Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stay Salty - For Now, For Always

Salty Bet Logo

     Salty Bet is the background music to your life and you do not even know it yet. The premise is deceptively simple. Take AI controlled MUGEN matches, stream them, and allow people to bet on who they think the winner will be. No real money is at stake. Instead, you are given a beginning amount of Salty Bucks, and you must bet wisely in order to climb the leaderboards.

     I played Salty Bet a few months after it's release, and found it a whole lot of fun, and very addictive. I eventually left the site after I lost a lot of Salt and then an update resulted in the loss of my original account information. I still have no idea why I cannot recover my original account. It is a little funny, but I chalk it up to changes made to the site when I was not keeping up. 

     I just recently got back on to the Salty Bet website, and in order to do this review, and in order to satiate my own gambling urges, I once again became a member of the Salty Illuminati. A basic Salty Bet account gives you the ability to wager, and a bailout, or minimum amount of Salt, that grows in accordance with the number of matches you have bet on. Check out the Salty Bet level system here. As a member of the Salty Illuminati, for $4 per month or $30 per year, I now enjoy access to character statistics, my betting record, exhibition match requests, and the ability to upgrade characters within the game.

     Salty Bet has changed in important and fun ways since I left and subsequently rejoined. Exhibition requests used to be for paying members of the Illuminati and contributors to the main Twitch page for Salty Bet. Now all Illuminati members are eligible to request exhibition matches. Previously, tournaments were held every Thursday, and they were a big to-do. Tournaments are now held every 100 matches, and betters are given a base amount of $1,250 Salt to bet with. It is the better's responsibility to turn that initial amount into the highest possible, and then it will be added to the better's regular Salt total. Regular Salt is green, while the special tournament Salt is colored purple for our convenience.

     Perhaps the biggest change is the ability for betters to purchase upgrades, or downgrades, for characters within certain tiers. Tiers? Yes, tiers. The characters in the game are now separated into different tiers in order to better balance the matches. Now it is much more of a risk to wager large amounts of Salt, and it helps create more anticipation and drama within each match. But hey, if you want to mess with the tiers, go right ahead! By spending your hard earned Salt, you can upgrade characters' life, meter, or change their palette, which apparently effects some of their stats. You can even get characters promoted to the next tier. I admit, the entire Compendium system is still a bit mysterious to me, but I look forward to learning exactly what it is that all of my new options accomplish. First, though, I must acquire lots and lots of Salt in order to afford the high costs of unlocking and then upgrading the characters. Then again, my efforts could come to nothing if the character I invested in gets deleted, but then that changeability is one of Salty Bet's charming qualities.

     I have also noticed new bots in the Twitch chat, which is always active next to the matches. In addition to the already hilarious, but often stereotypical stream chat, the bots can be issued certain commands by the stream chat. Terms such as "!song", "!mode", "!tier" and so on allow the betters access to more information about what is going on in. This sort of feature is absolutely amazing for the amount of user interaction it provides. It is medium level interactivity, but Salty Bet already has plenty for you to do and people to interact with, so medium level interactivity that is also very useful to users is truly impressive. I assume these types of commands are used in other Twitch streams. The future of gaming entertainment is happening on Twitch and I will have a great time observing how the service continues to grow.

     All of these things make Salty Bet a great amount of fun for fighting game enthusiasts and regular old gamblers. So much is automated, but the choices are interesting and the game is constantly changing in small and large ways. Salty Bet is a hidden gem of gaming because even with over four-hundred thousand accounts, the number of betters on at a single time is nowhere near that. Sure, some people are probably obsessed with Salty Bet. For most people this game is likely a diversion that will last about a month, and trust me when I say that you will really, really want to spend the $4 to make that a month of Illuminati status.

     On a more serious note, Salty Bet must operate on an assumption that the music and characters it utilizes for entertainment purposes will never reach such success that the copyright holders for those assets will interfere. So being a hidden gem of gaming has an important meaning for Salty Bet. It truly is a small community of people creating a culture around a form of entertainment that is unique in the world. That is one of the many reasons why I love it, and look forward to hosting my very own Salty Bet gathering in the near future.

     Do yourself a favor and visit Salty Bet. Please bet responsibly.

Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

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