The Final AI Update

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased beyond words to announce that, as far as I can tell, all the AI requirements for 0.8 are finished! Now, I must qualify this: there are a number of NPC classes that do not yet exist in the game, but those that do exist perform almost all their actions, although there are a small number of events currently omitted (rare or unique events like religious festivals and the like). What this means is that around 80% of all NPCs now do 98% of their schedules, and I think they work correctly no matter what kind of strange behaviour the player involves themselves in with regardless to moving, saving, loading, spawning/unspawning areas, and so forth. As a result, I am indeed putting out the interim playtesting/bug-finding release in the next few days! If you emailed me asking to be on the list, you should find an email in your inbox with details of how to download the playtesting release, and some things to look for, within the week. For the rest of this blog post, therefore, I’ll go over the final additions and refinements done in the last week, and then from next week onwards, we’ll finally be on to dialect and speech generation! I’m so excited. But, first…

Finishing Castles

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I finished off everything that still needed to be done for castles, and so as far as I can now tell, all the possible NPCs that can spawn in a castle all function correctly with their schedules, their placement, their tracking whether the castle map grid is spawned/unspawned and whether the castle itself is spawned/unspawned, and so on and so forth. One major issue was with sleeping and waking NPCs, and in a few particular contexts guards who should be spawned sleeping in beds were spawned sleeping at their posts, whilst those who should have been on guard duty at their posts were on guard duty in their beds! This got fixed by copying a line of code which should have applied to all guards, but was instead applying to around 90% of them thanks to a typo. I then ran into some issues with entering a castle after the 1080 time of the day (which has 1440 “ticks”, each being ten “turns”) which is when all the guard schedules should switch over; for some strange reasons, the knights guarding the throne room were struggling to spawn correctly and causing a crash, which had *something* to do with beds, but I wasn’t quite sure what.

The “filled” doors are doors to the outside whilst the hollow doors are within one building, so here we see various guards and conscripts going outside. It’s slightly jerky due to all the debug processes printing, but I think it still looks rather snazzy, and I love seeing such a large volume of people going about their day without the game crashing! (You’ll also see slaves and knights in these gifs also just going about their daily business in the castle)


And then immediately after, the guards/conscripts who were guarding outside come back inside and head to appropriate beds:



Here’s a cache guard switching with another cache guards whilst various other guards/knights/etc on the same timetable also move to wherever it is they need to go in order to switch over:


Guards on upper floors wouldn’t behave

As a result, here are some guards and a knight in one of the towers finding their way down correctly, rather than misbehaving terribly:


I ran into a bug whereby I sometimes ran out of beds on certain generations, but only for knights and guards. It took quite some time to diagnose what was actually happening here, but it finally became apparent that when the smallest possible number of beds spawned in the corner/side towers (four per tower, so sixteen total) and the game was trying to place guards and knights in those towers, and there was a cache in the castle, there simply weren’t enough beds, so the NPCs were stuck trying to find a bed; this meant I had to specifically enable their ability to climb up towers to find another bed, but only specific staircases (because the main staircases are in the main castle, rather than in the towers)! The disconnected nature of the upper floors of castles is unique, and has basically required adding in quite a few exceptions to a lot of NPC behaviour which ordinarliy wouldn’t have to think about impossible paths on a given floor.

After that, though, things went quite smoothly with servants, slaves, and monks. Here we have a basement in this castle containing the castle’s slaves, who were all going about their day most of the time and then filed into the basement as time went by:


And monks sleeping at night in their quarters:


I then turned my attention to priests, who – in castles – can fall into two categories. In religious nations you’ll find a single large chapel with a priest walking around inside, whilst in nations that have freedom of religion you’ll find a large number of small chapels, each with a priest (and altar, book, etc) of the appropriate religion. Here’s a priest wandering around a full-size chapel for a nation dominated by a particular religion (you’ll note various servants coming and going at the same time), and then various priests in smaller chapels in a castle in a nation with a plurality of religions:




And I must say there were some cool religions in this castle. Jaguars for the jaguar god!


