Friday Dev Update: Why Early Access?

11:50 AM willsterling23 1 Comments

Early access is a relatively new business model that has swept over the gaming industry in recent years. With the term "early access," comes lots of thoughts and questions about what that means for gaming. Is early access just a way for developers and publishers to get players to pay to test their game? Is it an appropriate way for independent companies to fund their development? Should every game be released as early access?

With all these questions and emotions surrounding the business model of early access we wanted to let you in on our thought process behind this model and why we decided to go the route of early access.

Funding

The primary reason we chose to release our game in early access was to fund the development of Salt. We worked on Salt for quite a while before releasing in early access, but at some point knew we would run out of money. We originally tossed around the idea of a kickstarter, but we quickly decided against that. We wanted to ensure that players got something for their money and not just a promise. And so we planned on getting our game to a playable state with a decent initial spread of content, and then we would release in early access.


The Demo

We knew going into it that players were hesitant to buy into early access games, and rightly so. There's no shortage of players getting burned from buying into games that never finish their development cycle. We knew that wasn't going to happen with our game, but how do you convince players of that? We love our game and would finish it no matter what, just because we are passionate about what we do. But we knew we needed a way to alleviate the fears that players have about early access.

This is the main reason we have a demo available for the game. We weren't trying to trick anyone or deceive players into thinking Salt was something it wasn't. So we decided to make a free demo that exposes players to some different aspects of the game and gives them an idea of what Salt is about. We always encourage players to try out the demo before they buy to see if Salt is the game for them.

Communication and Transparency

In addition to having a demo available, we also knew that constant communication and transparency with the player base was very important in relieving some of the early access fears. This is why we try to respond to players regarding every topic and we are open about our plans with Salt. We are active on social media, the Salt subreddit, and the Steam discussion forums. We want our players to know what is going on at Lavaboots Studios, what we plan on working on, and be able to ask any question they want and receive an answer.


Frequent Updates

We knew early on that Salt was going to be a game with updates. We want to constantly add content and features to Salt, and the idea of frequent updates is integral to this process. Different updates take different amounts of time depending on the content, but we try to push them out frequently and consistently. In addition to releasing the updates in a timely manner, we also try to communicate during the process of working on the updates, letting the players know how the progress is going and how close we are to completion.



So far early access has been a great model for Salt and we are happy that we chose that route. We will be consistently communicating with players and updating the demo and game through the development cycle. We are very thankful for all the players who have supported Salt with their money, suggestions, and feedback about the game.


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)



1 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Progress on the Boat Upgrade Update

2:26 PM Unknown 8 Comments

I've been looking forward to being able to make my ship my home in Salt. Finally you will be able to do just that after the next major update. We've been working hard the past few weeks coding new systems and creating new items for use in customizing your ship. Along the way, we've also made a few other optimizations and fixes. I want to take a moment to give a brief overview of the upcoming update.

Boat Customization Items

Customizing your ship will use very similar mechanics to those that are used to place ships in the water. To place an upgrade you activate (right-click) it from your inventory and it will activate the placement preview. Once you position and rotate the preview as you see fit, left click to place the upgrade.

Some upgrades you will be free to place it almost anywhere on your ship. Torch holders are one of these items. Other upgrades -- such as a new mast and sail -- will have specific spots or aspects of the ship that they upgrade.

These items will be crafted or found/looted/quested for throughout the world.

New 'Retrieve' Button

In conjunction with the upgrade system, we have added a new button to retrieve upgrades. This button will be set to 'F' by default. To retrieve an upgrade from a ship, look at it so that you see the interaction hand, then hold 'F' for just a moment, and the upgrade will be removed from the boat and returned to your inventory. We decided to make a whole new button for this action so that the normal interact button remained free to interact with the upgrade you placed. For instance, resting in a bed, raising a sail, or placing a torch in a torch holder.

Boat Stability Improvements

Any of you who have gotten a larger ship already know how bouncy they can get, especially in larger waves. We've done some adjustments on these ships that will help with their stability so that they will be actually useful in deep ocean, which is where the larger ships are intended to shine. We are also doing some re-balancing of boat speeds.

