How The Long Dark was almost lost in the woods of early access

Raphael van Lierop, creative director at Hinterland Studios, spoke about the experience of developing an Early Access title. Polygon's entire article is worth a read, as it's compelling to hear from a developer's perspective the risk they take when they open up their work to the community before it's finished.

I really like participating in Early Access titles. I like supporting a company with my money and helping them create what they're passionate about creating. The gaming community (or at least a very vocal minority), however, seems to assume that them putting money down up front entitles them to command the developers to create the game that they would like to play. A lot of developers, sadly, have given in to these demands or even started their games with emphasizing community-shaped experiences over striving to make the best product possible.

The last paragraph of the Polygon article really drives home how I feel about Early Access, and it makes me very eager to see Hinterland Studios success with The Long Dark:

“I don’t believe that it’s our job to make the game that our community wants,” van Lierop said. “I think it’s our job to make our community want what we have made. So we’re engaging them in that process, we’re taking their feedback. But ultimately they’ve given us money because they believe we can create something amazing for them. And that’s our job. Don’t lose sight of that.”

Exactly this. Things designed by committee seldom turn out well. Games need to have a clear objective and purpose, just like anything else. If you're too willing to indulge in every fleeting whim of your community members, you're going to bite off more than you can chew. Your product will suffer greatly. Good on van Lierop and Hinterland Studios for recognizing that. I can't wait to see the amazing thing they create for us.