Paper, Laws, Political Parties, List Questions

This week (well, fortnight) we have some laws, some new list questions, some political parties, overall a reasonably large entry to make up for silence last week, and a paper, so let’s get to it:

Semiotics of Roguelikes

Firstly and briefly, the paper I wrote a couple of years ago now on the semiotics of various ASCII roguelike games has moved from being published online to being published with in actual edition/volume of Games and Culture. To mark this momentous event, I’ve uploaded a pre-submission version of the paper onto my academia.edu account, so if you’re interested in reading the paper – the abstract is below here – then click here and give it a read, and do let me know what you think.

This article explores the semiotics of the “roguelike” genre. Most roguelikes reject contemporary advances in graphical technology and instead present their worlds, items, and creatures as American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) characters. This article first considers why this unusual graphical style has endured over time and argues that it is an aesthetic construction of nostalgia that positions roguelikes within a clear history of gameplay philosophies that challenge the prevailing contemporary assumptions of role-playing games. It second notes that the semantic code for understanding the ASCII characters in each and every roguelike is different and explores the construction of these codes, how players decode them, and the potential difficulties in such decodings. The article then combines these to explore how such visuals represent potential new ground in the study of game semiotics.

Violence Laws

The game now generates a full set of laws for violence in each nation. These are not done in quite the same way as the other two sets of laws. Whereas “religion” and “trade” have a set number of values and each value always create a law in every nation, not all nations will even have some of the violence laws. It depends on the ideologies of the nation in question, and what they consider to be a meaningful violent event, and how severe they think it is. The game selects a set of laws, ranks them, and then distributes punishments according to the ranking of the crime, not the crime itself. Here is the sequence by which the game selects laws for violent acts, where the ones that a nation cares about the most come first, and the less important ones come later. As a result, you’ll see some very different values at play here, and what counts as a severe punishment in one nation will be far less severe in another, because it will be much further down the crime list, as a result of the nation being more concerned by other things:

If I’ve calculated this correctly, this means the shortest set of violence laws is five, and the longest possible set is thirteen, with most nations naturally falling somewhere in the middle. In each case the top crimes merit a “Punishment 5”, which is the highest level of punishment – such as three arena battles to the death, or a lengthy imprisonment, or a severely damaging physical ordeal – and the bottom will merit a “Punishment 1”, and the others in the middle will be distributed appropriately. I’m confident this will again generate an interesting and unique set of consequences for your actions in each nation, and when coupled with the wide variation in punishments, and the kinds of punishments that your character might or might not be able to withstand depending on your build, items, etc… I think some very interested decisions will emerge from this process.

More List Questions

Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Children

NPCs are now able to talk about their parents, siblings, grandparents and children, in a pretty wide range of ways. For instance, if you ask about parents, they might simply answer that their parents are nobody important (if they feel you’re disinterested, or of a much higher social status), or might name only one, or both; alternatively, if their parents are consequential people recorded by the game, or they are important, then they’ll probably have some more info they’ll (proudly) be willing to give out. For the longer lists, the game also takes account of the sex of the people being mentioned, so they might say “My two brothers are X and Y and my sister is Z”, or “My maternal grandparents are X and Y, my paternal grandparents are A and B”, which will also vary based on any particular bias towards either sex present in that nation; for extremely long lists, lastly, such as children or siblings, they can now reel off a full list that is always grammatically correct. These lists also include titles, too, so you might get “My mother was Queen X the 1st, Keeper of the Brass Casket, and my father was Prince Y, Consort to Her Majesty” – or whatever.

