Friday Dev Update: A Closer Look at Graphics

8:00 AM Will Sterling 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)


  1. Hi!

    Could you at least try to improve the face of pirates? Landscapes and animals are nice but face of pirates may scare lots of potential players :)

    I have some questions about the ocean: is the size of the waves changing depending on conditions ? Can the boat sink ? Is there any influence from the wind ?

    Thanks and good luck! :)

  2. I love the look of the game! The pirates, as stated could be improved, they kind of look like cupie dolls (sp) at the moment, but when one is coming at you with an axe, he's still menacing! Looking forward to where the game goes, I think you're definitely on the right track!