Author Topic: Ultima Ratio Regum (0.8 released after five years!)  (Read 207402 times)

Tzan

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #195 on: May 15, 2016, 03:14:31 PM »
How many testers did you get?

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #196 on: May 21, 2016, 04:05:53 PM »
Got about 30 or 40 signups, and tons of good feedback!

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #197 on: May 23, 2016, 07:59:08 PM »
This week has been absolutely bonkers with academic commitments, personal commitments, and travelling all around the country, and I just haven’t had time to program very much at all. However, there is a major question I’d like some input on, which is what this entry is going to be about – and, indeed, it’s actually important to resolve this question before going too much further.

Learning Dialects

I’ve got the conversation window opened up. You can see yourself and the person you’re talking to, browse the appropriate options, and access some special windows for challenging the person you’re talking to, exchanging or buying/selling items, etc. The next stage (this is the task for this and next week) is to add in the full database of possible sentences, add in a data structure to allow new sentences to be easily added (by me in the future) and easily “unlocked” (e.g. when you learn about a painting, you can then talk about that painting), and in order to do this, I need to think about the other half of the conversation system: being able to ask these questions in appropriate dialects. We now therefore face a rather challenging question: how does the player learn a dialect? I see several options, and I’m still not quite sure which one to go for.

1) You can only say a sentence in a dialect once you have heard that sentence. This would be the simplest; I’d add some colour variation in sentences said by the other person in a conversation to show whether a) you already knew that dialect bit or b) you were hearing it for the first time.

2) You gradually acquire % knowledge, and it is distributed randomly across topics. This could have a range of methods: maybe it’s the number of conversations you have, or the time you spend in a particular nation (though I’d have to make sure that couldn’t be exploited by just running around in the forest, so maybe settlements only!), or something else; as time goes by you can say more and more in that dialect.

3) You can acquire books, or blocks of knowledge, which teach you *everything* in a dialect for *certain topics*. So, for instance, a book called “Laws and Finance in the Nation of Mugoppe” will, once acquired, allow you to speak like a native on the “Laws” and “Money” topics; similarly, perhaps certain characters can be encouraged to tell you everything about a certain topic, which then triggers a little under-the-hood acknowledgement of the same thing, i.e. you can now speak on that topic as a native.

4) Some combination of the above?

5) Something I haven’t thought of?

So, from readers, may I request: can you think about these options, and any potential fourth options you might conceive of, and let me know your thoughts? The basic requirements are for there to be a truly MASSIVE volume of potential sentences, a volume of sentences which can be added to as the player discovers more about the world, and a “learning” system that is interesting, distinctive, and can be somehow “distributed” throughout the world – i.e. you will always learn languages gradually, rather than instantly. This might be fast if the player specifically sets themselves to quickly learning a dialect and doing X (the learning process) a lot, but it should never be instant; there needs to be the option for the player character to know a tiny part of a dialect, a lot of a dialect, some of a dialect, etc.

There’s also  an additional exciting technical question of how to code and store it all… but my intention is to get to plan that out in the next few days once I have some idea of how it should all work!

Also, for this release, I think the player will have full access to every dialect, but in the very near future (0.9 or 0.10) that will change, and the player will have to learn each form of speech for each dialect via whatever means we decide upon.

Chatbots or Robots

A very interesting idea came up in URR’s Bay12 thread this week about whether URR could perhaps instead use chatbots rather than the “option robot” approach. A very strong argument was made for it, and I did actually seriously ponder it for several days, but in the end I decided it wasn’t the right move. Succinctly, my reasons were:

Technical/speed – I’ve never used a chatbot before, and it would require a potentially lengthy process of up-skilling, and I’m really desperate to get 0.8 out asap.

Clues – how easy/hard would it be to program a chatbot to “drop clues” of the right sorts at the right moments in the right context? I have no idea, but I don’t think it would be easy, and given the above point, I don’t know where I’d even start!

Annoyance – a chatbot means the player has to type things, and selecting greetings is one thing, but typing out a greeting every time would quickly get quite infuriating I think. Don’t get me wrong, it would be super cool if the player learned things rather than the player and the player character learning things, but the corrolary there is that the player would have to type everything.

Uniqueness – I already think the system I’ve proposed here will be very different to any other “option robot”, although I am certainly open to further ideas about how to further differentiate it. This is because: a) You have a massive wealth of options and no explicit clues towards what you should say, or implicit “suggestions” for what you should say (i.e. games tend not to give you “pointless” options, but URR will effectively do so, but it’s up to you to decide which are useful/pointless), b) you cannot exhaust all options and have to carefully choose options, c) you’ll be speaking in and moving between dialects and different styles to say the same things. I feel the combination of those three will be very distinctive.

So, I decided not to go to with the chatbot, but I thought it was an interesting enough idea to be worth posting here, in case anyone else has some other ideas, or some other ways to make the system even more distinctive (but you’ll have to be fast, coding starts this week!). Of course, had I elected to go with the chatbot model, I wouldn’t have needed to think about the player character learning dialects as discussed above in this entry, since it would be up to the player themselves, but for the reasons above, chatbots just don’t seem like the best solution for URR.

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #198 on: May 31, 2016, 12:53:34 PM »
This week's blog entry touched on lots of things (including my first live TV experience!), so the full thing can be read at http://www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/2016/05/30/television-canada-dialects-talks-esports/, but here's the URR-specific bit, about dialects and whatnot.

Dialect System

In light of all the excellent comments last week, I have some idea of how dialect learning will now take place in the game. The overwhelming answer seemed to be “some combination of 1 and 3”, and I agree that this is the best solution. If you’re talking to someone about a topic and they make mention of a particular aspect of that topic, then you’ve heard someone say that particular thing in that dialect, and that’ll get added to your list. Alternatively, you’ll be able to buy books or ask someone to specifically tell you about extensively about a particular topic (for a price), both of which will add appropriate information to your database for that dialect. There were also five really interesting ideas raised which I hadn’t thought about, and here they are, and my thoughts on them:

General books? It was suggested that perhaps one could build up a reserve of “points” which are acquired through “general books”, perhaps, which allows you to talk in a dialect for quite a while without needing expertise, but once you exhausts that knowledge of the “basics” of the language, you then pursue more specialist information. I quite like this idea for the basics, and perhaps a system where you can choose where to focus this basic learning? It needs a little more thought, but I think it has promise. Verdict: Probably.

Event learning? The idea was put forward that your character can learn dialect information by attending particular events. I think this could be a fantastic middle-ground between learning language bits just by hanging around in a city, and learning from items – if you go to an arena you’ll learn how to talk about combat, going to a religious festival will let you overhear info about that religion, etc. I’ll have to think about how exactly to put this in to prevent farming/tedium, but I really like it. Verdict: almost certainly.

Fast forward feature? One comment suggested that you can choose to spend time in a city just learning the dialect as another means of acquisition. I think if I implement this you will not be able to pick up language just by hanging around in a city normally, but you will be able to choose to click a button to spend X time in a city talking to people, and at the end of that time your dialect proficiency will go up; spending time as a resource, therefore, which is always a good option in a roguelike. Verdict: Probably.

Learning basics helps you learn advanced? It was suggested that you learn advanced parts of a language faster the more of the basics you know, but I’m not sure how well that would line up with learnings in “chunks” through books, events, etc, but the concept makes a lot of sense. I’ll think more about how to add this. Verdict: Maybe.

Mastery? The idea came up that when you reach over a certain % of a dialect, you are automatically given the small parts you don’t have – so when you have 90%, for instance, everything is automatically filled in, since your player character can “work out” how everything else would be said. This makes a lot of gameplay and thematic sense, and I like it. Verdict: Definitely.

Also, I realize that I should make explicit the difference I’m intending here between “languages” and “dialects”! All the major civilizations in the game world will “speak English”, but different dialects of it which produce different phrasings, different ways of speaking, etc. By contrast, smaller tribal civilizations will speak their own languages, which will need their own systems I haven’t quite decided on yet…

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #199 on: June 05, 2016, 05:28:41 PM »
Remember that technical stuff I talked about last time, and the dialect learning system we discussed the week before? This is going to be one of those rare URRpdates which is actually semi-technical, and I’m going to talk a little bit about how I’m going to implement and store the player’s knowledge of each dialect.

Dialects vs Languages

Firstly, as mentioned last week, I’m talking currently only about dialects – which for the sake of URR I’m currently defining as “a way of speaking English” – rather than languages, which in the URR context I’m defining as a totally different set of characters being used for speech, which might be unintelligible to the player character. The latter will be used for tribal nations (once I figure out a way to implement it that isn’t totally infuriating), but for 0.8 and all immediate future releases, we’ll be focusing on dialects rather than entire languages. It was suggested on URR’s Bay12 thread this week that languages could actually play a small role in the “main” civilizations of the world, i.e. the feudal and nomadic ones, by having 3/4/5 languages across the world as well as dialects, so that you have a lot of nations you can visit that speak your language (which would offset the potential annoyance of having exploration curtailed by language problems) but there are still multiple languages even in the large nations of the URR world. I’m pondering this option and haven’t reached any conclusions yet, but it’s definitely an interesting option.

Technical Specifics

So, I am faced with a bunch of interesting challenges here. I see these four in particular, and I have four solutions I’m currently implementing, with the target of having a working model by this time next week, and some nice screenshots to show off!

Firstly, a system is required that can both keep track of standard “sentence meanings” – such as [Standard Greeting] – and however many custom sentence meanings might be required within a particular game world, such as [Ask about the painting “Sunrise over the Empire of Nurnek”], which will obviously be unique to that particular playthrough. These should all be given to the player in the same way and at the same time, so that the player starts with just a bunch of standard conversation options, and then as time goes by and they learn more about that generated world, they’ll gain a massive range of other conversation options. My intention is that upon world generation, the player will be given a range of sets of the sort greeting_questions = [], farewell_questions = [], and so forth. These will then be populated with a standard set, but they can also be added to manually by the game as a particular playthrough proceeds; so encountering a work of art will append a new possible sentence about that work of art. In turn, each of these additional sentences will be part of an archetype, e.g. “ask about painting”, “ask about sculpture”, etc, and a “tag” on each will keep track of what each sentence means, so that when the player learns how to say [Ask about painting “X”], every sentence of that sort becomes ask-able. A quick mock-up of how this should look, if the player had clicked on the “Past Life” option:



Secondly, the game needs to track what dialects the player character can and cannot say each thing in. This has two obvious options – either the game tracks sentences and lists for each one the appropriate dialects the player knows, or lists the dialects and tracks the sentences that can be said. It became immediately clear that it should track the sentences and then record valid dialects for each sentence, rather than the other way around – if I tracked the dialects, then each dialect would quickly fill up a massive list of valid sentences which would take a long (“long” by roguelike standards) time for the game to sort through each time. Therefore, the game tracks all sentences, and in each sentences has a list of numbers, which relate to each civilization whose dialect the player can say that sentence within.

Thirdly, a method for storing dialects themselves is needed. I’m not currently completely sure about the correct method to do this, but it’s one of the things I’ll be thinking about this coming week, and then implementing the week after. If you look at the URR slides below, you’ll get a good impression of the variables that need to be recorded, and those need to be put into each civilization somehow. More on this later!

Fourthly, we need a method for sorting through certain conversation options that might come with a particularly large volume of viable options. For example, regardless of your dialect, the “Greeting” menu might only have a few options – “Warm Greeting”, “Greeting”, “Terse Greeting”, etc. By contrast, the “art” menu will end up including every piece of artwork you ever see, and if you reach the end of the game, and you’ve investigated a lot of galleries, mansions, cathedrals, castles… it’s going to be the pretty colossal list, and there probably needs to be some way for the player to immediately sort through them. Maybe options to sort by civilization, or start typing in a word and it tries to match that up? So once you know a particular piece of art called “Sunrise over the Great Southern Ocean”, you can type in “Sunri” and it’ll immediately offer you that option. There could be other methods, but I think some combination of those might be the best.

My intention for this week, therefore, is to populate all the option menus with an appropriate set of options, and to start figuring out how exactly to store dialects and therefore generate sentences. More soon! And here’s another mockup I put together for this week’s presentation:



Lastly, if you want the slides from my recent talks in Canada, head here! http://www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/2016/06/05/dialects-the-technical-side/

jere

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #200 on: June 08, 2016, 04:33:21 PM »
Quote
Fourthly, we need a method for sorting through certain conversation options that might come with a particularly large volume of viable options. For example, regardless of your dialect, the “Greeting” menu might only have a few options – “Warm Greeting”, “Greeting”, “Terse Greeting”, etc. By contrast, the “art” menu will end up including every piece of artwork you ever see, and if you reach the end of the game, and you’ve investigated a lot of galleries, mansions, cathedrals, castles… it’s going to be the pretty colossal list, and there probably needs to be some way for the player to immediately sort through them. Maybe options to sort by civilization, or start typing in a word and it tries to match that up? So once you know a particular piece of art called “Sunrise over the Great Southern Ocean”, you can type in “Sunri” and it’ll immediately offer you that option. There could be other methods, but I think some combination of those might be the best.

