Just a quick entry today to say that version 0.2.1 has been released – it contains the resources map; fixes to all (I think) the bugs people identified; the ability to export the maps you create (‘X’), and a few other small features. This will be the last release until 0.2.2, if I do make an intermediate release between this and 0.3.x, or if not, then it is the last release before 0.3.x. Of course, on the off-chance I have introduced some game-breaking bug I haven’t spotted, I’ll fix that, but otherwise I hope you enjoy creating planets, worlds, and wandering around them. Blog entries will now roughly alternative between weekly and fortnightly depending on how busy I am with academic work, but will (as ever) return to weekly as we get closer to the next release.
Version 0.2.0 of Ultima Ratio Regum has been released! Find enclosed a guidebook, new world generation, sixteen skill trees, options, controls, saving and loading, multi-square trees, a thousand bug-fixes, and two massive secrets I’ve been keeping back until now. You’ll know them when you see them. Let me know what you think – and enjoy!
For those who aren’t following on Facebook/Twitter, my internet has been down for some time, hence the delayed update. However, I am pleased to say it has just returned, so I can upload today’s screenshot update! Here’s an in-game screenshot accessing the newly-created Guidebook:
A bunch of things here that haven’t, I think, been shown before.
Firstly, the third window on the sidebar. This is how health is displayed – as your limbs become damaged, each + becomes yellow, then orange, then disappears, until you are left with a single +, and when that one is gone, your limb is effectively ruined. If the ‘+’ changes to ‘x’, that denotes that some part of that limb is broken. I am not yet sure what will happen when a limb reaches 0 health, but changes are it will be unsaveable and will need to be amputated (if it wasn’t utterly destroyed by whatever reduced it to 0 health!). Limbs still contain bones and flesh and so on, but this is just an easy way to quickly check your condition.
Secondly, the stats on the sidebar. They show your current stats, and any bonuses (or losses) given to you by items, morale, illness, disease, or anything else. These update whenever they change. I have also finished the ability to boost your Stats in the Skill Trees – each ‘S’ skill can raise one or two stats, and that stats chosen vary according to which skill tree it is. For example, the Slashing Weapons tree lets you upgrade your Strength & Endurance, whilst the Short Weapons tree lets you upgrade your Dexterity & Intelligence. As for the blank space on the sidebar, that will later denote your armour and your weapons.
Thirdly, the message at the bottom. That’s just a message that rolls up whenever you start a new game, or load an existing game. I just thought it would be nice to set the scene again when you restart your game, and if you have multiple saves, to remind you in a small part what’s happening in this particular save.
Fourthly, a full list of all the unit types! Those who are awarded the ‘@’ symbols are those that are able to lead squads into battle, or may be within a General’s retinue. Each has various special uses/abilities and some can buff allies in various ways. If you’re interested in any of the unit types down there, ask away. To answer an obvious one – by “human”, it simply means a general citizen who doesn’t fit into any of the other categories.
Fifthly, obviously, the Guidebook. The sections in grey haven’t yet been written, because those features don’t yet fully exist! Similarly, some entries like the one shown will be incomplete until other factors are added into the game, but they will display everything that currently exists anyway. The guidebook will be filled up as more goes into the game, but everything that I plan for the game is in there somewhere. The guidebook gives general information, but not specific – which is to say, it tells you that types of tree/wood vary according to strength, weight and value, but it’s not going to tell you what the exact values of each material are.
And there we have it. I’m aiming to release in next Monday’s blog entry, on the 26th! You can keep track of this on the Development page - as you might notice, the second feature-bloat has been finished. Some half-finished mechanics, like armour and weapons, have to an extent been removed from this release until I can reimplement them fully. This version is focused on the world, the graphics, removing bugs, user interface, skills, stamina, saving/loading, and one or two other hidden features. See you next Monday… I think you’ll like it.
This entry will cover the Linguistics and the Rule trees. The Subversion tree has been programmed in, but I’m not yet totally happy with it (and I think it might change significantly before we reach a version where those skill will actually be used) so I’m going to leave that one out for now. The top tree of these two is Linguistics, the bottom tree is Rule.
Yellow L : Unlock one more language, from languages you know exist, that you can start learning.
Grey A : Skill at learning ancient languages.
Light grey M : Skill at learning modern languages
Blue T : Skill at translating/learning all languages
Light grey H : Skill at learning words to do with myth/history
Yellow T : Skill at learning words to with trade
Red M : Skill at learning words to do with the military
Lilac P : Skill at learning words to with politics or diplomacy
Red G : Unlock one more General your civilization can support
Grey + : Increase the speed at which policies can be changed
Yellow % : Give a 33% boost to the effect of a policy of choice (stackable)
Cyan S : Increases the strength of your rule around your capital
Light green R : Increase the radius of rule around your capital
Blue I : Increases the quantity and quality of intelligence on foreign civilizations
Green A : Improves diplomacy with nations with similar policies
Grey F : Improves diplomacy with nations with opposing policies
White W : Decreases the chance of war with opposing-policied nations
Orange W: Increases the chance of nations with similar policies assisting you in war
I’m pretty happy with how both of these look. The language tree isn’t huge, but gives you ample room to specialize according to your needs. I’ve been doing a lot of design work on how languages are going to function, and to cut a long story (and future blog entry) short, I have developed a system, in its early stages, whereby each language will be able to produce a word akin to every english word a character might want to say, and these words will be consistent! Entire dictionaries will be generated on the fly, and when needed, to handle each word – but again, there’s a future blog entry there. As for the Rule tree, it contains everything I’d like it to without removing any active gameplay from the player – you cannot, for instance, slow the rate at which cities become disinterested in your rule if you’re doing nothing for them. Let me know if you have any thoughts on these, or something to add/remove; now only the Trade tree remains, the Subversion tree needs a little improvement, and the Armour tree is going to be added to in order to make it slightly more interesting (basically by adding a forging/constructing aspect to it).
