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Events and News / Now streaming the UK IRDC 2015!
« on: June 27, 2015, 08:28:18 AM »
You can watch it at; we (hopefully) have fourteen talks from a range of devs, academics, enthusiasts, and those who cross more than one of those definitions! We'll be starting in 30 minutes, which is 10am UK time...

I am hosting the (European) International Roguelike Development Conference 2015! If you plan to attend, please fill in this Google Form (, and read on for details. Everyone is welcome!

**The Event**

An "unconference (" for everyone and anyone involved with or interested in roguelikes - from leading developers and academics to fans and enthusiasts - to discuss the genre, meet others involved with it, listen to and give talks, see first-hand demos of in-development titles, and generally socialize and eat some nice food. It is taking place at the National Videogame Arcade ( (NVA) in the United Kingdom!

This year we're trying something a little bit different: the first day will be the "core" day of the conference as it has been the past seven years, where everyone from big name in the field to enthusiast is invited to come, present talks, listen to talks, show off demos, and the like. The second day will be more public, and is currently planned to include an exhibition of playable classic roguelikes with help on hand to explain the user interfaces to new players, a roguelike game jam, a chance to talk with game journalists interested in the genre, and public lectures on the genre and procedural generation more generally. We're therefore interested in both the classic networking with everyone already interested in roguelikes, but also in bringing our beloved genre to a wider audience and the games press.

**The Venue**

The NVA is located in Nottingham (, and this UoN page ( gives a good description of how to access the city, which is well-connected by flight, rail, and coach. It is a large multi-floor building with a range of ongoing and temporary exhibitions, and we will be positioned primarily in the spacious "Lounge" area, with all the usual tables/chairs/projector/etc facilities. The NVA also has a bar!

**The Dates**

The conference will take place on the **27-28th June 2015.**

**In Summary**

Please go to the Google Form ( and fill in your details, your interest, and whether you're interested in giving a talk, a demo, helping out on the second day, and whatever else.

If you have any questions, please email me at mark at my domain (, or leave a comment in this thread, or somewhere else on my site, or just generally in some location you think I'll probably see it.

Early Dev / Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« on: December 13, 2014, 01:49:28 PM »
So, I'm starting a year of full-time development on URR. This means I am working on it as my main occupation for that time and living off my personal savings. As such it seems sensible to add a regular update thread here as well as my blog, Bay12, TIG and the various other places I have such a thread, and to cross-post all my weekly updates to here.

For those who don't know about the game:

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 this year 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:

Loading a game with player information:

Exploring the generated desert fortress of "Redsnake Bastion":

One district among many in the city of Smithvale:

Wandering around a graveyard outside the city of Foolrock Precipice (every grave of which has a name, a date, and is linked to the world's history):

I've just released version 0.6 after seven months of development, which now gives you the ability to walk around farms, towns, vast cities (each able to support a population of ~300,000+), fortresses, slums, graveyards, hunter-gatherer settlements, and more. I'm now working on version 0.7 - having tackled the exterior for every building on the planet, we need to tackle the interiors.

You can download the game at, and my blog there is updated every week with a detailed entry on the week's coding developments, and sometimes more general games crit/design commentary too (though I intend to cross-post them all here from now on).

Well, it's finally happening! I'm going to get the chance to code URR full-time for a year without messing around with a Kickstarter. I'm hyped beyond words. I've written in much more detail about it here on my blog (I was going to post the entire entry here rather than the link, but the images are colossal):

Design / Long-term Ultima Ratio Regum future plan/design document
« on: February 15, 2014, 01:33:34 PM »
Recently I’ve had a few questions about the long-term plot and direction of Ultima Ratio Regum ( Many have noticed – rightly – that 99% of what has been implemented in the game so far is best termed as world-building. Ziggurats are the only “gameplay” that has yet been developed, but they are obviously in their very early stages and lacking a large number of features. A few people have asked – what is the plot of the game? What will the gameplay actually look like? What kind of structure will the game possess in terms of advancement, leveling, and so forth? I’m therefore going to answer some of those questions. Some of them, however, I’ll be keeping secret, and some will be partial answers, since a large part of the game is going to be around uncovering what exactly there is in the game, how to decipher languages, gain access to new areas, find artifacts, and so forth. This entry is therefore going to let you know a bit about the structure, and some hints towards what some of the areas are, and what the overall “arc” of the story and the game are.

