New Methods For Extracting Surplus Value From The Labouring Classes

Salutations scientific Colleagues & curious Dabblers!

Welcome to another edition of The Gaslamp Games Games Development Weekly Heliograph Circulation. Today we discuss the manner in which the Middle Class is employed to oversee the labours of the Labouring Class by means of organization through the newest methods of Scientific Management.

We shall demonstrate this week’s study in the field. First, a sampling of tools has been laid in careful rows on the ground. Each tool is associated with certain Jobs, as documented by our associates of the Royal Society of The Clockwork Empire for Improving Natural Knowledge, Misters Vining & Whitman (which you may recall have recently described various phenomena including studies on Plebeian Collision Avoidance In The Common Mob & an investigation into so-called “Animal Jobs”).

So, proceeding: tools at-hand, the Colonial Bureaucrat must initiate action by stamping a properly filled work order which designates a site on the landscape. This task can range from “Chop Trees” to “Flatten Land” to “Find Nature” (wherever it’s hiding). This order is then directed to a work party overseer (who is implicitly of the Middle Class and therefore of correct Station to command a group of Lower Class labourers). The work party overseer’s squad collects tools fit to their assigned task while the overseer heads directly to the work site.

In the heliotype below we see a work crew gathering axes for their “Chop Trees” task:


A feller needs a chopper that’ll hack it. (Meanwhile, the only tool the Overseer needs is Management Skills.)

Don’t mind the Wrong shadows of those flowers; That’s obviously the work of cultists. You’re not a cultist, right? Right, good. So pay them no mind. Every loyal Subject of the Empire sees only what they need to see to perform their Duty, so help them Cog, hip hip huzzah and all that.

Equipped with proper tools, the work crew proceeds to the designated copse. The overseer begins the task of hand-waving — the essence of management — while the labourers get to the chopping.


“Umm we need these trees all chopped down so if you could go ahead and come in on Saturday that’d be great.”

Indeed, our sample case in no mere anecdote. The entire range of toiling can be described & efficiently executed by means of this new method of Scientific Management.

Take for another example the flattening of land: the chaotic encrustings, crude hills, and savage mountains of Nature must be cleared and prepared by hand for proper Civilizing by means of vast constructions of factories, roads, tenements, walls, and pipes! Observe in the heliotype below the collecting of shovels by a work party named “The Pleasant Flies” for some unknowable reason:


Steampunk Charles Darwin oversees the collection of shovels for certain Digging Experiments.

And look at our boys go! The vigours of frontier life are a sight indeed and their fruits shall enrich our Betters while, surely, embiggening the spirits of all.


A great trench is dug; Naturalist looks on vacantly from exceedingly & increasingly awkward vantage point.

To review our Study:

  1. A work party is overseen by a Middle Class person whose relevant skills influence the disposition & efficiency of the tasks being carried out by each labourer.
  2. Jobs for work parties are created by the Colonial Bureaucrat.
  3. Labourers will see to their own collection and use of appropriate tools to the task assigned to them.
  4. Hip hip huzzah and all that.
  5. It is important to chop down all the trees, tear down every mountain, fill in every valley, and cover the world with Progress.

TODAYS BUG: There’s a Hole In The World

Upon firing up the current build, and er, stepping from the research zeppelin? Something something. Regardless, I was confronted with an irregular black void, a Scar on the face of the World. It sat there, being-not, doing nothing, filled with nothing. I peered in to see only blackness staring back, accusingly.


Don’t look directly at it!

I sent the above heliotype attached to a report of the phenomenon to one Mr. C. Whitman (suspected Wizard, freelance), hoping he perchance knew of some method of magicking the fabric of the world back together before anything comes out from this Void — or the Investigators catch wind of this. That wouldn’t do at all. It’s such a fine colony we’re building, it’d be a shame if it had to be burned to the ground all over again to root out cultists.

Posted in Clockwork Empires | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

27 Responses to “New Methods For Extracting Surplus Value From The Labouring Classes”

  1. Varkarrus says:

    oh man that hole in the world would make for a fun… feature… in finished gamplay 😛

    { reply }
  2. omeg says:

    Equipped with proper tools, the work crew proceeds to the designated corpse.

    { reply }
  3. Kazeto says:

    That hole is what happens when you give people on the server ability to dig through adminium.

    And here it happens even without any players. Splendid I say, indeed splendid.

    { reply }
  4. Joey Headset says:

    Flatten every mountain,
    Dam every stream,
    Follow every rainbow,
    ‘Till you find those cultists in the woods who gather to worship that strange rainbow emitting obelisk.

    –excerpt from “The Sound of Progress!”, a Clockwork Empires musical.

    { reply }
  5. Wootah says:

    Most of the tree’s shown in the screenshots are sapling size or the size of a person. Are there going to be forest size trees in the game? Ones that when they fall disturb the forest and are heard back in town? Most trees that have valuable wood are at least a couple times taller than an adult person.

    The deformable terrain is really cool. I want to build terraced gardens on the hills along with castles like manors for my bureaucrat that overlook the town they rule with an iron fist (in a velvet glove)

    { reply }
    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      Regarding trees: There’s got to be a happy middle ground between Rome: Total War style “block the sight of everything and make forest battles super frustrating” trees and tiny saplings. We’re going to find it.

