A semi-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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Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: 2014 Retrospective

2 comments by UltimaRatioRegum on Dec 27th, 2014

And thus, 2014 draws to an end. What did 2014 mean for URR, for my experience of making URR and everything that happened this year, and where does this mean this game and blog and all the rest of it will be going from here?

2014 began immediately after 0.4, my unwise attempt to introduce gameplay before the game was ready for it. Although I was reasonably happy with what you could do in Ziggurats, it lacked any real spark when the world was otherwise so empty, and I realized that it was time to finish off the worldbuilding before actually trying to add any more gameplay (only one release to go!). At this point I turned to fleshing out the detail of the world, and creating a space to interact with that should be every bit as dense, nuanced, and sometimes idiosyncratic, as the real world of a couple of hundred years ago.


From this work I released 0.5 in April, which gave us history generation, a vastly improved world map, religions, coats of arms and families, religion and civilization detail, and was the first release that took place after I finally figured out what the game was actually going to be about! I was very happy with this release, and a lot of people who had previously been sitting on the fence about whether or not I was ‘committed’ to finishing the game were persuaded at this point. Success!


This also pointed the way to the next release: making all these cities, towns, farms, settlements, fortresses and so on actually explorable, rather than just icons on the world map which told you “You can explore these in the next release!”. So, 0.6 began, and ended up being the longest release I’ve ever done, but also by far the largest. The amount of content in 0.6 is probably equal to, if not more than, all the other releases put before it (especially since 0.1/2/3, back in the day, were basically my attempts to figure out how to program a game whilst also programming a game, an approach which may have been a tad unwise). I committed to making every district unique, every fortress generate according to its own algorithm, and basically maximizing as best I could the length of time until players could/would become “used to” what they were seeing. This process isn’t finished yet, and 0.7 and 0.8 will both contribute heavily to this, but it’s a major development along the path of making URR as dense and varied a world as I want it to be.

Released a couple of weeks ago, 0.6 is the first release that I feel stands on its own, even as just a detailed ‘world simulator’ at this point. Although naturally the four planned releases for 2015 should be great and introduce some gameplay, I don’t feel the need right now to keep telling people “but just wait until the next version!” when they look at 0.6. It gives a good impression of the kind of world we’re dealing with, and something about the kind of game that’ll take place within it, and I’m very happy with that.


It was also during this year that I finally realized that Science and Technology Studies (STS), the field of my doctoral research of the last few years, was not where I wanted to be, and that game studies most definitely was. The first thing I ever did in this field was a presentation on the semiotics of roguelikes (which I am currently writing up into a full journal paper) which I gave at the Canadian Game Studies Association Conference, and the response to this (and my overall experience there) cemented for good my shift to game studies. As such, although right now I’m putting the final touches to my doctorate (submission mid-January, at long bloody last), all my other academic work is now on games. I’m incredibly happy that I’ve made this shift, that my early work has got such a positive response, and indeed that a number of people within game studies have shown an interest in URR themselves. I love the possibility of academic/creative crossover in my work, and we’ll have to see where this goes from here.

Lastly, you may notice a NEW BUTTON (www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/support) on the menu at the top of the blog. This is the first step towards redoing/reworking this website over the course of 2015, and is a response to the very generous comments from lots of people who want a way to directly support the game. That contains a link to a donation button, but more importantly, I note on that page that I would actually much prefer that people support the game by ‘spreading the word’ than direct monetary support (though I certainly do appreciate that immensely). So, if you like what’s going on at the moment, and what I’ve got planned for my year (roughly) of full-time development over 2015, please give it a look and see if you’d like to give me a hand spreading the word of this glorious Scientific Revolution world to every corner of the internet.

In the mean time, I hope everyone has a great new year – I’ll be back next weekend with a post about my plans for the coming year and, indeed, the coming five years, and then regular URRpdates and the odd game analysis piece will return to normal the week after that. In the mean time, you can keep up to date on my devlog, Facebook page, or Twitter. See you then!