The game will consist of nine central dungeons, located in broadly random positions around the world map. Three of them will be “easy”, three reasonably tricky, and three very, very challenging. As long-time readers of this blog will know, Ultima Ratio Regum is not just intended to be a game which is difficult in a game-mechanics sense like other roguelikes – which require you to understand the game’s systems, think tactically about your choices, and balance large numbers of different factors – but also a game that will require the player to think hard about puzzles, riddles, cryptographic languages, and a number of other delicious secrets I’m not going to share yet. Although permadeath, each game is likely to last longer than a game of traditional dungeon-crawling roguelikes, and a significant portion of the game is coming to understand the world intellectually, not just learning how to defeat it mechanically. Much of the world building is important in this regard – noble family mottos might contain clues, for example, whilst city districts might harbour cults that can help you with particular dungeons or distant cities might contain trade routes that help you easily move between them.

The game plan roughly divides into four blocks as shown below. The first block which we’re a good 50%+ through now is the world-building block. This block is coming first because as I’ve developed the game it has become clear it needs to be done in this order. How can NPCs spawn in dungeons without a civ for them to belong to? How can there be any use to money and loot if there’s nobody to trade with? How can you survive for any length of time without people to buy healing items from? Not to mention the fact that a number of the plot details of the world need there to be civilizations in existence that can be affected by your actions in the nine central dungeons. Something I’m going to be announcing later in the year (think around May/June time) once I’ve finished my doctorate might mean Block 1 might be finished in the space of just a year rather than at the current pace (part-timing is tricky), but Block 1 is going to be the priority until the main five points highlighted below are finished. Once “the world” is in place, I’ll then be moving onto Block 2, containing the three easiest dungeons, and also the end-game dungeon. The game will therefore be winnable upon the completion of Block 2. Blocks 3 and 4 are for those of us who like going after our 15 Runes in DCSS, the toughest endings in ADOM and the conducts in Nethack.

Block 1: World-Building

- Town/Village/City Building Interiors
- NPCs, Schedules, Occupations, Conversations.
- Trade, Markets, Shops, Coinage, Mountain/Sea Travel
- Weapons, Armour, Shields, Ammunition, etc
- Combat mechanics, Move Sets, Skills, Stamina.

Block 2: The Early Game

- Dungeon 1, Ziggurats (three small structures, tropics, traps, riddle puzzles)
- Dungeon 2, (one large structure)
- Dungeon 3, Saal’s Cage (one large location)
- End-Game Dungeon

Block 3: The Mid Game

- Dungeon 4, (three small structures)
- Dungeon 5, The Garden of Forking Paths, (one large location)
- Dungeon 6, (one large structure)

Block 4: The End Game

- Dungeon 7, (three small structures)
- Dungeon 8, The Cog of the World (one large location)
- Dungeon 9, (one large structure)

As above, the model of the game is going to be akin to that of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (I do know what all nine areas are going to be, I just don’t want to reveal/name them all yet). Once you complete any three dungeons, of which naturally the three early-game dungeons are the easiest, you will gain access to the end-game dungeon (akin to the Realm of Zot). You can complete the game there… or keep playing, for the end-game dungeon will serve a purpose that is not just “the final dungeon”, but rather the actions you take there will affect the outside world as well and potentially aid your quest to complete all nine areas. Once you unlock the end-game dungeon, which will happen upon clearing three dungeons, you can close out the game or continue playing to try and seek out a higher-scoring victory. I haven’t even begun to think about the scoring system yet, but it will be very clear how many of the nine dungeons have been cleared when a player completes the game.

I’m also going to say a little about the story. The three primary inspirations for the story are Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco and most importantly Jorge Borges. The core of the game’s story is basically an exploration of reality – to what extent is reality fixed, and to what extent is it contingent on our beliefs? Is there an external reality or is the universe just what we all “agree” it is? This is particularly relevant when considering Borges’ short story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, which is a key inspiration for the game. In the tale a kind of “conspiracy” of intellectuals seek to change what we hold reality to be by imagining a new world that is roughly contiguous with the existing one but with many distinct differences, and that by replacing all records of this world with records of that currently “fictional” world, that world will “become” this – the consensus will be that this new world is the real world, for there will no longer be any records to suggest otherwise, and that therefore ideas and beliefs determine the reality we perceive. I think this is a fascinating idea (and this is partly the academic in me speaking now) and will be reflected within the game. I’ll be saying more about this later, and once the early-game dungeons become fully implemented this will become clearer, but this concept will not just be part of the story but also have an important gameplay aspect later on. So that’s all the plot/game future information for now! Next week I’ll be rounding up the concluding parts of sigils, and then working on families and histories – see you all then.

Announcements / Ultima Ratio Regum 0.4 (health, limbs, traps)
« on: December 21, 2013, 02:28:54 PM »
After four months of work, I am proud to announce the release of Ultima Ratio Regum alpha v0.4! Head to the download page to try it:

- Limbs – damage, healing, movement penalties/bonuses, etc.
- Expanded basic inventory system.
- Addition of torches & healing items.
- Traps – trap rooms, lethal/non-lethal, gas/acid/spikes/poison/fire and more.
- Ability to throw/pick-up items.
- Full terrain & tree procedural graphics.
- 50%-75% time reduction for all saving/loading screens.

The focus of this release is on several mechanics relating to traps which generate in dungeons – specifically throwing items, picking up items, and the implementation of the early stages of the health system. Unlike in most roguelikes where traps are invisible until “detected” or triggered, traps in URR are fully visible, and making your way through them with a minimum of damage forms a puzzle of sorts. In future versions there will be additional methods to navigate traps including raising shields to deflect incoming projectiles. This release has also seen significant improvement in saving/loading/world generation times, the addition of procedural graphics for all terrain when you ‘l’ook at it, and the implementation of a simple and modular inventory system which will be developed in future versions.

For information about the future of the game, please check out the development plan page ( Thanks to everyone for your support thus far, and I hope you stick with the project as we move forward to generating the rest of the world – civilizations, cities and everything else – in the next few releases. Do please leave any comments/questions you might have!

Early Dev / Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« on: August 03, 2013, 02:23:05 PM »
I've just (after seven months!) released Ultima Ratio Regum v0.3, which can be read about and downloaded from here:

You can now explore the first type of dungeon - ziggurats - and deal with some pretty fiendish procedurally generated puzzles. I'd love any and all feedback on the art, controls, mechanics, puzzle difficulty; anything and everything. Thanks all :)

Programming / Generating flags, icons and symbols
« on: January 07, 2013, 05:32:52 PM »
So, I thought I'd post a thread about generating things other than levels, monsters, etc. As part of URR (main thread: I'm having the game generate flags for all of the in-game civs, and also icons and symbols for all the games religions. Below are some examples of generated flags:

The way a civilization's territory is coloured on the map is dependent upon the flag. The same combination of colours, and the same pattern, cannot be generated twice in one game - whilst, technically, this does make the possibilities finite, a quick calculation showed the number of options was orders of magnitude above what would ever be needed on even the largest possible map with the highest possible resources, land mass, and generally trying to set everything so that as many civilizations as possible were generated. There's a database of colours, which is significant, though not exhaustive - I tried out quite a lot of colours to decide which ones worked, and which ones didn't.

Secondly, I've got the game generating religious icons. These are *not finished*, as there are some that I feel still generate too similarly, and some that simply aren't that interesting, and a lot of extra "components" I intend to add to the generator, but it's a pretty good idea of the final product I have in mind. Religious icons are generated in three parts – a “base”, a “symbol”, and a “surround”. The base is the largest shape present – it might be two crescents at the top and bottom, various kinds of squares, triangles, octagons, linked squares, arrows, and the like. Once that’s been chosen, the game then selects a set of symbols appropriate to that base – symbols are the sections that go in the middle. Lastly, if *no* symbol has been chosen – some bases have no valid symbols, whilst even bases with valid symbols will sometimes choose against a symbol – then a surround is chosen, which is things that are outside the main design. Some of these are specific to specific designs, whilst others are more general. As with flags, names and everything else, the same religious icon cannot be generated twice in one game. And, like flags, some combinations are denied, either because they don’t look very interesting, or they actively create a clash between the components. Some symbols and surrounds are also changed to match with certain bases in certain ways – the upshot is, there are about 30 bases, 30 symbols and 30 surrounds, with variation within each, and that gives a heck of a lot of religious symbols.