      But that said, it’s an easy decision to sacrifice “realism” for playability.

      { reply }
      • Atom says:

        It is a shame you can’t somehow give the visual impression of “forest primeval” with huge trees to be logged. As you say though, canopy cover is problematic when viewed from top down. I have no idea how you’d get around that unless you made the tops translucent around units or something like that.

        Hmm, if forest cover hid everything but your own units, that would provide a new sort of fog of war….and another reason to clear trees. I kind of like that.

        Also, make sure to have logged trees leave stumps. Nothing says “march of progress” like a field of stumps.

        { reply }
        • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

          I would love to do that actually. I’m from California where you have just a few rare bits of the giant forests that were missed in the 19th century clear-cutting and they’re bloody fantastic. Same deal in Vancouver and around the accessible bits of BC — looking at old maps and photos, the whole place used to be a forest full of huge trees and now even what remains is just second growth which doesn’t compare.

          Ahem. So yeah, totally into the “forest primeval”. And now I’m all excited about it again.

          It’s just, yeah, really tall objects are a huge problem with an orthographic camera unless you fudge using UI tricks, and I don’t want to do that unless we have to due to their .. hm, artificiality? Contrived abstraction? Something.

          { reply }
        • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

          Oh, and there will be all kinds of stumps. We have them done now, even, just no one has bothered to hook them up yet in all the excitement of hooking up everything else.

          { reply }
  6. EleSigma says:

    Did you send anything into the hole? Like if you moved a citizen there would it glitch the game out and cause a crash?

    { reply }
    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      I actually did have characters walk across it to grab tools which resulted in them moving more quickly than was natural and in Strange Directions that had little regard for the mundane visible dimensions, at that. No crashing, happily.

      { reply }
  7. Saharan says:

    It occurs to me that one of the most striking ideas of all is an event that presents itself as a computer bug, yet gathers reactions from in-game onlookers. Perhaps that void ought to be more than a void after all.

    { reply }
  8. Ernst Poppenschlaffen says:

    How much social mobility will there be? Could a common labourer, in exceptional circumstances, become an overseer? Similarly, can middle class citizens be socially disgraced to the point of becoming labourers?

    Even if this is a rare occurence, I feel it would provide more opportunities to tell a character’s story.

    { reply }
    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      Yes, there shall be a concept of social mobility — and characters with traits like Stuffy or Traditional won’t like such upstarts at all.

      { reply }
  9. Bropocalypse says:

    I believe that to be a star fissure. Don’t leap in or you will be transported to a deserted island and be forced to solve puzzles.

    { reply }
  10. Thomas says:

    I sort of like the idea of having a ‘foreman’ type of person standing around, idly barking orders and waving his hands as the plebs work around him.

    Though it does make me wonder.. when things start going horribly wrong, will fingers be pointed at him?
    Will he be dragged into the town square and tarred and feathered or sacrificed to appease something?
    Is there only one designated foreman, or can the people elect (or violently replace) new ones with the old?

    So many questions!
    Great work so far!

    { reply }
    • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

      All sorts of terrible things can happen to all sorts of people, terrible or no.

      One scenario which might be imagined is a certain labourer who has violent tendencies with a personality that clashes greatly with their overseer who, perhaps, also has an antagonistic and bullying personality. That’s basically trouble waiting to happen and it should arise naturally from the interpersonal simulation.

      Some of the finer points of these questions to do with class conflicts may have to be answered in expansion pack #3, “CLOCKWORK EMPIRES: RED REVOLUTION IN NOVYRUS”, of course.

      { reply }
      • Syn says:

        interpersonal simulation.

        Mhhh.. yeah. Lovin’ that. So how long till i can play this? I’m getting itchy.

        { reply }
  11. Jarenth says:

    Is this how work parties are organized at the Gaslamp offices? And just who’s the designated lucky Middle Class handwaver?

    Hip hip huzzah and all that.

    { reply }
  12. Teleros says:

    the hole in the world has no possible application as a shower curtain

    Hah! You imperial lackeys continue to think just that. We science-loving Free Men in the United Cogdom of Vespucia won’t be held back!

    -C Johnson

    { reply }
  13. Skyknight says:

    Psst. Hierophants of the Empire. You do realize that if you chop down every tree, you won’t have any wood LEFT? (Seriously, is the Cog trying to FOSSILIZE the world? This is starting to sound more and more like the Empire’s mostly a pawn in a struggle between two camps of Eldritch Abominations, and fossilizing the world is how the Cog plans to extinguish its Mouldless competitors.)

    { reply }
  14. joeclark77 says:

    Quick question based on the screenshots: is it part of the game design that male and female characters are interchangeable? One of the things that bugs me about a certain other fortress-building game is the complete androgyny of the characters, female militiamen carrying their babies onto the battlefield, and so forth. Your female lumberjack and gray-haired lady trench digger are troubling.

    { reply }
  15. Pingback: Dev Links: A Moment To Reflect | The Indie Game Magazine - Indie Game Reviews, Previews, News & Downloads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *