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Raphael van Lierop of The Long Dark talks surviving a rough launch

We sat down with the game director of The Long Dark to talk about the trials and tribulations of surviving a rough launch.

While we’ve been impressed and thrilled by Hinterland Studio’s final release of The Long Dark, its developers have been dealing with the all-too-familiar challenges of needing to patch a game right after launch. 

Today, on the Gamasutra Twitch channel, we were lucky enough to snag game director Raphael van Lierop for a conversation about how that process is going, and what his life is like now that The Long Dark has hit 1.0. 

You can watch our full conversation up above, but since a patch hit for PS4 just as our stream began, you may already be trying to survive the wilderness right now. If that’s the case, we have a few key takeaways from our stream that you should know right here: 

Lessons learned from a rocky launch

Given that many game developers are trying to put their best foot forward when talking about their games, we were thankful to van Lierop for being honest about the bumpy road The Long Dark has taken since it launched last week. If you’re a game developer nervous about the process of launching your game to the public, you should definitely listen to van Lierop’s advice about managing expectations both for yourself and the development team in the stream. 

A working office can be great for some developers, and bad for others

Among the great questions we got from Twitch chat, we had one come in asking van Lierop about what it’s like running a studio in Vancouver. This turned into a longer discussion about the nature of offices for game developers, and how some designers and programmers benefit from being in the same locale as their co-workers, and others are better off in isolation. 

If nothing else, you should know that van Lierop is wary of the open-space workplaces being advocated by larger tech companies right now, and the hinderances they may provide for people who need to focus. 

The Long Dark was built on Kickstarter and Early Access. Hinterland Studio’s next game may not be

Toward the end of our conversation, we quizzed van Lierop if he would return to the wells of Kickstarter and Early Access if work began on a new game. Given that both of those markets have changed so much since The Long Dark began, van Lierop says he wouldn’t necessarily go there. Instead, he says Hinterland Studio would try to work with the community it has to figure out how to fund their next game, and if they’ll follow them from one title to the next. 

So if you’re in a similar boat, finishing up your Kickstarted Early Access game, you may want to follow in van Lierop’s footsteps and touch base with your community on if they’d follow you down that path once again. 

For more developer interviews, editor roundtables, and gameplay commentary, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel

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