Here’s the URRpdate of the last two months. A lot of travel and my laptop breaking while abroad has slowed things down, but a lot of progress has been made both on finishing off the last remaining bug-fixes, and adding the final small “feature” required for 0.8. The game is becoming increasingly stable, as well as increasingly polished, with each passing week. So, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last two months:
– Handled a puzzling issue where sometimes two general (i.e. “unimportant” and not saved by the game) NPCs would sometimes be on the same place with the same objective, and wouldn’t know what to do; if this happens, the game pushes one of them to one side, and then gives them a new objective.
– Fixed a range of grammatical issues with people talking about nations or cultures.
– Resolved a problem where certain kinds of buildings didn’t always generate correctly if they were building on ice as well as snow within a polar biome.
– Made sure that a few more buildings couldn’t possibly generate with furniture in the way of a door, which might therefore wind up blocking that door for NPCs who need to get through it.
– Altered and improved a few of the guidebook entries to make certain aspects of the game much clearer, and to stop a bug where looking at a certain entry caused a crash.
– Improved handling the names of relics, especially when people talk about them, and NPCs should no longer add in extra words at random times to describe them or their names.
– Put in some groundwork for future NPCs of classes that do not currently spawn in the game, such as inquisitors, royals and various other sorts of leaders, high-ranking soldiers / officers, and so forth. (This is a 0.9 thing if I develop a 0.9, but doing this also helped me clear up some of the code for existing NPCs)
– Resolved a weird and very rare bug involving saving the game at a certain point on the travel map after a particular set of moves, and then reloading the game, which would cause the game to crash when you tried to move again.
– Dealt with a problem where sometimes all the buildings required in a town didn’t correctly spawn if it took a while to place them intelligently.
– Handled a couple of remaining problems where wandering versions of certain classes, such as priests, would find themselves unable to talk about the things they should be able to talk about, by virtue of not being attached to a particular religious building (or equivalent for other NPCs)
– A couple of buildings which sometimes had weirdly high or weirdly low numbers of NPCs present seem to no longer run into this problem, although this is something I should keep an eye on.
– Without doubt, all problems around NPCs discussing the armour they might or might not be wearing have been fixed, and likewise all problems regarding NPCs telling you they are not wearing a necklace, nor any rings (as these have yet to be implemented in the game)
– Discovered that over time guards in certain districts tend to disappear, which I think must be due to some issue in how they move in unloaded areas when the player isn’t present. This doesn’t seem to cause a crash, which is great (and indeed it was coded precisely in this way, so it’s pleasing to see this works), but obviously this shouldn’t be happening. I’ve put in some new code to try to resolve this and “catch” guards before they somehow disappear into being stored in some place the game can’t retrieve them, and hopefully this will have improved matters.
– Checked a few buildings I originally missed when seeing whether buildings generated in one period (day or night) still work correctly and have the right NPCs when you return later, and I’m now very confident this is working correctly for all buildings (except embassies and mints, which I am aware of and need to resolve)
– Improved the grammar and listing when an innkeeper tells you about the (procedurally generated and region-specific) drinks they have on offer.
– Resolved a couple of remaining issues with certain questions being asked to either nomadic or tribal NPCs, who were unable to give sensible answers.
– Slaves and servants in castles were sometimes getting mixed up when the game tried to generate them, and thus causing confusion about which floors each should be sleeping on (the servants tend to sleep on the ground floor, but slaves sleep in subterranean floors) – this should now have been fixed.
– Very rarely a non-“guard” guard, by which I mean an NPC which isn’t of the “guard” class but was carrying out guarding actions (such as soldiers or knights in certain civilizations) didn’t function correctly, precisely because they were not “guards”. I believe I have fixed the last few places where this either caused a bit of NPC confusion (at best), or the game to crash (at worst)
– Fixed an issue with certain kinds of buildings in towns sometimes causing the generation of houses to stop weirdly early, leaving a strange eerie town almost completely devoid of actual homes and people, yet filled with roads.
– Spread out some of the loading symbols on the world generation page so it doesn’t look like the game might have crashed (when, in fact, it did not).
– Handled further issues with religious districts at night time, in particular people struggling to figure out how to worship, and priests behaving strangely when they can’t figure out how to get to a bed.
– I have also added some important new content! Since you can no longer, er, walk across the water, entering a “Dock” district in a city, or a new “dock” building in a town, now allows you to be transported to another city or another town! There are screenshots of this down below. This also causes time to pass – not much time right now, but that’s fine for the time being.
– Even better, when you get into a ship it now gives you a little story about your travel! This mentions something about the ship, the destination, your fellow travellers, what you see on the voyage, and so forth; these elements draw on a range of information about relevant nations, cultures, and locations, to generate a unique little paragraph for the player to read while the player is transported to their final destination, and while the required time passes for that journey to occur.
– For the time being you can reach any place with a dock via any other place with a dock, even if (as in the below map) there are different oceans; this will be changed later, but for now, it significantly helps with navigating the game world.
So: the last two months have brought much more polish, more bug-fixes, and some quality of life changes, such as allowing you to move quickly around the game world through the use of docks and the like. I’m really excited by how this is all coming together. Aside from URR updates, in the last couple of months I’ve also done almost all the remaining work for making my move to the University of Sydney at the end of September, finished writing a journal article about Super Mario Maker I’m excited to share in the near future, presented a whole bunch of work at this year’s Digital Games Research Association Conference in Kyoto, talked about Twitch and disability at the European Sociological Association, and spent some time with the family back in the UK. That said, though, it’ll be nice to get back to Canada for one final month to catch up with friends and colleagues before the move itself…
So: with all of this done, in a week from now I’ll be back in Canada and back to being able to work hard on the game, so I hope to have another solid update some time in September. The list of remaining tasks is pretty much only resolving two long-running bugs (involving ambassadors and mints), handling a few more issues around sentence generation, adding a little bit more polish here and there… and then… that’s it?! See you all soon!