Then, servants. They work the same as slaves (aside from being on the ground floor instead of underground), and these worked pretty much immediately thanks to all the code in place for slaves. I then moved onto torturers and jailers, who should be spawning in a different section of the basement, away from slave quarters (if slave quarters are present) and who keep to a very simple schedule. Sure enough, these folks seem to work perfectly well now too. Here’s one of them wandering around (I also really love how under-castle jails look, don’t you?).


And heading to bed:


And here’s a torturer checking out the cells under their control (where unfortunate people will one day appear), and in a later version there will be various unpleasant things in the centre of this room, which will vary from nation to nation (so different nations have different methods of torture, if torture is their thing).


And slave quarters and a dungeon in the basement of the same castle, with two different staircases. This is a rare-ish scenario, but meant I had to make absolutely sure that slaves returning to their quarters knew which staircase to take (servants, being on the ground floor instead of the basement, don’t have this issue)…


And that’s pretty much all the NPCs for castles! In future versions I may add in a couple of extra NPCs, like book-keepers for archives and the like, and also I need to add in concubines at an appropriate point – and the actual leaders themselves! – but for now, castles still appear very active when the player wanders around them, and that’s what matters for 0.8.

Final Check, Final Bugs

The last thing to do before sending out the playtesting release is to active all possible AI actors and spend a little while wandering around the world and trying to break them myself. I’ve now done so, and to my absolute delight, I have thus far discovered that everything seemed to be working correctly, although I do still harbour a tiny, tiny concern that certain NPCs in certain houses might not always appear in their houses at the correct times, depending on the player’s actions… but I couldn’t produce any bugs here, so that’s down to be super-secret super-elite playtesting team to figure out.

I’m also going to implement a few debug tools for my playtesters, so they can now look at a debug print-out which shows all the important NPCs in that area, where their homes are, what their current tasks and schedules and objectives are, and so forth. This, naturally, will not be in the final release, but I thought it was a pretty essential feature to maximize the potential of the interim playtesting beta.

Although I have ever confidence in my team, the complexity of all this stuff does mean it has to be possible that the final 0.8 release will go out with a few minor issues still in place. This would be disappointing, of course, but so long as there are no AI related crash bugs present when 0.8 hits the shelves, I’ll be content – it would obviously be even better if there were no AI bugs of any sort whatsoever, but I’m being realistic. Pathfinding and scheduling is massively complicated already and made even more complex by the variety of permutations of spawned/unspawned/loaded/saved areas the player can bring into existence or push into the background through their movements in the game world, and despite my best efforts, I’m sure it’s still possible for an NPC to duplicate, or to vanish into nonexistence, or something else of that sort. But we’ll see! Maybe the playtesting release will be remarkably stable and nobody will find any problems whatsoever.


Next Week

DIALECT GENERATION! For the next week or two I’ll be working on the underlying mechanics for generating different styles of speech for each in-game culture (in the average game we need to produce around 40 very different styles of speech, and ideally many tens of thousands possible across a long enough stretch of time). I’ve started to draft this in various forms over the last month or so, and so next week I’ll give you all a run-down of what I have in mind here. After that we’ll be onto designing the conversation screen! I’ve also been giving this a lot of thought, and I have some idea how this is going to play out, and how it will connect to the dialect/sentence generation stuff I’ve been quietly putting together and experimenting with in the background. See you in a week!

Castles and Bugs

This week I’ve been recovering from my recent thrilling illness, and made a load of progress on the AI for castles, fixing a ton of new AI bugs discovered in the interim, and some other small changes that I wanted to implement. Alas, my week of illness has pushed things back just a tad, but I’m actually still hoping to release the playtesting release next week. It’s going to be close, but my intention is to really focus on URR for the next week and try to get it out next weekend – there aren’t any academic deadlines in the next seven days or so, and those which are a little further past that I’ve made good progress on already, so I’m cautiously optimistic that it might be possible. I still haven’t decided whether to make it public or private (I know, I know…) but I guess I’ll have to decide soon enough. Probably private, though. Either way, here’s a very image- and gif-filled update for you all!