Performance Improvements At Far Distances

With a large world, we have to have large numbers to keep up with all of the positions of objects in the world. However, the numbers we use only take up a certain amount of memory. This has an effect where the larger the numbers become, the less precise they are. Less precision results in some strange things in the game such as all moving objects and some visual effects appearing to stutter or lag badly. We have largely mitigated this by implementing a system that periodically resets the positions of the objects in the world back to low numbers while keeping up with an offset so that we know where things really are.

However boats and player physics were still experiencing issues when far away from the home island, which primarily manifested as strange movement while riding boats. This will be fixed in the upcoming update.

Also, previously the position reset would only occur when the game was saved. The position reset now occurs on the fly as needed, separate from saving.



You can expect this update to roll out within the next couple of weeks. Also, thanks to all of you great players who constantly offer your great feedback and ideas. We look forward to hearing more from you all regarding this update!



- John Gamble (Lead Developer)

8 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Going Forward

8:55 AM willsterling23 6 Comments

We think transparency is one of the most important features a business can have. This is especially true when it comes to independent developers and early access games. For that reason, we place a lot of importance on our communication with the player base and try our best to be clear about the decisions we've made, are making, and are going to make.

Today I want to talk about some of the updates we'll be working on going forward into 2015. It's going to be a great year, and we are excited to bring more content to Salt.

A New GUI

One of the updates we are excited most to implement in 2015 is the GUI overhaul. The system and interface we have in place now is really more of a placeholder than anything. Not only will we be completely redesigning how the interface looks and feels, but we'll also be adding in new screens such as a character screen for you to view your player stats. This will be particularly fun for players who love stats and numbers. You'll be able to see stats such as damage, defense, sneak stats, health numbers, and more. 

Controller, Mac, and Linux Support

Another feature we can't wait to fully implement is controller support. While you can play with a controller currently, it isn't fully fleshed out and some things still don't work. Full controller support will come and will allow you do everything you need with a controller. We will also be ensuring that it works well with the new redesigned interface once the GUI gets an overhaul. In addition to controller support, we'll also be bringing Salt to Mac and Linux machines! 

New Islands and Wildlife

We've got some really fun ideas for adding new island types and varieties to Salt. One idea we've had is to have snow islands start spawning as you get farther north. These new island types will not only be a nice visual change, but will also feature new resources and wildlife for you to encounter. We've even tossed around the idea of having some super rare islands as you get really far out into the sea. There are a lot of possibilities, and we'd love to hear your feedback regarding new islands and what you'd like to see! 

Weather, Clouds, and Stars

Weather is going to be a great addition to Salt and it will really add to the feeling of a dynamic world. We want to ensure that weather is randomized, dangerous, and fun. You'll never know when a huge storm is going to pop up and you're out in the deep sea on a dinky boat. In addition to new weather, we're also going to be adding in clouds and stars. We've got some interesting ideas for how we'd like to use these to be more than just a skybox, such as actual constellations and things of that nature. 

Settling

I can't tell you how many times I've been exploring an island in Salt and thought, "This would be a great place to build a home." Well, we want to make sure you can actually do that. During 2015 we'll be adding in a settling update that will allow you to build your own home on an island. We'll also be working hard to ensure that settling actually benefits you. We want a reason for you to build your home and a reason to leave. 

Graphical Improvements

As we've said before, Salt will not be receiving a 'graphical overhaul' in the sense that we'll be keeping the stylized graphics and working within that vein. However, we do want to improve where we can. One way we'll be doing this is improving the grass and improving the models, particularly the pirate models. We want the graphical style of Salt to enhance your experience and not take away from it. We'll be working hard to ensure that all the graphic elements of Salt are cohesive and help to immerse you into the world. 

Overarching Story and Quest Line

There is a back story to Salt and a reason for the mysteries you find in the world.  Over the course of 2015 we'll be adding in ways for you to discover that overarching story and progress along it as well. We want the story to be there for you to find, but not forced upon you. Should you choose to search for it, you will be able to progress and discover the story behind the world of Salt, but you will also be free to ignore it and simply explore.

Multiplayer

Last but most certainly not least, multiplayer. If you haven't already read it, we've written an entire blog post about our thoughts on multiplayer, answering player questions, and giving some insight into that process. In short, multiplayer is something that will come to Salt. First, we want to make sure we get the above mentioned elements in. We don't want Salt to be dependent on multiplayer to be fun, but rather to enhance an already complete game for those who wish to adventure with friends. 