So, do let me know what you think - I'm truly trying to generate as close to everything as possible, and these struck me as both interesting things I could generate, and a good way to add flavour into the game. I also generate "landscapes" for the game (again, see the thread), and in the future I plan to generate images for weapons, artefacts and the like, as well as heraldry, but I'll cover those when I get to them!

Announcements / Ultima Ratio Regum v0.3.1 released!
« on: November 26, 2012, 06:31:41 PM »
Ultima Ratio Regum is a semi-roguelike heavily inspired by Jorge Borges, Umberto Eco, Shadow of the Colossus, Europa Universalis and Civilization.

Updated 3rd August 2013:
VERSION 0.3.0 has just been released, and can be read about and downloaded at:


- 16 hand-drawn languages, assigned to ancient civilizations.
- Ziggurats, containing fully three-dimensional dungeons (multiple staircases which retain coordinates between floors). - Procedural generation of riddle puzzles in ziggurats.
- Extensive graphical update for many items, accessible through the ‘l’ook function – stairs, doors, walls, stone blocks.
- Several secret items and hints towards future features and story.
- Over 100 tweaks, bug-fixes, and general improvements.

It seeks to generate realistic histories, though ones containing a few unusual happenings and anomalous experiences. Combat is 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.

A generated world – coastline, ocean, volcanoes, mountains, hills, biomes, rivers…

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.

Exploring a ziggurat; all outdoor areas change colour and shading according to season and time of day.

Fundamentally, URR aims to have several key aspects:

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.

One of the many remnants of ancient civilizations...

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.

Some of URR's generated ANSI art.

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 door...

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.

The ever-increasing Guidebook, full to brim with URR knowledge. Which is not to say there aren’t some secrets lurking out there…

Well, the time has come. After 15 months of one-man development, URR 0.1.0 (or rather, now 0.1.2b) has been released!

A lot more info can be found at

but you can generate a world, wander around, fight, and jump into a volcano. What more could you want? I'd love any feedback on anything from the UI to the world generation, or anything else. Combat is going to undergo a major shift for 0.2.0, but I'd still like to know what people think about its current status.

Hi all! Now that it's approaching a first 0.0.1 release, I thought I'd post a proper thread about my current project:

Ultima Ratio Regum is the early stages of a `strategy roguelike`. It aims to eventually be a fusion of the two 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, with or without mythological elements, from several different eras (and technological levels), 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 much in the 'middle' - constructing buildings, city growth, resource management - abstracted out (as other games exist which handle those well).

After a year of development, URR has been released in alpha version:

Here's a world map:

Full size @

In-game screenshot, fighting a stunned Cyclops and then 'Look'ing at yourself:

If you're interested, you can check my weekly-updated devblog at, follow my Twitter feed at!/UltimaRegum, or Like the FB page at

I'd love to answer any questions, comments, or what have you! As I said above, I'm aiming for 0.0.1 release on the 30th of June which is primarily a demo of the world generation, mechanics like walking, swimming, climbing, jumping etc, and a little bit of combat.

Programming / Let's talk a bit about world map generation!
« on: November 17, 2011, 12:08:23 AM »
So, I've spent the past little while working on world generation ( I thought I'd just throw in a quick screenshot of what the world map looks like at the moment (cross-posted on the Doryen forum, but I know a lot of people are on here!)

The full version can be seen at

Each square on the world map is 200x200 squares of the actual map the player walks around on. The world map first creatures two or three continents, then randomises their borders a little bit, which sometimes results in the continents joining back up. Then it spreads out climates and biomes according to how high or low on the map it is. After that, forests are added in a density according to the climate; there are few 'forest' squares in deserts (ie oases) but a huge number in tropical areas. Volcanic islands are then thrown in, followed by valleys, mountain ranges, and rivers flowing out of the mountain ranges to the ocean, lakes, or valleys. What does everyone think? Now I just need to get cities, territories, and things like dungeons/caves/forts etc spawning...

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