Welcome back to regular updates, friends! A really exciting set of both gameplay and worldbuilding updates this month, so let’s get to them. Firstly, here’s the updated current status of 0.11’s development, where BLUE denotes something finished and GREEN denotes something currently being worked on:

ITEM INTERACTIONS

  • You can drop items
  • You can pick items up
  • You can use items (whatever that means for the item in question)
  • You can throw items
  • You can destroy items (very rarely an item might have something hidden inside it…!)
  • You can show items (e.g. to someone else)

RELIGIONS

  • Generate the images for all 25+ archetypes of religious relics, and place them in religious buildings
  • Update and transform things like religious beliefs, things religions dislike, information about religious histories, holy books, etc
  • Enable the player to join and leave a religion
  • Far more complex interactions with priests etc
  • Develop proper model for “membership” in religions, nations, cults, etc

TREASURE MAPS

  • Treasure maps spawn in shops just like non-treasure maps do
  • Zoomed-out treasure maps correctly show relevant locations
  • Zoomed-in treasure maps correctly show relevant locations (far more complex)
  • High-value items are, indeed, under the ground where a map points!

OTHER STUFF

  • Implement procedurally generated statues of many types
  • Implement aging, death, diseases, health, statuses
  • Implement weather and phases of the moon
  • Upgrade speech generation and conversation system?

MORE OPTMIZATIONS / BUG FIXING / POLISHING

  • Purge all known bugs (current count: 192 resolved)
  • Further speed up map generation
  • Further speed up turn-by-turn rendering
  • Try to speed up world generation as well?

But now, let’s get to the new stuff:

Throwing weapons

Another inch towards combat in 0.12 (I continue trying to work these in wherever I can) is the introduction of throwing weapons. In the previous update I mentioned when discussing the generation of the name and details of elite military forces for various nations and cultures that some of them would have something “special” alongside their use of a primary weapon and some kind of armour, and one of those options could be throwing weapons. I originally planned on having six kinds of throwing weapons – chakrams (blame La-Mulana for that one), throwing needles, throwing knives, shuriken, tomahawks, and onzil(s?). The idea was for each one to of course have some different advantages and disadvantages in combat, such as perhaps accuracy, or damage to body vs damage to armour, or piercing ability through armour, and so on and so forth. Once I started generating the images three of them – chakrams, shuriken, and needles – were looking incredibly cool, but I was struggling with the others. Tomahawks inevitably just wound up looking too much like axes (as in, axes one wields) and throwing knives, you guessed it, just wound up looking too much like knives. I also didn’t want to run into inevitable questions about “well, if you can throw X as a weapon, why can’t you throw Y?”, and I felt making throwing weapons highly distinct was a good way to avoid this question (you can of course throw any item, but throwing a heavy primary weapon will be hugely ineffective – imagine just throwing a longsword at someone – whereas throwing a throwing weapon will be naturally far more deadly). I also ran into problems with onzil(s?) as they are that kind of organic, wobbly shape that often doesn’t really look very good in the generated ASCII / ANSI art style I use. However, I then discovered the existence of the funky-looking mambele – a weapon just asking to be procedurally-generated, let’s be honest – and put that in instead as the fourth throwing weapon.

That means we now have, without further ado, some pretty gorgeous throwing weapons’ appearing in game (quality from top-to-bottom going high, medium, low):

By my count there are (visually) 1,080 possible throwing needles, 2,250 possible shuriken(s?), 16,200 possible chakrams, and a cool 8,190,000 possible mambele – all of which I think should be plenty to keep the eager player busy. I’ve now added a new throwing weapon shop which, like many other shops, is not nation-specific and can appear in a range of different places. Each nation now chooses two possible throwing weapon types that it likes to use, and these are what you’ll find distributed within the shops. There’s no particular preferences for certain throwing weapons being associated with other things, so this is a genuinely random selection, which I think is the better option here as a means to generate interesting combinations of weapon options in different nations. As one might expect these are quite a bit cheaper than wielded weapons but still might cost a solid amount, especially for the high-quality ones, which will be more deadly and less likely to break upon impact than the lower-quality ones. As such, here I am browsing a throwing weapon shop, which at the time of this gif still has all possible options, but does indeed now only allow two options per civ:

And here are some of the weapons in my inventory:

And me throwing them, in this case a needle (note how the character actually changes depending on the angle!). To wit:

(Although it happens very fast, the shuriken changes between ‘+’ and ‘x’ with each tile, which I think is a nice little touch!)

