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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Normal service will be resuming next week: I’ve moved house, settled in, and started planning out the final push on NPCs, which is to say tracking all the important NPCs as they move around the map – a process which has required me to do a lot of thinking about how to code it before actually getting started (this will turn into what it is effectively a Travelling Salesman problem where the time values at certain points are unknown, which I’ll write about here in the next few weeks). Anyway, here’s a post I wrote a little while ago with some of my thoughts on the future of the Encyclopedia; next week we’ll have an URRpdate as usual.


I’ve decided to remove the Encyclopedia from URR because I increasingly feel/fear it is going to end up doing the player’s “job” for them, and because my original conception of how the Encyclopedia is/was going to work is clearly going to be a programming nightmare.

Let me explain my logic. Right now, the Encyclopedia gives the player a full overview of everything in the world, though that’s only because the game is obviously not replete with gameplay as of yet. The intention was to – either this version, or more likely the version afterwards – fundamentally change the Encyclopedia so that it only starts off with information about your nation, religion, culture, histories, etc, whilst the others remain unknown. Then, each time you uncover a little nugget of information on your quest, the Encyclopedia would update itself. So when you first discovered the name of a nation, it would add in an entry for that nation, but all the information about that nation would be displayed as “????”s (or maybe just blank regions where text could be inserted) until you found those out, and then it would be added. Equally, were you to discover some piece of information that was meaningful, but you didn’t know which nation/religion/whatever it was associated with, there would perhaps be another list of entries in the Encyclopedia without names, noting that *some nation* somewhere has a given flag, but you don’t know which nation. When the player then encountered irrefutable evidence that Flag X belonged to Nation Y, the Encyclopedia would then “conflate” these two entries into a single entry, associating Flag X with Nation Y for ever more.


However, as in the first paragraph of this entry, I increasingly realize that there are some pretty major issue with this type of system. Firstly… surely this is doing the player’s job for them? Surely if the focus of the game is uncovering these cultures and how they interact and searching for the items you seek in the maze of heresies and histories and all the rest of it… surely we should be leaving these connections to the player, and getting the player to come to recognize the nations and cultures they encounter? I fear now that codifying this type of information in the Encyclopedia will run into several major issues. Firstly, it’ll “force” the player (or at least behaviourally strongly encourage) into constantly opening the Encyclopedia to check things, rather than remembering “ah yes, this is Nation X, I encountered some of their emissaries before”. Secondly, the player might not actually notice a useful bit of information, but if the Encyclopedia then updates, it tells the player that piece of information is useful! It seems to me this second one presents a major issue. Thirdly, there’s a question of what information the Encyclopedia should show. To stick with the nation example, should it show the national flag? The national dress? The national style of shoe? What vases in that nation look like? There has to be a line drawn somewhere, because if you want the Encyclopedia to potentially list everything about a given nation, you risk basically reproducing everything about that nation and leaving nothing in the actual game.

So, those are the gameplay issues. There is also a programming issue, which is that I increasingly realize this type of tracking – and perhaps most imporantly, getting the game to notice when a useful piece of information has been “seen” and then updating the appropriate Encyclopedia page – is (or would have been) a horrifying nightmare. This is a secondly concern to the gameplay, of course – if I still thought this was a good method I would certainly have done it – but it still matters somewhat.


What’s the alternative? Well, I think I’ll keep the Encyclopedia in for 0.8 and probably 0.9. Whilst the world is “open”, I think it only enhances the game to be able to see everything at the start and give new players some impression of the size/scale/scope/variation of the planet and the variation of its cultures. However, a little further down the line – shall we say 0.10? – I’m now 99% sure that I’m going to remove it permanently, and rely two things. Firstly, the player’s ability to become familiar with the interconnected world they find themselves in; and secondly, crucially, an alternative to the Encyclopedia (maybe a “Journal” or something of that sort) which records every piece of information the player character sees/hears/experiences, but not the significance of it. With this model you can once more view/read everything of note you have ever looked at/seen, but it doesn’t tell you *what does/does matter.* So once you’ve read a book, you can forever “look up” the information in that book (so it basically as if the player character has an eidetic memory). Therefore, this will be a replacement Encyclopedia where you browse “books”, “clothes”, “paintings”, and the like, but you do not browse information about “nations”, “religions”, “cultures”, since that’s what you’re piecing together. Equally, I'll also work on a system whereby the player can "tag" certain items in their viewed history as things they think are relating to a particular riddle, and then browse according to tags and assess the data they have and what else might fit into that category.

Therefore: the Encyclopedia will survive 0.8 and 0.9, and then be replaced by this new version which records player character experience but leaves understanding up to the player – which is surely the whole point of the idea of the game and the riddle(s) hidden across the world’s cultures! For now, however, the Encyclopedia will remain to assist players as we go through the worldbuilding -> gameplay transition in looking around the world, getting some grasp on its detail/complexity, etc. See you all next week for the resumption of normal service!

