Friday Dev Update: Procedural Generation and Depth

10:44 AM Will Sterling 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. 


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)