Game industry veteran Raphael van Lierop has announced the formation of independent developer Hinterland Studio, a new creative studio located in the picturesque Northern Vancouver Island wilderness. With a roster of established industry veterans who have collectively worked on over 40 triple-A games, the studio is also pleased to announce development of its first title, The Long Dark. A first-person post-disaster survival simulation, The Long Dark is set in the aftermath of a geomagnetic super storm that has destroyed North America’s technology infrastructure. In the first season of this episodic series, players experience this grim new reality through the eyes of bush pilot William Mackenzie, isolated with other survivors in the Northern wilderness as a result of the event. Gameplay emphasizes exploration to gather resources and knowledge about the world, while mastering a deep survival simulation to overcome the myriad natural and man-made hazards of the new frontier. Players will also face difficult moral choices that will affect the outcome of gameplay, story, and ultimately, the course of humanity’s recovery.
Van Lierop brings 13 years of experience to Hinterland in his role as founder and creative director. He has been instrumental in launching multiple successful game franchises including Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes, which have sold 7.5 million and 4 million franchise units, respectively. He has contributed to several critically acclaimed games, including directing the action blockbuster Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine at Relic Entertainment and as narrative director at Ubisoft Montreal on Far Cry 3. Van Lierop has also worked extensively in cross-platform IP development with more than a dozen major entertainment companies, including Activision, BigPoint, Radar, GameForge, CI Games, and Blacklight.
Joining studio founder van Lierop is a core team that includes:
- Technical director Alan Lawrance, with 16 years of experience from Volition Inc., including technical director, lead programming, and design roles on the best-selling Saints Row and Red Faction series.
- Veteran art director Hokyo Lim, with 20 years of experience as a game and film artist and animator. His most recent work includes art director at Riot Games on the massively popular League of Legends, as well as for Giant Sparrow’s The Unfinished Swan, after several years on the Sly Cooper series at Sucker Punch.
- BAFTA-award-winning and WGA-nominee Marianne Krawczyk, writer of Sony Santa Monica’s God of War series. Her 15 years of game, film, and TV writing experience includes writing for L.A. Noire, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and Star Trek (2013).
- Audio director David Chan, with 14 years of sound design and dialogue work, whose work as audio producer and lead can be found in BioWare’s Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, the Baldur’s Gate series, and more.
Hinterland has also secured the talents of renowned game composers Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan, whose music can been heard in some of the world’s biggest games franchises, from Mass Effect, Borderlands, and Quake.
Hinterland is focused on creating story-driven gameplay experiences that feature mature themes and an element of social awareness. In addition, The Long Dark has been conceived from the ground-up to exploit cross-platform storytelling, with the core experience driven from the game but expanding across other media. To that end, Hinterland is currently in discussion with multiple unannounced parties to translate The Long Dark across other media.
The Long Dark is supported by the Canada Media Fund, and Hinterland will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter on September 16 to raise additional funds for the game’s development, and to launch its community-outreach initiative.
“We want to be part of the incredible crowdfunding revolution, and create a direct relationship with our players,” said van Lierop. “This new model allows us directly engage our community, to expand on our existing resources to help achieve our ultimate vision for the game. Through this additional support, we can add richness to the experience in line with our backer’s expectations, while also maintaining the creative independence that is core to our identity.”