They’re Made Out Of Meat

Here at Gaslamp Games we each have our “particular enthusiasm” and as previously established, mine is the industrial logistics simulation. Let’s talk a bit more about how that works.

The Many Fleshes

The Observerator Reports: Each entity is of a flesh / Each flesh will be harvested for Study.

Most everything on the game map can have resources harvested from it in one way or another (and we really mean another). Trees, rocks, crops, animals, people, Other Things. You combine these to make other things. The natural environment of your settlement determines what resources are abundant and what resources are not. If you settle on the Black Dunes of Whispering, expect anything to do with resources tagged “timber” to be a lot more relatively expensive. But look on the bright side, I’m sure there are advantages to living on the Black Dunes of Whispering. For example, lots of whispering. And bones.

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Modules and Decoration

As we have discussed previously, the primary tool for augmenting a building’s function in game is a module. Modules include things like doors and windows, and come in two categories: required and optional. Required modules are those which are needed to get your building up and running at all – in the case of a workshop, this would include a workbench, a desk for your Artisan/Overseer to manage their paperwork with, and a door. In the case of a Lower Class House, you need one cot, and… well, again, a door. Doors are good things to put on buildings.

Careful with that hammer! Don't want to let the aetherically-energized gaseous radium out of the Glow-Long(tm) lamp.

The Ghosts of Future Work haunt this carpentry shop. (& The aetherically-energized gaseous radon Glow-Long ™ Gas-Lamp is truly the finest lamp.)

Optional modules are those which upgrade the effectiveness of your building. For instance, a carpentry workshop can have a Power Saw installed. The power saw lets you perform certain tasks (such as making planks) faster, and you can have multiple power saws. You can also have multiple carpentry workbenches, and this might be a good idea as each person can only use one carpentry workbench at a time. If you have a particular desire for planks, which are Useful (for instance, for building more carpentry workbenches), you might want to spend some resources building power saws.

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A Very Clockwork Valentine’s

We here at Gaslamp Games wish all of our dear readers to have a very happy Valentine’s day and, as such, have created some cards to assist you in your courtship rituals with the ends of finding the love of the man / woman / boiler / fishperson / infinite black abyss that most fulfills you.

(We also did some actual work on various things, so stick around for that too. I’ve cleverly mixed in development discussion with the silly pictures, and in at least one case they’re slightly related. Mostly they’re not.)


#1. A Very Special Knock On Your Door

ce_valentine0

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A Day In The Life of an Overseer: A Clockwork Empires Choose-Your-Own-Adventure!

Something like this.

Something like this.

(Dear Reader: In order to supply high-quality content to you, the Reader, in this age of the Internet, we bring you one of those wacky Choose-Your-Own-Adventure blogs in a style that the kids love.)

You are MURIEL COGSPROCKET. You are an OVERSEER for the colony of GREATER MUSHROOMHOOD. You enjoy HATS, BEETLES, and LOOKING INTO THE SEA. Your job is to attempt to SERVE THE EMPIRE and THE QUEEN while not GETTING STUCK or CRASHING.

 

 

Do you…

  1. Attempt to gossip with your neighbour? (If so, please turn to Page 2.)
  2. Attempt to do Overseer work? (If so, please turn to Page 3.)
  3. Go home? (If so, please turn to Page 4.)
  4. Walk into the sea, never to return? (If so, please turn to Page 5.)

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The Power Of Names

Pictured: Smugly Working, arch-criminal mastermind, ne'er-do-well, and blaggard of the Frontier.

Smugly Working; arch-criminal mastermind, general ne’er-do-well, and all-around blaggard of the Empire’s Colonial Frontier.

As we learned in the You Have To Name The Expansion Pack expansion pack to Dredmor which you had to name, names have power. Characters in Clockwork Empires, like Dredmor expansion packs, have names. So what names ought to be given to these people? And how? As fun as it’d be to make up hundreds of Victorian Steampunk names by hand, we have the technology to make robots do the work for us using the power of procedural content generation.

