Friday Dev Update: Loot and the Feeling of Awesome

8:19 AM Will Sterling 7 Comments

Have you ever come across a really rare item in a came that makes you insanely giddy inside when you get it? I get that way. At times it almost seems silly to get so excited about an object inside a video game but I just can't help myself. I have many memories of playing games like Morrowind and coming across that really rare item hidden in a stump and feeling like I'd struck gold. Or that feeling you get when a legendary pops up after grinding in Diablo slashing through demons and hordes of enemies.

The point is this: it feels awesome to get good loot. 

We wanted to take this loot based aspect of RPG's and implement it into Salt. When designing a system like this there are a lot of questions to keep in mind. What type of rarities will be there be? How hard will each one be to obtain? How many ways can you obtain it? We asked ourselves these questions and have tried to design a loot system that flows naturally into the world of Salt, but gives you that 'feeling of awesome' when you do finally find that rare item.

Today I want to talk about some of the design choices we've made behind this system and how we plan to expand upon it in the future.

Item rarities and item name color

In Salt we decided to split up items into five rarity categories: common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary. These types of rarities will be found in the world of Salt and are indicated by their item name color. This was a concept that we really liked in some RPG's where the moment you saw a different colored text you knew you had found something different and possibly better. It gives that quick and instant feeling of gratification even before you see what the item really is. 

Unique items

One thing we definitely did not want to do was to arbitrarily give rare items (by rare I mean anything above uncommon level items) stats that really meant nothing. We didn't want to randomize stats on items just to get more into the game. For us, the feeling of awesome comes when you find an item that is static and unique. We have intentionally designed each item as having its own unique stats and effects depending on the rarity type. This means that when you find an epic mace in the game, that is the epic mace. It's not a mace with better randomly generated stats, but rather it is a weapon with a specific set of stats and specific effects unique to that item. 

When you get an awesome item, it means something

I'm going to reference Morrowind again as it stands out in my mind when I think about having awesome gear in a game. In Morrowind, if you have a set of really awesome gear, it meant something. It wasn't as if you just bought the gear. Sure, you could steal gear and sometimes get lucky finding something rare, but in general nice gear was hard to come by. This is a game element that we wanted to implement into Salt. If you have an epic or legendary item, it truly means something. We want these items to be difficult to obtain and encourage you to show off your epic loot to other players. 

Rewarding Playstyles

One very important aspect of our design behind Salt is what we call playstyle focus. In short, playstyle focus is a way for us to let players play Salt the way they want to play. If you want to be a hunter and wear light armor then we will find ways to reward you for doing so. If you want to be an explorer and chart out the seas then we will find ways to reward you. This design aspect was important to mirror in item rewards as well. We don't want to force you into a certain playstyle in order to get good loot. We are constantly trying to evenly distribute item rarities among item types so that there are more epic items out there than just weapons and armor. We want you to be able to show off your awesome pickaxe or awesome compass as well! 

Going Forward

As we continue the development of Salt, we want to constantly be expanding upon and adding depth to the loot system. We plan on having a lot of unique and rare items in the game that can be obtained through various means, some of which are very challenging. 

We would love to hear your thoughts on the loot system and what kind of awesome items you would like to see in Salt! 

- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)


  1. Going back to the Morrowind analogy, as you're clearly aware many of the best sets of armor/weapons/items in the game were possessed by NPCs...and you had to take them by force! Think the glass armor on the bad dudes in the towers of Dawn and Dusk at Ghostgate, Divayth Fyr's epic Daedric armor, or the random Daedric weapons you could get from Dremora Lords at the Daedric Shrines (all your Morrowind references brought back a wave of nostalgia : ) ). So far I've been really happy in the game finding awesome loot on boss-type characters and I'm looking forward to the further development of that aspect! I'm basically echoing what you already posted of course. With Salt's randomized worlds, how would unique item locations be implemented? Maybe a small chance for a far-away island to spawn a cave that contained a chest that would include rare item "x"? Or a chest that could only be opened with a key from a certain boss? Anyways you guys are doing great work and I look forward to coming content!

    1. Morrowind always gets me nostalgic as well. And yes we are constantly looking into ways to have specific items be found in specific places. We have that to a degree right now, but we want to go even more in depth with that aspect.

    2. I've wondered, as well, how randomized worlds will work with loot placement and levels. It seems like it would be really cool to have amazing loot farther away from S 0 W 0 (game center...) but that brings up questions like:
      Are you really rooted to the center in any way?
      Will enemies and other factors get more difficult as you stray from the center?
      I'm kind of new to the game so perhaps this has been discussed elsewhere...

  2. Great, even more reason for me to never leave Salt, thanks guys, lol. In all seriousness I'm glad you look back to Morrowind for inspiration. That game had so many elements to it that just went beyond anything else of its kind during that time. I know I spend most of my time just wandering off the beaten path in Morrowind (and every other Elder Scrolls game) and that's kind of the feel I'm getting from Salt. Just that need to see what's beyond the next island.

    1. Morrowind was a phenomenal game, and still is! We've taken a lot of inspiration from games like that and definitely want to keep doing. Also, glad to hear you're sticking with us ;)!

  3. In another post, someone mentioned they'd like to have binoculars in the game. I'd like to see that too, but rather than binoculars, I think a "spyglass" would be more in order and in keeping with the feel of the game. I've found that sailing past an island and checking it out first is a good idea, a spyglass would definitely be an epic loot item that would enhance my playing experience!

  4. It's funny to me to see the Morrowind reference. In fact, as soon as I read about finding an item hidden in a stump I instantly remembered just such a time in one of the Morrowind expansions. I was outside a lodge or something, and found some arrows (ridiculously powerful arrows... did they MEAN to leave these in the game?) hidden in a stump. Like the author of the post, I was excited. Excited enough that I remember that still about ten years after the fact. I'm way excited to hear that things like this will be part of Salt.
    I'm a fan of the color coding, and idea that REALLY good loot shouldn't be super easy to come by.