Overall I’m super happy with how these look and their addition to the game! Adding variety to combat is to important, and potentially tricky when you’re making a game without any kind of magical or SF or fantastical elements, and I’m excited to see throwing weapons become another part of the combat complexity I’ve got planned. As for combat stuff in general – more soon :).

Generating prayers for generated religions

One of the key development goals has now turned blue – generating prayers for in-game religions. These took a lot of effort, especially given how many different types of religion can generate, and how some can be very vague in the nature of the gods (at present) while others are hyper-specific and have to have at least some of that specificity reflected in their prayers. These prayers, in turn, are going to be present in the conversation system once I get around to reworking and hugely enhancing it, but also will be things that NPCs might say before going into battle, or you might overhear on the street, and so on. They will also, like all utterances, potentially be parts of clues and riddles and puzzles, and will be forms of speech that can be learned within a range of different places in the game. There are various types of prayer which each religion gets, specifically prayers for guidance, for understanding of their holy book, for going into battle, for a good harvest, for safe travels around the world, for good health, for good trading, for forgiveness, and for a long life. I can’t quite figure out the total number of possible prayers, as the different religion types generate the prayers differently and in quite complex ways – even if all religions end up with that same set of prayers – but it’s comfortably into the billions. I’ve also given religions exclamations, which is a fun little addition, and something a character might say when something shocks or surprises them (e.g. you throw a shuriken at them). Sticking with the exclamations, battle prayers, and holy books prayers, then, h ere are some examples for some potential gods:

Crocodile God, within the “animal god” archetype:

Exclamation: “By the sacred teeth!”

Prayer for battle: “Lurking one, I beseech you, may my foes be devoured with nothing remaining to do me, and you, dishonour. May their remains be pulled into the deep, never to return!”

Prayer over holy book: “Divine lord of reptiles, please be as another pair of eyes alongside my own, guiding me silently under your gaze through [holy book name].”

Demonic God, within the devil / inferno god archetype:

Exclamation: “What in god’s fires?!”

Prayer for battle: “Horned lord, I beg, let your terrible roar fill my ears and those of my foes, deafening them and bolstering me. May they be burned to a crisp before your rage!’

Prayer over holy book: “God of hell, I beseech you, whisper to me with your forked tongue the deepest truths of [holy book name] and the most appalling knowledge.”

“Normal” God, in this case a god whose myth is focused on rebirth:

Exclamation: “By the divine rebirth!”

Prayer for battle: “Resurrected one, please let me defeat this foe, and should I fall, let me be reborn as you are, glorious one, as a mighty warrior once again!”

Prayer over holy book: “Reborn lord, I beg of you, how me the wisdom in The Choruses of the Great Knowing have been layered over so many generations, and so many lives.”

Lovecraftian God, in this case one with many arms:

Exclamation: “What in god`s abyssal howl?!”

Prayer for battle: “Writhing one, I beseech you, let your numerous dread arms give strength to my own, and my weapons, as I attempt to slay my and your foes!”

Prayer over holy book: “Unknowable lord, please may your many astral arms reach out and guide my reading of The Questions from Nightfall.”

Pantheon Gods, in this case a set who are a court with a focus on the cold:

Exclamation: “By the snowing halls!”

Prayer for battle: “Gathered gods, I beg of you, stand with me as a legion as I battle this foe in your sacred chilled name, bringing them defeat and bringing all of you victory!”