Post comment Comments  (90 - 100 of 125)
samtam99
samtam99 May 21 2012, 8:36am says:

Just wanted to let you know that I've been following this project for quite a while and I like what I've seen. I like it a lot, especially the focus on making the world as dynamic as possible. I'm rather puzzled by the total lack of built-in quests, though: wouldn't it be better, maybe in the future, to use this advanced AI and world simulation system to implement quests which actually take advantage from those features, maybe with multiple paths, choices and consequences? I've always felt that, in most RPGs (even those more focused on giving players multiple ways to proceed through the game, such as Arcanum and the two Fallouts) most actions made by the player have little to no impact on the gameworld and, most importantly, the PC is the only active entity (actually, NPC parties acting against the player *have* been implemented before in Wizardry VII, but sadly that's the only instance I know of a similar feature making its way into a finished game). So it would be quite an achievement to finally have a RPG with an advanced world simulation system which, at the same time, features complex, branching quests and multiple ways to advance through the game.

Anyway, keep up the good work, because this is really looking amazing.

+3 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum May 22 2012, 8:10am replied:

Firstly, thanks a lot :). As for your specifics - I think it depends on what we mean by quests. There will be 'quests' in the sense of objectives (say, Empire X would like King Y assassinated) but they won't give you a QUEST for it; instead, the information is out there, and completing it will give you a reward, but by the same token, any NPC who does it will get the reward instead. You won't have a quest journal, but rather a kind of 'web' of alliances/allegiances you know about, and therefore allow you to consider how you might influence them. As you say, often the player character is the only entity who really does something, and I want to change that; ideally, I'd like to have the world in a condition where it can actually 'play' itself without the player doing anything. If you choose to spend the whole game, say, living in the woods and never going near a city, empires will still rise/fall etc around you as NPCs do the 'quests' instead. Cheers! First release of basic alpha is definitely looking on-track for end of June...

+2 votes   reply to comment
Jakwattack
Jakwattack Apr 21 2012, 9:04pm says:

If this game doesn't have retarded fish monkeys as starting allies then there will be hell to pay

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum May 11 2012, 4:19pm replied:

There are no fish monkeys of any description, I'm afraid :(. You can pick what items to start off with, though, so instead of an ally, you could start with some nutritious apples instead?

+2 votes   reply to comment
Jakwattack
Jakwattack May 12 2012, 8:09am replied:

I shall start with fish then

+3 votes     reply to comment
AFellowStalker
AFellowStalker Apr 7 2012, 11:09am says:

New update... any day now...

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Apr 8 2012, 7:55pm replied:

There have been lots of updates on the blog! A new IndieDB update is on the way, though. Probably this coming week :).

+2 votes   reply to comment
bloodyraoul
bloodyraoul Jan 3 2012, 11:36am says:

do you plan to make a graphical version of the game ?

0 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jan 4 2012, 5:42am replied:

This IS the graphical version : )
Basically, no, I intend to stick with ASCII. I find graphical tilesets for games like this really diminish from the gameplay, and simply don't look as good. I'm sure I'll put in the option for adding one, but I don't plan to make one.

+3 votes   reply to comment
Glarg
Glarg Jun 3 2012, 6:00am replied:

I would suggest you to look at Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup's recent poll regarding the graphical version. Many people feel differently than you. I would encourage you not to deliberately cripple your game with an interface that only a small group appreciate.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Glarg
Glarg Jun 3 2012, 5:58am replied:

What a shame you feel that way. I hate looking at ascii, makes me feel blind.

It was fine for games like ZZT, but the games people are making nowdays just have too much information to present to be adequately represented by a wall of abstract symbols.

+3 votes     reply to comment
CumQuaT
CumQuaT Jan 21 2012, 3:51am replied:

I'm glad to see you're sticking traditional! Not enough people develop proper roguelikes these days!

+4 votes     reply to comment
gauge632
gauge632 Apr 14 2012, 3:56pm replied:

too right :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Ultima Ratio Regum
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