It's alive! - A mega update on Salvaged

Posted 2015-09-23 12:44:09 by Daniel Hunter-Dowsing

Phew. Well that was fun wasn’t it? Salvaged swooped onto Greenlight like some ironclad eagle of balls-out gaming ambition. For seven days our sweet chick of sci-fi awesomeness laid waste to Greenlight like Mothra by way of Tony Montana. Did it pay off? Of course it did! Seven days and lots of lovely positive votes later Valve sent us the good news and Salvaged officially became eligible for Steam. To quote Ric Flair: Woooo!

But what on earth have we been doing since? I hear you clamouring to ask whilst pulling the very hairs from your speckled scalp. Fear not! Let’s get you up to speed…

Firstly, a HUGE thank you to everyone who voted for Salvaged on Greenlight and left lots of messages of support. It genuinely means a lot to everyone in the studio. Once again: thank you.

So what’s been happening since? Well, to the blunt, we’ve been building the damn thing! Salvaged existed as a pretty comprehensive design document and prototype prior to Greenlight and now our job is to turn our budding zygote into a living, breathing, all-dancing (that’s not confirmation of a rhythm-action mode – Ed.) game-sapien. 

First things first, we started building the opening sequence of the game – robustly known as ‘Intro Level 1’. This portion of the game encompasses the opening story beats, the first contract (‘mission’) and the game’s tutorial. There’s a lot going on here. There’s no foreplay from Salvaged – she takes control from the off whether you like it or not – and for us focusing on Intro Level 1 was a chance to lay all our gameplay cards on the table and build, test, respond, rebuild and so forth. It’s effectively a petri dish or microcosm of the entire Salvaged experience. We wanted to see our initial gameplay designs in action, see whether they work or not and analyse what’s missing or needs to be taken out to create the best Salvaged experience possible. 




Intro Level 1

To that end, players can now hire new agents (all with exceedingly cool names pulled from our very own sci-fi name generator – watch out for a few cheeky cameos), buy equipment and weapons for them (wait till you see some of the beastly weapons tucked away in the Market), accept contracts – now titled by the wreck you’ll be salvaging from (they too have exceedingly bitchin’ names) and fight your way through a complete level. Oh my!

‘But Salvaged peeps,’ I hear you cry. ‘If it’s taken you three months to build one level will we EVER see the game in this solar cycle?!’ Calm yourself - there’s a plan. Salvaged features twenty story contracts. The nineteen contracts after Intro Level 1 use our very own level generator to build each level according to our design specifications. Contract 12 - 13 rooms, difficulty level 5, enemy batch: aliens and BOOM! You have a level. All we have to do afterwards is play through and tidy up any irregularities, make sure the story beats are correctly hooked up and then sign that bad boy off. Because we’ve refined the gameplay through creating Intro Level 1 the process of creating the remaining levels should be a lot, lot faster. 

Intro Level 1 is 90% finished, but what of the last 10%? We recently did a hefty review of the game’s UI (user interface) and found a) it wasn’t up to a standard we were happy with and b) much of it had been made redundant by our work on Intro Level 1. Right now, with the new UI looking sexy and fresh, we’re in the process of re-wiring it into the game. Once this is complete, Intro Level 1 can actually be finished by the player (you’ll be able to get your reward and upgrade your agents! Huzzah!) and thus close the game loop for Salvaged.

Our progress was also slightly delayed by us upgrading the game from Unity 4 to – durm, durm durm – Unity 5! Yay! Why did we do this? Well obviously system enhancements and better performance aside (plus we simply have to be seen in the latest threads, we’re not barbarians after all), Oculus revealed that software for the Oculus Rift headset will need to be Unity 5 to run. Guess what’s an Oculus Rift launch title? Oh, that’s right, Salvaged! Yay! Thanks to the cool lighting performance of U5 creating the right visual tone for the game will be much, much easier. Our 3D guys are working on making the game look better and much more atmospheric – did I mention gun-mounted torches? I think I just did.




Mike and Lighting

Whilst building Intro Level 1 and reworking its UI three new mechanics have been designed and implemented into the game, namely: crafting, skill mastery and agent ranks. 

Crafting came about when we realised that the salvage items agents acquire across a level had very little purpose beyond being a pseudo-currency. We decided to revive an idea from way-back-when about being able to use the salvage items to craft new goodies – in this case we’re using salvage to build modified weapons and armour. Players will now have to pick and choose between selling or saving salvage – selling salvage means more funds to buy new stuff but saving it could mean building more powerful equipment – all the better for killing with, my dear. What ever will they do?

Killing lots and lots of enemies now offers some feedback beyond satiating your bloodlust. Once an agent has slain a certain amount of enemies their rank will rise from Novice to Adept to Veteran. I like this mechanic because I believe it’ll forge a stronger bond between the player and their agents – remember, Salvaged is all about the perma-death. Ranking is like the evolution of a pokémon; you fight hard and well and they grow into something stronger. That is the principle behind our ranking system. It also comes with its own rewards. Which leads me nicely onto …

Mastery! All agents have 12 skills that can be upgraded through the game. These skills range from passive skills (health, defence etc) to more aggressive skills relating to different weapon types. With the mastery system, once an agent reaches a new rank they are offered the chance to ‘master’ one of their skills. In doing so they will unlock a permanent boost to said skill. For example, mastering an agent's health skill means they’ll receive a permanent 50% bonus to their total health at every level. Groovy!




Tom UI

Aaaaaand that’s about it with where we’re at. Game development isn’t a fast process – even more so when we’re juggling multiple projects in the studio. But fear not! Salvaged is very much alive and kicking, in fact we plan to let it loose to kick down your front door before the end of the year! We’re still making a final decision about whether to release through Early Access or directly to Steam but once we’ve decided we’ll be sure to shout it from the rooftops. But not after 11pm, that’s just plain bad etiquette.

Don’t stop believing, and remember to check out our amazing audio log series if you haven't already. You can now listen to the whole series in one lovely package.

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