Welcome blog readers! This post is intended to give up-to-date info about the current state of Ultima Ratio Regum and my initial plans, and to let you – wise, well-traveled blog-readers that you are – tell me what features you’re most interested in seeing.
The alpha currently looks like this (click either to enlarge):
Currently, the initial alpha has four key focuses. They are as follows:
Currently, all creatures in the game, player and AI alike, consist of a large number of body parts – heads, arms, torsos, legs, wings. The system I’m using allows any number of each body part be added to a create – say, three heads for a Hydra, or six arms for a Naga, or eight legs for a giant spider – and the game works things out based on this information, such as: how many legs does it need to walk?; how many weapons can it hold?; and similar. This relates to what counts as a kill – if a creature has one head, it only takes one broken neck or one shattered skull to slay it. More heads means a tougher foe.
By time of release, I hope to have perhaps a dozen different species (with their own subtypes, classes, etc) wandering around the overworld, and, hopefully, in dungeons. Depending on what people say, this variety could be a key focus for the early alphas. However, I am inclined to keep the number of creatures relatively small until you can recruit the intelligent ones and tame the animal ones properly…
Creatures will aim at whichever part of their foe’s body they think is most damaged. The player, on the other hand, has free choice of which body part to aim for, the success of which (as with creatures) is dependent on Dexterity. Body parts are not just “arms” and “legs” and the rest – each breaks down into many smaller component parts. A head, for example, can consist of all or few of: flesh, a skull, horns, eyes, ears, a neck, a jugular, and a windpipe. Damage is handled appropriately – a slashed jugular fountains blood, while total loss of eyes results in blindness. I am uncertain, thus far, how you – and other creatures – can regain lost limbs if they have time to heal themselves after a battle. Anyway – the alpha focus is on the depth of combat involving damage to flesh, damage to bone, damage to body parts, how damage to difference areas affects how you/a creature perform in combat.
You can also pin things to trees with a halberd, or knock them into a river with a battleaxe lodged in their skull, down which their corpses might subsequently float.
Creatures will regroup, assess the battlefield, charge, flee, berserk, pick up and drop items, exchange armor, manage their ammunition, and more. A group from the same species fighting in unison will follow the orders of whichever of them is considered the ‘leader’. If not the player, the leader will be the creature they consider the most impressive – this is another potential focus for the alpha. I want to have creatures rising and falling within their own civilizations based on how impressive (or not!) their deeds are. If you are leading a group – recruiting allies has been greatly simplified for this first alpha – you are able to give commands to those under you, who will in turn give commands to their underlings. Again – if people think this sounds like an interesting focus, it’ll get more initial work. AI and army management will nevertheless be a central focus of the game in the long run.
- User Interface.
This is one I want a lot of feedback on. For any complex game – and therefore, any roguelike – a good UI to tell the player everything they need to know quickly and efficiently is vital. In Ultima Ratio Regum, you can view the condition of the body parts and armor of any creature (yourself included) that you investigate using the ‘Query’ function. You also get information about their alignment, faction, species etc, but that’s all in the very early stages. Key mappings cannot currently be changed, but I think they’re all pretty logical (‘e’ for eat, ‘w’ for wield, etc). Still – as the game becomes more complicated, I want to keep the UI as smooth and easy to use as possible.
So, those are the four major points I’m focusing on for the initial release before the end of this year. The initial question, therefore, is – do any of these strike you, reader, as being particularly worthy of initial attention? Which need trialing early? Which can wait? And is there any one of them you think looks the most important? While I hope to get all four to a reasonable standard before the end of the year, one in particular can certainly become the main goal if many people argue for it.
Beyond the first release, and those four major goals, there are other objectives. Again – opinions on which of these people want to see first would be great.
Currently, you cannot ride anything. Riding will both increase your effective health – since some hits will hit your steed – allow you hit higher off the ground against tall creatures, and potentially allow you to move faster, depending on how I get the speed system worked out. You will obviously be able to ride horses, but also a variety of other creatures you might tame.
- Siege weapons.
Ballistas, catapults, trebuchets galore! Load them with whatever you want; rocks for damage; burning pitch to set things on fire; or the corpses of your foe’s allies to devastate their morale.
- Taming creatures.
Just as intelligent creatures can be recruited, some animals can be tamed. The process will likely involve tracking them down, providing them with corpses or animals to hunt, aiding them, all the while making sure they don’t decide to take a bite out of you. Trying to tame the stronger wild creatures could prove interesting…
- Initial magic.
While basic spells like ‘fireball’ and ‘magic mapping’ will exist – at least, for the time being – I have planned complex systems for necromancy, geomancy, pyromancy and hydromancy. Generalized magic will come first, and the other four will come after. Only certain classes of certain creatures will be able to use magic – it will be a relatively rare, high-level endeavor. At least, beyond those basic spells.
- World generation.
World generation is currently basic. It includes ruins, mountains, land, forest and oceans, but they do not structure themselves in a particularly logical manner. In order to improve this, I think I will significantly need to rework the way maps are stored, which is proving difficult. Anyway – eventually I want both a greater variation in landscape, and a logical progression between deserts and plains, tundra and taiga, etc. Species and their cities will spawn in their appropriate areas.
Villages will be small, contained, and can be ruled by any number of different things – a powerful member of their own species, a member of another species, a worshiped creature who resides nearby, a demonic creature, or anything else. Some villages might contain people secretly practicing necromancy; others might harbor escaped fugitives; others might be under the thumb of a larger empire nearby; or anything else. I will likely implement villages prior to cities, but I’m not certain.
Cities will be few and far between – perhaps only three or four per world generation. They will be large, contain a high number of creatures from their respective species, and be an obvious hub for player activity. In a way, the number of cities can only become higher once a superior map system is resolved which allows me to store much larger worlds.
Whether on your own, in an army, or leading an army, you need food, water, and shelter to survive. The larger the focus, the greater the logistical requirements. Even if you’re on your own, you’ll need a fire to keep warm and ward off creatures; food and water to survive; and ammo, and… everything else an adventurer needs. This will be a big move towards realism, and towards the ‘strategy’ aspect once you get an army up and running.
At first, a player starting a game will be on their own. Then, you can join an existing army and fight in their campaigns. Then, if you survive and rise up the ranks, you can lead an army. This is a big one. As soon as this becomes a little more complex, the easy alpha ability to recruit allies will be removed, and you will instead be able to find a military to enlist in. Or, y’know, don’t, and go around in a band of vagabonds. Whatever takes your fancy.
And so, without further ado, here endeth the consultation. If you want to be kept updated, you can read this weekly devblog, join the Facebook group, the mailing list or follow the game’s twitter at UltimaRegum and be notified the moment the alpha appears!
Coming Monday 17th: Weapons. Lots of weapons.
Coming Monday 24th: Options for a new player, and embarking on your adventure.