Prayer over holy book: “Oh cold divinity, I beseech you, line up behind me and guide my reading of The Teachings of the Halls of the Pale, so that I might know the frozen secrets hidden within.”

And again – these are all generated. Of note here also is that the reader might notice all prayers start with two sections, an “address” and a “request”, so the address might be “Holy one,” or “Divine lord,” or “Sacred one,” or “Dearest god,” or whatever (this is also generated for the god or religion), and then the address might be “I beseech you,” or “I ask you,” or “Please” or “I ask”, or whatever, and then the main body of the prayer comes in after that. These parts are generated while the “address” part is just chosen randomly from a bunch. Also, what I’m increasingly realising – I’ll write more on this later – is that the generation and weirdness and interest of religions has now shot far beyond that of nations. This is something I will resolve, as I definitely want both to be equal and equally capable to producing weird and interesting stuff and cool riddles and mysteries, but religions are definitely just easier to do this for than nations. Nevertheless, nations will not be left out, I promise, and there are some ideas on those I’ll be sharing before too long as well…

Masks

I have now added in the generation of masks into the game world. This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a while – and not just because I’m currently reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen for the first time and I’ve just encountered the Seguleh – as a way to add further variety to various nations, and introduce some complexity and some variation to some of the mechanics involving recognising particular NPC’s, finding important NPC’s, people who might be spies, members of cults, and so on. As such, the mask generator firstly takes account of what the what the shape preference of a given nation is. Longtime readers will know that feudal nations have five basic shape preferences – squares, diamonds, octagons, crosses, and circles – while there are a number of others which are only for nomadic nations, such as pentagons, triangles, and a few others as well. Each of these now has a range of different mask sizes and shapes, as well as differently shaped eye sockets, and different shapes that appear on the mask themselves. Then there are three different core categories of masks: cultist masks, spy / assassin masks, and battle masks.

To begin with the cult masks, the game now has a system for anyone who you interact with within a cult context – i.e. not just if they are cult member, but you are actively engaging with them at a secret meeting for instance, the equivalent of going into a religious building or monastery and talking to a priest or a monk – they will be well having a mask. Cults (like religions) have four potential ranks of status, and these masks also have four potential ranks, which are denoted by the stripes that go down the mask. As part of this I’ve also implemented a system by which the game makes sure that only one nation with each shape preference can in fact be a cultist nation, in order to make sure that these mask shapes do not repeat across different nations. I think these look really cool, and I’m really happy with how these have come out. Here’s an example of four cultist mask ranks within a single given nation, so the shape is consistent but the coloration on the mask advances as you go up in rank:

And in-game (they aren’t always purple – each cult will get given a colour):

Next we come to the spy masks. These will will be worn when talking to spies or infiltrators in other nations who don’t want to give away their their status to you, and might also be used by related groups – such as assassins – who also want to keep their their faces hidden. Again, I’m super happy with how these look and how these have come out. Here an example of how they look across a range of difference of shapes – the shape of the mask again potentially giving one a small hint as to where this person comes from – and I think these are really cool. There is still the interventionist policy in game which some nations have as their primary way of engaging with other nations, and I’m really excited to flesh out some of these spying, assassination, espionage, and so forth mechanics in the game as we go forward…

And in-game:

Finally, here are the battle masks. The game creates these for a nation which which does not already use the cultist masks nor has the interventionist policy or the pacifist policy. It creates a list of all civilizations that fit those requirements, then it picks one at random to assign battle masks to. This might be a feudal or a nomadic nation. Within this nation all fighters will wear battle masks when they go into battle, so if you encounter them in battle they will already have the mask on, whereas if you challenge them to battle, they will put on the battle mask before they enter combat (so every citizen in these nations will be carrying one by default, even if not worn). Again, I’m really happy with how these have come out – I get I think they give a real sense that this is the kind of thing a culture might indeed wear before going into battle, and with these I have a large range of different patterns for the orange parts to add something distinct from the other two. Again here are some examples from a range of different potential civilizations:

