A roguelike game inspired by the literature of Jorge Borges, Umberto Eco & Neal Stephenson, and the games Europa Universalis and Dark Souls. URR aims to explore several philosophical and sociological issues that both arose during the sixteenth and seventeenth century (when the game is approximately set), and in the present day, whilst almost being a deep, complex and highly challenging roguelike. It explores questions of philosophical idealism, cryptography, linguistics and the writing and formation of the historical record, and will challenge players to hopefully think in ways and about themes that are rarely touched upon by games.

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Finishing 0.8 Part VIII

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I’ve now started work on speech variables, which is to say the parts of speech – such as “[god]” or “[rulername]” – which cannot be stored and simply reproduced, but needed to be generated each time they are called in a conversation, and will vary significantly based on context (reply, question, talking about oneself, talking about somebody else, and so forth). These are a pretty crucial part of the conversation system, since it is often through these that the player will get information about the specifics of the game world they’re exploring, and these will enable the player to ask questions about specific artworks, specific nations, and so forth, whilst ensuring that NPCs give logical replies to these kinds of enquiries. Most words are stable within one civilization: which is to say, everyone from one civilization might say “make” instead of “create”, or might be “homeland” rather than “nation”, and so forth. These give every culture a distinctive way of speaking, and in testing thus far they do come across in very unique ways. However, there are always going to be words in their sentences which have to be selected anew every time they are used, and it is these we are now tackling:

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For example, “[holybookauthor]” would refer to who wrote the holy book of a particular religion (if known); “[monasteryfield]” would refer to what particular kinds of books a monastery produces (when we have books implemented!); “[mercyears]” refers to how long a mercenary has been a mercenary (that is “merc years”, not “mercy ears”!); “[armyrole]” refers to what a particular soldier the player is talking with does in the army; and so on. Whenever anyone tries to say one of these, the game needs to be able to look up what exact phrase it should use, which means a unique set of look-ups in the game’s databases for every single one of these. It might mean checking something to do with that particular NPC – such as their age or simply what religion they worship – but it might also require the dredging-up of information from a religion, a culture, a geographical location, a series of historical events, and so forth. Given the central role of the speech system to the game and to the player’s abilities to actually gain access to the information they need, it was clearly going to be vital that these systems are detailed, comprehensive, and sufficiently varied to maintain interest over what can be a long playthrough. Equally, as above, almost all of these are going to need unique bodies of code designed to pull out the correct bit of information – and it is this I’ve worked on this week.

The most challenging task this week was, frankly, reminding myself of how the code for sentence generation works, and finding the right “place” in the code to switch out “[god]” for “the Grey Goddess of the Mountains”, or whatever. Whereas for all the last few weeks I have been primarily or entirely adding more content to (or on top of) existing systems, here I was developing some new systems. I had a bunch of comments, and most things have quite logical labels, but there was still a certain bemusement looking at the sentence generation code again and working out how everything actually slots in. Once I’d figured all this out, however, it became clear how I needed to implement these elements, and what elements should be stored and retrieved from which places in the code and the game’s data structure. Last week, I shifted the code that I vaguely call the sentence-converter, which is to say the code which takes a default sentence and then makes it sound different for each nation. This week I’ve also shifted the code which handles these new variables away from where it originally was, which didn’t make a huge amount of sense, and put it alongside the other. Now, when the game cycles through each word in a sentence to choose the correct cultural version, it will also find the sentence variables in the same process, and decide what each one should become at the appropriate time. This is a good foundation for building on next week, and I’ve already begun to sketch out some of the functions that will select the appropriate words and terms for relevant parts of sentence generation.

I have also decided that the system whereby an NPC looks at you and draws judgements about you – see this entry for more – is something that will appear in 0.9, not 0.8. This is because although one can add and remove clothing at this point, one cannot actually gain access to the clothing of other NPCs yet, because a) we have no shops or currency and b) there’s no way to ask people for clothes, have people give you other clothes, even attack people for clothes, etc. So, for now, everyone will just (correctly) believe you are from your home nation. I’ve therefore implemented a placeholder function with space for a full assessment of who they think you are, which can be easily expanded in 0.9.

