About Ultima Ratio Regum

“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 roguelike game inspired by the literature of Jorge Borges, Umberto Eco & Neal Stephenson, and the games Europa Universalis and Dark Souls.

Ultima Ratio Regum (“the last argument of kings”) is a ten-year project, of which 3.5 years have been finished via coding part time whilst completing my doctoral work. It’s a game which aims to integrate thematic content on historiography, philosophical idealism and the rise of modernist grand narratives, with the deep, complex and challenging gameplay one expects from a “classic” roguelike (and, of course, an ANSI display and permadeath). Set approximately around the Scientific Revolution, the objective of 2015 is to finish all remaining worldbuilding (~2.5 months), and begin to integrate early gameplay focused around strategic choices, NPC interaction, and hopefully combat too. Screenshots:

This is the title screen, featuring a procedurally-generated landscape on the left which is unique every time the game is loaded:

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This shows the player selecting their save, which comes with a summary of what they have explored/discovered/earned in that world:

Savemenu

At the start of the game the player selects their civilization, and civilizations differ strongly in terms of their policies, religions, ethical and moral beliefs, militarism (or lack thereof), and a number of other ways:

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This was exploration of a city – on the left you can see the right-most part of a religious building (in this case it was a Pagoda, belonging to the religion of the Goddess of the Whispering Moonlight), and on the right you can see a jail, with a number of ordinary houses in-between.

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Here the player explores a graveyard, within which every single grave is procedurally generated and linked to the world’s history:

06_4… and here looks at a grave in another graveyard in detail, showing the coat of arms of the noble family that the grave belongs to. This level of detail is present in all of the game, and concepts on the “macro” scale – civilizations, histories, wars, religions – all impact upon the “micro” scale of the world the player walks within.

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In this screenshot the player explores another city, Smithvale, and finds some bridges going through a lower-class housing district:

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This is a town at the far northern reaches of the world, called Foolrock Precipice, where a religious building is seen on the left (a Chantry of Uxa, the Cow-Headed God) and a range of other buildings, including a town hall and a shop just off-screen:

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This is a generated fortress in the desert, known as Whitesnake Bastion – fortresses are the only parts of nomadic civilizations that stay in one place, and they serve as both defensive structures and hubs for traders and caravans:

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This is a very, very zoomed-out picture of an entire city, although this city lacks any slums or graveyards which often spawn outside. This shows the level and density of procedural generation in the game – this city can hold roughly 300,000 NPCs (coming mid-2015) and each district has its own algorithms for generation, and these algorithms and heavily influenced by the political standpoints and religions of each nation:

A City

This is a world-map, on the “Territory” view, showing some of the nations present in this world:

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