Trade, Violence, Religion Laws

We covered these briefly in a previous entry, but NPCs are now able to tell the player about everything in these categories. Some of these require different lines of code, as in the case of trade and religion laws there is a finite set of “things” that each nation will have laws on, whereas for violence, some potential violent acts simply won’t be recognised or won’t be relevant to particular nations, and therefore won’t be there. Either way, people now give you a nicely detailed list of these laws; and as with everything, how much people tell you will be modified by mood, and their knowledge of their own nation…

Nearby Things

I’ve started to implement the code for NPCs replying to questions of the sort “are there any X nearby”, where X might be cities, towns, nomads, tribal nations, mountains, coastline… you get the idea. There’s a pretty wide number, and some of them have to request information from different parts of the game’s databases, but this code is now being put into place. There are also now appropriate sentence structures here for people to word things appropriately; for instance, if there are individual things, such as towns, you’ll just get a list. By contrast, mountains do not take up individual map tiles but stretch across mountain ranges, so someone might say “There are mountains far and very far to the northwest, far to the north, and somewhat far to the northeast”, which should give the player a decent impression of what the mountain range looks like. (The same then applies to deserts and coasts and so on).

Political Parties

Returned to political parties and developed names for the parties, which will soon be matched up delegates, and we should be able to get some kind of political system actually working. The game first selects a number of parties for each nation, which is semi-random and partly influenced by several ideological factors (outside of their commitment to a democratic form of government), and then (as we discussed before) ranks the various overall trends in the nation, such as individualism or collectivism, nationalism or globalism, and so forth. It then creates parties for the dominant trends, and sometimes with a secondary ideology from lower down in that chart, and now it finally creates names. As such, we can now find NPCs who might be willing to tell you about parties such as:

The Liberal Sovereignty Party
The Party of Enlightenment
The Conservative National Party
The Devout Singular League
The One Reformist Party
The Association of Independent Selfhood

And so on and so forth. As with most things in URR, you should be able to extrapolate some reasonable guesses about the commitments of these parties from their names. In a later version I’ll connect these to delegates, and get the political system in democratic nations working properly.

Next Week

As you’ll have noticed, we’ve slipped back to a fortnightly update this time – although I’m generally back to a post every weekend, this last week has again just been absolutely jam-packed, and I had to push things back. However, hopefully, updates will resume the weekend model from next weekend moving forwards, and I promise lots of screenshots next week. I must apologise for this, but leaping back into the weekly blog posting has been quite a bit new pressure on my time, and although I thought I could go from sparse blog posts to every week: it hasn’t been quite that easy. Things are ramping back up, but maybe just a little more unevenly than I’d hoped. I am also working on finishing my first book at the moment, which is of course taking up a lot of my time, as well as planning how best to get around the world and take up three visiting positions in three countries in the coming months, so there’s a lot of admin in my brain at the moment. I’m desperately hoping to get 0.8 before April, as otherwise that’ll be a ridiculous two years between release… and that’s just too damned long, however much detail I’m putting in to this major version. Nevertheless, normality should resume again next week, with hopefully an even more significant URRpdate. See you all then!

Basic Conversations, Relics, Traits, Laws, Next Six Months

Another big update this week! (Isn’t it great to see URR development actually moving fast? At least, I think it is). As mentioned last week, I prioritised getting the basic conversation system totally finished this week, which is to say the ability to ask any question to any NPC, and get a logical reply, or at least the outline of a logical reply with some variables (like “[nation]”) that need to be filled in later. We had a lot of progress, and almost, but not quite, got there. But don’t worry! Other essential stuff for this release has been done instead of focusing 100% on the basic conversation system; we have still moved much closer to release in the last seven days, albeit in a slightly unexpected direction, by adding a range of other world detail that NPCs will shortly need to draw on when they reply to the player. I can also now finally announce some pretty big and very exciting changes to my life coming in the next six months, some projects ending, some new projects on the new, and what this all means for URR in the next half-year. Read on!

