Ultima Ratio Regum is a middle-ground between roguelikes, RPGs and strategy games. It has no fantasy elements and seeks instead to be closer to a realistic history simulator, and a strategy/4x game which just happens to be in ASCII. Combat is rare and deadly - whilst these mechanics are modeled in detail, exploration, trade and diplomacy factors will have just as much effort put into them. URR aims to eventually be a fusion of roguelike and strategy two genres - rather than a strategy game where you command with omniscience (even in ancient eras), you instead command as an individual character also in the game. Orders must be issued in person; you can lose contact with distant armies; but the same mechanics affect the AI players who also lack omniscience and depend upon the knowledge of situations they themselves can garner. Worlds can be generated over a vast array of sizes, climates and types, but all ultimately with no fixed objective but a world full of civilizations and factions to be allied with or battled against. It aims for depth in character development and world events, but with much in the 'middle' - constructing buildings, city growth, resource management - abstracted out (as other games exist which handle those well). Political and social dynamics will be modeled via a complex system that aims to generate both a history for the world, and the current state of political affairs when your game begins.
Development resumes! Now that the first draft of my thesis is finished I’m back to working on the game properly for the next two months towards 0.5. The priority at the moment is finishing off families for each civilization. As mentioned in several previous posts, in URR you won’t be starting the game as a random peasant as in most RPGs set in a non-contemporary era, but rather you’ll be starting as part of a ruling house. This means from the start you’ll have access to a lot of things your character in other RPGs might not have, and also serves important plot reasons which will be more apparent later. The main thing I needed to finish this week was the way in which the game generates mottoes. I’ve created a system where the game has a list of adjectives, nouns etc appropriate to each icon – so as a rather obvious example, the “Gauntlet” symbol might be accompanied by “might”, “mighty”, “strength”, etc – and can then put together sentences appropriate to that shield. For shields which consist of a number of items it pools all the words into a database and then build a motto from a random selection. I don’t know how many mottoes are viable, but it’s a very large number. There are also some “special” mottoes which can be assigned to each shield which I’ve hand-written – sometimes you can tell which these are, but in some cases the motto generator is sufficiently good that even I have once or twice been unsure if a particular motto was one I wrote myself, or one the game generated!To allow you to view the kind of in-game data, I’ve now begun work on the encyclopedia. This is distinct from the guidebook – the guidebook is designed to be a very basic guide (with a minimum of hand-holding) about core game mechanics and information, but without any information about your objectives, good strategies, etc. I’ll be adding several new sections to that for this release, and for each release until (funnily enough) it’s full. The encyclopedia, by contrast, will be unique to each game, and will be constructed via in-game information each time you play. It will start off relatively empty, but the more information you gain, the more will appear. The first page of the encyclopedia currently looks like this:
I think those are all the important categories, but a couple more might be added in time. You select a category, and you get a list of everything your character knows that fits into that category. I’ve been working on implementing the civs list in the encyclopedia, and now that’s working, I’ve been adding in the family list. For the sake of testing all families generated in game are visible (and with numerical placeholder names), so the family screen currently looks like this:
To the right of the coat of arms will be other relevant information like the civilization the family belongs to, the important people within it, whether it is a ruling family, their chief interests, etc. There may be two pages of information for each family or just one with the information tightly compressed. In the game, therefore, this screen will only start with information about the families within your chosen civilization – and any others your civ has close trade/military/diplomatic contact with – and will fill up as the game proceeds.There have also been a few other developments. Nomadic and hunter-gatherer civilizations now show up on the world map when you look over them (the numerical names are naturally placeholders)…
…and each type of civilization is distinct on the map. Feudal civilizations are stripes in their flag colours (like the green/orange and the blue/cyan civs shown here), nomadic civilizations are given a zigzag pattern, while hunter-gatherer civilizations (with two-colour flags) are given solid blocks of colour, but they are generally small in size so easily identifiable without having to look over them and find out what they are. This week my objectives are to finish off everything to do with families – which means family trees, family status, and everything else that can be done in this release before I started generating cities, and therefore family dwellings, next release – and then move onto integrating religions into civilizations. I’ve been working on a generator for religions, and they are producing some very interesting names and beliefs, and with any luck I’ll be able to say more about that next week. Until next time you can keep up to date on my devblog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. The devblog is updated weekly or fortnightly generally on Saturdays, Facebook a few times a week, and the Twitter roughly daily. Any thoughts, please leave them in the comments! Stay tuned...
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