Search is good. One of the issues I ran into with TOSTTDK is a huge number of books gets generated and I currently just have them sitting in a menu list, which is quite unwieldy. I really need to add a search feature.

I played Her Story last year and it pretty much blew my mind. At heart, the game is about searching because the gameplay involves literally searching for video clips by keywords. In Her Story, the limitation is that you can only see the first 5 results for any query, so stop words like "the" and "you" won't unlock everything. Search isn't just some fiddly user interface in this context, but is in fact a way of reifying thoughts, questions, and relationships. In order to know the right keywords to search, you have to think pretty hard about what concepts are the most relevant and what leads might be the most fruitful. It really does make you feel like a clever detective, which I think is part of the feeling you're trying to evoke with URR. Search as a game mechanic is untapped potential. Something worth looking into if you haven't already.
Golden Krone Hotel -- available on Steam Early Access now

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #201 on: June 11, 2016, 11:58:40 AM »
Thanks for the thoughts! I completely agree, search as a game mechanic is definitely untapped, and I'm really keen to (late this calendar year, or early next calendar year) start work on those elements of URR. Also, that's very interesting, as I actually didn't know Her Story had those elements in it. I'll have to investigate!

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #202 on: June 11, 2016, 04:35:53 PM »
Just a short update this week on a lot of things outside URR, but implementing the conversation system is proceeding, and we should have a lot of stuff to show there next week! In the mean time, a general "what am I doing with my time?" update can be found here, with some rather nice ANSI art: http://www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/2016/06/11/micro-update/

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #203 on: June 21, 2016, 10:51:35 PM »
I’m pleased to report a nice big (if two-day delayed) URRpdate this week! Lots of progress has been made in the last fortnight, and now we can scroll through all the standard options for each conversation options, with an appropriate pairing of colours to denote whether you know how to say it in the dialect you’re currently speaking (if you don’t and you select that option, it will say it in your home dialect, thereby “giving you away” somewhat if you pretending to belong to a different culture); and in the future I might add a language layer as well, assuming I come up with a good mechanic for language-learning and language-based gameplay.

So, firstly, here’s now the conversation menu looks now, with and without a scroll bar. I’m still finishing off the coding on the scroll bar as these things are really just remarkably awkward and difficult to program in well, especially when you have options that can take up multiple lines and change size, and be sorted into windows of different sizes depending on the player’s selected options. Nevertheless, screenshots/gifs:





These are all, of course, only the default options, as the system for implementing extra questions is not yet in place, but will be soon! So as you can see, we’re going for a two-part colour coding here: green and white means that you’ve got the knowledge to say that in the chosen dialect (obviously you can say everything perfectly in your home dialect, otherwise you’d be in serious trouble!), red and grey means you haven’t. For looking at dialects, the currently-selected dialect shows up with a blue diamond and all the other dialects you know anything of have a red ‘X’. When you’re in the “Challenge” and “Smithing” options and the other options that have two windows, selected/rejected options will be displayed the same way; when you’re trading, which has three windows (your trade goods, selected trade, their trade goods), the items in the middle window will have a < or > arrow next to them showing which person of the two trading parties (i.e. you and the person you’re talking to) they came from.

Now, some techy stuff. When the world is generated, the game now has an (in the process of being written) list of every possible question archetype. There will probably be somewhere between one and two hundred default questions, at a guess, and finishing these off is one of my tasks for the coming week. As for questions that are generated? Well, every question of the sort “What do you think of [work of art]?” will simply be a variation of a default “What do you think of a specific work of art?” question, and once that question is learned the player will be able to ask about any work of art. Those meta-level questions are not present in this initial list, since one would never ask “What do you think of a specific work of art?” without stating the work of art in question, but they are also stored, albeit in separate lists. I am still calculating exactly what the best way to store the player’s dialect knowledge of these meta-questions, but I expect we’ll have a large list of meta-level questions – since there aren’t that many (ask about an artwork, a city, a town, a book, a poem, etc) I think they should be stored fine in their own list.



