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A Long Dark Road: Blending Player and Authored Story in a Sandbox Survival Game


Raphael van Lierop (Founder and Creative Director, Hinterland Games)

Location: Room 20, North Hall

Date: Thursday, March 22

Time: 11:30am - 12:30pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design, Production & Team Management

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Is it possible to successfully marry a linear, authored narrative experience to an open-world sandbox? Using anecdotes and insights gained through the ongoing development of the hit survival game 'The Long Dark', van Lierop shares hard-won lessons about community-informed development, the principles that define a successful sandbox gameplay experience, and the challenges of wrapping a story mode around the core of a popular survival sandbox, with a large vocal community of players who might just prefer you left it alone!


Attendees who are currently developing sandbox, or open-world games, or are considering developing a project using community-funded models will gain valuable insights (about design, business, and production) hard-won on an independent project with 1.5m players and available on 7 different platforms.

Intended Audience

Game developers with an intermediate or advanced knowledge of game production. Studio heads or team leaders contemplating developing a game using community-funded models. Team leaders who are working on open-world sandbox or mission-based games, considering blending elements of both genres.