Finally, the game also selects a tribal civilization to wear masks always as an absolute default. As I’ve mentioned a few times recently these are the most overlooked civilizations in the game, and I am looking forward to in the future doing a great deal more work on these. In the recent 0.10.x releases the languages of these civilizations have been changed to be indecipherable to the player until they properly learn how to speak read and listen to that language, but I think adding one of these nations at random using the masks – and in doing so the game allows their masks to use any of the mask shapes not previously assigned to an interventionist, cultist, or battle mask nation – will be a really nice addition to just add a little bit more variety and difference to these overlooked civs. Only some tribal nations are valid for these for these masks, however, because not all of them use materials which would be logical or aesthetically attractive to make masks out of for their buildings, and we want to ensure consistency here. So, for example, it is possible for a tribal nation which builds their structures out of bones, or out of ice, or out of compacted mud, to wear masks of this material all the time, but it’s not possible for a nation that makes their homes out of bamboo (I just couldn’t make that look good). So ice, mud, and bone go into a pool and if any of those hunter-gatherer civilizations have spawned (99%+ chance at least one will appear in a given world!) it’ll choose one of them and grant them everyday masks:

Also, if you acquire an ice mask from a civ living in the arctic or antarctic regions and then you take it out of the frozen wastes, it’ll melt – because of course it will! And yes, I know that in the real world wearing ice is the absolute last thing a polar civilization would ever do – but they look cool, and worldbuilding-wise I just love the idea of the possibility of generating a mysterious civilization in the polar wastes who wear masks of ice and speak a language you can’t understand, so I’m sticking with them!

I will not be deterred!

Last but not least, another really cool things here is that if you haven’t previously seen that NPC’s face before they put on the mask – so if you only encounter them while they’re wearing the mask, or they always wear the mask, or you don’t see them put the mask on, and so on – instead of being able to see their face, you will only see a question mark which looks like this! I think this is really cool. It also does not show you their name if you if, again, they haven’t told you it or you haven’t previously been made aware of it by some other means. Again, all these sorts of mechanics are about adding extra variations, extra combinations, and adding to the variety of scenarios which might emerge for the for the play to deal with in the game world. There are generally around 30 nations in a generated world, and 1 will have battle masks (only in battle), 1-2 might have interventionist masks (only for espionage-y or assassin-y activities), 1-2 might have cultist masks (only for cult-y activity), and one will have tribal masks – so masks are rare both in their spread and their function, but far from completely unknown. I think they’ll make a really interesting addition to the world. So yes, here’s someone with and then without the mask:

And this also applies to conversations as well, of course:

But not, of course, to you, if you have a mask on, since you presumably know your own face. The face will also show correctly when you have previously seen someone’s face, but they are now masked. Anyway, what I really like about this is not just that is deepens the worldbuilding and the cultural variation and all that good stuff, but it also cuts across other mechanics, such as being able to recognise other characters by their faces, being able to potentially solve face-based riddles more or less easily, and so on. Also, in the very near future you won’t have access to someone’s name unless you learn it, and so with a civilization that uses masks you’ll have an even tougher time keeping track of people, while perhaps warriors using battlemasks will need to be tracked by their clothing and weapons rather than their faces / names, and so on…

Naming places

I’ve just put in a whole bunch of really fun time going around and naming every single place in the game world! Until now we of course had things like cities and towns and mines and so forth named, and actually bioregions are named but the name doesn’t currently appear anywhere in game… but what about rivers, and roads, and mountains, and city districts? Naming all of these are great ways to deepen the worldbuilding but more importantly, of course, give the game another body of data to draw on when creating world histories, developing riddles, and so on.

