Hello everyone! Something a little different this week.

Given the topics of my blog (and the impressive and incredibly pleasing success the channel in question has enjoyed) I am sure that many of my readers are aware of the AI and Games YouTube channel, run by Dr Tommy Thompson, a colleague and friend I first met at ProcJam all the way back in 2014. I was hugely flattered a few months ago to discover that his Patreon supporters were keen on a URR episode, and I’m writing this blog post to let you all know that the episode in question is now out!

You can watch it here or in the embedded version below – we discuss the game, its design, how various systems work, the experience of developing a single project of this sort for so long, and lots of other good stuff. I really feel Tommy did the game justice and it’s a pleasure to see the final version now live on his channel. Enjoy!


  • Hi Mark! Thanks for again sharing so much of your journey.
    What materials would you recommend to understand the mechanics (so to say) of politics and culture so one could program them into a PCG system, to someone like me with a programming background but no politics/sociology knowledge whatsoever?

    • One more comment after sleeping on it for the night:
      You humbly suggest you are not much of a programmer, but seeing as how you came up with a directed acyclical graph architecture to reduce dependency complexity, I’d say you don’t give yourself enough credit and could start as an architect at a software company right away! It also inspired me to think about how to reduce complexity in my own procedural systems.

      • Thank you Harmen, that’s honestly very generous of you! And I appreciate it. In truth it has been interesting to observe a few caes I know of where I have “accidentally” re-invented the wheel, in some sense, without knowing it. Coding a mega-scale game without previous coding experience is certainly an interesting experience.

    • Thanks Harmen! Gosh, this is an interesting question. There’s so much I’ve drawn on, in fiction as well as non-fiction. Maybe I ought to post a “URR Reading List” at some point to answer this question properly for you and any others. Let me think on this…!

  • That was fascinating, thank you very much for this interview. And thank you for introducing me to AI and Games—I actually didn’t know about this yet. I wonder if he has something on MuZero and where that’s going in the future…

    In any event… I’ve followed this project for a very long time, even though I haven’t actually played the game yet! (I still intend to.) Just reading and hearing about it and the design decisions you’ve made has already given me a lot of joy over the years, so thank you for that as well.

    Whatever you end up doing next, I wish you a lot of luck with it. I’ve been impressed by your varied interests and accomplishments so far, so I have every confidence you’ll do well at whatever you set your sights on next.

    • Thanks Vincent! I’m so glad you enjoyed it – it was really fun to talk with Tommy about the game, and it’s fantastic to get something about URR on the channel. And you are welcome – I certainly remember you commenting in the old days as well 🙂 and I very much appreciate you sticking with me / the project. Thank you also for the very kind words, I genuinely do appreciate them a very great deal. I certainly have some stuff planning for posting on the blog in the near future, and some things in the pipeline…

    • Thanks for posting Jim! I honestly had never even considered people using a controller for URR. I’m sorry to hear those aren’t working – do other keys function?

  • Incredible work of course. I found the ASCII art found this game, the game systems, and everything incredible. I build my own 1.5-year text adventure in Python so I really respect the insanity art of building this cathedral of a game and sticking with the grand idea until the end.

    I’m really curious, do you remember what “how to make a rogue-like in Python” tutorial you first found? It’s very interesting to see someone build out games in Python as it’s not very often used for games of this size and complexity. Do you think there’s anything special about Python that helped you manage the complexity of what you were trying to do?

    • Brendan, thank you! I really appreciate the kind words :). Re: the tutorial, I cannot seem to find the original, but I believe this is the latest updated version:


      As for Python – it sounds mundane, but the most important thing was that Python *is* an easy(ish) language, even if there are other easier(ish) ones out there. For a total programming newbie it was a huge help. In turn, having a roguelike library ready-made – even if I probably use less of the tcod library than a lot of people do! – was also a big advantage. (Although I know tcod is available outside of Python).

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