Thoughts on "disguise" and "lying" mechanics

Thoughts on "disguise" and "lying" mechanics

2 weeks ago News 1 comment Report

Some ideas for the very near future and the ability to disguise oneself as belonging to a certain culture/religion.

Scheduling, World Travel, NPC Replacement

Scheduling, World Travel, NPC Replacement

1 month ago News 6 comments Report

Working on world travel, replacing NPCs, schedules, and what I'm semi-seriously calling "quantum scheduling"...

“Stationary” NPCs – Priests, Guards, Shopkeepers, Jailers, Mercenaries

“Stationary” NPCs – Priests, Guards, Shopkeepers, Jailers, Mercenaries

1 month ago News 6 comments Report

Major further progress on NPC generation and scheduling!

Crowds, Slums, Pathfinding, Campfires, Demographics, Priests, etc

Crowds, Slums, Pathfinding, Campfires, Demographics, Priests, etc

1 month ago News 0 comments Report

A massive URRpdate with new graphics, NPC systems, mechanics and more.

Post comment Comments  (40 - 50 of 133)
Guest Mar 2 2014 says:

I wanna play naaaooow... you can even have my money if you want !!!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Mar 2 2014 replied:

Haha, thank you! Having been developing this entirely in my spare time for the last three years, I'm thinking of a Kickstarter so I can spend a year working on the game full time. Check back in a month or so :).

+2 votes   reply to comment
Spacew00t Mar 4 2014 replied:

I'd plop down a good 25 USD for this game! That art style alone... it's crazy how well you've translated the ASCII experience!

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Mar 5 2014 replied:

Well thank you! That really means a lot. I'm still working on the specifics as I'm trying to come up with some more interesting rewards than "your name goes into the name generator database!", and I think I've come up with some good ones...

+1 vote   reply to comment
El_Primeministere Mar 8 2014 replied:

Wow good to see this on ModDB (Or whatever the other 'sister site' you can view this on is called), I remember e-mailing you a while ago with some questions pertaining to Python 2.7 and converting it to an .exe. Still looking forward to this a lot :)

Also, it's nice to see you have so much patience for something like this, 3 years is a long time!

+1 vote     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Mar 8 2014 replied:

Three years is a scary length of time, there's no doubt about it! I'd say we're approaching the 1/4 point :).

+2 votes   reply to comment
Guest Jun 9 2014 replied:

This comment is currently awaiting admin approval, join now to view.

UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jun 9 2014 replied:

Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I realize that if I decide to do one, that is a full-time thing for the duration of the month. I do intend to contact some people who've run them - I do know one individual in person who was part of a very, very successful one, but I'm also going to give a few others a shout too. So am I! Thanks for following this far, though :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
SaschaWillems Jun 3 2013 says:

Just wanted to download the last release from your blog, but it seems the download links are broken.

Instead of links I only get [wpdm_file id=26] (which I guess is the link format for your wordpress download plugin ;) )

Any chance of fixing them so people can take a look at the game?

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jun 3 2013 replied:

Looks like you tried in the one minute earlier when I was updating the site's plugins! They're back up now :). This version has been out about six months, and the next version is due out in a month or so.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Sphyrna Mar 10 2013 says:

Seeing the screenshots, I am immediately reminded of Dwarf Fortress.
I am thoroughly interested how Ultima Ratio Regum will turn out to be.

+3 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Mar 12 2013 replied:

Glad you like the look of it :).

+2 votes   reply to comment
Arethrid Mar 6 2013 says:

I am kinda hoping to see a playable demo or at least a video of gameplay sometime soon (If actually there's one that I might have missed, please do tell me).
I love the idea of proceduraly generated graphic elements. Procedural game environments are something most gamers are familiar with but I belive procedural graphics that is as stylistic as pre-designed assets is something yet to be explored.
Being a programmer myself, I am always interested to see what other programmers can come up with procedural generation algorithms. I like watching the development of this project not only from a gamer's perspective but also from a programmer's technical perspective.

+3 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Mar 7 2013 replied:

There's a playable version on the site with my development blog atm, though it's mostly in early alpha - you can walk around and look at the world, but little else. 0.3 which I'm working on now will have the first 'gameplay'. Glad you like the idea - I totally agree that it's a relatively new/unexplored one, which is a big reason why I'm so keen to do it. The talk I'm going to give at the conference is actually about this kind of generation, both in terms of art/graphics and coding, so I'll be sure to post up a link or something about it when the video's up. Though there will probably be updates before then on the same topic...

+2 votes   reply to comment
Arethrid Mar 8 2013 replied:

I found the demo in your blog after posting the comment above.
Looking forward to that conference video.

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Ultima Ratio Regum
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Ultima Ratio Regum
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