You’ll note a “gap” between the top and bottom lists; the bottom list is for question topics that only show up when you talk to particular classes of NPC, whereas the top lists apply to everyone. Of the two special instances shown in the above picture, for instance, the “tombs” questions apply to priests and archivists in cathedrals, whilst the “harvest” questions (as you might expect) apply to farmers. In turn, each question in each category has a list added onto the end of it, which contains a set of numbers, relating to which dialects the player does/doesn’t know how to ask that particular question in. This system obviously requires me to type out all the standard question forms – which I’d have to do anyway, regardless of system! – but works very rapidly in the speech system when listing possible statements and whether they can be said in a particular dialect. Upon a particular sentence being selected, the game will then translate the overall question into a specific question for that dialect – so “Who built the tombs?” might become “By the efforts of what craftspeople were these tombs carved?”, or “What people created these great crypts?”, or “Under what ruler were this tombs mined out?”… and so forth, and the same then obviously applies to every possible question, including the generated ones. As well as finishing all the question lists, the other goals for this week are ensuring the scroll bars work correctly, storing the meta-questions, properly allowing the player to switch dialect, and allowing the player to start typing something and then have the list of potential questions adjust themselves based on the “search” – as we discussed before, this is going to be *vital* for some of the really long question lists.

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #204 on: June 27, 2016, 01:02:00 PM »
An even bigger update this week! I made a lot of headway on my academic commitments (one of which can be seen at the bottom of this update) and so I managed to carve out quite a few evenings to really focus on game development for a bit. This week I added the current list of every single standard conversation option (which is then generated for each culture when spoken), implemented the scroll bars for going through some of the longer lists, allowed the player to change their dialect and see what they can see in each dialect (I haven’t yet decided how much dialect knowledge will be present in this release – we’ll see), and then implemented a system for keeping track of all the meta-questions (such as “Please tell me about [novel]”) and what dialects the player can say those in! Lots of big progress therefore, and all the underlying aspects of the conversation system are now there – except selecting options and having them appear in the conversation itself – and all the elements of the dialect generation system are now there – except for exhaustive generation of every possible statement. My task for this week, therefore, is to make as much progress as possible in these two areas. I have no idea how fast/slow these will be, but I’m confident about having something solid to show you all in a week from now. In the mean time, though, here’s some more detail about the latest developments:

Conversation Options

I’ve created a draft list of every single default conversation option in the game. I haven’t actually counted them up but there are several hundred default options, and these will be available in every conversation, as well as another hundred or so “default” options limited to a specific class of NPC (so you can ask a guard about guard duty, an archivist about their archives, etc etc). Here’s a screenshot with an entirely incomplete section of potential default questions, and a gif of looking through the default question options for a whole bunch of conversation options:





I’m sure I’ll keep adding new questions here, but I’ve built the rest of the technical architecture (i.e. the parts more complex than the lists shown here) in such a way that just adding something to the lists here will implement a new question in all the relevant parts of the game’s code where it should be, and allow me to put in a system for generating that question. You’ll also note the different colours! After some excellent thoughts in a comment last week, there is now a range of knowledge the player can have about a given sentence. A green diamond means you can say it perfectly in that dialect; a red diamond means that there is absolutely no chance you will say it correctly; but the interesting ones are the numbers, which range from 1 -> 9 and mean you have a tiny -> very high chance of saying it correctly. If you select one of those options, a die will be rolled to decide if your character says it correctly. If they do, that sentence is then elevated up to a green diamond; if no, it is reduced by 1 or 2 (we’ll see how this goes in gameplay) making it harder to correctly guess next time you try (since you thought you knew it, but didn’t, so actually have less info than you thought). In terms of how these numbers will go up – learning a single sentence in a dialect will means that X other unknown sentences in that category will be moved upwards by Y values; X and Y will be both dependent on the size of the category. The “greeting” category, for instance, only has three options – “Polite Greeting”, “Neutral Greeting” and “Blunt Greeting”. If those are all at values of 0, and then you hear someone give you a polite greeting so that becomes a 1, the others will also immediately go up to around 0.3, for example. By contrast, the ideology category contains almost two dozen standard entries, so learning from from 0 -> 1 might add a 0.1 onto three or four of the others. This means two things – firstly, some interesting and I think valuable chance-based gameplay where you decide whether or not to risk a sentence you might be able to say correctly. Secondly, the player character’s knowledge of a particular dialect will be a more gradual development process, rather than an absolute (although some things will still immediately move you from “0” to “1” knowledge). I think this is a really good development, and I’m so glad it was suggested last week – it also makes the UI look far more interesting!

Scrolling

The scroll bars in the conversation window now work correctly. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to program in scroll bars, but these things can be surprisingly nightmarish to code, I’ve found, but they all work rather nicely. Here’s me scrolling through the list of dialects (which is entirely complete for now, but will of course start off almost empty in future versions) and the scroll bar adjusting appropriately. I know it’s only a small thing, but these sorts of UI elements are definitely important when you’re going to have potentially large volumes of stuff to look through. Which leads onto the next section…



Search

On the topic of large volumes of stuff, I’ve also implemented the system for being able to search through a particular block of possible questions and narrow them down based on some typed letters. As you type letters into a particular window, they show up at the top; backspacing then remove them; and the game quickly updates the list of possible questions. Here’s an example of           – I typed quite slowly in this example to show the list shortening, as it shortens quite fast as soon as you’ve got a few letters in there, and then backspaced back and typed in quickly just to demonstrate that the system works effectively. In the future, therefore, even in conversation categories where there might be hundreds of options – towns, artworks, novels, etc – you’ll be immediately able to just type in “Red” to find the “Town of Red Eagle” in a second without having to scroll through potentially a hundred options. I was actually very surprised by how easy this turned out to be – I was expecting implementing search functions with large volumes of entries to take far longer. Here’s a gif of me typing in “when” into the “Past Life” category – this short category is not one you’d necessarily want to search, but it illustrates how the search function works (note the “when” appearing at the top of the window as you type it, and then the questions are narrowed down).



Changing Dialect

You can now change dialect. Selecting a new dialect switches the player’s current_dialect value, and all the conversation options then update based on whether or not you know the new dialect. Fairly simply, but obviously important. For now, all dialect knowledge is totally randomized for the sake of testing – not sure how I’ll leave this for the release. Depends on timing!

Meta-Questions

I’ve also implemented a draft list of meta-questions. There are the “What do you think of X” questions where the full list of such questions slowly expands as the player discovers more and more of the world. As there aren’t too many of these meta-questions, these are just being stored in a separate list. These won’t be present in the 0.8 release, as these need integrating with the system that’s going to replace the encyclopedia in the near future, but the basic implementation is there. This will probably be one of the first things I start doing for 0.9, although since 0.9 will include generating weapons and armour for soldiers and guards, and it has been a long while since I did any artwork, it might be hard to resist starting there…



What next on conversations?

This coming week I’ll start developing the sentence generation. All the “abstract” dialect generation is in place, so the game can select word elements, appropriate cultural/historical/geographical reference lists, sentence complexity for a dialect, various ways of speaking about various things, and so forth, and so now I need to translate this into actually spawning different sentences! I have a good idea of how to structure this, so it’s time to get started on that.

Aleksanderus

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #205 on: June 27, 2016, 02:12:17 PM »
In upcoming update I'm gonna insult king, pope, guards, commoners, bandits, merchant and nobles!

It sure will be fun.

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #206 on: June 27, 2016, 11:11:49 PM »
Good move!

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #207 on: July 05, 2016, 07:19:55 PM »
This week has seen the implementation of name generation into the main game file, to rather fantastic results, alongside a substantial amount of bug-fixing. For name generation, the names now consider all the relevant religious/cultural/geographical background of the nation they hail from, and generate appropriately. The game also tracks the various different structures of the names – some name types have just one name, some have two, some have several with a mini-title in the middle, and so forth – and can always produce a “casual” version (i.e. “Mark” to “Mark Johnson” or whatever) as well as accurately reproducing a name when needed, without looking for name-segments where they don’t exist, or failing to look for a name segment relevant to a certain name archetype.