Almost all the AI requirements for castles are now done. As I mentioned last week, this was quite an easy and enjoyable part of AI programming, both because a large part was already done for all the involved NPCs and because castles are just very interesting spaces I enjoy moving around and exploring (even as their designer). The stuff that still needed doing after our previous update was to ensure that all guard exchanges work correctly (which they do, almost entirely), that monks behave in a sensible way (they do), that everyone goes to a logical bed when they turn in for the night, which is surprisingly tricky in a building with so many beds on so many floors (I think they do). As with everything else, this should work regardless of the player’s actions going in/out of the map grid, leaving the building unspawned, spawning the building, etc. Therefore, here are some screenshots.

Monks awakening for the day and moving around the castle:


A guard switch-over when the castle itself has not been spawned; although some of the colours here make it slightly tricky to see at times (I’m still trying to figure out a solution), I love the complexity of this dance as all the conscripts (“6”) and guards (“g”) exit the castle and exchange places with their comrades, before going back inside. In a later version the timings will be varied a little, of course, so that they don’t all appear at the same time, but for the time being this is more than adequate (and does look pretty cool!).


Here we have a bunch of knights guarding the throne room switching places. Sorry for the laggy parts of this gif – there was a lot of debugging stuff going on in the background which slowed it down every now and then.


In a slaving nation, we have several slaves in a castle going about their day and maintaining upkeep of the great hall; this was the same civilization as all the above gifs. A few minor issues arose here with behaviour that had been coded for mansions and manors not quite working perfectly for castles, but I’m pretty confident that’s all resolved now.


Three debugging images of a generated castle with the NPCs placed within it, and where they start. C = conscript, g = guard, K = knight, s = slave, M = monk. They normally start at their guarding locations or their beds, and then start moving as soon as they’re spawned by the player entering the castle.


More Monks

Monasteries have been successfully simplified for this release – abbots and monks now behave entirely indoors within the monastery, rather than venturing outside into the vegetable garden and the religious building at the core of the complex, and thereby causing all manner of confusion. Here we have some monks going to bed and already in bed, and then for reasons unknown I go for a wander into the next part of the monastery before ending the recording…



Lots of fun bugs!

Firstly, something started crashing when I entered inns. It turned out that this was because of a slight typo I’d made in a line of code handling the decisions of important NPCs that accidentally scooped up a particular subset of non-important NPCs (e.g. those who can do their thing in taverns) and caused the game to implode. This wasn’t too tricky to fix once I found the line of code, although it took a fair bit of hunting down. Secondly, we had a bug involving the middle courtyards of castles (see below) which resulted in the player, upon leaving them, sometimes being transported onto the roof of the castle instead of correctly settling into the courtyard. This has also been fixed. Thirdly, we had another bug that caused certain categories of NPCs to duplicate themselves under extremely rare circumstances with the player’s movement and their spawning/non-spawning of buildings at various times in the player’s movement schedule, and this caused a bunch of problems with the clone NPCs overlapping in their schedules, or only doing half of their schedule, or all kinds of strange things. I figured out what the particular permutation was, and dealt with it. Fourthly, I ran into a bunch of problems with soldiers, conscripts and knights attempting to use the code designed for guards (since when guarding, the game should just treat them the same as guards) which needed fixing in a laborious but not massively challenging process, which basically entailed adding [‘Soldier’,’Conscript’,’Knight’] to almost every line of code with ‘Guard’ in it.