I started off with mountains, and built a bunch of generators for determining what mountains should be called. I really dig these, and here’s a bunch of examples of the generators’ outputs:

And now it shows up, also, when you’re looking at a mountain on the map:

I then turned my attention to rivers, and lakes, and gave them the same attention! Here are a bunch of river names and lake names…

…and here it is, again, as shown in the map description for a given map tile:

Also, every district in every city now has a generated name! The generators selected of course vary according to the type of district, and also vary sometimes according to the precise building(s) within a district. Here are some examples…

And this now shows up, of course, when you’re looking at a city:

AND I’ve done this now for roads, too, with a road ending when it hits a junction, and junctions all having unique names, which sometimes also vary depending on whether they are a three-way junction or a full crossroads. Again, here’s a set of generated names for roads…

…and for junctions…

…and here we go in-game:

I’m actually now thinking there’s so much name information that I’m going to need to slightly adjust the right-hand text to make it readable when you’re looking at things on the map, but that’s something I haven’t quite got around to yet. Nevertheless, these new additions will again be things that’ll show up in books, histories, conversations, riddles, and everything else, and being verbal, they’ll be particularly well suited to the latter!

0.11 Remaining Stuff

Now that I’m back to dev, what do we still need to do for 0.11? I’m going to try to make a really major push now, to get 0.11 out either by the end of 2024, or the very start of 2025. I found that a holiday release last year did not work especially well, if memory serves, so I might wait until early 2025, unless things conclude much earlier than I anticipated, e.g. in November. Regardless, though, having had a couple of months off makes this a good time to pause, and take stock, and really pin down what still needs doing and the best possible path to getting it all done. Essentially my next step is to finish this big expansion of religions, and then I have a load of things that I have 90% finished, but which need to be returned for in dev. After that, though, I’m going to be really refocusing on (treasure) maps. I’ve had a lot of fantastic ideas for these over the last few weeks, actually, and I’m really excited to start building them in. More soon!

Bugs, polishes, and the like

  • Fixed a crash bug that could occur when buying a very particular set of items at a city gate.
  • Improved the graphics for several weapons, especially naginata(s?), which now look far more fearsome, and far less like giant butter knives.
  • Fixed a very rare crash bug in which generating a viable name for a rare kind of religion, or rather a religion that existed within a rare scenario, wasn’t working properly.
  • Fixed another freeze bug with NPCs being able to spawn outside buildings while in the inside of buildings, thereby being trapped in the limbo outside the building interior (it’s hard to explain) and not finding any way to pathfind towards whatever they were supposed to be going to.
  • Mining shops now spawn properly again, and are disconnected from any particular policy.
  • The game can no longer in rare circumstances try to spawn multiple jeweler shops within the same district or town, resulting in the game not being able to properly handle the multiple near-identical shopkeepers.

Home update

Oh, and last but not least, for those interested in the mad adventure I mentioned in my last update – I have now placed an offer on buying a flat, had it accepted, the lawyers have done their things, we’ve “exchanged contracts” (whatever that actually means), I’ve booked movers, and in a few short days, the property will be mine and I’ll be moving in! I settled in the end on a flat right up near the top of a pretty new and quite attractive block of flats in a really pleasant new green development here in Sydney. It comes with a huge main room, a really nice balcony, and a perfectly reasonably sized bedroom to boot. I really like this area a lot as well – the region of the city I’ve been in is nice too, but this one’s very different, and emotionally and psychologically I am definitely ready for some of that “new start” feeling. But yes, at long last, my days of renting are over! Never again will some wretched landlord get a cent from me!

I’m damned excited.

What next?

In the next update it is with great pleasure that I’ll be able to announce that all the upgrades and additions and gameplay development for the in-game religions will be finished! This will include what are going to be essentially procedurally generated skill trees – or rather, reward trees – for each religion, which will also set the standard for nations as well later on. Do come on back in a couple of weeks to check out how that has all finally come together. As ever though, if you enjoyed this post, please do leave a comment (they always mean the world to me) and please do think about sharing the post elsewhere on the web :). Thanks everyone!

13 Comments

  • Lovecraftian theme is a bomb. Would like to see more of this. Also it opens paths to terrifying adventures like local cult investigation, trespassing prohibited area, sneaking into a sect, maybe with a disguise, etc. It’s great that finally your move to a new apartment is accomplished. It would be interesting to see a post about life in Sydney. Cheers!

    • Thank you dreamer, I’m so glad you like it! Yes indeed, I’m excited about possibilities of exactly that kind for all religions and cults and the like. And – thanks, I really appreciate it :). I’m actually responding to this comment from the new flat, where just a few minutes ago a sulfur-crested cockatoo landed on my balcony. That certainly didn’t happen in my old flat, which wasn’t QUITE a basement dungeon, but honestly not too far away from it. But yes, thanks so much again for the comment! (And I rather like that idea…)

  • This is such a lovely project. I’m following your blog for some months now and its so exciting to see how the game grows larger step by step. Keep up the great work!

    Greetings from Switzerland 🙂

    • Hello Galenus, thank you so much for the comment! I *really* appreciate the generous words, thank you, and greetings back to you from Sydney! One day I will be travelling again, and I’ve never been to Switzerland, so it’s definitely on my list :).

  • Wow, these new additions are amazing (as always!). I even learned some new vocabulary for certain throwing weapons, and those masks look very cool. I think the prayers and religious utterances in particular will add a lot of flavor to URR — it’s amazing just how much of our real-world day-to-day idioms and utterances are religious in origin, and even moreso when considering the speech of people centuries ago.

    Thanks for sharing your progress. Every update makes me even more excited about the next release.

    • Thank you crowbar! Hah, yes, I came across quite a few new terms in my own searching, but I’m really happy with these particular four that I wound up settling on. What’s becoming clearer re: the prayers is that the current conversation system in the game is just not sufficient; the statements are too generic, too rarely altered by an NPC’s nature (nation, religion, status, whatever), and don’t have enough space for interesting stuff. It’s going to be a big rework, but I’ve already planned out in my head a system far more complex, yielding much more human responses, and being able to integrate prayers (for example) and lots of other cool stuff too. And – again, thanks so much for the kind words, my friend, I really do appreciate them :).

  • Love the masks! Maybe it would make sense for masks from cold places (with a lot of snow) to have eye holes like the inuit snow goggles.

    • Thank you mete! I really appreciate the comment. Heh, that’s a neat idea, though I don’t know whether I could get them looking good rather than goofy in the ASCII / ANSI art style. I’ll give it a shot!

    • Thank you so much for the comment Carlo! I’m so glad you like the update. As for Sydney, I’ve definitely come to really like it, actually. I do wish it was colder – I’m a cold weather man myself – but aside from that it’s honestly pretty wonderful.

  • is there any way to introduce/remove possible civilization names by editing the name lists, sort of like dwarf fortress raw files at some point? when the game of thrones esque (in your words) names hit they really do hit, but often they also feel weird and anachronistic and not in a way which suits my tastes personally or really jams with the setting, while theres also a lot of possible titles and civ names which arent in the game right now which id like to add, and in something like dwarf fortress this could easily be remedied by just going in the raws and fixing it but itd be cool if urr had something similiar. hope i dont bother with this btw, everything youve done so far is really cool, id just like the worldgen to be a little more customizable

    • Thanks so much for the messages nila! To answer this first one – I hear what you’re saying, though do you have any examples of the ones you feel don’t really hit? I’m always open to adjusting these generators to take out bad permutations, though I do always try to ensure that bad ones shouldn’t really come into being. If you have suggestions for other name archetypes, though, please do post them! I’m always open to new suggestions and new additions!

  • also, what could also be cool is masks that directly resemble faces. thinking mainly of greco-roman war masks and the helmets the cumans/kipchaks wore but also traditional african masks. really like the idea of a culture where warriors baring breastplates and guns also protect their faces with african style ceremonial facemasks, i think itd add a lot of cool worldbuilding flavor. sorry if im bugging here just giving suggestions, big fan of the project

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