Author Topic: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback  (Read 25850 times)

UltimaRatioRegum

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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: http://www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/

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 :)


halvorg

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2013, 03:07:24 PM »
I'm a bit short on time right now, so some first impressions.
(I'll edit in more later)

Attempting to start a new game when no worlds exist gives no feedback, nothing happens.
The window border texture in the menus should perhaps be reconsidered, it's a bit big and stands out.
The font for the help text is hard to read. The g's and y's etc are very peculiar.
What I've seen of the visuals so far have been very impressive. I usually get lost in ASCII-ish graphics, but these are very well done.
If possible display the offloading dialogue instantly when walking across "zone borders" or what they're called, for me it takes a second or two for it to appear. The same problem appears when fast traveling.

The game works great right out of the box using wine, assuming there is no music or sound yet as I've yet to hear a sound.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2013, 03:17:13 PM by halvorg »

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2013, 06:36:34 PM »
Many thanks for the detailed feedback.

#1 - "Start New Game" should flash red to denote it does not work. Is this what do you mean, or does it not flash for you playing on wine? If you don't see the flash, maybe I'll have it greyed out instead until you gen a world.
#2 - do you mean the double grey lines? If so... I don't agree, but interesting feedback. What would you suggest instead?
#3 - Are you using 8x8, 10x10, or 12x12? I'll look at the g/y.
#4 - Thanks :)
#5 - It should display instantly, and it always does for me. Do you mean you press Enter, the game "stops" as it's busy generating that area, then after a second or two the "Offloading..." bit appears? If so, I fear that is a wine-only problem, but I'll look into it.

Otherwise, very pleased it works in wine (apart from those two issues which may be wine-only). How long does it take to gen a map grid?
« Last Edit: August 03, 2013, 06:57:28 PM by UltimaRatioRegum »

miki151

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2013, 06:59:10 PM »
I've just tried your game under VMware & Windows 7. Works nice and fast. I like the way the game looks. You've implemented character facing and it's pretty neat. How do you indicate which way NPCs are facing? By the way, is it possible to do anything in the game besides walking around?

You should put keyboard controls in the guidebook, right now they are only in the menu as far as I can tell.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2013, 07:00:44 PM by miki151 »
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halvorg

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2013, 07:37:52 PM »
Many thanks for the detailed feedback.

#1 - "Start New Game" should flash red to denote it does not work. Is this what do you mean, or does it not flash for you playing on wine? If you don't see the flash, maybe I'll have it greyed out instead until you gen a world.
#2 - do you mean the double grey lines? If so... I don't agree, but interesting feedback. What would you suggest instead?
#3 - Are you using 8x8, 10x10, or 12x12? I'll look at the g/y.
#4 - Thanks :)
#5 - It should display instantly, and it always does for me. Do you mean you press Enter, the game "stops" as it's busy generating that area, then after a second or two the "Offloading..." bit appears? If so, I fear that is a wine-only problem, but I'll look into it.

Otherwise, very pleased it works in wine (apart from those two issues which may be wine-only). How long does it take to gen a map grid?

#5 yep, exactly what I mean.
#1: Yeah neither start new game nor load saved game flashes red if no worlds/saves exist.
As long as it works properly in windows I wouldn't worry much about it, #5 is only a (minor) issue for people on low end pc's I suspect.

#2: I mean the squiggly white overlapping (pretzel) lines along the main window border. It isn't a big deal, I just think they stand out.
#3: 12x12. I'm unused to read large amounts of monospaced text though, probably why.

Generating a new map grid takes about 10 seconds on an old Centrino 2 laptop.

I can't seem to tell whether there is water under a tree's branches. This could perhaps be a problem in the future if you are fighting something and start swimming without meaning to? Example: The tiles to the east and south of the player is here water. Image

Consider wrapping for the arrow-key-navigation in the guidebook.


UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2013, 12:55:50 AM »
I've just tried your game under VMware & Windows 7. Works nice and fast. I like the way the game looks. You've implemented character facing and it's pretty neat. How do you indicate which way NPCs are facing? By the way, is it possible to do anything in the game besides walking around?

You should put keyboard controls in the guidebook, right now they are only in the menu as far as I can tell.

Thanks for the feedback! That's very good news re: VMware. There is another "view type" where you can see arrows instead of @s etc, where the arrows denote facing direction, but I've disabled it for the time being as, until NPCs exist, there's no real use to it. Yes, indeed! You can explore ziggurats, which are 'Z's on the map. There's a large amount of generated artwork and procedurally generated puzzles within. It's only one aspect of what will be there in the end, but it is the first. I have considered adding the controls to the guidebook before... it may happen, but I don't like duplicating information. Then again, maybe it should be only in the guidebook, and not in the options menu. That... would make a certain amount of sense, now I think about it...


#5 yep, exactly what I mean.
#1: Yeah neither start new game nor load saved game flashes red if no worlds/saves exist.
As long as it works properly in windows I wouldn't worry much about it, #5 is only a (minor) issue for people on low end pc's I suspect.

#2: I mean the squiggly white overlapping (pretzel) lines along the main window border. It isn't a big deal, I just think they stand out.
#3: 12x12. I'm unused to read large amounts of monospaced text though, probably why.

Generating a new map grid takes about 10 seconds on an old Centrino 2 laptop.

I can't seem to tell whether there is water under a tree's branches. This could perhaps be a problem in the future if you are fighting something and start swimming without meaning to? Example: The tiles to the east and south of the player is here water. Image

Consider wrapping for the arrow-key-navigation in the guidebook.

Interesting, and thanks for the info. I'll see if I can find a way to get that working on linux too, though as you say it's only a small thing.

#2, interesting. I confess I have no plans to remove the border, but I'm certainly up to reconsidering it. As for #3, yeah - I have considered making the fonts more vertical than horizontal, though it would be a big shift. One or two other people have mentioned similar, so I am certainly considering it.

10 seconds is pretty decent. I see what you mean for the water image; I'll try and think up a solution to that one. And wrapping - yes. I will make it so.

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2013, 12:50:19 PM »
I've been following your work with great interest since the time your game still had the fantasy world setting. Sadly, you replaced it over a historical setting, which although interesting, leaves not much room for imagination as far magic and fantasy creatures are concerned. Nonetheless, I'm quite excited with your work and I will keep religiously monitoring it!

Ultima Ratio Regum is definitely the best looking "ASCII" based roguelike I have ever seen. It has the cleanest, most appealing and the most artistic design ever. Really! It is mind blowing! I really can't believe that someone that is into roguelike games can try your game without being visually marveled by it.

Regarding the new features, I think they look great. The ziggurats' dungeons are really neat! The doors images are also top notch. Everything is in tune and placed in harmony as far visual appearance is concerned. But I still need to integrate their visuals with game play, which sadly there is none yet. I still need to experience the game's game play to understand if these dungeons are exciting or boring to explore, too difficult or too easy.

The world you are creating seems vast, which is something I really like as long it's consistency level can back it up. Make sure you keep players busy all the time without having large areas of emptiness during exploration periods.

Some things that I would like to criticize now:

1 - I agree with Halvorg. The window's frame white border is too bright. I don't recommend removing it (because I really like it) but changing it's color to something smoother, like a medium gray or so. That bright white over black is breaking the artistic harmony which can be seen throughout the rest of the game and it unconsciously makes itself look more important then what happens inside it.

2 - Fast traveling on water. I don't know if this is meant just to let the player discover the map at this early stage of game development but it definitely should not happen, unless the player gets a ship or so. Or there is another reason for this? Is this a game play reason?

3 - Map offloading times. This gets a bit annoying after a while, well, maybe because I was just quickly exploring areas over and over but nonetheless it does break the game experience (just a bit). Couldn't you do the offloading in a second thread allowing the player to travel without waiting? You could make the offloading area non-explorable until it finishes the offloading process, just to make sure everything is consistently saved.

4 - I second the mono spaced text reading, it isn't comfortable to read. But I don't think there is much you can do about it without a major restructure. I don't think this is a problem as long there aren't large portions of text to read. Nonetheless, mono spaced text should be something one should always avoid, though it does make the coder's job easier to setup text on the screen ;)

5 - I think it would be best to see the water animations being animated independently of the character's movement, otherwise it is difficult to tell in which direction the river is going while halted. Of course this only makes sense if the stream's direction affects the character in any way. Take DF as example, where you can see the water flickering while your character is idle. What do you think?

The world map is generated incredibly fast, honestly it could take 10 minutes that I would not mind as long the game is worth of it. Do you plan to make the URR's generated worlds persistent?

Looking forward for more updates on URR!
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 01:30:25 PM by Endorya »
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UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2013, 05:02:06 PM »
Thanks for this awesome and detailed feedback. Whilst it is now historical, there are going to be a few unusual things in the game in the future - it will not be staying 100% "realistic", though there aren't going to be fantasy creatures and zombies and whatnot. You'll have to stay tuned for the specifics, but some weird stuff will be happening. Thinks Borges/Murakami/other "magical realist" authors for a good idea of what I mean.

Re: "ASCII" (as you accurately put it!), many thanks. When I realized I wanted more characters, I debated moving to sprites, but I like working and designing within the limitations of just a foreground/background colour per tile, and I'm glad others do too. The aesthetic design of the game is a really key part, and one I intend to continue developing. For example, when weapons are implemented, they will all get a procedurally generated image, much like all the structures and things in ziggurats now.

I'm not sure what you mean by the gameplay - for the time being, at least, the puzzle generation is the gameplay. I realize it's not traditional roguelike gameplay, and rest assured combat etc is on the way, but that's the early gameplay. The next release, 0.4, is going to focus on adding traps to ziggurats to "break up" the puzzle solving. These will NOT be the kind of (in my view) rubbish traps you get in other RLs - they are invisible until seen, only take up one tile, etc. These will be visible traps with triggers (like tripwires, pressure pads, etc) and outcomes (like fire, poison, gas, arrows, etc), and it will be up to the player to navigate around them, over them, or trigger them from a distance, or trick enemies into them, etc.

As for emptiness, cities and villages are planned, along with many other types of dungeon as well as ziggurats (pyramids will be the next, then more... unusual ones...). 0.5 will be focusing on history/civilization generation, and will have some of the early stages of cities beginning to appear, though I don't yet know to what extent you'll be able to interact with them. I totally agree though - if I read your paragraph correctly, you are saying a game like this needs to be "dense" with stuff to do? If so, I totally agree, and I'm working on it :)

CRITICISMS:

1) Hmm, interesting. Nobody's ever mentioned this before, but two in one thread makes me think I should tone it down. I'll give it a milder colour, and your aesthetic criticism makes sense too.

2) Correct. You will *not* be able to travel over water in the future without hiring a ship, and similarly, the map will largely start undiscovered. That is just in place for the time being.

3) Agreed. That goes back to the density issue - once you've spent a long time in a ziggurat and reached the peak, for instance, a few seconds of offloading doesn't seem that bad after 10-30+ minutes on the tile. This will obviously be even stronger once there is more gameplay "in" each map grid, as it were (if you spend an hour exploring a map grid, a few seconds of offloading isn't too bad!), but I agree. I do like the idea of offloading in the background though with two threads. I will most definitely look into it.

4) The problem is, with procedural myths, legends, histories and so on, there will later be lots of text to read. I'm not really sure what the solution to this is, unless I make all fonts into 10x12, 8x10, etc. I'll have to consider this, and maybe making "tall" fonts is the best plan. Hmm. The problem is that the entire game is built around a grid-based font system, as is the main library I'm using, and I'd have to really search for a solution to that.

5) A good point. That's going on the list of "stuff to do one day" for now, as water won't play a big role for a while, but I agree with the principle. Making the flow visible whilst stationary makes a lot of sense!

What do you mean by persistent? Although unusual for the kind of game that generates an entire world, not just will there be permadeath, but you will get only one character per world. There's a whole bunch of reasons for this I've posted on my blog, but the long story short is that there's going to be a weird and complicated plot, and I want the world to reroll each time. I mean, all roguelikes without a "world" do this - you do not explore the same dungeon in Nethack twice! - and I'm just expanding that onto a bigger scale. However, death at the start of the game will be rare, so you won't be alternating between dying and generating a new world endlessly. A one/two minute generation window would be annoying as hell if a new player died as often as they do on classic RLs, but although I intend for the game to be very, very difficult, the very early game won't be. Unlike most RLs, I want the endgame to actually be the hardest part! Anyway, thanks for the fantastic feedback. It is immensely appreciated.

miki151

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2013, 05:25:40 PM »
Could you explain what these puzzles are about? I entered a Ziggurat and noticed a few blocks lying around that I could move, but I didn't give it much thought. Perhaps an explicit hint within the game about the puzzle and what needs to be achieved would be good.