I have to say, I am *so* happy with how these look! They’re all very different, some speak to particular locations or cultural ideas, whilst others don’t, but they are all distinguishable. I’m still doing a little bit more work on these, but only a couple of hours’ work remains, and then in 0.8 everyone who you speak to will have their name highlighted. So, here is a rather splendid set of examples from a whole bunch of cultures in some playtesting world generations! Hope you like black-and-white images…































In the process I also had to develop the very start of the system for generating sets of animals and plants within particular climate zones. Plants were already present but were distributed across all biomes of a certain type (so northern tundra and southern tundra areas would have the same plants, somehow), and also tended to be colour-matched to their biome, which made a degree of sense but definitely reduced the kind of background/aesthetic interest they could potentially generate. Plants were therefore redone, and their naming conventions were also altered somewhat to reflect these changes (all of which come before visual generation at some later date when I have a spare couple of days). Animal generation has now appeared for the first time, and just like plants, they are tethered to a certain area of a certain biome – so the game finds a tile of desert, looks to see how far contiguous desert extends, and then all that desert has the same group of species. The species elsewhere, by contrast, will be completely different, even if they are also desert. Like plants, I’ll generate the images for these at some far-later date (since this isn’t exactly gameplay-essential stuff, just general background worldbuilding), but the names will be used in this release, as they serve to inform the name generation for individuals in certain nations, and they’ll also show up in artworks and literature and metaphors and the like later on. I also thought quite a bit about which animals I can realistically vary in appearance and name, so a few common animals aren’t in here because I couldn’t think of how to vary them well enough, whilst a couple of more obscure animals are present precisely because they vary a lot. Here are some animal/plant printouts, with their biome attached:



And then two massive printouts of all the plants/animals generated across a world, so you can get a full idea of the generation systems for these:





As for the bugs, I’ve reached the point where only two things remain for 0.8: sentence generation, and bugfixes. Sentence generation is such an intellectually complex task – although once I have a suitably complicated but usable and modifiable programming framework in place, I’m confident it will actually move quite quickly – that I need to spend a lot of time simply planning it out before I actually start coding it in. In this vein I’ve been scribbling ideas all over paper for the last week, and although it is taking a while, I am zeroing in on a workable method. Much like most things in URR, it will wind up being a balance between some structures and templates, entirely procedural elements, and then a range of variation within these aspcets based on the speaker producing the sentence – a soon-to-be-gigantic function called make_sentence has now been constructed, and so the only remaining task is to actually write the thing (ha!). As a result of this week’s focus on planning, however, on the actual coding front I’ve been working instead on bug fixing, in order to ensure that 0.8 is actually stable once I release it (hopefully at the end of July/start of August). Some of these were found from my own playtesting adventures, but a large number were submitted by the playtesting team I recruited a few months ago (thanks again, all of you!) and with these all fixed, I do actually feel fairly confident that every part of 0.8 (aside from speech/dialects/etc) is finished, bug-free, and ready to release. I can’t rule out the possibility that there are NPC-related problems I simply haven’t anticipated yet, but I haven’t run into any in quite some time, and everyone basically seems to behave correctly (though I’m going to have to revisit  NPCs in 0.9, of course, to implement the NPC classes that aren’t being included in the upcoming 0.8). Here’s a run-down:

Fortress guards no longer sometimes fail to move when they should exchange schedules with another guard.
Fortress merchants always appear correctly even if the player enters the grid part-way through their move from their home to their stall.
Fortress merchants are always assigned to the correct open-air stalls.
There cannot be two open-air stalls of the same sort within a single fortress, nor too many merchants for them to all be assigned a stall.
Slaves and servants in upper-class districts absolutely, definitely, without a doubt, always sleep in the correct places on the correct floors no matter how and when the player spawns the mansion and what other movements the player takes.
Drawbridge chains do, actually, appear, when the player looks at them.
Looking at certain doors in torture chambers or dungeons no longer causes the game to crash.
Looking at a small number of bars in torture chambers or dungeons no longer results in a black screen instead of the appropriate generated image.
NPCs are always the correct inverted colour when they pass under trees or a gate.
Handled some weirdness with players stepping through gates and sometimes winding up on the tile next to the gate, and sometimes winding up one gate further away.
Fixed an issue where you could read sections of the encyclopedia that should have been disabled.
Fixed an entirely aesthetic issue with some potential colour patterns on couches.
Resolved strange issue with a small subset of square-based castle generation outcomes that would position guard towers in the wrong orientation.

See you all next week for what might be quite a technical post about sentence generation!

Tzan

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #208 on: July 05, 2016, 10:51:36 PM »
Quote
As for the bugs,

Seriously, I thought you were about to explain how you are going to name thousands of bugs (insects)  ;D

UltimaRatioRegum

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Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« Reply #209 on: July 07, 2016, 12:12:32 PM »
Hahaha!

...

That's a great idea, actually.