Lastly, apologies for the late blog entry – yesterday was not a good day – but next week should be back to normal. Should have a screenshot of the finished sidebar by then, and a ton of the remaining tasks for 0.2.0 finished.
Firstly, for people who aren’t crafty enough to follow along on Facebook/Twitter (hint!), here’s a screenshot of how things are currently looking in-game. Trees have been redone and shaded according to season and time of day. Here’s a taiga night-time scene, after you’ve been running for a little bit, with the new time/date system on the far left (it rotates, going from dark to light and back, and right now is near midnight, hence the sliver of blue on the left), a food meter, and trackers for your willpower, stamina, and exhaustion:
…but today we’re talking about how the game’s going to play out for those who seek to rule. A major challenge in coming up with the Rule skill tree has been deciding exactly what ruling entails in terms of game mechanics, and therefore where boosts/upgrades can be logically inserted. Whilst I have some ideas down (I’ve been thinking a lot about how foreign relations are going to work), what has proven particularly tricky has been coming up with an interesting mechanic for cities/towns/villages/etc within your borders. To illustrate this, I think it’s worth saying how another game manages relations with cities – in this case, Civilization V – because I think it does some things very well, and some things very poorly.
Civ V has civilizations and City States. The latter are one-city ‘civs’ that play a special game role. It’s not worth going into detail about the specifics, but in one sentence, any city within your empire is very likely to remain friendly towards you (with a few exceptions, but those are high-level strategic choices) whilst you vie for City State influence with other civs. It’s this vying-for/reinforcing-of influence that I think is interesting. To give the player something to do to gain influence with them, City States routinely give out missions. These might go to any player, or to specific players. Missions of the former category might be “Who can discover the most technologies in the next few years?” or “Who will intimidate this other city state I have a grievance with?”. The latter category take the form of “We’d like to build a road between our cities” or “We’d like to trade some spices/ bananas/ iron/ whatever with you”. Completing these missions raises your standing with the city state significantly, as does other tasks like promising to protect them, helping them out in any wars they may be in, liberating them from an occupying force, giving them money, and the like. Meanwhile, your reputation with a given city state constantly decreases over time. A policy tree – “Patronage” – reduces the speed at which your reputation degrades, but it nevertheless does. If left unattended, even a city state you liberated from occupiers, defended against attackers, traded with, insulted the foes of, and built a road to, will eventually think no more kindly of you than the ex-aggressor on their borders, with whom their relationship has also “normalized” (negative city-state relations go upwards whilst positive ones go downwards).
Thus, keeping friends with a city state – a policy with benefit including mutual defence, financial income, trade, military units, and diplomatic support – means constantly renewing your ties with that city state. In my experience, this mechanic is one that sometimes works when a city state’s mission clearly links up with your own, but one that falls comparatively flat when the seemingly arbitrary demands from twenty different city states rack up on your diplomacy chart. City states are, I believe, supposed to give missions according to their type (e.g. city states concerned with faith, culture, science, whatever), but in practice I’ve rarely noticed a difference. I think a fundamental correction, and improvement, to the mechanic would not be doing what the states ask you to do (though a reduced number of quests might work), but in a way the opposite – your friendship with a city state is contingent on what you decide to do for them. If you want to build them a road, attack their foes, defend them, they’ll like you for it because you did it without asking. Even if they aren’t a city state that normally cares about trade, for instance, giving them a Great Merchant would still surely be worth some positive diplomatic effects. Equally, that will affect the city – a city might start off wanting X, but if you give them lots of Y for your own reasons (say, impending attack from that direction?) they’re going to, like any sensible city, try to align with the objectives of the benefactor paying them so much attention.
Thus, this is the kind of mechanic I propose to fix the problem of “What do you do as a ruler?” in URR. Cities within your empire will gradually become peeved from a lack of attention, harsh military policies, poor economics, poor welfare, etc. You can naturally adjust these by policy choices and internal choices, but this will only go so far. Only using these mechanics will merely delay the inevitable decay of friendship – and in turn revolution, or uprising, or secession – but other mechanics yield far larger benefits. If you want a city in the south to like you, travel there yourself and bring with you resources from the north of your empire. If one city is reluctant to join the war effort, go to them and give a stirring speech, or promise industrial business for the city in the weapons industry. And so on. Such events will, I think, raise the “bottom” level of how much a city respects its ruler, so that you can’t get the example that a city you’ve done everything for will eventually be unconcerned by your presence. As well as the objectives themselves giving you gameplay outside the civilization screen, they give ample chance for things to happen along the way. You make your way to a city, but a taskforce sent by your military foe ambushes you; someone tries to assassinate you in that city; or you’re half-way there and hear of a usurper attempting to seize the throne back in the capital! If you survive but lose your position, a Ruler player will have a potential battle to regain their empire, so even if you fail to keep your empire happy and are overthrown, the game – assuming you escape intact – will certainly not end there. Additionally, there will likely be some major bonus to leading a military force in war, but that shouldn’t overlap with any special abilities of the General class. Regardless, in this model you select the best ways to keep your empire ticking over from the (hopefully many) options, rather than waiting for your cities to make demands upon you. Not just should it improve the flexibility of rule, but it will also ‘get you out of your capital’, so to speak, and allow the Ruler player a greater diversity of gameplay.
In other news: I’ve also figured out languages are going to work. The specifics aren’t important just yet, but it’s very, very cool. In the mean time, development is going rapidly ahead (check the development plan for updates): it’s going to be the end of November, but we are definitely on for a November release. A lot of what’s left to do is user-friendly UI stuff; listing saving/loading progress, how many saves you have, details of your saves, etc etc…