About the character facing again. I noticed that when walking, the first key press only changes the direction, and only then the character starts moving. This is mildly annoying in a dungeon (or Ziggurat :)), where you move around a lot. I would suggest moving right away on first press, and for changing direction without moving, use a control + arrow combination.
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UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2013, 07:20:15 PM »
Could you explain what these puzzles are about? I entered a Ziggurat and noticed a few blocks lying around that I could move, but I didn't give it much thought. Perhaps an explicit hint within the game about the puzzle and what needs to be achieved would be good.

About the character facing again. I noticed that when walking, the first key press only changes the direction, and only then the character starts moving. This is mildly annoying in a dungeon (or Ziggurat :)), where you move around a lot. I would suggest moving right away on first press, and for changing direction without moving, use a control + arrow combination.

Try the 'l'ook function (that is a lower case L). That's all I will say. There will be more explicit hints later, but if you use the look function, it's very clear. And I specifically recommended checking the controls at game-start for just this reason! : )

It does - that is because turning around takes in-game time, and that matters for combat (or rather, it will matter for combat). If I switched to the system you've suggested, turning around would take a lot longer because you'd be moving at the same time. You can hold down Ctrl at the moment, actually, to move WITHOUT turning direction, to sidestep, move backwards, etc. Facing is very important, so I want to give you maximum control over it. However, as ever, I'm willing to consider a change there.

miki151

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2013, 07:35:31 PM »
Okay, I'll have to 'l'ook around once more :)

So there are 3 types of possible movement here:
- turning without moving, if it's required before movement in given direction
- moving without turning
- moving and automatically turning if required.

You've implemented the first two, and the last one is what a player would normally be used to from playing other roguelikes. What I suggest is to put the first two under control and alt modifiers, and the last one by default. Of course it's a matter of getting used to, and you're probably so familiar with it that you don't even notice, so I'm merely suggesting that it's a bit unnatural for a new player.
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Endorya

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2013, 08:26:00 PM »
Thanks for this awesome and detailed feedback. Whilst it is now historical, there are going to be a few unusual things in the game in the future - it will not be staying 100% "realistic", though there aren't going to be fantasy creatures and zombies and whatnot. You'll have to stay tuned for the specifics, but some weird stuff will be happening. Thinks Borges/Murakami/other "magical realist" authors for a good idea of what I mean.
Now you got me even more curious about URR! :D

I'm not sure what you mean by the gameplay(...)
What I meant was having all features that you have planed for the ziggurats' type dungeons implement so everyone can fully appreciate how these dungeons will play themselves.

(...)if I read your paragraph correctly, you are saying a game like this needs to be "dense" with stuff to do? If so, I totally agree, and I'm working on it :)
Yes, that was exactly what I was referring to, keeping the player entertaining but mainly during explorations, as explorations are prone to become boring if not properly handled. But then of course, it all depends on what you have planned and how you want the game to play and feel.

1) Hmm, interesting. Nobody's ever mentioned this before, but two in one thread makes me think I should tone it down. I'll give it a milder colour, and your aesthetic criticism makes sense too.
If we are really the only 2 people "complaining" about it, then I don't believe this issue is something you should be worrying about. Though, I still think that if this is something you can easily fix you should do it so, trying to keep as much people happy about it as possible is usually a good thing ;)

2) Correct. You will *not* be able to travel over water in the future without hiring a ship, and similarly, the map will largely start undiscovered. That is just in place for the time being.
You will make it then exactly the way I was hoping for! Sweet!

4) The problem is, with procedural myths, legends, histories and so on, there will later be lots of text to read. I'm not really sure what the solution to this is, unless I make all fonts into 10x12, 8x10, etc. I'll have to consider this, and maybe making "tall" fonts is the best plan. Hmm. The problem is that the entire game is built around a grid-based font system, as is the main library I'm using, and I'd have to really search for a solution to that.
Honestly, leave it as it is for now, unless leaving it now means having to redesign ALOT more later on. If that is the case then you should really consider a solution as soon as possible. I think this is an issue which will affect most players. Reading mono spaced text is something our brains are not used to, specially cubic letters having the same with and height. But then again, URR will function perfectly well with or without mono spaced fonts, it is just a matter of providing a more comfortable or less comfortable way of reading text, i.e. it won't make the game unplayable or less enjoyable by having mono spaced text.