These are just some of the things we'll be working on in 2015. You can also look forward to updates to combat, AI behavior, and new enemies, bosses, and items. We hope this clarifies our directions and ideas for 2015, and we would love to get your feedback on the process!


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)




6 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Procedural Generation and Depth

10:44 AM willsterling23 0 Comments

Although procedural generation has been around for a while, it is a big topic of discussion in the gaming industry today. When you think of procedural generation, a lot comes to mind. I mean after all procedural generation can basically offer you an infinite world with infinite possibilities if done correctly. But does this in turn mean that it's actually fun? 

Since Salt is largely built using procedural generation, I wanted to share our thoughts on using this game mechanic and how we still intend to make our game fun and have depth in an infinite world.

Why we chose procedural generation

First, I think it's important to understand why we chose procedural generation as a way of building the world of Salt. There's a couple reasons why we did this. First, the idea of an infinite world is pretty fun. Especially an infinite world where you sail across an ocean and explore islands. It just seemed to fit this idea, if we could do it correctly. Secondly, it's a great way for us as a small team to create a large amount of content for the player to explore. We only have so much time and resources and so by cutting out having to design each island from the ground up, we were able to create a much larger game than we ever could have otherwise. 


How to add depth in a procedural world

As stated before, an infinite world does not equal infinite fun. We are firm believers that games need to have depth and immersion. We don't want the world of Salt to be uninteresting and overly repetitive. Because of this, we are intentionally implementing certain design mechanics and content to ensure the world has depth and creates a fun and lasting experience. Here are some of the ways we are going to do this: 

Overarching Story

Within an open and random world, we also want to have a progressive and structured story. This is something we'll be slowly implementing as the game develops. Having a story that you can figure out adds a lot of depth to the world and gives us the opportunity to create intentionally designed paths of progression within a world that is otherwise random. 

Lore

In addition to having an overarching story, you need to have lore. There are reasons you discover what you do in Salt. When you discover ruins for example, there's a reason they are there. You may not know why yet, but having a story and lore will give you the opportunity to figure that out. 

Discover-able Places and Rarity

As you adventure across the world of Salt, we want you to constantly be finding things you didn't even know were in the game. This has been an intentional design mechanic on our end and we intend to keep it that way. We often put secrets in Salt and are always adding things to the game that players aren't aware of. There are going to be many places, items, island types, and more that are very rare and difficult to find. Some may be found by chance, while others may require a certain trigger of events. In any rate, there will most likely be secrets you haven't discovered. 


In short, we want to do procedural generation the right way. We are constantly going to be adding in more and places, items, and content to discover and using different design mechanics to keep things fresh, deep, and interesting. 


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)


0 comments:

Hardcore Progression and Replayability

8:37 AM Unknown 1 Comments

I'm a big fan of hardcore one-life modes in games. It's like flipping on an intensity switch. I rarely don't jump straight to hardcore, but I love it for after I have become very familiar with a game, and want the extra intensity and challenge.

I've been playing some The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth over the last week, and it got me thinking about progression through hardcore mode. If you've never played it, The Binding of Isaac is a game where you have one life (or at least a limited number of lives depending on
the items you get). If you die, you have to restart. What is really cool, though, is that during your play, you can unlock and upgrade things for future play-throughs. This is a an excellent mechanic to pair with a hardcore one-life style game. It gives me the feeling of progression even when I fail miserably.

Salt has a hardcore mode option that activates the perma-death mode. It can only be enabled/disabled when starting a new game. Once you do it, it's forever done for that save file (and for that save file only, so don't worry about your other ones). It also causes the frame of your health bar to turn black so that if you take any screenshots, people can instantly recognize that you are playing on hardcore mode.

Salt's hardcore mode is fairly basic, but I would like to eventually add a lot more depth to it. I think it would be cool if doing certain things in a hardcore game would unlock things for future hardcore games. For example, maybe defeating all of the named pirate bosses in a hardcore game would unlock a hardcore option that would make all pirates more difficult but drop better items.  We could add many different achievements and rewards within the hardcore game mode. This would add a lot of fun and intense replay-ability to the game while also offsetting the frustration of a lost game with some reward that you get to keep.

