“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 Jorge Borges, Umberto Eco, Neal Stephenson, Shadow of the Colossus, Europa Universalis and Civilization.
Although currently in its early stages, 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. To do this the game seeks to generate realistic world histories, though ones containing a few unusual happenings and anomalous experiences. The traditional roguelike staple of combat will be rare and deadly – whilst these mechanics will be modeled in detail, exploration, trade and diplomacy factors will have just as much effort put into them.
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 stuff in the ‘middle’ – constructing buildings, city growth, resource management – abstracted out (as many other games exist which cover those). 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.
Art Generation: Ultima Ratio Regum will feature significant amounts of complex generative graphics, ranging from planetary atmospheres to ancient temple murals, landscapes to military rankings, and from sword designs to family coats of arms. The game 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.
Ancient Exploration: 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 changes going on in the world the game is set in. Recent releases have focused on this aspect of the game.
Linguistics: Different civilizations – ancient and contemporary – will have different languages you may not necessarily be able to speak at the start of the game. Ancient languages can be learnt to give greater insight into murals or ancient texts, whilst contemporary languages enable you to communicate beyond your empire’s boundaries, trade with others, and handle yourself in other empires.
A procedurally generated door – runes, vines, bricks and everything else are unique to this particular entrance…
Multi-Square Units: Ultima Ratio Regum will include a large number of units that span many squares, a significant break from the roguelike norm of one-square-per-unit. Catapults, ballistas and other siege weapons take up around 5×5 squares and behave accordingly, whilst other larger structures will also later make it into the game.