What do you mean by persistent?
I asked this because I wasn't sure if players would need to create new worlds whenever they wanted to start new adventures or if they could reuse existing ones. Honestly, it is fine with me either way because I have mixed feelings about persistent worlds. Well, I actually lean towards creating a new world whenever a new character is created as this way I make sure that each world is unique and that previous knowledge regarding world exploration is not inherited between characters.

I'm really glad if somehow I managed to help you in any way. I never thought I could actually "chat" with the URR's creator. The honor is all mine. :D

« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 08:28:12 PM by Endorya »
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Endorya

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2013, 09:01:51 PM »
About puzzles:

This afternoon I tried URR again and after I ran and quit it about 20 times in a row I moved towards the zuggurats to explore the puzzles. Don't worry, the game is working fine, I was just executing it and quitting it so I could contemplate the different types of "ASCII" images decorating the main menu. Man, they are really great! It would be really cool to be able to randomly switch the title screen's images by pressing a specific key, just to capture the desired mood before playing it. :D

Anyway, about the puzzles. I got inside this ziggurat dungeon having 5 hints and about a dozen of blocks and a dozen of pressure plates. And here is the problem, I have a short memory so I kept forgetting the hints over and over as I looked at the blocks' figures (they look so very, very cool by the way!) and then I kept forgetting which image was in each cube. Yeah, this can be entirely my fault, no one is to blame for me having a low memory brain. But the truth is, it ended up being kind of a frustrating experience, having also into consideration the way the it works to look at stuff.

Currently you have to make the following steps in order to look at something:
1 - Move towards the object
2 - Face the object (if not facing it)
3 - Press 'l' to enter looking mode
4 - Move the looking cursor over the object
5 - Press 'Enter' to access the features
6 - Read the options available
7 - Press the corresponding key to bring the amplified image related to the selected feature.

My suggestion (see if this makes sense to you):
All hints and blocks related to a specific puzzle could be memorized by the "character" so you could access this information in the character's journal or something. There you could access the "Ziggurat puzzle X" in which you could view all stuff related to that puzzle, this would include the image of the blocks and all hints. This could in fact work as in real life. Archeologists do take notes and drawings of important data (photographs nowadays).

This would decrease the difficult level of your puzzles as they are, but you could actually bump the puzzles difficulty to compensate this feature. One thing I can tell you, it tortures me :'( the way it works at the moment as it keeps remembering of my brain's crappy memorizing capacity. And unfortunately, there are others like me, at least this is what I want to believe. ::)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 11:54:59 PM by Endorya »
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Endorya

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2013, 09:28:35 PM »
About the character facing again. I noticed that when walking, the first key press only changes the direction, and only then the character starts moving. This is mildly annoying in a dungeon (or Ziggurat :)), where you move around a lot. I would suggest moving right away on first press, and for changing direction without moving, use a control + arrow combination.
I think miki151 has a point here. The truth is that you can walk while facing another direction. I remember when I fought trolls in an "ancient" version of URR, I would loose a turn to look back to see how far the trolls perusing me were. In a real life situation you would know how close the trolls would be (assuming trolls were real :P) because you could still twist briefly your back and neck to look back as well as hearing the troll's heavy footsteps coming after you. That's why I think 360ยบ view works better because it simulates more effectively the character's senses, including turning your neck in every direction while moving in a specific bearing.

In your game, I think you could maintain your vision limitation angle while revealing your foes position in every direction, regardless of the direction the character may be facing. They would be revealed by listening to their footsteps, heavy breathing, grunting and other sounds. And if you really want to be detailed about it, this could be relative to the creature's noise level versus the character's hearing capability. Large creatures do tend to make more noise than smaller ones. Sneaking foes could would definitely be harder or impossible to spot.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 10:00:34 PM by Endorya »
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Vanguard

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum development feedback
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2013, 11:35:25 PM »
The presentation in this game is incredible.  I never knew that ASCII (or pseudo-ASCII?) could look so good.

Edit:

Some of these puzzles are ambiguous.  "The lifegiver" could be the sun or the water.  I have one clue that says "the regrown branches and the average structure are together and adjacent to the falling leaves and a serpent."  Are the regrown branches and average structure together in between the falling leaves and the serpent, or are the branches and structure together and next to the leaves and serpent which are also together?  Does it matter what order are they go in?  I have no way of finding out other than to guess.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 03:46:07 AM by Vanguard »