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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I am pleased to report another productive week of coding for the books. Instead of playtesting everything I did last week, I decided to add another large body of new code, then playtest everything from the last three weeks next week instead. So, here’s the new code implemented this week:

- Most importantly we have three new elements that influence how NPCs respond to conversations: sensitive topics are “tagged” as such, NPCs are more or less inclined to respond to those sensitive topics, and they have three kinds of basic responses when explaining why they don’t want to respond to something you’ve said for personal reasons (as opposed to not knowing the information, which is factored in elsewhere, and isn’t a case of “not wanting to reply”, but rather “being unable to reply”).

- Every possible question now has what I’m loosely calling a “conversation tag”, which denotes whether it might be a sensitive topic on any of seven possible axes – “individual”, “political”, “national”, “religious”, “military”, “cultural”, “geographical”. Some of the questions will be potentially sensitive on more than one count. For example, if you ask about the politics of an NPC’s nation, that will naturally be flagged under both the “political” and “national”. Most questions have no tags, then it looks like around a third have one tag, and then a very small number have two tags or more; the most tags are questions asking people about the ideologies of their nation, which might be “political”, and “national”, and then “religious” or “cultural” or whichever other applies. What this means is that when you ask someone a question, it will check whether this is a sensitive topic, and the answer to that question will influence whether or not they are willing to give you an answer at all.

- Then the next part is inclinations – how inclined are people to tell you about potentially sensitive topics? Each NPC has a rating for religious topics, for political topics, and so forth, which varies hugely across NPC classes. This is on an internal scale of 0-4; at 0, they will rarely talk to you about a sensitive topic (of the sorts listed above), at 4 they will always talk to you (extremely rare: only national and religious leaders, and then one NPC class per category, will always tell you about X). All other classes are spread out along 1-3 (default “humans” are almost always on 0, or if not, they are on 1 instead). If you ask a non-sensitive question, whether or not they answer will be dependent on other factors (how much they like you, etc) – if you ask a sensitive question, it will check which conversation tags are listed for that question, and compare their rating.

- This might seem incredibly complex, so here’s an easy example. You ask someone about their religion. The game checks how inclined that NPC class is to talk about religious matters; a priest is very inclined, your average innkeep doesn’t have much time for religious matters, and so forth. An appropriate die is then rolled for the question; if successful (and other tests are passed, e.g. the NPC likes you enough), you get your answer. So what happens if they say they don’t want to talk about X?

- Well, I’ve split the “I don’t want to talk about X” into three categories, I’m calling “stupid”, “uninteresting” and “suspicious”, which are the reasons NPCs will give you for not wanting to give you a reply. The “stupid” option means that the NPC is baffled why you are asking them about that particular topic: for example, asking a monk about military matters, or a farmer about sculpture, or an officer about plant life, is likely to elicit this response. The “uninteresting” options is the default, and simply means the NPC doesn’t want to talk about it right now, for which they might give a bunch of reasons. The “suspicious” option means that the NPC refuses to talk on the topic, and is puzzled, concerned, worried, anxious, or most obviously suspicious about why you ask – this happens most often when happening about military matters, but can crop up for any conversation topic except the “cultural” ones.

- In some cases NPCs will give you a specific reason for not wanting to continue the conversation. If you asked about a religious topic, and they don’t want to reply, and they are from a particularly zealous nation, they might say something like “That knowledge is only for loyal followers of [god]”; or if you asked about a political topic, and they are from an isolationist nation, they might explain a dislike of talking to strangers about the politics of their homeland.

- So, a “I don’t want to reply” looks like the following. If “Uninteresting”, they say “[Sorry, I don’t want to talk about that]. [Cultural reason why not]”. If “Stupid”, they say “[Am I really the person you want to ask/I dislike that topic/why are you even asking this?]” (without cultural reason). If “Suspicious”, they say “[Cultural reason why I can’t answer. And why are you even asking?]”.

- I noticed very few questions have the “Cultural” tag – I’ll have to add some more in later versions.

So: these were the things that last week I wanted to get done this week, and they’ve been done. Very please with the week’s coding! You’ll also probably note there are a lot of elements going into how and whether NPCs reply to you. What is their mood? What culture are they from? What culture do they think you are from? What topic are you asking them about? How has the conversation previously played out? What NPC class are they? And if you’re thinking this is a lot… it is! But I think this is what goes into making a reasonably realistic, and hopefully gameplay-interesting, conversation system. When you “fail” to get a reply, for any of the above reasons, the “failure” messages are all being designed so that you know why you didn’t get a response. If the NPC didn’t reply because they don’t like you, because you’re asking about a sensitive topic, or because they dislike the nation you seem to be from, it should always be clear, and allow the player to learn what it takes to find people who are willing to talk to them, and to talk to them in an appropriate way to actually get an answer.

Next week: playtesting and screenshots!

Finishing 0.8 Part II

Finishing 0.8 Part II

News 2 comments

This week's URRpdate with NPC moods, responses, refusal to answer, boosting the variety of spoken phrases, and more!

Finishing 0.8 Part I

Finishing 0.8 Part I

News 2 comments

First URRpdate in months, and it's a big one - major progress on conversations, and it feels amazing to be back to programming.

Burnout and the Future of URR Development

Burnout and the Future of URR Development

News 10 comments

Why there hasn't been any URR development in the last few months.

Where are you from?

Where are you from?

News 1 comment

Thinking about NPCs respond to the player's clothing, style of speech, facial features, jewellery, etc...

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.

Reply Good karma+3 votes
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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