Welcome to May’s URRpdate! Things are still moving along, and rather pleasingly, it has now been a full month of coding since I discovered any more major bugs. Now, maybe that’s tempting fate, but I choose instead to read it as a very encouraging step forward. It does actually seem now that only small bugs remain, and many of these are not even crash bugs. Nevertheless, in the past couple of weeks I’ve manconqaged to resolve more issues, and I feel like we are very nearly now at the stage where I’m just polishing the front-end of things like menus tooltips and the like, in preparation for the final release. It’s all very exciting! But without further ado, here’s the latest:

– You can now properly talk to non-religious NPCs from all kinds of civilizations about their beliefs, and none of those conversations cause the game to crash. Individuals from “free religion” civilizations can also intelligently give different answers depending on their preferences.
– Priests no longer always spawn (for some reason) on the same tile as the altar within their religious building, thereby making it hard to find the altar unless you know the priest is standing on top of it.
– Prisoners can now properly tell you that they are prisoners when asked about their “job”.
– Prisoners can tell you everything about their past crimes, their sentence, when (if ever) they expect to get out, and so forth, without ever trying to generate a sentence they can’t figure out.
– Jailers no longer crash the game when you ask them about whether any particularly important or interesting prisoners are interred at their jail.
– Jailers no longer sometimes just decide they fancy a career change, wander out of the jail they are in charge of, and immediately crash the game because they have no idea what to do once they get outside.
– Entering a building which will (in a potential 0.9) house a regional representative in a democratic nation no longer crashes the game from time to time.
– Mints and Banks no longer sometimes crash the game when you enter them at night (I think?).
– Fixed a few more double-word issues (yep, I hadn’t actually caught all of these last time, but now I think I have… again).
– Handled a bug which made world generation, in extremely rare cases, get stuck in an infinite loop of trying to generate certain aspects of a civilization’s culture.
– Found an extremley rare issue where sometimes an NPC can sometimes find themselves off the road in a city district and fail to figure out what to do or how to get back onto the road. I’m not entirely clear what causes this issue and I’ve only encoutered it once, and this was just because the NPC in question was screaming in the debug log  while I was playing. As such, I’ve added in a new bit of “catch-all” code at the end of NPCs deciding where to walk next, which – if they somehow find themselves in that situation – will encourage them to walk back onto a road and resume normal behaviour. I also inserted a catch-all after that which states if finding their way back is also for some reason impossible, then once the player leaves their line-of-sight, they will just despawn.
– Handled a few more buildings where it is possible for furniture to spawn in such a way that someone sitting on a chair, for example, can block a door and then all the people who in the building can no longer find their way out. For any 0.9 I will definitely implement a more general solution here allowing NPCs leaving or entering a building to walk “through” someone sat in a chair, but this solution will do for the time being, and should deal with the issue.
– Removed a handful of special NPCs who were being generated at world generation but not spawned in the world; this shouldn’t have caused any issues (famous last words), but it’s better to be safe than sorry for the time being.

This is a slightly shorter update than last time because I have also been hard at work on a chapter for a forthcoming book (alongside a number of world-building luminaries!) about world-building. In it I talk about how important I think social, political, economic and cultural detail is to creating a convincing and “breathing” fictional world, looking at Ultima Ratio Regum but also other game series which have always stood out to me in this regard, such as the earlier Command and Conquer games (the Tiberium series, that is), many of Paradox Interactive’s games, the Deus Ex universe, and several others. Although I’m really enjoying writing this – and the book about world-building it’ll be a part of will, I think, be something quite special – this has taken up some of my coding time in the last fortnight or so.

Now, the rest of May is pretty busy at this end – I’m going down to Washington DC to talk at this year’s International Communication Association conference to chair a panel on live streaming and talk about Twitch and the games industry. As such, the next update will be some time in June. See you all soon – and the journey is nearly at its end!

15 Comments

  • Hi Mark, glad the next release is coming along nicely.

    Wish you’ve dedicated more time to the game :s, but we all have our lives to live. Wish you luck on your trip and with your book. Looking forward to the next update!

    Btw, is there an option to send e-mail notifications when a new blog post is out?

    • Thanks Sennek! I do too, but believe me – 100% of the time I can put into the game, I’m putting into the game :). As for email notifications, hmm… not currently, but let me look into that!

  • I’ve been checking back on your blog for years and it’s so great to see the game making such good progress and seeing you achieve so much in your professional life as well – you rock Dr. J

    • Thank you so much for the message Carlo! I hugely appreciate it, it’s incredibly nice of you :).

  • Incredible news. I’m a little late to the party, but I’ll be checking back all the time to follow this last leg of progress. I’m so excited for the final release! 🙂

    P.S. I would love to see a 1.0 someday 😉 But I realize it may not be in the cards

    • Thank you very much Zack! Re: 1.0, oh, me too, and it’s definitely a possibility… we just need to see how things are looking once 0.8 is out! 🙂

  • Another round of amusing bugs squashed. I’m particularly amused by the hidden altars (maybe the priests were so fat they hid the altars completely from view?) and the new ability of people to walk through (or perhaps crawl under?) someone who is standing on top of a chair blocking a door.

    Seriously though, nice work. Your chapter on world building sounds really interesting too — please keep us posted on when that book becomes available. Hope you had a good time in D.C.!

    • Haha, it’s definitely possible! Clothing does reflect the girth of NPCs already… but yes, thank you :). Chapter is almost done and I’ll certainly be posting here once that book comes up. DC was good, really felt like a great game studies community I hadn’t really engaged with in the past, but definitely will in the future. And since getting back I’ve been on a wave of URR-productivity, so expect another update before too long…

  • I’ve been following your progress on URR for a couple of years now, and it has been interesting to see the intersectionality of such a procedurally-generated world. As a fiction writer, it’s intriguing to see the similarities and differences between the creation of this kind of game and a novel.

    I wish you well, in both your personal life and progress on URR, and will continue to keep an eye out for the next update.

    • Thanks so much for this message Derek! I appreciate it a TON :). And do let me know what you think once 0.8 is finally out there!

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