Lastly, I discovered a rather fantastic bug whereby guards and conscripts and suchlike inside a castle, who were trying to path outside a castle in order to relieve their comrades, would sometimes path to the internal doors in a castle (if that castle has an external courtyard) and would emerge into the courtyard, not have any idea how to path to their guard partners (despite being outside, and therefore supposedly able to path), and then for reasons I’m not entirely clear on, they would insert themselves into the door (see picture below) and sit there until I noticed them. This has only happened once, because I resolved it immediately after, but I really have no idea how they put themselves into the door. I guess it’s just one of those mysteries.

Courtyard troubles

I also made a range of other minor changes this week in preparation for the interim playtesting release. Firstly, I removed the stat bars from the bottom of the screen, and the stats from the windows on the left of the screen. Those are almost certainly going to need updating/changing in the future, but for now, they’ve just distracting, especially as the game’s current stage is fully about exploration and (once 0.8 is out) talking to people. I’ve also made some minor changes to a bunch of flavour text here and there, primarily relating to travel and the player’s movement in the world, and changed a bunch of things relating to the wording of various items and features and terrain types and the like, as well as clarifying a few mechanics points, keypresses, etc. Naturally my focus is on the AI for the playtesting release, but I want to make it at least a reasonably streamlined experience for the playtesters!

Next Week

All that needs doing is finishing off castle AI, which is mostly done already. Next week will be the last AI update for 0.8, and hopefully the interim playtesting release. Finally!

The Hopefully Penultimate AI Update

Thanks everyone here and elsewhere for the kind well-wishes! I wound up taking two days off work and three more days working from home, but I’ve mostly recovered from my recent chest infection through the combination of rest, food, and copious amounts of medicine. This was originally going to be the penultimate AI entry, but having lost over a week in total from this bloody thing, we’ll see how that actually plays out. In the last fortnight, when not hacking and coughing, I’ve been working on finishing off the remaining NPC AI needed to put out the playtesting release in the near future. I worked on castles which were a lot of fun to do all the AI for, most of which is already working really well due to the ability to reuse their code from elsewhere; on making sure merchants, priests and guards in other contexts (i.e. not just cities) all worked correctly, on getting monks and abbots to behave correctly, and on fixing another huge volume of bugs. At this point it’s just castles and monasteries that need finishing, and these are my main tasks for the coming week (assuming, of course, no other illnesses that confine me to bed…). Read on!


Castles have proved to be a very enjoyable break from the rest of this hell – most of their NPCs never leave the building, their schedules are relatively simple, and they’re just so different and aesthetically pleasing that I’ve found this process all rather pleasant. At the moment almost everything seems to work, though there are some tricky things I’ve had to catch where I’d written code for a particular NPC class, forgetting that they could sometimes spawn in castles as well as elsewhere. One example was servants, who in upper-class housing and mansions automatically always sleep in the basement, but in castles actually live on the ground floor (if present); in castles it is only slaves (if present) who sleep below ground. I had to go through quite a bit of code and make sure that the game checked whether servants were in castles or mansions before directing them. The same applied to a few other NPCs, like guards that both sleep and work inside (unique) and so forth. Similarly, I also found that I needed to add in a special line of code for NPCs trying to do inside schedule targets in castles that checked they coud actually path to the target they’d chosen. This might seem obvious and surprising that I hadn’t put it in before, but previously all upper floors of buildings had only one large connected space (even if some of it had permission requirements), so one could always be sure an NPC could path from X to Y on a floor; by contrast, castle upper floors can have parts of turrets and towers that are disconnected from the main floor, and thereby impossible to path to from certain areas, and so NPCs now always check the path they’ve chosen can actually be walked, instead of relying on the game to never generate/choose an unwalkable path. As I say, this was the case until now, but it isn’t any more! Here’s me approaching a castle with some soldiers (‘5’) and guards (‘g’) outside, showing that this is a nation with a standing army:

Soldier Castle

Here are a few gifs and images from inside a castle (I’ve been using one particular civilization for all my testing, hence the universal silver/grey colour). First we have a throne room with a lot of knights (‘2’). This is a stratocracy, so the ruler’s throne (the yellow symbol in the middle, which will soon have its own unique generation system) has an unusually large amount of high-ranking protection.