Lastly, as part of this, some different NPC classes will also give you different greetings; this is part of the placeholder above, and will be expanded in 0.9, but there are now some variations in greetings according to what kind of NPC you’re talking to. A priest, therefore, is likely to comment on religion when they say hello; a servant or slave will be especially shy when they greet you; and so forth. Again, this will be expanded in 0.9 to integrate with the NPC’s judgements about who you are when you talk to them.

Next Week

Next week: with the system in place, I’ll start working on handling the variables themselves, and drawing on the appropriate information, in appropriate contexts, to complete these square-bracketed parts of NPC speech. See you all then!

Finishing 0.8 Part VII

Finishing 0.8 Part VII

News

Lots of progress this week on conversation detail, recommending other NPCs, new responses for strange topics, and more...

Finishing 0.8 Part VI

Finishing 0.8 Part VI

News

Just a short update this week with some iterative improvements, fixes, and coding optimizing; a larger update next time!

Finishing 0.8 Part V

Finishing 0.8 Part V

News

Lots of new responses for uninteresting, stupid and "suspicious" questions, bug-fixes, optimisations, etc. Read on!

Finishing 0.8 Part IV

Finishing 0.8 Part IV

News

Finally some screenshots of the speech generation, with lots of progress on questions, answers, negative responses, bored responses, and more!

Comments  (0 - 10 of 145)
Guest
Guest

Is there more to this game than just its goal about the conspiracy? Am I able to get invested in the world? Become involved in its affairs not just with quests? Maybe work for a farmer, live with him, talk to him, have things happen to this farmer that may result in some new dialogue options as the game progresses. You could do a regular job system, but I want to really feel a bond with these people, like I really belong in these places, and that I really fit in to these places.

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UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum

Hmm, thanks for the interesting question. It's not a sandbox, if that's what you're asking - it's a huge and detailed world, but also one with a distinct set of objectives and mysteries. I feel as if making another sandbox is just duplicating Dwarf Fortress, but a huge and detailed world with a totally different set of mystery-esque objectives is something very different. So you'll be able to become involved in the world's affairs, but as part of the path towards uncovering the conspiracy.

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Guest
Guest

The one game that is doing Dwarf Fortress killing the right way.

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UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum

Why thank you :). Though my objectives remain a tad different!

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XongaLonga
XongaLonga

I guess this game will not be release for PS4 and XONE because this consoles can't sustain 60fps and 4k. By the way, what is the minimum requirements? The game is playable with this specs?
CPU: i7-5870k
RAM: 64GB DDR4
GPU: 4x GeForce Titan sli

I'm just kidding. Nice job! It's amazing how this simple graphics make the game more interesting. Sometimes less is more.

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UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum

Hahaha, this comment made me laugh. Thanks! Very glad you like the graphics :)

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Monochrome_
Monochrome_

Are there any plans for releasing the source code for this in the long run? Quite frankly, the amount of complexity, effort and zeal put into this could've be used as a lesson to all gaame and roguelike programmers.

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UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum

I'm afraid not - it's closed source now and I intend to keep it that way (though I appreciate the compliment!). What's far more likely is that in a coupe of years my third/fourth academic book will be a procedural generation one.

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Vladiskov
Vladiskov

third/fourth ?

Okay, what the f***s ar the firist two about then? art desing or music? (or cooding n game desing?)

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Guest
Guest

Is this a 4X game? I'm a bit confused since a lot of sites describing it refer to it as 4X but it sounds closer to Dwarf Fortress's adventure mode. Is it like DF where there is also a strategy mode where you can control and manage one of the generated civilizations?

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UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum

It was originally envisaged as a 4X but has changed immensely, and there are some outdated sources which still say that which I haven't got around to changing. But it is much more akin to DF's adventure mode than anything 4X-esque.

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Vladiskov
Vladiskov

this as a X-4 game would be more like stellaris + more deep cultural background construction, and would be an academic game about how culture changes throught time n science discoveries, conquests, colonisation of new territories, etc o3o

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