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)


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)


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)


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)