The quarters of some soldiers, with various soldiers sleeping off-duty whilst their duplicates guard the castle outside (soldiers appear in castles in nations with standing armies).


Some priests (very slowly) meandering in their respective chapels in a castle for a nation with religious freedom as its ideology; whereas priests in normal churches are programmed to wander around and look at altars and desks and statues and whatever, these folks use the same body of code as chieftains or prisoners or mercenaries, i.e. wandering around within particular confines (since it would be rather odd to have them looking at the altars of others!).


And here we have a servant on the ground floor going about their day, going up one of the towers at the edges/corners (depending on the layout) of the castle and cleaning one of the chairs on the upper floor; on that floor we also find a guard (‘g’) and a knight (‘2’) sleeping. Somewhere their equivalents will be on duty!


Here’s a monetary cache. This nation has a free trade economic policy, so they have a cache of coinage from a range of other nations in the castle – or, y’know, they will very shortly once I implement currencies. For now though, if you see two guards like this – that’s what they’re guarding. Alternatively, another policy (protectionism, I think) leads to a castle having a large cache of domestic coinage instead, and these are mutually exclusive policies, so there will only ever be one, or neither.


Merchants, Priests and Innkeeps in Towns

Merchants and priests all work correctly in towns. I had a momentary bit of panic as I realized that I’d only tested priests and merchants in cities, and although the code should work in towns just as well… there was always a chance it wouldn’t, since various things are stored in different ways in towns and cities. Nevertheless, a little bit of experimentation confirmed that everything was working fine there. Here are two shops in a town near the above castle:



Monks and Monasteries

Wow. Monks and monasteries. What a nightmare. This is taking so much longer than anticipated – the complexity comes from having multiple buildings on one map, all of which might or might not be spawned, and the presence of tasks that take NPCs from one into the other… and various other things besides. Therefore, I have taken the decision to actually massively simplify them as spawning NPCs from this release. Their schedules are just too damned complicated ordinarily and need too much moving between buildings, acting outside buildings, blah blah… it’s all trivial to handle when the player is on the map grid, but when the player is elsewhere, or they’re present and they’ve spawned some buildings in the monastery complex but not others… urgh, what a nightmare. Therefore, for this release, despite the lovely gif of farming monks from a few weeks ago, monks will actually stay completely indoors. They will awaken, get up, do some work throughout the day, then turn back in. For 0.9 I’ll return here and get them tending to their vegetable gardens and visiting the religious building in their complex, but not just yet.


Another fortnight with loads of new bugs discovered and dealt with.

Firstly, we had a bug with categories of NPC who all sleep on the same floor, in the same building, and go to their bed at roughly the same time. If two were targeting the same bed, they would not register it as an inaccessible bed since nobody was on that bed YET, so they would both go there, the person to get there first would claim the bed, and the latter would just stand next to the bed, desperately pining for the bed they could no longer have. Some new lines of code now detect if someone has just stepped onto the bed you’re going after, and NPCs now change directions appropriately; in a future release I’ll have NPCs actually claim specific beds, since right now they only go to general beds – servants will go to any servant bed in their mansion, priests will go to any priest bed in a cathedral, and so forth…

I then ran into a bug that took about four hours to resolve, whereby in a tiny subset of possible religious buildings, priests couldn’t figure out what to do. This took a disappointingly long time to diagnose, especially since it was a block of time that I’d marked out for making sure monasteries worked correctly, but in the end I sorted it out. It happened in religious buildings that contained pools and only a tiny number of chairs/tables, or contained only prayer mats without chairs around tables in the building. These are both pretty rare subsets, but basically the code for choosing locations for humans and priests to meander to weren’t correctly handling pools (they should just gaze into the pool, like the gif below) and weren’t handling prayer mats, since they are stored separately from “chairs”. This is now all sorted, and I think this should work fine for any and all religious buildings.


And here’s a rather nice gif of a matching prayer mat, clothing, and altar, just since I happened to be in a religious building with a pleasing level of colour-coordination:


Then ran into a rather strange bug, whereby people who work in buildings they don’t sleep in, and did everything from their work day before then going to bed and reaching their home away from the player’s observation, would fail to spawn when you then spawned their map grid and went into their home. This one was puzzling, since I’m sure this worked before… but on the other hand, there are so many permutations of saving/loading and whatnot that it may well have been a particular variation I’d missed on my first sweep a few weeks ago. Either way, it all works now!

Next Week

Castle AI finished, Monk/Abbot AI definitely functioning correctly, any remaining tweaking required to put out the playtesting release, and… who knows, I might even start working on the conversation window?!?! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves (for once)…

Illness and Suffering

A very, very short update this week, I’m afraid. I’ve been really ill all week with a pretty stubborn chest infection which has destroyed my sleeping schedule; I’ve managed to get way less done than I intended, and just vaguely keeping up with email/correspondence obligations has been a tough enough task. I didn’t get anything done Fri evening/Sat/Sun, which is the period I normally focus on coding, and I’m taking today off work with this thing too, most of which I intend to spend in bed. So sorry everyone – I’ll get a full update back next week, assuming I’ve got over this thing by then.

The Antepenultimate AI Update

I was going to publish this update yesterday, but I decided to leave it until today so that we could hopefully have all the monastery stuff done. Almost all of the monasteries’ AI now works correctly, along with the other stuff, which means next week’s update will be on castles and everything else that needs doing in the interim. This update looks at monasteries and a ton of extra work on innkeeps and farmers, and a pretty exciting selection of bugs that came up in the process, the combination of which prevented me from also getting castles done this weekend (in the UK we have a four-day easter weekend, so I’ve been coding all Friday and today as well as Sat/Sun/Mon). What all of this means is that in a fortnight from today, I should be releasing the playtesting release. It’s just castles and a few monastery issues to go, and then clearing and neatening some things up, then we’re (finally) good to go to move onto speech. Thanks to everyone for sticking with me this long – it has been tough, but we are so close to having all the AI stuff working for the playtesting release. If you want to be part of the interim playtest, you can still email me at my first name at this domain. For those who haven’t seen me mention this before, this is not 0.8, but rather an interim closed playtesting release for making sure that all the AI stuff is working correctly. For now, though, here’s a summary of all the final AI stuff implemented this week:


Monasteries and castles were always going to be two of the hardest areas to make work perfectly. Castles are complex because they have so many different classes of NPC going about their day and many different floors, whilst monasteries were always going to be challenging because they can contain many buildings – the monastery itself, a nearly religious building for worship, and potentially delegate housing if in a democratic nation that allows its monasteries to have delegates – and the schedules of the monks include interior and exterior behaviours within the monastery (studying), within the religious building (prayer), and outside (tending to the vegetable garden). Additionally, monasteries are an area with a tiny number of important NPCs (i.e. a couple of the monks) and a large number of semi-important NPCs who should be indistinguishable from the other monks (i.e. the rest of the monks), and these categories need to work correctly despite having quite different code with regards to their scheduling. I’ll be working on all the NPC schedules we need in castles this coming week, but as far as I can tell monasteries are now all working correctly! Here are some examples – you’ve seen lots of monks before, but they now tend their vegetable gardens correctly, and head to bed correctly, although there remain a few minor issues that need resolving for next week…



And a monk (I’m using “monk” for women and men, since “nun” has a lot of connotations that are distinct from monk) in such a monastery:


More Farmers and Innkeeps

As is becoming a pattern, it turned out that farmers and innkeeps were not working perfectly. The issue with the former was in matching up both important and non-important farmers in their homes at the appropriate times in their schedules (e.g. night) and then making sure those farmers are the ones that start farming in the day, instead of spawning a second copy. Later issues were then discovered with various combinations of being in buildings, out of buildings, being important, being unimportant, etc, including a few weird errors that arose because “Farmhouse” wasn’t in a few places it should be in order to acknowledge it as a potential type of house for an NPC.

