Friday Dev Update: New Trading and Fishing

8:38 AM Unknown 7 Comments

One Man's Trash

There are merchants in the world of Salt that deal in gold, but what if there were others that were interested in trading with another medium? Last week, I implemented a system that allowed for just that. Using it, we will be able to create new types of traders that can ask for any type of item in exchange for their goods.
We are making use of this new trading opportunity in the upcoming patch. This also opens up some fun possibilities for the future. For instance, we could create a strange hermit that believes himself a reincarnation of the great pandas of legend, and thus, insists on a strict diet of bamboo. He would have an inventory full of glorious shiny items that he will only trade for copious amounts of bamboo. 

As I said, we are already making use of this new system in the upcoming patch. There will actually be two new NPCs that make use of the system. The way it works is very similar to the way you are used to dealing in gold. Talk to an NPC to open up their merchant interface. Then, select the item you are interested in. Where you would normally see the gold icon, and the price, the gold icon will instead be the icon of the item that want in exchange. You’ll be able to mouse over the icon to see exactly what they want.

Fisherman's Delight

For those out there that enjoy fishing in Salt, I have some good news for you. There is some new fishing content coming with the next patch. The jungle islands will introduce a number of new types of fish to catch around their shores. Some will have special effects when eaten, some used to craft new potions, and others will be valued by a particular new NPC that is all about fishing.

Fishing in Salt is largely a game of learning and chance. Many fish have different ways that they can be caught, or are more likely to be caught. Figuring out what fish can be caught in which way requires some trial and error. What I want to do with the new fishing content is to apply a little touch of direction for some of the fish. This means there will be some fish you can learn about and hints at how to catch them before you catch them for the first time. I think it would be fun to know about a fish you want to catch and make it your mission to catch it. I’d also like to apply this same philosophy to some extent on some fish that are currently in the game. Perhaps a lore book or an npc that give some information on some fish.

Development Update

The update progress for 1.6 is going quite well. We’ve worked on AI to facilitate some new behaviors for jungle island NPCs, created new foliage, trees, and other visuals, implemented new NPCs and merchants, and  number of new equipment items, fish, and lore books, and coded a new system for trading with currency other than gold.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be working on adding in new quests, secret content, more items, sounds, and finally testing and polishing the new content for release. I'm looking forward to getting this out to you all.

- John Gamble (Lead Developer)


Friday Dev Update: Into the Undergrowth

12:42 PM Unknown 4 Comments

Hey folks!

We’ve been making our way toward the coming update, and now I get to share with you a bit of what we’ve been working on. John has been hard at work adding several NPCs and a new type of enemy for the new island, as well as several other small improvements and under-the-hood work. Will has been creating new sound effects and lore books. I have been in the bushes, adding new kinds of foliage for the new island. Since we’ve made some good progress, we’re finally able to reveal…

Jungle Islands!

These islands will be dense and dangerous, with new friends and foes alike. We’re all excited about the new content to be found on these new islands, but I can’t reveal much more yet!

What I can reveal is a powerful new tool I began using this week, and one we will likely be using going forward. It’s called SpeedTree.

SpeedTree is a tool for building trees, bushes, and other foliage. Since Unity 5 was released, SpeedTree has made available a version of its software that works directly with the Unity editor, allowing quick, high quality asset generation. It includes a customizable Level of Detail system that works a lot better than what we have now, so you’ll have better looking, better performing trees. Here’s one of my test trees going through its LoD transformation:

I plan to make SpeedTree versions of all the trees currently in the game to maximize the performance and visual upgrades that SpeedTree provides. My love for SpeedTree has taken root!

Over the next few weeks we'll be revealing more details about the jungle island, so stay tuned!

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


This Week at Lavaboots: Music, Lore, and More

8:53 AM willsterling23 1 Comments

"Better get my climbing boots."

Ahoy, Mateys!

