Community Profile: Whiteberry—Mapping a World
This is the first in an ongoing series of interviews with members of Hinterland’s diverse and passionate community. Below you’ll learn more about Whiteberry, a creator of original maps for The Long Dark’s game world. **Note** An excerpt of one map is included below which includes information on some locations in Mystery Lake–Patrick Carlson, Hinterland Studio Web Editor
If you’ve ever found yourself lost and freezing while wandering Mystery Lake’s rolling hills or the remote edges of Pleasant Valley, you may have turned to the work of Betina “Whiteberry,” one of The Long Dark community’s most active map makers.
Residing in Denmark, Whiteberry works as a marketing and human resources professional. She has been a dedicated PC gamer for 25 years.
“Next to experimenting with and tweeting about food, it’s my greatest hobby,” she said. “I enjoy everything from strategy and role-playing to city-building and pirate games. And of course the survival genre.”
Whiteberry took her first steps in The Long Dark in March 2015, after friends on Twitter who knew her taste in games recommended she check it out. After confirming the absence of zombies roaming Hinterland’s Canadian backcountry, she decided to pick up a copy for herself.
Impressed with the mix of serenity and struggle she found in the game’s cold northern forests, Whiteberry saw some similarities, but also many differences, to life in Denmark.
“Perhaps my fascination with the environment is because we don’t have these huge open stretches of wilderness here, nor do we have any mountains, wolves or bears,” she said. “I can’t say I’ve had experiences that come close to The Long Dark despite that I hike and camp regularly. I guess the moose that once stared me down when hiking in the northern Sweden forests doesn’t really count.”
And although she was able to immediately appreciate the game’s art style, her time with The Long Dark had a difficult beginning.
“I didn’t really grasp the story concept at first and the desolation hit me really hard, since I’m a role-player at heart,” she said, “so well done to the team on achieving that! I played a few hours still with the verdict out and decided to return to it later. Second time around I found myself appreciating the struggle and the desperate situation more—and was perhaps more mentally prepared. I particularly enjoyed the realism in having to find shelter and food, sleeping next to some poor frozen corpse and not being able to just settle comfortably in some base right away like in most games. Obviously, I quickly got to love the game.”
Whiteberry’s maps include her work on all the current regions of the game, as well as the major transition zones such as Winding River and Ravine. But it wasn’t a project she jumped into right away. First she had to get lost.
“Truth time,” she said. “I am directionally challenged in all possible ways—one who gets lost in a shoe box equipped with a GPS. So there’s why—need. I got lost in The Long Dark every time I turned around, so I started making maps about three months ago, first just making a few simple markings in an Excel sheet and then thought of how much nicer it would look if I did it in a vector program. I marked the few hot spots, so to speak, in Mystery Lake and then it became a challenge to find them all and enjoy the exploration. Then I expanded it with different foliage and wildlife spawns and then borders and they became quite detailed quite fast.”
On the Steam page dedicated to her map work for The Long Dark, Whiteberry has uploaded three versions of each map, depending on the amount of detail players might want revealed to them. These include a “complete map” that marks a variety of resource locations and geographical information as well as a “spoiler free” edition, which only includes a handful of details, such as buildings and roads. It’s a gesture on her part that speaks to the core importance of exploration in the game’s Sandbox Mode.
While The Long Dark has done its best to challenge her in her map making—she said Pleasant Valley was the most difficult region to conceptualize—Whiteberry enjoys seeing her adventures emerge on the page, so to speak. It was the first time any game had inspired her to take on a project like this. She views her map-making as an extension of what a survivor in The Long Dark’s apocalyptic scenario would actually try to accomplish. After initially exploring to find shelter, some tools, and a way to keep warm, she imagined her character beginning to piece together a basic map of her surroundings.
“To me it’s incredibly satisfying to see it all come together in a bird’s eye view,” she said, “and to see how things are located in relation to each other when I’m so bad at visualizing it without a map. Other challenges have been how to map inaccessible areas like mountains and edges without having to make it topographical and too time-demanding. It has been rewarding sharing the maps with others too. The community has been amazingly helpful with things I have missed or mapped incorrectly, and that’s largely how they having ended up being as accurate as they are.”
You can follow Whiteberry’s work on Twitter at twitter.com/toarda.
To discuss this community profile, please visit our official forums.