It will be important with such implementations that we make sure to not demean the normal (non-hardcore) game mode. There is something in my brain that makes me unhappy if I make a choice that limits my potential. A good example of this is an MMORPG with both first and third person view options. Even though playing in first-person is much more immersive to me, and I would enjoy it better if it were the only option, I can't bring myself to do it with the third person option available. It gives me the feeling of losing that potential since I have the option of a more advantageous view point. I end up playing in a way that is less fun to me even though the option is there.

I believe this same line of thinking would follow if we made a lot of content that was exclusive to hardcore mode. If I were playing the normal mode in Salt, and knew about this super awesome legendary ship of glory that was obtainable in Hardcore mode, but not in my game, it would lessen my experience. This is why I believe we have to be a little bit careful about the hardcore progression rewards when we design them.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the matter. Are you a fan of hardcore mode unlocks, and if so, what kind of hardcore trans-game rewards would you like to see in Salt?


- John Gamble (Lead Developer)

1 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Music and Audio Direction

9:51 AM willsterling23 5 Comments


Music has always been one of my favorite aspects of video games. Developers can use music to invoke emotion, create intense moments, or calm the player at different points in a game. It can help to facilitate the theme of the game and create memorable experiences. Today I want to talk about our choice in the music and audio direction of Salt, and give you an inside of look at that process, as well as what that will look like going forward.


Originality


I think every game should have a unique 'sound' to the music, while also integrating with the theme of the game. In Salt, I wanted the music to feel epic. I wanted you to feel awesome when you were manning the helm of a big ship crashing through the waves in the open sea. At the same time however, I didn't want the music to be like very other epic orchestra composition you hear. It needed to have a foundation that was different. That foundation ended up being a piano sound. 

In Salt, most of the music you hear will have an underlying piano sound to it. It's heavily laden with reverb and trails off for a while, leaving a melodic undertone behind the strings. This, blended with the more modern orchestra sounds, gives Salt a unique but still epic soundtrack. My overall goal in doing this is so that when you hear the music, you instantly know it's from Salt. 

Scarcity


We like your experiences and 'moments' in Salt to be spread out. A common theme you'll notice in the game is a stretch of relaxation and exploration, followed by intense moments of adventure and challenge. We wanted to ensure this design element translated over into the music as well. For this reason, we chose to keep music somewhat scarce. 

I went back and forth on this design decision for a while. On the one hand, I liked the idea of some melodies playing while you explored islands, but on the other hand I didn't want to over-stimulate the player. I think far too often games have music occurring all the time. And therefore no moments really stand out with the music. 

You'll notice that most of the music that occurs in Salt happens while sailing in the deep ocean. We thought this was a great place to implement the music. It creates an epic feeling when sailing on the big waves and helps as a time passer while traveling long distances. For exploration on islands, we opted to use atmospheric sounds and really immerse the player in the world. 

Conditional


As with many other mechanics in Salt, music is conditional. Depending on where you are and what you are doing, will determine the type of music that plays. For example, different music will be play depending on whether you are sailing in the day or at night. 

My favorite area to use these conditions on are bosses. When you fight a boss, you will hear specific music for that boss. This music will reflect the nature of the enemy and invoke a certain emotion to go along with it. These sorts of mechanics can also create a "learned response," where the player hears certain music and it instantly brings in a flood of emotion based on their previous encounters. 



As we go forward with Salt, more music and atmospheric sounds will be added into the game, maintaining with our theme of exploration and adventure. 




- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)


5 comments:

Saturday Dev Update: Time and Tide

2:25 PM Unknown 1 Comments

Time plays a big role in Salt's environment. Most of the time it's obvious - the sun moves across the sky, day turns to night, and spooky spiders come out to get you. Other times it's more subtle. We want players to feel connected to the passage of time, notice its patterns, and begin to use its subtleties to their advantage.


When designing the day/night cycle, we wanted a flexible system that let us do more than just rotate the sun and moon around. The cycle of a celestial body is based on the current in-game date and time, it's axis tilt and angle, and it's revolutions per day. Using these parameters, we were able to create a semi-realistic moon cycle just by decreasing the moon's revolutions per day ever-so-slightly. This same mechanic will likely be used on the stars (when they're added) to create a yearly star cycle.