We've been hard at work this week on getting a lot of the technical and architectural foundations ready for the next update, which will feature a new island type! I can't go into many details yet, but we are very excited about it. We don't just want this new island type to be visually new, but to also be filled with new content and features to explore.

This week John has been hard at work on revamping our AI code for better functionality and features, and Rob has been working on the visuals for the upcoming island. Here's a few things I've been working on.

New Music

We get a lot of requests for the soundtrack to Salt, and I promise it's coming! We really want to wait closer to release so we are sure what songs we wish to finalize and include on the soundtrack. In the meantime however, you can stream a lot of the current in-game music for free here - 

One of my goals for this week (and this next update) is to get more new music in the game. I've been currently working on a new song for when you are sailing the seas, and I'm pretty proud of it. My goal for a lot of the music in Salt is to make you feel inspired and epic as you are traversing the ocean. The new song I've been working on is called 'Wonder' and you can listen to it early here: 

Player Instruments

One feature we will be adding that soon that I've been working on are player instruments. We haven't completely worked out the design of this yet, but basically you will find instruments throughout the world (lutes, drums, pan pipes, etc.), and you'll be able to click on them and play a tune. I want to also add variations as to what can play based on the instruments. So if you find a rare lute, it will play a unique sound and so forth. This will act as an immersive way for you to control when music happens in the game. Perhaps you just want to walk around your ship cabin and listen to some tunes while reading a lore book or fishing. This feature will allow you to do that. 

New Lore

I say this a lot, but I love lore books. They add a deeper element to the story and narrative of a world, yet remain completely optional and doesn't force you to experience it. This week I've been working on a new lore series called 'The Philosophy of Time.' This will be a multiple part series that not only tells an interesting narrative, but gives you insight into some of the secrets behind the world of Salt. 

Our goal with lore has been to not only provide brief stories for entertainment, but also to provide a deeper look into the mythology and purpose of the world you are exploring. 

 - Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)


Friday Dev Update: Patch, Models, and AI Code

9:19 AM Unknown 5 Comments

Here is what has been going on this week at Lavaboots Studios.

Patch 1.5.1 Pushed

First off, we got update 1.5.1 pushed live, which feels great. I’m glad we chose to go ahead and get that patch rounded off and pushed separate from the new island patch we are working on. 1.5.1 introduced the new humanoid models, rendering pipeline, and added some new content.

New Boat Models

Also this week, I have been collaborating with our modeler on some boat models! As part of the next update, we needed a new boat, so I contracted him to make one for us, which he did an excellent job with. The new boat makes the other boats in the game look unprofessional. And rightly so, as I modeled all of the other boats in the game myself (I am not a modeler). After seeing that, I immediately contracted him to model some more ships to replace some of the ones that I made. From what he has done so far, I think you’ll be pleased with the change when it comes.

Changing current ship models will, of course, ruin the placement of ship objects such as torch holders, beds, etc. I’ll come up with a way to handle this. I’m thinking I could add an option when inspecting boats that allows you to retrieve all attached upgrades to that particular boat.

I don’t yet have an ETA on the ship changes, as our previously planned content for next update takes priority. But I expect we will get them in either with the next patch or shortly afterwards.

AI Code

Other than pushing a patch and collaboration, I have been deep in the code this week. The new island is going to have a new NPC that will require different AI logic than what we already have in Salt. In order to facilitate that, I have been fixing up the system that we use for AI (we use behavior trees for those that are interested). I hurriedly left the system in a sort of a hackish state when I last worked on it, and it needed some cleaning up. That has been going quite well, and having a better underlying AI system will also serve us for the entirety of development.

Sounds And New Island Visuals

As for the other Lavaboots team members, Robert is diving into the visuals for the new island, and Will is working on sounds and music. Some new items we are going to add in the future are musical instruments that play songs when you use them. Will wrote a really cool pan pipe tune this week that we are going to use for that. I’m listening to it as I write this and it has me all relaxed.

- John Gamble (Lead Developer)