Friday Dev Update: Creating Your Own Adventure

11:20 AM Will Sterling 14 Comments

I love when video games give me the opportunity to create adventures and stories all on my own. A good example of this I believe are the Elder Scrolls games, particularly Skyrim. I have this memory of going about my travels and suddenly being interrupted by an enemy bandit, only to have a dragon come swinging by carrying a mammoth and dropping it in the midst of battle. It's moments like these that make me appreciate the openness and unpredictability of open world games.

We wanted to implement this same feeling in Salt. We want you to be able to create your own adventure and share your stories with others. Because of this, we've intentionally tried to design the game from the ground up with this element in mind.

Today I want to talk about some of the ways we are currently doing this, and ways we are going to continue to implement this feature in the future.


Minimal Hand Holding

To create your own adventure, you need to discover the world on your own. It's no fun if someone is holding your hand the whole way. For this reason, we've tried to implement a very minimal amount of hand holding in Salt. The world isn't explained to you and you are basically just dropped into it to figure it out. Questions such as "where do I go from here" or "what do I do next" are yours to answer and yours to discover. While this may add a little frustration in the beginning, the feeling of reward when figuring something out on your own is far greater. 

A Discoverable Story

Another way we want to leave the world of Salt open is to let you discover the story and lore on your own. As we implement the main quest line and story, we aren't going to force it upon you. The rabbit hole will be there for you to venture down if you please. Should you choose to ignore it, you are free to go along your way. We plan on implementing a lot of story and lore that you will have to intentionally search for to discover. This adds tremendously to the feeling of depth and constantly gives you something to be searching for. 

Randomization and a Dynamic World


Because the islands and the world of Salt are procedurally generated, each experience can be very different. You never really know what to expect and this adds to the feeling of openness and unpredictability. We want to ensure that many encounters are dynamic and random, giving you a new experience that you may never have had before. You never know if an island is going to have a Queen Spider on it or an albino deer, and therefore your experience can change from one island to the next. As we add in more island types, wildlife, and enemies, this will become even more apparent. 


We want Salt to always have a feeling of openness and always feel like a new adventure. No matter what kind of content we implement, we want you to have the ability to discover it on your own and experience something new and unexpected. 

If you have any ideas on how you think Salt could be more open or lend to you creating your own adventure, we would love to hear them! 


- Will Sterling (Game Design and Audio)


14 comments:

  1. I think we miss bigger land masses; pirates cities or strongholds, maybe linked with a story and a lore; more ancient ruins and references to old-forgotten civilizations; buildings, towers, lighthouses, docks.
    I also suggest to implement climatic zones. For example, if I go East for a while I may find more desert islands, or a snowy island, etcc. Volcanoes, rivers.

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    1. Pirate cities, strongholds and trading docks where are other ships would be unbelievable, maybe you could even get quests from big trading ports

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  2. Describing my experience I found out that it's now rare to me to just stop to witness the beauty of a landscape. It was instead pretty common when I started the game. Even if now I'm still excited of climbing a new mountain or run through the woods, I feel it's different and a bit ordinary.
    Yesterday I discovered my first desert island on beta 7. It was exciting mining volatile ore and walking through big rocks!

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    1. Yeah we definitely are going to be adding more island types to help keep the sense of awe and variety in the game! We've had a similar idea of what you mentioned where you find snow islands as you sail farther north and things of that nature. We'll also be eventually adding more variation to grass, trees, etc. to create more differences even in islands that are technically the same. In addition to new islands, we'll also be adding more places to discover like shipwrecks, hunting/fishing shacks, temples, and things of that nature. Some of these will be more common than others to find and some will be very rare, that way you'll never know what's around the corner. Great suggestions and thanks for your feedback!

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    2. Will these shipwrecks you mentioned be on land or underwater will? :)

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  3. I'm looking forward to more variety. There should also be elements added in that make you just stare in awe or in WTF. The Elder Scrolls series was always incredible at that. EG: The giant Telvanni mushrooms and the major Dwemer ruins in Morrowind. The first time I saw a Bone Golem in Oblivion. Blackreach and the statue of Mehrune.

    That is the type of thing that always keeps me coming back. (When Skywind and Skyblivion are completed I may never leave Tamriel again.)

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  4. Functional pirate ships (obviously filled with pirates) that you can board and kill everyone on for fun and profit :)

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  5. Also, from the top of my head:
    - More realistic pirate movement
    - Headshots (both for pirates and deers)
    - More log spawning
    - Foam near the islands would be a nice addition
    - More ways to open chests (lock picking, bashing with possibility to destroy contents)
    - Cutting down trees for logs? (the game Stranded Deep does this in a very cool and believable fashion)

    And now for some wishfull thinking:
    - Boat construction (or upgrades) :)
    - Shields

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    1. I totally second the Headshots and Resource managements (aka cutting trees).

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  6. Mostly I look forward to more things that I can discover on my own! That's the biggest draw for me with this game, the simple wonderful feeling of exploration and feeling like I'm the first person in the world to discover something totally new. I've been going out of my way to avoid finding out how to craft something or what sort of loot and enemies are in the game. Finding these things on my own are what I find best about it. That's the one thing that's missing from minecraft now, there's no longer a sense of discovering something new on your own in that game anymore, so keep up the great work, you guys are obviously doing something right!

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  7. Mostly I look forward to more things that I can discover on my own! That's the biggest draw for me with this game, the simple wonderful feeling of exploration and feeling like I'm the first person in the world to discover something totally new. I've been going out of my way to avoid finding out how to craft something or what sort of loot and enemies are in the game. Finding these things on my own are what I find best about it. That's the one thing that's missing from minecraft now, there's no longer a sense of discovering something new on your own in that game anymore, so keep up the great work, you guys are obviously doing something right!

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  8. I love the direction you are going with it. I also enjoyed Skyrim and Oblivion adventures, but got bored of ESO pretty quickly (hand holding). I just finished Salt's main story and got my staff. It was very rewarding and challenging. I think what a lot of games lack is the small chance of a huge reward in a grindy/normal encounters. As in, why should I go clean up the pirate camp, if I can just not waste time and look for a township with a captain. There should be a reason to go to the pirate camp with out a pirate. Maybe a small chance that a pirate captain patrolling the island without a township, or a small chance pirates holding a merchant prisoner (who will give a quest after freeing him). I remember from the old Ultima Online days the random orc spawns with a prisoner escort. They were completely dynamic and random, but had a purpose and a random quest.

    I really hope a straight up gear grind that most MMO games are implementing now isn't an answer. I think you guys are really on to something with the open world do what I want to attitude.

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  9. Also the environment. Grass is cool, but it makes it hard to find resources. I ended up turning the Foliage off completely to make it easier to spot resources, which is counter productive from the developer perspective. Maybe make the resources stand out more or make the random grass smaller? Or make resources gatharable, rather than picked up. Click on the bush, get random berries. Chop on a tree, get normal logs and small chance for hardwood. Boulders are easier to spot now.

    Also, skill based progression would be awesome. Sail for hours on end, sailing skill goes up, sprinting, fishing, etc. Oblivion style, which would introduce progression without hand holding.

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