The issue with the latter was that although 95% of the ambassador code was usable, I had forgotten that the usual movement for innkeeps (wandering around behind the counter) uses a very different chunk of code from ambassadors (wandering around their embassy and sitting at chairs and talking to people), which meant that innkeeps, if they had just been awoken and then the player entered and therefore spawned the building, it would often place them outside the bar’s counter and get them wandering around their own tavern instead of serving drinks! I’ve now fixed all of this nonsense.



A huge number of bugs were resolved this week. For some reason, wandering NPCs who enter a building whilst the player is outside and the building is not spawned, and then the player enters and spawns that building, were not behaving properly and were causing the game to crash by attempting to path outside the building. I don’t understand what caused this, since I don’t think I changed any code that deals with that stuff, or even any code related to that stuff, but either way, it’s now fixed; fixed by dealing with the effect instead of finding the cause, but fixed regardless.

Then we had another very weird bug which took a while to track down, but basically if you moved onto the same tile as a sleeping NPC, on a different floor, and that NPC was of a specific class and had been spawned in a particular way, they would move onto the staircase down, and then just sit there doing nothing. Turned out this was an incredibly old line of code that wasn’t fit to handle buildings of multiple floors, and just needed a single line added, but that took a good few hours to hunt down…

Another bug emerged whereby when you went up a staircase, if you then immediately tried to move onto a tile which was occupied by another NPC, and that NPC wasn’t moving, you could switch places with them. This one meant that, in effect, you could transfer someone off their bed, whilst sleeping, and put them on the staircase. Very silly. Like the first in this list, I’m still not completely sure what caused this, but I’ve fixed it regardless by adding a special line of code that prevents you doing a “force switch” with another NPC so long as you’re on a staircase, since the staircase definitely creates the problem.

I also ran into a really strange bug involving the corners of city walls placed outside those walls. If you were going from Map Grid XlY to Map Grid X,Y-1 and there was a city on Map Grid X+1,Y or Map Grid X+1,Y-1, then the game would check whether you could path to the corner of the map grid (as it should), but rather than concluding that this couldn’t be pathed to (on account of being city wall), it instead concluded it could be pathed to with a path time of 0 moves. As in, it defaulted to 0 as the “error” path length, rather than 9999 or some equivalent. This took a while to find since it has been a long time since I’ve handled the code for keeping track of the time it takes the player to move around the map, but has now been fixed, and no longer teleports the player into impossible corners if they then instantly re-enter a map grid after travelling out of it, and there’s a city wall in the corner.

Another bug emerged where it turned out that moving from map grid to map grid on foot, if the player was outside a city, caused the important NPCs to mysteriously vanish into oblivion. This was because I had originally codded it on the assumption – falsely, but it just didn’t occur to me – that only cities would have important NPCs… but of course monasteries, farms, towns and so forth do as well. This meant that when you simply walked from grid to grid, it didn’t think to check in on important NPCs because the player wasn’t going through a city gate, and everything was tethered to the gates. This was a quick copy-paste job to call the same “Check what important NPCs are doing” function when going over map grids, and as far as I can tell, that should have done it.

Honestly, a ton of this week has been on bug-fixing. It’s a real case of two steps forward, one step back: I code a bunch of new AI stuff, and then discover loads of weird new bugs in the process, spawned from the massive complexity of URR 0.8. Still, there can’t be that many bugs left now… right?

And finally, since this is a relatively screenshot-light entry, some NPCs from a nation I ran into during the process of playtesting. See you all next week for finished monastery AI, and hopefully the completion of the biggest challenge of all – CASTLES.

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