Wow! Only two major bugs left! I’m looking forward to the next update
This is extremely exciting! I love the look of the ship paths. I do have a question about the last screenshot: It says “You depart this dry prairie city *from* another,” but wouldn’t it be “You depart this dry prairie city *for* another,” if you’re leaving it?
Thank you! And very well spotted on the typo, I will change that…
Awesome! Looking forward to next update 🙂
The ship travel narratives are a neat idea to make overseas movement more interesting. And so is the unique drink generator!
Thanks Crowbar! It’s not like it takes that long, but on slower computers it might take a little bit of time, so I thought throwing something in there to pass the time would help :).
Hi. Since I can almost smell the 0.8 release, I wanted to wet my appetite and test out the 0.7 version to see all the changes when 0.8 is released. But the game wont start at all when I double click it. Is there any dependencies I am missing?
I am on windows 10.
This project is really exciting.
Oh, that’s weird! Thank you for letting me know – do you get any error message or anything? I haven’t heard of this one before… you extracted everything in the folder, right? Does anything else happen?
Yes, Everything is there. I tried to start the exe file with command prompt : no error message.
Nothing happens. No window. No error messages.
I checked the system task manager and the exe file is running. Tried to start it multiple times and multiple URR exe files are running… but nothing happens…
strange…. no errors …. no antivirus detection…. nothing… just running in task manager with no window or action….
Hmm. That is extremely strange, and I honestly can’t explain it. Are you running on an unusually old system? Or… perhaps you could try as admin? Is it 32 or 64 bit? Thank you for helping me hunt this mystery down, I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of it!
Don’t really want to bother you with 0.7 issues while you’re busy with 0.8 and other work, but I’m actually having the exact same problem as Jan; nothing happens on-screen when the .exe is run despite “Ultima Ratio Regum v070b (32 bit)” appearing in the task manager. This is happening on a Windows 10, 64 bit system with fairly new hardware. I’ve tried many of the compatibility options including running as administrator and compatibility modes for various Windows versions, but to no avail.
Hey – not at all, I appreciate the info! That’s extremely weird and I appreciate all the detail. Hmm. I’m clearly going to have to do some proper research on this as people increasingly shift to Windows 10. Thank you!
You might have the people with these launch problems check their antivirus settings. If they have the same third party software might tell you something but this is just a guess.
Interesting, thanks for the idea! I’ll definitely give that a check.
Just checking in to say this is still happening. Click on .exe after extracting and it just doesn’t do anything. windows 10
Thanks Tavish! This is something that needs fixing…
I am having the same issues. Two separate Windows 10 machines. No errors, just doesn’t load. Shows in Task Manager sitting at 0% CPU usage. I can send dump files from two different machines to you if it would help. Thanks.
Hello again Michael! Yes, please do!
I worry about these multi-year passion projects by lone genius developers… they are close to being exemplars of bad governance (I work in a related sector where reducing risk with short iterations and frequent releases is acknowledged to be good practice) and I always remember the unfortunate story of poor old Josh and Limit Theory. You might not burn out like Josh, Mark, but you might get bored or find a higher calling in your career. Would you not (re)consider more frequent releases or, if you didn’t see this as a major personal financial sacrifice, even open sourcing some of the algorithms for posterity/the ProcGen community?
Hi there! Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I, too, remember Limit Theory (and of course quite a few other, less visible, examples of the same trend) and I totally understand your concern. 0.8 will be done, but it might well be the final release; my career is increasingly dominating my time, simply by virtue of the fact it pays my bills where game development doesn’t, but it’s never going to do so to the point of complete exclusion. More frequent releases of smaller updates is something I would genuinely love to do – but once again this concussion (see most recent post) has pushed everything back, again… – but I don’t think open sourcing is really for me. I genuinely do appreciate the concern though! I’m hoping (as ever) to make things perhaps a little more stable, or finished, come the end of this year :).
Hey Mark, mostly curious, what’s your concern with open source for this project?
Hi Ben! Oh, gosh, I’ve written / spoken about this a lot, but basically it boils down to: I’m just not comfortable with it. I know that disappoints a lot of people, and I *do* regret that, but I don’t really think I’ll be changing my position on it any time soon :(.
Browsing procedural generation videos on youtube, I stumbled across some talks you’ve given, and your game. I absolutely LOVE games like this, ones that essentially create cascades of procedural content and in-depth worlds. I have since been browsing other talks you’ve given over the years, on your game and others, and I love them all! Your work is so cool and inspirational and impressive, please keep up this great work! 🙂
Hello! Thank you for this super kind message, it is genuinely hugely appreciated :). I’m so glad you like the game and where it’s going, and it means a lot to me that you find it inspirational. Thank you so much! (And you will have to let me know what you think of 0.8 once it’s out!)
Been following this game for multiple years. God I wish there was a whole dev team on this, with the possibility of multiplayer. Would be revolutionary.
Your work is amazing. Good job!!
Aw, thank you, Chase! That’s really kind of you. Haha, I do too! I did once think of Kickstarting it, although that was just to support me, although after the CultRL debacle it was clear (and appropriate and reasonable, I think) that nobody was going to support a similar project again with that kind of financial input. That said though, I genuinely haven’t ruled out the possibility of doing this in the future, with the intention of (for instance) hiring a programmer for one year, to basically tidy everything up, push it towards what I want, in an era where I no longer really have the ability to focus on it. NOT THAT I INTEND TO DO THIS – but I have vaguely, in passing moments, toyed with the possibility.
Happy New Year
Thank you, you too!