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

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

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

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

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

Post comment Comments  (80 - 90 of 133)
Soviet_Union Oct 3 2012 says:

awww why so confusing :/

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Oct 4 2012 replied:

Haha; which bit? Or the trees as a whole? They aren't THAT complex; I was thinking about something more like an FF Sphere Grid at first...

+3 votes   reply to comment
Malcore Oct 20 2012 replied:

I'm really liking the look of those skill trees. FFX is one of my favorite games and I immediately thought of its sphere grid. Always loved that system, and I know I'll love this one!

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Oct 22 2012 replied:

Thanks! I always liked how imposing and interesting the sphere grids looked, and much depth you could see there was, and that was - on a much smaller scale - that look I was going for.

+2 votes   reply to comment
dawixx Jul 10 2012 says:

It crashes very often. Mostly when you reach a place that game needs to load, after pressing Enter game crashes without log or error.This makes game almost unplayable. Another annoying crashes are ones during combat like:
"NameError: global name 'self' is not defined
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "alphatime.pyw", line 60819, in <module>
File "alphatime.pyw", line 53606, in place_menu
File "alphatime.pyw", line 41588, in options_menu
File "alphatime.pyw", line 53612, in place_menu"
Also Quitting doesn't work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jul 10 2012 replied:

You'll have to give more info than that on the crash; that doesn't show the actual crash. Also, I've never had issues on Loading screens, and nobody else has reported any. Does it still happen in 0.1.2 (just uploaded)? If so, I'll need more information, as nobody else is getting loading problems.

+2 votes   reply to comment
dawixx Jul 10 2012 replied:

Yes it still happens on 0.1.2. During this loading screens with tips and quotes and with ones with "Saving/loading chunks" or something like this. It happens like 10% of time. The combat crashes occured twice. Once while fighting a cyclop, i think i cut his leg off or at least broke ant then choosed to attack his torso, then game crashed and that was in the log. The second time was when i started the game near the dragon and he killed me. Instant crash after pressing Esc. Without logs or something. In this verision hovewer I've experienced this:
"Assertion failed!
Program: D:\alphatime.exe
File: src/console_c.c
Line: 220
Expression: dat != ((void *)0) &&(unsigned)(x) < (unsigned)dat -> w && (unsigned)(y) <(unsigned)dat -> h"
Also I've noticed there are far too many equipment just lying around in this new version.

+3 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jul 10 2012 replied:

Ha, whoops! I forgot to change weapon spawning back (I'd only done that for testing purposes). I'll make a change at once...

Anyway - that's weird. So it crashes on both the Loading and the Saving/Loading Chunks screen. Do those leave a log? Anyway, I can't figure out why that might be, but thanks for letting me know, I'll look into it.

+2 votes   reply to comment
dawixx Jul 10 2012 replied:

No, they don't leave a log. Maybe my PC is just weird exception or maybe memory issue. Anyway It's nice that you are taking care about game, working on all those problems, replying to all that comments :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jul 12 2012 replied:

You're very welcome :). I've found the cause of the problem, and it'll be fixed for 0.1.3 on Monday!

+3 votes   reply to comment
AFellowStalker Jul 9 2012 says:

Alpha is good so far, I take it most of the skills are currently useless?

+2 votes     reply to comment
AFellowStalker Jul 9 2012 replied:

Just crashed after trying to press enter on an oasis, could not get the crash log.

+2 votes     reply to comment
UltimaRatioRegum Creator
UltimaRatioRegum Jul 9 2012 replied:

Yes to your first question (they are going to be *seriously* reworked in the not-too-distant future), and huh - that's a new one. Give me a shout if it happens again!

+2 votes   reply to comment
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Ultima Ratio Regum
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