A Look At Update 1.9.5 - Treasures in the Sea


Ahoy mateys!

Today we wanted to give you a look at the next patch coming out, Update 1.9.5 - Treasures in the Sea. This is a pretty big update as far as content goes and we're still working hard on getting everything implemented and polished. We are also still working on multiplayer implementation and are making some great progress with that.

Let's dive into some of the content coming in the next update!


Sea Treasure


You've been requesting more content at sea for quite some time, and so we've started implementing some new ocean content we are calling Sea Treasure. Sea Treasure will spawn randomly out in the ocean and you'll have to find it and pull it up via a boat upgrade item known as the Treasure Grabber. In order to get the treasure though, you'll have to rank up with a new NPC known as the Sea Treasure Hunter. He'll require special coins that can only be found in Sea Treasure to rank up with him. As you rank you up, he'll get give you better treasure hunting items to find more rare treasure. And of course, the rarer the treasure, the harder it'll be to find. We are working on some neat puzzle mechanics for finding rare, epic, and legendary sea treasure. 


Abandoned Campsites


With this update we are adding a new discoverable place on natural islands: abandoned campsites. These campsites will contain various resources, quest items, lore books, and finally, rum! What's a pirate game without rum anyways? 


Sea Collector NPC 


Many of the items you find at abandoned campsites will be collectible quest items that you can turn in to a new NPC known as the Sea Collector. He will mainly be a trade NPC that will have very unique and rare items, some of which are quest items leading to legendary weapons that he will give you in exchange for the collectibles you find throughout the world. 


New Ocean Waves


In this next update we are increasing the deep ocean wave sizes and adding a chance for rare, huge waves. This new wave system will make navigating the deep waters a lot more fun and challenging!
 

Main Menu Changes


We've also made some subtle changes to the main menu, adding a randomly generated island in the background, some new graphical effects, and the ability to slightly move the camera, giving it a more immersive feel. 


Additional Changes


In addition to lots of new items, weapons, quests, and lore, we've also made performance improvements, made some changes to NPC's such as giving them the ability to turn towards you when talking, and a bunch of audio changes such as new greeting sounds and sound effect improvements. We've also re-textured various weapons in the game to improve their look.



Overall this update is coming along well and we expect it to be out soon! As always, we'd love to hear your feedback!

Game Design in Salt: Music


Often we like to give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of our design and development processes so you can understand why certain aspects of the game are the way they are, and so you can look for these philosophies sprinkled throughout our content. Today I want to talk about our design philosophy behind the music in Salt.

The Importance of Music

We believe that music plays a major role in the development of a game. Many games are even known or stand out for their music. Think of The Last of Us with the haunting acoustic guitar melodies, adding a tremendous amount of atmosphere to the time between the tension. Or Dark Souls with the brilliant boss music adding a new level of intensity to an already tense battle. Some games even have musical melodies that are almost universally recognized among gamers (like Ocarina of Time).

Knowing that, we wanted to make sure the music in Salt felt right. We didn’t want it to be too generic or easy to just pass by. We wanted music that really helped the game and further immersed you into your adventure.

Scarcity of Music

One major design decision we made early on was to have music somewhat uncommon. We didn’t really like the idea of music constantly playing. I often find that this can become over stimulating and actually take away from the atmosphere of the world, thus making you less immersed.

With Salt being a game where you spend a large amount of time at sea, it seemed natural to have music play then. And so we wrote a system where music had a certain percentage chance of occurring while you were out in the open ocean (we define open ocean as being a certain number of units from islands). This turned out to work really well. Often you ended up with some down time on the large expanses of ocean, waiting for another island to emerge, and so it was nice to have some epic melodies play while your boat is crashing up and down on the waves heading towards the horizon.

We recently decided to expand this system to islands as well. We have specifically wrote shorter, less intrusive melodies that have a chance of occurring when you are exploring certain islands. This still keeps within our philosophy of keeping music scarce since it won’t occur on every island, and it won’t always happen. But when it does we feel that it adds a nice sense of calm and relaxation when exploring some natural islands.

Thematic Music

Another big design decision was to split almost all of the music in the game into two categories: night and day. For example when you are sailing out into the ocean, if it’s during the day, there’s a certain pool of songs that the game can pick from. All of these songs are specifically designed with the theme of daytime in mind. This means they will be more upbeat, happy, epic feeling, etc. And vice versa when you are sailing at night, there’s a pool of nighttime exclusive songs with a more sad, eerie, or even relaxing feel. This system also extends to island music.

Boss Music

While we chose not to have music play during common battles, we knew that bosses had to have music. A boss battle just doesn’t really feel like a boss battle without the appropriate music. And so we’ve composed some unique tunes for each boss battle in the game. Some of the songs even share similarities with a twist, such as the Spider Queen vs the Jungle Queen music.

Music You Can Control

In a more recent update, we introduced musical instruments that players can find in the world. One of the design philosophies behind musical instruments was to give the player more control over music in their game. We know that players have different preferences: some want to hear music more often, others would prefer it to be more refrained. Now with musical instruments you have more control over when you want to hear music. We’ve added around eleven new instruments, each with a different theme to suit your playstyle or the feeling you’d like to convey with music in your adventure.


Even though we’re always tweaking and polishing our systems, we are pretty happy with the way the music has turned out. What do you all think? We love hearing your feedback and would love to hear your thoughts on the music system in Salt. 


Update 1.9.4 - Songs of the Seas is Now Available!


Update 1.9.4: Songs of the Seas is now available! This update includes a lot of new content and changes so let's go over some of the content you can expect to see in this update.


Musical Instruments and The Composer NPC


Hanging out at the Inn you'll be able to find a new NPC known as The Composer. This NPC features an entirely new quest line that will allow you to unlock and earn musical instruments that you can play throughout your journey. These instruments also give you buffs in additional to nice melody for your adventure! With the new Composer NPC you can also earn new gear. And we may have added some secrets as well...

Steam Achievements


We have now added Steam Achievements for Salt! We are very excited about this and we tried to design some fun and challenging achievements for you to work toward. 


Audio Changes


With this update we've also added a slew of audio changes and improvements. One such change is new boat sounds. Now when you are sailing in your big ship you can hear creaks, sail flaps, and things of that nature. We've also added new footstep sounds, and a new save sound. 


Patch Notes


Here is a full list of the patch notes. 

Added steam achievements.
Added a new NPC known as The Composer.
Added new musical instrument items.
Added new quests and item rewards.
Added music for the first time you use the raft.
Added new loading screens.
Added new secrets.
Added new boat sounds.
Added new footstep sounds and increased the variety of sounds that can play.
Added a new save sound.
Fixed white deer set bonus not applying properly.
Updated short sword model.
Fixed a bug that would have you receive multiple "Blood Jungle" items when completing the quest.
The Sea Scholar will no longer charge gold for books you have sold to him.
Fixed an error that would cause sound to sometimes not work properly after a death.


Progress on Multiplayer


We know many of you are awaiting the Multiplayer update, and we want to thank you for your continued patience. It is a large undertaking, but it will definitely be worth the time investment. More and more progress is made daily. We do not yet have an ETA on its completion.

Update 1.9.4 - Songs of the Seas now on Testing Branch!



We have just pushed update 1.9.4 to the Steam testing branch. If you'd like to opt into the testing branch and help us find any bugs before an official push, go here for instructions on how to opt in.

This update adds a lot of new content and changes including musical instruments, a new NPC known as The Composer, new secrets, Steam Achievements, audio changes, bug fixes, and more! Please note that the achievements are hidden currently but their descriptions will be unlocked upon the official push. In the mean time, you can read the patch notes and descriptions of the current achievements below.