Basic Conversations Almost Finished

Basic conversations have been developed further this week, with NPCs now responding correctly to almost 100% of the large number of “option” queries they can be asked – which is to say, questions that need to draw on some other information and are fundamentally different depending on the outcome of that information, rather than simply being sentences which say “My homeland is X”, in a context where all NPCs will always have the same basic answer to that question. Option queries need to draw on a range of traits in most cases (within the NPC) and a range of broader cultural and religious elements (outside the NPC), and most of this code needs to be hand-written for every possible question, making it a fairly substantial piece of work. From these screenshots you can see that some bits of wording still need tweaking, but I want to stress, these are totally random selections from the hundreds of possible questions; although they aren’t perfect, I’m still extremely pleased with how these look right now, how much variation there is, and the fact that only some fairly minimal tweaks remain to be done to some minor typos, plurals, that type of thing. (Both of these is me talking to the first character I find, hence why I’m clearly talking to people from the same civilisation as me for the sake of these tests):

Irrelevant Replies

This week I have also begun implementing “irrelevant” replies – meaning things like “I have no religion” as a response to “What is your religion?”, and so forth – which apply when an NPC is asked a question they have no valid answer to, or is entirely irrelevant. This means a massive range of potential answers, some of which are specific to the question – such as “I have no siblings” – whereas others are more puzzled. An NPC might be asked about a painting they couldn’t possibly know of, for instance, in which case they would say “I do not know of that painting”. There’s close to a hundred of these irrelevant replies, all of which (like everything else) need to vary between cultures and individuals. Some of these require quite complex sentences, although others are relatively simple, but this has definitely need a substantial task. I’ve now put about fifty percent of these in place, and NPCs do correctly use them, too! Of course, in some cases NPCs can’t yet give the correct responses – the coding for siblings isn’t in there yet, so everyone just says they have no siblings – but the code for generating a sentence once siblings are present is in place. Dealing with these kinds of familial relationships and the answers to some of the more complex questions will come partly before the release of 0.8, and partly in the speedy 0.9.

Traits

Added some new traits this week, with a focus on four elements that will influence substantially what NPCs know (and what NPCs can tell the player) about the world around them. These are all affected by the individual classes of NPC – generally speaking someone who is likely to be wealthier and better-educated is likely to know more, but there is also significant variation written into the system, and the knowledge of individual NPCs (regardless of their NPC class) is then varied further by ideological preferences of their homeland. For instance, people from an internationalist nation will tend to know more about foreign matters; people from a nation with a system of vassalage will know more about their own nation than average; those from a bartering nation will know less about history, as few records are kept; those from a free trade nation will know more geography, as they travel to trade; and so forth.

geography_knowledge

How much the NPC knows about the surrounding area. This doesn’t mean the nations and peoples and so forth, but rather purely a question of physical geography – nearby mountains, nearby roads, coastlines, deserts, animals, plants, and the like. Affected

history_knowledge

How much the NPC knows about the history of the world (inevitably heavily, but not exclusively, focused on their own nation). This means their ability to talk to the player about the historical events they are familiar with, how many events they are familiar with, and also knowledge about historical artworks, people, places, and so forth.

national_knowledge

How much the NPC knows about their own nation – where things are, who lives there, where towns and monasteries and mines and so forth are and what’s within them, information about important people, etc.

foreign_knowledge

How much the NPC knows about other nations; their locations, capitals, ideologies, religious beliefs, leaders, famous people, practices, etc. As with all the above, this varies across NPC classes, and is then modified by ideological beliefs of the nations in question.

Relics

I’ve implemented the first part of the generation system for religious relics, which needed to go in now so that NPCs could actually talk about them. Naturally the image generation for these will take place at a later date, but for the time being the game can generate the names of religious relics, a little bit of information about them, and who they were originally owned by. Each religion will only ever create two kinds of relics, depending on their beliefs, and these fall into a randomly-chosen “major” and “minor” category. For instance, a religion might primarily produce “Crown” relics, but sometimes have a small number of “Bone” relics; or a religion might focus on “Book” relics with a small number of “Weapon” relics; and so on and so forth. Each has a unique generation system for selecting its name, and we can now end up with relic names like the following:

Twisting Key of Monn’morra
Slender Ring of Saint Ynnop
Wooden Garland of Grey Fox Running the Sacred
Orangejaw Moonblizzard’s Holy Engraved Locket
Fi-Un-Gat’s Pitted Skull
Consecrated Pointed Sceptre of Ibimmom, Sly Rose

The game also now keeps track of how many relics need to spawn in each church (which varies across different kinds of religious building) and ensures that an appropriate number will always appear. Generating the images for these is going to be a lot of fun, but isn’t going to come until 0.10 or somewhere beyond. Anyway, these are now in place, so NPCs will shortly be able to talk intelligently about relics, and specific relics will now be tied to specific reliquaries in specific churches and cathedrals!

Laws and Punishments

Three of the “list” questions (questions where the answer is often of the kind “A, B, C and D are examples of the X”) relate to the particular laws of a particular nation regarding various topics – currently “violence”, “trade”, and “religion” are the three listed in there. This means that nations now generate laws in each of these categories, and a set of punishments, and then assigns punishments to each broken law depending on the severity of the crime (as the nation sees it). Laws and punishments on trade are determined almost entirely by trade policy, but a nation’s perspective on smuggling is also affected by a range of other ideologies; “violence” laws are determined by a wide range of ideologies from across the eight main categories; “religion” laws are naturally primarily determined by the religious policy of the nation, with a few inputs from a couple of other policies.

To take trade as the example, there are now five possible laws that a nation can enact:

District Entry: how much money (if any) it costs to enter a district in the capital.
City Entry: how much money (if any) it costs to enter the capital city.
Foreign Goods: how much extra taxation is put on foreign goods (light, middling, heavy).
Black Markets: whether black markets are tacitly accepted or not, and if not, the punishment for using one.
Smuggling: the level of punishment for those caught smuggling/with smuggled goods.

Each of these then, if appropriate for the ideologies of that nation, has a value assigned to it. When punishments come into play, punishments now vary according to the five possible justice ideologies. I’m not quite clear on how the “Ordeal” justice policy is going to work out, so I haven’t really developed that element yet, but the other four now work nicely. The Frontier policy imposes fines on those caught breaking the law; the Vigilantism policy will see those breaking the law hunted by the general public, who for lesser crimes will demand items in recompense, or injury, or will hunt to the death in the case of severe crimes, the Penitentiary policy imposes a range of prison sentences, and the Gladiatorial policy involves battles to first blood for lesser crimes, and fatal battles for greater crimes. There is also something of the god system from DCSS here; I wanted to develop these in such a way that they would seriously affect the player’s actions in the future, and which nations they choose to take actions in, when they keep in mind what the potential ramifications are. Justice policies should now have a substantial effect on player decisions once implemented –  and, of course, NPCs can now talk about them, listing all the policies that are worth talking about in the area in question.

Next Six Months

In other news, some big changes are happening, which are going to lead to some very exciting things. Firstly, I’m leaving my position as a postdoc at the Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York – although keeping my current secondment as a Researcher in Residence at the UK Digital Catapult – and taking up a new six-month postdoctoral position at Goldsmiths, University of London, to study paper puzzles (crosswords, Sudoku, etc), and those who play them, design them, implement them, with a view to developing a new set of paper puzzles that might one day be able to challenge Sudoku in national and international print newspapers. Such an outcome is obviously an immensely ambitious goal, but that’s one of the many things that attracts me so much to this project; the potential to make such a big impact into the game-playing lives of so many people is incredibly exciting. I’ll keep you all updated on this goes as time goes by; this might lead into further research in this area, though I also have a range of other irons in the fire for the longer-term future.

Secondly, during this summer, I’ll be taking up a range of visiting fellowship positions at numerous institutions around the world. Firstly, the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where I’ll be giving talks and running and contributing to seminars on professional gaming and the intersections between video games and gambling practices; secondly, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where my focus will be very much the same; and then the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where I’ll be researching the histories of professional gamblers, specifically with a focus on how professional gamblers are represented and talked about in news media, films, literature, and so forth. Somewhere in the middle there I’ll also be giving a few talks at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore on my research, and potentially travelling to two other countries I’ve never visited before as well to offer guest lectures and further develop my Esports and live-streaming research, although those are still in discussion with the relevant parties. If you live in any of those areas, let me know – maybe we can meet up! The few times I’ve met fans in person has always been awesome, and I’d certainly be keen to do so again.

What does all this mean in practical terms? Well, firstly, my brain is going to be a lot clearer to focus on URR 0.8 and finishing my first book in the next four months. Travel has always been something that galvanises and focuses me tremendously well, and these, combined with a new position more closely aligned to my research interests, will do a lot for me. People who read this blog regularly will know the last few months have been tough for a range of reasons, and these new positions are going to be a big help with some of those issues. Onwards, to bigger and better things!

Next Week

Having really pushed on URR this past week, I need to focus on my academic work this coming week, so next week will be a games criticism entry; then by the week after I’ll be aiming to actually finish off the Basic Conversation system by fully implementing the answers to list questions, and making sure that the range of “irrelevant replies” are all implemented and functioning correctly. See you in a week! When we will be talking the notorious “P.T.”, or “Playable Teaser”, and its clever implementation of environmental puzzles…

We Are History

This week I’ve been working on the in-game histories. These can be viewed in the encyclopedia, and can either be looked through in one long list or according to the category they fall into. As you can see from the pictures here, histories currently fall into eight categories – colonies, conflicts, cults, disasters (natural disasters, plagues, etc), discoveries (languages, technologies), individuals (rulers, important soldiers, religious figures, etc), religions and settlements (although the term “Settlement” is used in a specific term in the game to mean hunter-gatherer settlements, as opposed to feudal Cities and Towns and nomadic Fortresses, in this regard settlement just means all population centers). Each category has its own associated icon.

Hist1

All the histories you see here are procedurally generated to a greater or lesser extent. Some build upon archetypes that vary game-by-game, whilst others have a huge range of different sentences that build up into a coherent story. The above screenshot also showcases one important aspect of the histories – any NPC mentioned in a history who is still alive will spawn in game (NPCs will be spawning in a few releases time – we’re getting close!), any weapon mentioned will appear somewhere, any and every town/city will be on the map, and so forth. As well as giving hints towards the story and – I hope – just being generally interesting/varied tales to read, the histories will also highlight potential items, people or locations of interest. In later versions histories will only “unlock” in the encyclopedia once you reach a logical location – a city’s history will only appear once you discover it, the history of a language’s discovery when you find the appropriate book that records the initial research, etc. I’m still working on the precise triggers, but when you begin the game you’ll only start off with the history known to your civilization (and also histories from the perspective of your civilization). For this release, however, all histories will be visible except for cult histories (which will remain hidden), most discovery histories (because a lot of those hint towards hidden parts of the later game) and individual histories (because I’m still working on how those are going to function, and those may stay absent until NPCs are added a few releases down the line).

Hist2

So, what does all this mean for you, the player? Well, for starters, it means an early release! This is going to be my fastest release yet (surprising, given the first two months were very academia-heavy); I’m currently expecting to release – at the very latest – in the middle of April, thereby making this between a 3 and 3.5 month release, as opposed to my others which have ranged inconsistently between 4 and 6. This has come down to my general improvement as a programmer and also, in part, my attempts to “standardize” and optimize my coding practice a little more (thereby speeding up development times) in the lead-up to something I’ll be announcing soon after this release. As for 0.5, all that now remains is tidying up the encyclopedia a little bit then a whole range of small optimizations and bug-fixes for unusual situations that can occur in world-gen such as handling unusual angles were territories meet, speeding up the placement of roads, limiting the number of towns a civ can spawn, ensuring the game never runs out of feudal flags to generate, adding some more variety to religion names, etc etc. Within a week from now I would hope to have a build that is pretty much finished, assuming all goes according to plan. I’ve also worked on upgrading the “Choose a Save” page to give much more information about each world you might have saved, whilst at the same time hacking down saving and loading times even further (because those can never be hacked down enough), and on a rather snazzy new world gen screen that’s a great improvement over the old one. See you all next week, when I’ll be talking about Something Else.

Addendum: the blog title refers to a very witty British comedy from the early 2000s. I recommend it.

Civilizations, Families and Guidebook Entries

This release is moving a lot faster than expected. Although the first two months of this year only allowed me to spend a small amount of time coding, I’ve probably got through around 80-85% of the content for this release. You can see our current progress on the development plan page and I’m very nearly at the point of bug-fixing and optimization. The final remaining large chunk of content I need to add is the generation of relevant components of world histories should as the construction of cities, major battles and wars, discoveries, uprisings/civil wars, plagues and natural disasters, and the like. In this release some small glimpses of the plot will be visible through-out these histories and these will inform the conditions that certain civilizations and NPCs start the game in. Last week I posted about city districts, so for starters I wrote up the Guidebook entry for city districts – as ever, my focus is to give the player mechanic information, but very little “What am I meant to do?” information.

16March1

However, for the most part this week I’ve been working on filling out the remaining parts of the worldbuilding required. I firstly wanted to finish off what remained of civilizations, and have all the relevant information display in the in-game guidebook. The guidebook civilization entries currently show a number of things. They show the flag of that civilization, the religion that civ follows (if any) and a 7×7 image of their capital city (along with its name). Down the left side it quickly summarizes the policies that civilization follows, then tells you information on the right about their leadership. It starts with the term they use to describe their leader, which depends on policy and civ-type: a monarchic feudal civ might be led by a “Czar” or an “Emperor”, while a chiefdom-focused hunter-gatherer civ might be led by an “Ice-King”, or a nomadic civ by a “Great Sultan”. Most civs will use different terms for those who rule. It then lists the important houses in that civ, followed by other information which differs according to civ. If feudal, it shows the towns in that civilization (and later mines and other structures); for nomadic civs it lists their fortresses, whilst I haven’t fully decided yet on what information will show for hunter-gatherers. It lastly states whether the civ allows slavery and/or gladiatorial combat, and if slavery is allowed, how slaves can be easily identified (e.g. missing little fingers, facial tattoos, brands, collars, etc). In the image below you can also see on the left of this image some of the potential names for civilizations, such as “Nation of X”, or “Descendants of X”, or “Brood of X”, of “Wanderers of X”, and so forth. These reflect different types of civilization and also, in some cases, their policy choices about leadership, producing a wide range of different naming conventions for civilizations. A player should come to recognize what each denotes in time, but I think they – like the myriad other name generators in URR! – do a lot towards my goal of building a world of complexity, ambiguity, and non-uniformity.

16March2

I have also finished up most of the information on noble houses in the encyclopedia. Each entry (all guidebook entries will only appear when you discover the civ/ family/ religion/ whatever in question) shows their name, what civ they belong to, their coat of arms and their motto on the left, and then the flag of their parent civilization and the family tree on the right. Getting the family trees to work well was surprisingly tricky, but I’m very happy with how they’ve worked out. The oldest members are the top, the youngest at the bottom. The oldest member of the family that wasn’t someone who married into the family will be the unofficial “head” of the family. The key to understanding the diagram is as follows: double-lines show someone from the house itself; dotted lines someone who married into the family; white shows someone alive, grey someone deceased; gold denotes the ruler of the civilization the house belongs to (so in this case, Tol Malake is the ruler of Utokaqu); whilst a blue colour will denote the player in whatever house the player belongs to (not shown here). Also, I’ve somewhat altered the rules of succession from the real-world of the (roughly) 17th century. Family names are not carried according to the men in the family, but rather by the status of the family. In the case below, some of the people who married into the family (the dotted lines) may be of either sex, but the noble family name was the one that “won out” and was used for any children.

16March3

As above, the remaining major chunks of content are finishing off religion generation and then beginning to work on significant historical events. After that I need to make a few changes to the world-gen screen to incorporate the new history/civ gen, update the start/load screen with information about the player’s civilization, house, religion etc, improve map data storage (I should be able to hack down map load times again with this new change) and then it’s bug-fixing and optimization. Next week we’ll probably be talking about languages or religions (the latter of which I know last week I suggested would be this week, but coding has gone in a different direction in the past seven days), though it is equally possible I’ll write up a non-URR games criticism entry and save more updates for the week after. Stay tuned!

Early March Development Update

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:

March1

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:

March2

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)…

March3

…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.