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!