Friday Dev Update: Community Interaction

9:46 AM willsterling23 2 Comments


From very early on in development, we knew we wanted Salt to have a community built around it. I love when I'm excited about a game and can go and talk about it with others who are just as excited. A good sense of community will develop a culture around a game that will increase the longevity of the game and keep players engaged. Today I want to talk about some of the benefits and goals of having a community built around Salt. 

Discovery

If you ever read our patch notes, you will usually see things like "Added new items," rather than listing the specific items we added. We do this for a couple reasons. One is that we don't want to spoil everything by listing it in the patch notes. It's a lot more exciting to come across a new epic weapon on your own that you didn't even know existed. The other reason is to allow the community to interact and discover these new items. 

I remember when I was in junior high I was heavily into a game called Driver 2. I loved driving around the city and exploring that game, looking for new cars and secrets. I had a friend in school that played the game as well and we would always talk about what we found. I remember one day coming to school and he told me about this secret mini cooper hidden underground out in the middle of a field. I was so excited! I had no idea such a thing even existed. I couldn't wait to get home and go find it on my own. 

This sort of excitement and discovery through others is a very organic and natural way to find new items and secrets in a game. We want you to hear about secrets and things of that nature from other players, then get excited and go search for it on your own! However, to do this, we needed a way to give you a sense of direction. That's where seeds come in. 

Seed-based World Generation and Coordinates

In Salt, you will likely early on find a sextant. This tool allows you to find the coordinates for your current position. If you are on the same world seed as another player, those coordinates will line up. This means when you find something cool, you can get the coordinates and share it with your friends! We needed to do this primarily because the world is huge and procedurally generated. It wouldn't do you much good to tell your friend what you found if they had no way of finding it themselves. While not everything in the game is static in its location and so can change, most major things you find are and their location can be shared with seeds. 

Maps and Cartography

We haven't implemented in-game maps yet, but that is something we are very much looking forward to doing. Our main goal with this is to make it easier to use the seed and coordinate system to chart things you find. This will allow you to better find your way back to places you've discovered and get access to that information to share with others. Also, because you can create your own custom seeded world, you can potentially chart a world that no one has ever seen before. Then, after you've got a huge chunk of the world charted out, you can go share that map with players allowing them to search and find all the things you've discovered. 

Multiplayer

Obviously one of the biggest aspects of community interaction will be multiplayer. As we get further along in development and begin implementation of multiplayer, we will be keeping in mind content that still encourages sharing your findings with others. Let me give you an example. 

Image you are sailing way out north, say past the 100 mark. You find this really rare island with an extremely tough world boss. There's no way you are taking this big cheese down on your own. So you write down the coordinates and you send your friends a message in a bottle, "Meet me at x/y coordinates. Bring your biggest swords, your mightiest axes, and your gumption." Then you wait on four or five or your friends to meet you there so you can all slay the beast. Or maybe instead you go and meet them where they are, and all of you hop on a huge ship and sail back to the island, singing shanties along the way. 

In either case, this is the sort of community interaction we want. While we in no way want you to be dependent on other players to enjoy the game, we do want you to be rewarded for interacting with others and be encouraged to do so. 


In addition to these in game implementations, we also strive to keep our subreddit and steam forums alive and well. These are great places to go to get updates about the game, give your suggestions and feedback, and discuss your findings with others. If you aren't a part of these communities, we definitely encourage you to hop in there and join the discussion! 


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)

2 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Controller Support

1:54 PM Unknown 2 Comments



It’s sometimes hard for me to choose between a gamepad and a keyboard. While controllers are generally more comfortable and have all of their buttons within a finger’s reach, a keyboard boasts a huge array of keys that can be customized to one’s liking, and a mouse provides speed and precision that controllers haven’t yet achieved. Our fans will be having to make that decision soon, because in the next update planned for Salt we’ll finally be adding full controller support. With this exciting addition coming up, I thought I’d talk about our philosophy on controllers, and a tiny bit of my history with them.


I grew up playing games on both consoles and PCs, so I was always fairly adept at using either control scheme. When Dark Souls released for PC, I went out and bought an Xbox 360 gamepad for 40 bucks out of desperation (seriously, Dark Souls keyboard controls were terrible!), and it turned out to be a way better purchase than I had expected. I’ve used that controller with so many games since then. There was one game that really surprised me and inspired John and I to add controller support to Salt––one that I thought would never even be playable with a controller––Final Fantasy XIV.


If you’re not familiar, FFXIV is a massively multiplayer game like World of Warcraft with a similar control scheme: targeting individual enemies, loads of hotbars filling the screen with countless abilities you would have to use at any given time, and tons of inventory management. When I found out you could use a gamepad, I had to try it just for the heck of it! What I found was that the developers of that game had put in a lot of time and effort into getting such a complex interface working with a controller, and working well. The only thing I found you were restricted from doing with a controller alone was chatting with other players. Everything else was fairly easy to accomplish after a little bit of learning.


(If you want to see how a controller works with FFXIV, look up some youtube videos or download the free trial for yourself!)


After seeing what could be done with a controller’s limited number of buttons on such a complicated interface, we knew it would be possible to have awesome controller support for Salt. As we build our new UI for patch 1.5, we’re keeping both controllers and keyboards in mind. What does that mean for die-hard keyboard and mouse users? Nothing! We’re still making an interface that’s quick, intuitive, and easy-to-use for every one of you who like to play with that control scheme, and we don’t plan on making any compromises on that front. Instead we’ll stretch the gamepad’s capabilities as far as we need to make it a smooth and rewarding experience.