Here's a list of the patch notes:

Update 1.9.4 Patch Notes


Added steam achievements. While the patch on the testing branch, these achievements will be hidden until achieved. See below for a list of achievements.
Added a new NPC known as The Composer.
Added new musical instrument items.
Added new quests and item rewards.
Added music for the first time you use the raft.
Added new loading screens.
Added new secrets.
Added new boat sounds.
Added new footstep sounds and increased the variety of sounds that can play.
Added a new save sound.
Fixed white deer set bonus not applying properly.
Updated short sword model.
Fixed a bug that would have you receive multiple "Blood Jungle" items when completing the quest.
The Sea Scholar will no longer charge gold for books you have sold to him.
Fixed an error that would cause sound to sometimes not work properly after a death.


List of Initial Achievements


Gold Digger - Obtain over 10,000 gold. 
Lore Master - Have at least 50 lore books in your inventory. 
Pardon Me - Craft the Pardon Pusher. 
We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat - Craft The Maiden. 
High As A Kite - Obtain a Hightop Bloom Flower. 
Robinson Who-soe? - Sail past the 1000 unit mark.
The Turtle Club - Obtain a set of Turtle Armor. 
Holy Mackerel - Fish up a Gigantic Mouth Seabass.
It Exists? - Fish up a Dragon Fish. 
Monster Hunter - Defeat the Dark Guardian
Arachnophobia - Kill the Spider Queen. 
And My Axe! - Obtain the Loreman's Lofty Axe.
That's Hardcore - Defeat Draegan on Hardcore Mode.
Master Navigator - Obtain the Golden Compass. 
Woodworker - Obtain the Druid Spirit Idol. 
Legendary - Obtain a legendary item. 
Skimmy Dipping - Get the Jungle Skimmy boat. 
Journalist - Obtain all journal inks. 
Mad Hatter - Obtain the Lucky Fisherman's Hat.
Like A Boss - Defeat every boss in the game. 
A True Adventurer - Complete the main quest line. 
Merchant Master - Complete every merchant quest in the game. 
Oh Deer - Hunt and kill The Alpha Stag.
Where Everyone Can See - Place a flag on the tallest of mountains.
Map Quest - Map 100 islands at 100% accuracy.
Lovely Bones - Purify the Ancient Skull.
Galley Gallery - Decorate your boat with a painting.
Shoot Da Fruit! - Knock fruit from a tree and shoot it with an arrow before it hits the ground.
Treasure Tracker - Dig up some buried treasure.




As always we would love to hear your feedback and please let us know if you find any bugs or issues with the update. 

Game Design in Salt: Quests


Today we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our quest design process and what all goes into implementing and coming up with quests!

Objective and Meaning


While Salt is definitely a game about freedom and exploration, it's always nice to have a sense of objective and subsequently, a sense of accomplishment. Quests allow us to give players something to work toward and it adds meaning to a lot of the content in the game. 

For example, let's say you haven't done any quests and you've played a ton of hours and obtained a lot of really nice loot. You may get to a place where you think, "What's the point of even killing pirates anymore? I've already got all the loot!" This kind of rips a lot of the meaning from the content in the game.

One way to get around this problem is to add quests that involve all types of content in the game, adding more replay-ability and reasons to play. To use an in-game example, there's an NPC known as the Sea Hunter. As part of his repeatable quest, you have to obtain Sea Hunter Tokens and turn them in for a random loot drop. These tokens can be found on a lot of different enemies and therefore adds meaning to content you may have "out-geared."

Depth and Lore


Another benefit of quests is the opportunity to add depth and a sense of lore to the world. This aspect particularly arises during the main quest. If you choose to go down that path, you'll discover a lot of information about the world and it's inhabitants. While not every quest reveals some secret information about the game, we do try to include interesting lore and depth in many of the quests and quest related items. 

Content Discovery


In addition to adding objective, meaning, and lore to the world, quests also give us the opportunity to help players discover content they may have otherwise missed. For example, if you play the main quest in the game, you'll end going to multiple island types, encountering a lot of different enemies, fighting bosses, discovering new NPCs with side quests, and getting better loot along the way. While we do still have secrets in the game that you have to discover on your own, quests give us a good way to introduce players to the various types of content in the game. 



We are always adding new quests and objectives in Salt, particularly when new content comes out. In our next update for example, you'll finally be able to get your hands on musical instruments through a new NPC known as The Composer. He will have a series of quests with increasing challenges that will you reward you with some rare instruments for completing these quests.

Stay tuned for more information on that update soon!

Update on Multiplayer


Hey everyone!

As you know we've been working hard on multiplayer implementation and so we wanted to give you an update as to where we are in that regard and what some of the next steps are going to look like!


In-Game Chat System


One of the first aspects of multiplayer we implemented was an in-game chat system. We felt important to be able to communicate with other players so we've added a nice little chatbox. It even gives you your own unique text color!

Friends List and Inviting


Of course, to chat with friends you're going to want to invite them. So we've implemented the ability to see your friends list and invite players to your game. 

Other Players


Say hello to the ghost pirate. Don't worry, we're just using him as a fun placeholder to test other player's characters in the world. You will have a fully formed pirate body when it's all said and done! 

Currently we have it to where you can see other players moving around in the world. You can also see other player's boats and ride them. This was a big milestone for us to hit and while we've still got a lot of kinks to work out, it's coming along well. 


An Overview of the Networking System


Salt is making use Steam’s API in order to provide networking functionality. This make it easy to connect and play together with your Steam friends. Steam’s API provides the ability to send simple messages between two Steam clients. We have to write systems within Salt to use this messaging ability in an organized and efficient way that will result in a multiplayer experience within the game. We have now got a lot of these systems written and mostly working. Bug fixes and efficiency tweaks with them are still common at this point in the development.

After these systems are written and in place, the next step is to write code to use these systems to sync the worlds of players playing together. The goal is to provide a seamless multiplayer experience while sending as little data between computers as possible. Everything that syncs across the network must be told when and how to do so. This includes things like the positions of players and boats, what animation to play for a character, the health of an enemy, time of day, ocean waves, etc.

Salt is going to use a server/client model. The player who invites other players into their group is the server host. All players must wait on them to join a game. Once the host joins a game, all other players can then choose any of their created games play as long as it uses the same world seed as the game that the host just entered. You can also choose to create a new game with the correct world seed if you want.  All player’s progress is stored locally and not on the host’s computer. This means that you can play single player or multiplayer interchangeably as you desire in any of your games.




The next steps are more polishes and bug fixes on the networking systems, and work on syncing more and more things in the world such as enemies, items, and player animations. Also any multiplayer related UIs will need to be created or polished.

This Week at Lavaboots: Player Instruments, New NPC, and Achievements


Hey everyone!

It's been a good week at Lavaboots. As you probably know, last week we pushed out Update 1.9.3 which introduced some new content and Steam cloud saving. If you haven't downloaded that update yet, be sure to head on over to Steam and get updated. We are also continuing to work hard on multiplayer implementation. We're pushing out small updates during the process to keep new content in the game while you wait on multiplayer to get finished.

Today I want to mention some of what we've been working on this week in regards to the next smaller update and what you can look forward to.


Player Instruments


Our next update is going to introduce player instruments. These instruments will be items you can click on that will play a song and apply a buff. Each instrument has it's own unique song but we are exploring possibilities of adding multiple songs or version to instruments. As an audio guy, I've been very excited to implement instruments into the game as it gives players a little bit more control over when they want to hear music. 


New NPC and Quests


In order to get your hands on some of the new instruments, you'll have to talk an NPC known as The Composer. He will get you started on a set of quests that will reward you with some nice instruments and have you feeling like a true musician in no time. 

Achievements

This week we've also started to look into adding achievements into Salt. We are very excited about achievements and we think it's going to give some new goals and challenges for our players. We'll update more on this as we get further along in it's development. 



As I said before, we are still working hard on multiplayer and making great progress in that regard. We'll be posting a blog update soon giving you a look at some of the progress we've made and what's yet to come. 

Thanks for reading and as always we'd love to hear your feedback!