relic not putting more Canadian content in company of heroes)

      So what do I read in this latest update? That the main character has crashed on Sitka island...hmmm where is that...oh, Alaska.

      I know that the terrain will be similar to northern BC but really - why was the decision made to set the game there?