Mind you, procedural content is not a magical solution to all problems. It may indeed involve actual design work to fit interestingly, much less well, into a hypothetical game. So, naming: the care we put into the raw feedstock of the the Hypno-Pneumatic Name-o-Tron very much determines the quality of its denotative extrusions. And here at Gaslamp Games, we intend to provide only the finest extrusions, thick with nuance, speckled by nodules of intertextuality, and offset by an effervescence of whimsy.

The extruder.

An extrusion unit.

This raw name-feedstock creates flavour, theme, & narrative for Clockwork Empires. What’s all this then, story in a procedurally generated sandbox game? – Well, sure! Even though, as usual, we’re just making it up as we go along, there are certain vaguely insinuated guidelines to respect. A bit of structure can be put in place to support a certain range of narratives, if you will, which can be quite enabling to players. We give you a delightful setting and a nudge on the back, you make the game your own from there on out.

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Humble Roguelike Sale

silly_stuff

If you own Dungeons of Dredmor and have had an eye out for new Roguelikes, check out the Humble Roguelike sale going on right now!  Also if you don’t have Dredmor, we’re not angry, we’re just disappointed.  You can fix this.  Go here:

www.humblebundle.com/weekly

 

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What We Learned At Steam Dev Days

Like many of the other privileged few of the PC Game Development World, Daniel and I attended Steam Dev Days last week. We met a number of lovely people, and unlocked crates filled with things that are potentially unstable but nonetheless have high economic demand.

We also went to a series of valuable, inspirational talks by Valve employees in which they explained their strategies for game development and how they do business. The effect on our game development has been startling. We think you will be pleased by our new business model.

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Stickiness and Networking

(TL;DR: We got the first version of multiplayer working. Skip to the end of the post if you want to read more about that.)

Our debug model placer interface would like to tell you about the fine qualities of the monarchy.

Our debug model placer interface would like to tell you about the fine qualities of The Monarchy.

My time right now on CE is evenly divided between three things: the completion of new features (finishing the dynamics system, at present); revival of old features which stopped working due to bit rot at various points in development (animals, steps leading into buildings, etc.), or moving the pre-alpha from “let’s get it running on computers” to “let’s get it playable on computers where everybody actually moves, and does their jobs under real world conditions.” Hooray! Bug busting.

I like to think of this as making the game less sticky. Basically, what the last part means is this: sometimes, in the current build, people may never pick up a job, or may stop working altogether. Sometimes, under rare circumstances, the game will crash. (this has now been fixed.) Less damning problems include things like misbehaving UI widgets – things that don’t work correctly, things that accept mouse clicks that they shouldn’t (buttons in the UI accepting clicks from scroll bars, etc.) to latency. It is very much like somebody has dumped an enormous jar of honey into your video game, and you need to remove it all – ergo, stickiness. As you may imagine, chasing these through a game with the complexity of Clockwork Empires is quite a mess. Right now, for instance, I am working on the cheerful problem of ensuring people do not get trapped in modules when they are built, which means that before building a building characters must wait for all characters to leave the build zone before they actually go ahead and change the obstruction layer. The problem, of course, is that the builder is also a character – and he’s in the build zone, waiting for everyone else to leave – which means I need to calculate a list of all the squares next to a building or module that are next to it (so the character can build), but not in it (so that the character gets trapped).

"It's got me!  ... Go! Save yourself! There is no life for us, together, any longer. My place is here now, embedded in the floor of the carpentry shop."

“Go! My place is here now, embedded for all my days in the floor of the carpentry shop I myself built. Alas, but for what cruel irony was wrought by these, mine hands.”

These are all easy things, but annoying, and a lot of them have been fixed. Highlights include: not using a destroyed item as a building material for another building (crashes the game); ensuring that if your job item is destroyed, your job cancels correctly (people would get stuck); ensuring that, if your job got cancelled, you started at the start of the next job and not half-way through it (random things, breaking, forever); etc., etc. This is all standard bug hunting, but it’s the difference between a sort of wobbly tech demo and something people can actually play. I’m happy to report we’re grinding our way through it at a good speed, so it’s feeling more and more like a game every day. I know I keep saying that, but it’s true!

What is more interesting, though, is networking.

micah_workstation_photo

The half-eaten tub of chili in the middle of this photo really sells it. In other, related, news Nicholas is never allowed to take pictures of anything for Gaslamp Games ever again.

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