Ultima Ratio Regum is a middle-ground between roguelikes, RPGs and strategy games. It seeks instead to be closer to a (predominantly) realistic history simulator, and a strategy/4x game which just happens to be in ASCII. Combat is rare and deadly – whilst these mechanics are modeled in detail, exploration, trade and diplomacy factors will have just as much effort put into them. Click a screenshot to view in full size:
URR aims to eventually be a fusion of roguelike and strategy genres – rather than a strategy game where you command with omniscience (even in ancient eras), you instead command as an individual character also in the game. Orders must be issued in person; you can lose contact with distant armies; but the same mechanics affect the AI players who also lack omniscience and depend upon the knowledge of situations they themselves can garner.
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.
Fundamentally, URR aims to have six key aspects:
Army Command: Unlike other roguelikes, URR has a major strategic military focus. You will be able to serve in, or command, military forces numbering in the hundreds, ranging from pikemen to siege weapons, and cavalry to archers. Commanding a squad or an army will have a number of complex options, and these military mechanics will influence global politics, territory, and military campaigns.
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 aims to explore what can be done with ASCII graphics to detail and explore a deep generated 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.
Navy: URR aims to feature a lot of naval mechanics, including exploration, trade, and ship-to-ship combat, involving both boarding and gun batteries. Ships will take up a large number of squares, and ship-to-ship combat will take place involving potential fleets of vessels. Piracy and customs will also be included, and you will be able to both serve on, or lead, a ship, or a fleet.
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.
Multi-Square Units: Ultima Ratio Regum will include a large number of units that span many squares, a significant break from the rogulike norm of one-square-per-unit. Catapults, ballistas and other siege weapons take up around 5×5 squares and behave accordingly, whilst ships range from around that size up to filling half the screen.
Interested? Read the blog, join the Facebook group, the mailing list (send me an email at mark at this domain letting me know you’d like to be added to the list. I won’t share your address with anyone else – I don’t know anyone else), or follow the game’s twitter at UltimaRegum and be notified the moment the demo appears! You’ll also be updated on blog entries, development ideas, and various other things too. It has now been released – check out the Downloads page for more info.