This system opens up tons of possibilities for events, secrets, and mystical happenings for the player to discover. Tides, moonrock, and fish are some of the minor things already in the game that take advantage of these cycles, and we have plenty of exciting ideas for many more. Time will likely play a much larger role in Salt in the coming future.


- Robert Gamble (Game Design, Coding, Environmental Design)

1 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Multiplayer Questions and Answers

12:30 PM Unknown 25 Comments

One of the best things about video games is playing with your friends. I know the best memories I have are usually Halo LAN parties or playing a cooperative game through the story. The point is this: multiplayer is awesome. We agree with this sentiment. The recent span of games released, even indie, often have multiplayer or at least the promise of multiplayer. Naturally we get a lot of questions about multiplayer and today I wanted to answer those and give you our thoughts and plans for multiplayer.

Will Salt eventually have multiplayer? 

Yes. Salt will eventually be multiplayer. We love the idea of sailing around the world with your friends and discovering what the different islands have to offer. Salt will definitely be a fun game for multiplayer and though we don't have all the details worked out, we know it will be fun. 


How soon will multiplayer be implemented? 

Our first and top priority is to create a fun, immersive, and adventurous single player game that doesn't rely on other players to have fun. This has been the goal from the very beginning. We want there to be plenty of content in the game for you to enjoy with or without other players. For that reason, we are currently focused on adding more content and fleshing out the game a good bit more before we move on to multiplayer. Currently some things we know we want implemented first are settling, more island types, more wildlife and enemies, an overarching story and lore, GUI overhaul, and other improvements and additions. If we were to stop what we were doing right now and focus on adding multiplayer, it would stagnate the content and progress of the game for months on end and that's not something we want to do just yet. 


Won't multiplayer be more difficult to add later in development? 

Because we are planning on doing multiplayer, we are keeping it in mind when we add in new content and mechanics. We look at the single player and multiplayer aspects before we push updates, and we are constantly thinking about how it will work behind the scenes when multiplayer is implemented. This will greatly smooth out the process when the time comes.



We want multiplayer as much as everyone else and can't wait to implement it. It will happen, but first we are going to flesh out the game more and ensure that it is an enjoyable and complete experience as a single player game.


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)

25 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Steam and Merchant Quests

8:50 AM willsterling23 5 Comments

It's a very good feeling for to finally see our game on Steam. After going through the Greenlight process, we were fairly confident our game would get to Steam eventually, but we weren't sure what kind of time frame that would be. Now that the day has finally come, we can breathe a sigh of relief and know that the hurdle has been jumped.

Because the process of getting Salt on Steam has been fairly time consuming, we've had to put dev time on hold for the past week or so. We're happy to say we are now getting back to work on the updates and can't wait to get them out there. So what is the next update going to feature?

Merchant Quests


The big thing we are focusing on for the next update is what we are calling merchant quests. These will basically be quests that you can pick up from various merchants you find around the world. It will usually involve you getting a certain item for the merchant which may be a challenge to acquire. Once you get the item, you'll be able to turn it in to the merchant for an exclusive item reward that can only be gotten at that merchant. 

This is meant to add a small RPG element into the game. It isn't meant to replace an overarching questline which will come with the game's backstory and development. The main story questline will be more of an emergent storytelling type of mechanic that you choose to pursue on your own. It won't be forced upon you, but it will be there for you to pursue. In the mean time, we figured merchant quests would be a good way to add goals and challenges with good rewards. 

As with any update, merchant quests will be implemented and then added upon in future updates. This means upon the initial update there will be a decent bit of merchant quests and rewards, but that will continue to be expanded upon as the game develops. 



We are very excited to be on Steam and are even more excited to be back working on the game. Let us know what you think about merchant quests and even any ideas you may have for them! 



- Will Sterling (Audio and Game Design)

5 comments:

Friday Dev Update: A Closer Look at Graphics

8:00 AM willsterling23 3 Comments

We now live in an era of gaming where graphics are hitting a wall. The huge leaps and bounds that used to exist between generations are shortening and the law of diminishing returns is at work. Now, certainly we are making improvements. There are some pretty amazing looking games out there and we all love to see a graphically intense game. But now the interest in graphics is slowly fading and people are becoming more concerned with gameplay. This is evident with the popularity in games like Minecraft and other independent games that have been hugely successful without top of the line graphics.

With that being said, I think it's time to talk about our graphics direction with Salt and why we chose the route we did.