Can you tell I’m excited about controller support?



- Robert Gamble (Game Design, Coding, Environmental Design)

2 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Crafting Interface

12:04 PM Unknown 4 Comments

As part of the design for the new GUI, we are taking a look at crafting and how its interface can be improved. Here are some of our ideas.


What’s Wrong with the Current One?

To craft an item in Salt, you currently have to open your crafting interface and move components from your inventory window to the crafting window. When you have all of the items required for a particular recipe, an icon representing the recipe pops up inside a small frame in the crafting window. If multiple things can be crafted from the same components, you have to click arrows to cycle through all of the possibilities.

There are a couple of problems and annoyances with the crafting interface as it is now. First off, you have to interact with both the inventory and crafting windows, which are on opposite sides of the screen from each other. Having to look at and interact with icons that far away from each other is an unnecessary annoyance. To fix this, the new design will have everything you need for crafting much closer together within the screen space.

Another thing I don’t like about the current system is that you can’t easily see all of the potential recipes that your selected components can create. Instead of making the player click an arrow to cycle through all of them, we want to show them all at once.


Making the Current Functionality Better

So, here is the overview of our current plan with regards to the new crafting interface. There will be a button within the new inventory window that pops out the crafting interface very close by. We will also have a keyboard shortcut to quickly open the crafting window as before. When the crafting window is open, it will automatically switch your inventory view to show all crafting components.

The crafting UI will not be an item container as it is currently. Instead, it will have a place to show you a number of recipe icons. When it is open, you will be able to “highlight” as many different crafting components as you wish from your inventory, and the list of matching recipe icons will be updated inside the crafting interface. When you add all of the components for the recipe you wish to craft, you will click the appropriate recipe icon to begin crafting.


Totally New Features

In addition to the above changes, we had some small ideas to add into the crafting system. We thought it would be handy for the player to “remember” recipes that they have previously created. After you craft a particular item for the first time, its recipe icon will appear “greyed out” within the crafting interface whenever you highlight any portion of its components.

For example, say you recently started your game, and you collect a few flint and logs. You open your crafting interface, and select the logs. A club recipe icon will appear. Then you select the flint. The club recipe icon will disappear because you have selected a wrong ingredient, but the campfire recipe icon will appear. You craft the campfire, causing you to “remember” that recipe from now on. Since you now know that recipe, the next time you open your crafting window and highlight just a log, a club recipe icon will appear as normal, but also the campfire recipe will appear “greyed out.” You’ll be able to mouse over it to read about it and what is required to make it.

This feature would not make it any more difficult to discover recipes in the first place, but it would add a small quality-of-life improvement once you already had made the discovery.


We would love to hear your thoughts on both the planned changes and the new recipe memory feature that we are discussing.


- John Gamble (Lead Developer)






4 comments:

Friday Dev Update: Everything has Meaning

7:14 AM willsterling23 2 Comments

There's nothing I love more than being 50 hours into a game and suddenly making a connection in the lore that I hadn't seen before. When this happens, it makes you realize just how much depth and meaning there is behind the story of the game you are playing. One game that always pops into my mind when I think about this mechanic is Dark Souls. Dark Souls is shrouded in a feeling of mystery and intrigue all the while having you chug your axe through undead after undead.

This sort of mystery and intrigue is something we want imbued in the story of Salt. As we develop the lore, main story, and backstory, we are keeping this in mind and ensuring that different aspects of the game connect and have meaning. Today I want to talk about some of our main goals in implementing this mechanic and how we are going to achieve it.

Lore Books

First and foremost, lore books. I love lore books. They provide a great way to give insight into the world that the player would never have known otherwise. I also like them because they act as a sort of "payoff" for taking the time to read through the book. In Salt, we really wanted lore books to not only be fun little stories for you to read, but to also give you some insight into the backstory of the game. As you read certain books, you will begin to make connections between what you are reading on the page and what is taking place in your world. 

Past Insight or Future Revelation

When you discover a piece of backstory, one of two things will happen. You will either realize you are reading about something that's already happened to you (past insight) or you will be reading about something that could happen to you (future revelation). Both of these aspects add an element of intrigue to the world. If you read about something that you've already experienced, it gives you some insight into the meaning and purpose behind that event. This adds a tremendous amount of depth to your experience that you did not have beforehand. However, if you read about something that hasn't happened to you, it gives you something to look for, encouraging you to explore and delve deeper into the lore. 

Everything has Meaning

Though Salt is full of weapons, armor, and various items, we want to ensure that these things have meaning behind them. This is particularly important when it comes to rare items and weapons. For example, have you come across the skeleton key yet? There is a reason that key exists. It has a story in and of itself, but it will be up to you to discover the true meaning of its existence. In addition to this, we also want things to connect. As you read lore books, talk to npc's, and discover the story behind the world, we want you to make connections between these things. In the end, you will be able to tie together a large portion of the lore and have a nice cohesive picture of what the backstory looks like. 


All that said, lore is not something we want to force upon you. You will be able to enjoy Salt completely ignoring the lore if you please. We are working hard to make the gameplay fun and give you plenty to do. However, for those who want to delve deeper, leave no rock unturned. 


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)



2 comments: