“Ultima Ratio Regum is one of a few ambitious, long-term projects which I think represent the most exciting things about indie game development, about PC games, and about what technology can do for the games of tomorrow.”
- Graham Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun
A semi-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.
A defining feature of the game is the “procedural graphics” system which allows for the generation of huge numbers of graphical assets – flags, coats of arms, weapons, armour, and everything else – anew each game. A nation with its choice of leadership, its name, its policies, its flag and its religion will never be generated again, making each playthrough unique within a complex web of factions, nations and individuals.
The game thus explores what can be done with ASCII graphics to detail and explore a deep generated world. These graphics are not merely side-dressing – many of them are essential to gathering clues and information to aid you through the world. There is little direct exposition – a central challenge in the game is piecing together the information the player is able to acquire about the game world in order to uncover the path forward. In this regard the game is heavily inspired by the story and world design of the Souls series, especially Dark Souls 1.
Set in the 16th/17th century, the game contains a number of relics of earlier civilizations, which can be explored. These temples and tombs will be full of murals generated according to ancient myths (see the art generation objective), but these murals serve not just an aesthetic purpose – they will give clues to the locations of artefacts, or catacombs containing great wealth. They will also contain procedurally-generated puzzles, mazes, and other challenges, whilst also shedding light on some aspects of the great political and sociological changes going on in the world the game is set in.
Ancient languages can be learnt to give greater insight into murals or ancient texts – there are a number of ancient civilizations in the game that have all but faded from view, and understanding these is key to completing and understanding the game. These languages challenge the player to decipher their meaning and subsequently use this understanding to uncover much of the secret content within the game world.