We are a small team. 


One of the primary reasons we decided to go for a more simplistic graphical style is simply that we don't have the resources or manpower to create a visually top of the line game. We are only three people, each with our own set of skills. We decided instead to focus on our strengths and put time into making the gameplay fun and creating an exciting and adventurous game. However, graphics were still important to us. 

Do players care about graphics? 


With the rise in popularity of indie games, we knew we had some leeway with graphics. With the success of Minecraft, it became evident that a lot of players cared more about content and gameplay than they did the graphics. However, this does not mean that players don't care about graphics all. It means that players are more accepting of different graphical styles. As long as the game is cohesive visually and fits the theme of the world, then players will accept it. 

Why we chose stylized graphics. 


As of right now there are a few different graphic styles that seem to be common in indie games. One of the most popular being 2D pixel art. We knew we wanted to create a 3D open world game and so this was out of the question. The other options were a cube-based world (Minecraft) or a realistic and dark style of game (Day Z) typically used in survival type games. Neither of these seemed to fit our game and we knew there were enough games with these styles out there as it was. 

This is when we decided to go for a colorful and stylized game. We wanted to do something unique though and not have it be completely 'cartoony'. Therefore we decided to do a blend of realism, such as the lighting and some shading, mixed with the colorful stylized visuals you see in the game now. We took a lot of inspiration from Wind Waker and wanted to incorporate that sort of style into our game. It was important that our game stood out graphically, but worked within the confines of our limitations as a small team. We believe we've been mostly successful at this endeavor. 

Will our graphics improve? 


A common question we get about our game is, "Will the graphics improve?" The answer to this is, yes and no. The graphics will improve within the confines of our stylized graphics theme. However, we are quite happy with the way a large portion of the game looks and there will not a be a 'graphical overhaul.' What you will see will be incremental improvements to various aspects of the game, graphically speaking. For instance, we are currently looking into ways to improve the grass and make it fit better visually into the world. 


Overall we hope that our choice in using stylized graphics in Salt creates a more unique experience and helps you to immerse yourself in the world. 



- Will Sterling (Audio and Game Design)

3 comments:

Friday Dev Update: A Changing Static World

2:11 PM Unknown 0 Comments

The Salt world is occasionally changing. Much of the things you see in the world are the same every time you quit the game and come back, or each time anyone starts a new world with the same seed as you. This is covered is better detail in one of my previous blog posts, On the Shared Randomness of Salt. However, as development progresses, you will notice small changes in the world.

These small changes happen when we add or remove things from the generation algorithms. For example, if we add a new item that merchants can carry, it is possible that some of the previous merchants will be carrying that new item in place of something they used to carry. The same can go for the loot in chests. Your friend may find different contents in the same chest as you if they opened it after an update where we modified its loot table.

These changes are not limited to loot tables. Anything from the positions of objects on an island to the type of island that spawns in a certain location. You will see some of the largest world impacts when we add new island types. This addition would cause some of the current islands to forever become the new type of island. However, we always make an effort to implement new things in such a way as to make the smallest possible impact on what you have already explored and are familiar with.

So, if you download a new patch and notice something in the world is not the same as before, you can read between the lines a little and know that the sneaky developers likely slid in something new there.


- John Gamble (Lead Developer)

0 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Secrets in Salt

1:16 PM willsterling23 4 Comments

Have you ever had that feeling of excitement when you discover something new in a game that you didn't know was there? I have. And I love that feeling. That feeling is something we wanted to translate into the gameplay of Salt. We want Salt to be full of mystery, new places, and other things for you to discover.

In short, we want Salt to be full of secrets. 


Secrets are a really fun aspect of video games. They keep players intrigued and sucked into the world in which they are playing. It is our goal to continuously implement new secrets and mysteries that will not only clue you into the backstory of Salt, but also keep you wondering, "What else is there?" Because of this intentional design mechanic, we have to keep a lot of what we implement, well, secret. We don't want players to always know what's ahead, as that would ruin the feeling of discovering it for yourself. Salt is about you creating your own adventure and secrets are a large part of that. 

Not everything in the game is going to be a secret of course. There are a lot of things to look forward to as we push out updates and you'll be able to see that in our patch notes. Just keep in mind that not everything implemented will always show up in the patch notes. We are intentionally leaving things out, so that you can discover them for yourself. 

One particular aspect of this that I've enjoyed is watching players come up with their own theories. It's fun to see players find items and not know what they do or what they are for. All kinds of theories begin to arise (I won't tell you which ones are true), and it shows that our design mechanic is working. I believe that deep down, this all comes back to hand holding. I don't think players really want to be handed everything, but rather they want to discover and overcome challenges on their own. This allows their adventure to become their story and not something designed by the game studio. 


Be on the lookout for a new update within the next couple weeks! It just might contain a secret. 


- Will Sterling (Audio and Game Designer)

4 comments:

Playstyle Focus

10:44 AM willsterling23 0 Comments


When we began developing Salt we agreed upon an idea we call, "playstyle focus." This concept revolves around the idea of the player being able to play the game the way they want. This means if you want to play the game as a calm exploration game, you can do that. If you want to play the game as an adventure and RPG game, you can do that. If you want to play it as a survival game, you can do that. You get the point.

We've tried to provide multiple ways to progress and move further along in your adventure. We didn't want anyone to be forced into one particular playstyle, but to be able to play the way they want. Let me give you an example. Let's say you need food. One obvious way, and probably one of those most common in Salt, is to hunt deer. However, maybe you don't care to hunt deer and would rather just focus on exploring. Well, in that case you can also find fruit or mushrooms on the ground. You can find food in chests, at merchants, on pirates, in crates, etc.

This theme carries over into a lot of different aspects in Salt. There is almost always more than one way to achieve something and it usually caters to different playstyles. We've been very intentional in this fact and we hope it helps players to have a more enjoyable experience playing the game.

One area we are going to be pushing more hard for in the upcoming updates is the RPG and adventure playstyle. Currently, we've got a good bit of things to craft and find during exploration. Now we want to start adding more adventure and RPG aspects. This means we'll be working on adding goals, quests, and lore throughout the world. Soon you will be able to discover more of the backstory of Salt and achieve goals/quests to earn epic loot.

Until then, we hope you are enjoying sailing across the world and discovering the world that is Salt!


- Will Sterling (Audio and Game Design)

0 comments:

Tin Foil Hat Fishing

12:51 PM Unknown 9 Comments



Now that the fishing update has been released, I would like to take a moment to talk about it and some of the design decisions behind it. When we started the design of fishing, we had three primary goals in mind.

    1) Make it relaxing
    2) Make it satisfying
    3) Make it superstitious

Salt is a game where a relaxing, serene adventure is a fully viable play-style, and we want fishing to fall right into this category. Although complicated fishing mechanics can be very fun, we elected to keep it simple on the surface and deep underneath. I'll explain the depth in more detail in a moment. In short, we wanted the player to be able to find a beautiful spot, sit back in their chair with a drink in hand, and fish while they watch the sunset.

Although the feeling of relaxation that fishing invokes can go a long way, it needs a sense of satisfaction. Many factors play into this, from the way the physics and animation of the pole behave, to what you actually catch with it. There is also that wonderful feeling when you finally catch one of the rare fish. We want fishing to be a useful tool with respect to other aspects of the game. There are a number of different fish with interesting uses, and you can look forward to a lot more in the future. Fishing is now a core part of Salt that will get its share in the upcoming waves of new content.

As for our third goal, you may think superstition is an odd thing to shoot for when designing game mechanics. However, this is where we have chosen to add some depth to fishing. It is our full intent to breed superstition and theories among players as to where and how certain fish are caught. Governing the fishing system is a tree of conditions and modifiers to chances. Each fish can have their own conditions that determine when, where, and in what way they can be caught, or are more likely to be caught. Our options on conditions are practically limitless. We could make it where you are more likely to catch a certain fish while on land, on a boat, while moving, during a full moon, during sunrise or sunset, while using certain bait or lures, while jumping up and down... you get the idea.

Overall, though, we want to keep with our normal paradigm of play-style freedom by giving players the option of fishing as little and casually or as much and superstitiously as they please. We look forward to hearing feedback and suggestions from you all.

- John Gamble, Lead Developer

9 comments:

Salt is on Greenlight!

6:42 AM willsterling23 0 Comments

Salt is now on Greenlight! We're excited to get Salt on Steam and it's something that's been requested a lot. We love Steam as much as everybody else and we know how great it is to have the majority of your gaming collection on one platform.

If you'd like to see Salt get on Steam, give us a greenlight vote here -

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=311763404

0 comments:

Where is Salt Headed?

8:26 AM willsterling23 12 Comments

We recently released Salt into early access less than a week ago. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive and we are so thankful for that! We've seen people get excited for new loot, experience things for the first time in the game, discover hidden places throughout the world, and be slain by enemies. However, we've noticed that a lot of people are wondering what type of game Salt is.

Is Salt a survival game? What is there to do currently? What are some features coming in the future? 

12 comments:

On the Shared Randomness of Salt

8:05 PM Unknown 0 Comments

Hello everyone. I am John Gamble, and I wrote the code that generates the world of Salt. I thought I would take a moment and explain a bit about how the world is generated. This will not be a very technical article. Sometime in the future, I plan to create a different blog that focuses more on that. Here, I would like to give you some basic insight into how the world is generated, and how you can pull a sense of community out of a random world.



There are two types of randomness in Salt, and there is a good mix of both throughout the world. I'll explain the difference.

The first type, what I always refer to in my head as static random, are elements in the game that will be the same every time you quit your game and come back. These include things such as the shape of the island you are on, the location of the pirate camps, and even where the pickaxe is hidden in the grass on the the starting island (oh, you didn't find that yet?). These will always be the same for a single game. That is why when you quit the game, and come back later, you are standing on the same island. The game didn't save the shape of the island you were on when you quit. Instead, it regenerated it exactly the same as before.

The second type, which I refer to in my head as non-static random, are elements which are not set in stone when you create a new game. This type of randomness is used to determine if a log spawns as normal or hardwood. It is also used to determine what loot a particular deer or pirate drops when you kill it. This is the type of randomness that you are likely most familiar with.

When you start a new game, you have the ability to choose a custom seed for the world. I have made this seed to be a sequence of letters you can type in. This seed determines everything that is statically random in the world. This includes where islands are located, their shape, type, and what trees are on it. It also influences deer population, ruins, pirates, how many of each, where they spawn, and tons more. The cool thing about the seed is that the same one always generates the statically random elements exactly the same. So, if you are playing in a world with the same seed as your buddy, you can tell him about where you found that merchant or epic sword just laying on the ground, and he will actually care because he can find it in his game too.

One thing that I did very intentionally was to create a default seed. If you fast-click it through the new game interface, without specifying custom options, your game will use the default seed. Salt is a practically infinite ocean of randomly generated islands, but the comforting effect of the default seed is that most people will be playing in the same world. I say comforting because I feel it brings a sense of community to the vast, lonely sea. When you stand on the top of a high cliff overlooking the expanse of trees and ocean below, you can think, "I wonder how many people have been here before?" This is a question that wouldn't have much meaning if you knew that your world was unique to everyone else's.

I experienced the effects of this first hand while watching someone stream Salt. They had found a large island with a very distinct shape. I took specific note of it because it was one of the coolest looking Islands I had seen (and I see them every day). He searched the island very thoroughly, but based on some clues that I saw, I knew there was something he had missed. Later, while testing a new boat, I happened upon the island with the distinct shape that I recognized from his stream. I hopped off my boat and conducted my own search until I found what it was that he had missed. It was a memorable experience that would not have happened if we had been playing in differently generated worlds.

In short, the intent of the default seed is to produce common ground to provide better foundation for community. We want to create adventure, and a sense of community makes the adventure all the greater.


- John Gamble, Lead Developer






0 comments:

First Impressions Review from Low Key Gaming

7:42 PM willsterling23 0 Comments

Low Key Gaming did us the honor of doing a first impressions review of our game. They also did a one on one interview with our lead developer. Here are the links to both of those articles!

0 comments:

Just a Peek: Salt

1:59 PM willsterling23 0 Comments


GentlemanGames recently sat down and played a little bit of Salt for himself. You can watch his experience here!


0 comments:

What Is Salt?

10:53 AM willsterling23 1 Comments


You may be asking, "What is Salt?" Salt is a game we've been working on for over two years. We wanted to create a game about exploration and adventure that would allow you to create your own story. We wanted Salt to be something new and something memorable. It is currently in an in-development game and we are constantly updating and adding new content.

1 comments: