GDC happened! And with it, some exciting announcements that we have been selfishly hoarding for people who deal in the trafficking of humans (to their websites).
First, we announced that we will be releasing Clockwork Empires in some sort of paid early access model this spring, with more details to come soon. We decided to run it this way a couple of months ago, but we’ve been discussing it internally for a long time. Clockwork Empires is just a good fit for the process. It’ll be a new experience every time you play it, and we can use the way that people are playing the game to inform our design priorities. Also we can sneak in stuff so if you pull up your game after an update some new and weird things can surprise you, and that’s awesome.
More importantly, we announced the Steam Knight, cleverly hidden in plain sight this whole time, who may be armed with a grenade launcher or one (or two) of a number of other gigantic weapons! There are turrets as well: the Minum Gun Turret (“what we have and what the fishpeople do not”), which can be deployed to protect yourself from waves of Eldritch horrors, crudely armoured bandits in the Grand Australian Tradition, as well as The Stahlmarkian Menace. There are some issues with them so we disabled them for the press build (take THAT press!), but we will soon fix the bug that allows every character in your settlement to sit in the same turret seat and never leave. Ever.
We also learned a whole lot about how people play the game even from what we were showing – which is mostly the early stages of setting up your settlement. First, journalists are really good at finding embarrassing bugs. Second, players need a way to queue orders so they don’t constantly have to click exactly the same things for farming wheat then baking bread, chopping trees then making planks, and all that. Third, characters really need more than two classifications of how important an activity is so they don’t ignore Fishpeople when they’re busy eating, and they don’t starve to death while they’re working (though bless their industrious souls for such dedication).
Luckily, we designed systems for this a year and a half ago! The prophecy is coming true!
The characters now have four levels of increasing importance for tasks:
- idle tasks (chatting, sitting, wandering)
- obligation tasks (work)
- “maslow” tasks (eat/sleep)
- combat tasks (run the hell away or attack that thing that’s hitting you)
Each task is given a type, and a minimum importance that can interrupt it. “chop this tree” can be overwritten by “eat food so you don’t die” and “run from that Deathwurm before it eats your head”.
The other matter is a more challenging UI issue where we need to make a more stable supply chain, and that starts with sorting out our Cabbage Problem. Farms should be producing an amount of food that’s proportional to time and to the number of workers in a stable way. Right now the speed at which cabbages pop up is so high that the amount of time it takes to grow them is almost directly limited by how fast a worker can path there, and down that road leads madness. And a lot of cabbage.
Once we sort that out, we can play with fun ways of saying “all cabbages from this farm go directly to this kitchen to make this borscht”. Then we wonderfully employ farmers, cooks, and people don’t starve. From there we do the same thing with beer, and suddenly life on the frontier ain’t so bad for a while! (Until the Deathwurms get wind of this good thing going on and start eating people.)
Oh, and press stuff. Here’s a list of wonderful things written by people that our Pheromone Mist worked on:
- PC Gamer : Clockwork Empires hands-on: Life and death on the frontier
- Rock Paper Shotgun : It’s Time To Get Excited About Clockwork Empires
- GamesRadar : Clockwork Empires encourages spectacular, horrific failure
- GameSpot : Getting Drunk And Getting High In Clockwork Empires
We’re still not entirely sure what happened.
Who steams the Steamknights?
I CAN’T WAIT TO GIVE YOU SOME MONEY!
Just what every game needs: Obscure puns! Please tell me there are others!
I for one am satisfied the eternally-elusive Echidnas are present in the game. Cog be praised!
Besides the game, which can’t come soon enough, I would also like more details about this weird dream with Peter Monyleux. Was it Lovecraftian in nature?
In my dream, Peter Molyneux appeared. “Nicholas,” he whispered, “I have something for you.”
In his hand, Molyneux held a large, red apple. “Take this apple,” he whispered. “Bury it in the fertile soil. It will sprout, and when it does so it will reveal to you all the secrets of game development.”
And then I woke up in a cold sweat and a coughing fit, and never learned the secrets of game development from Peter Molyneux. (Much of the company feels that this is a Good Thing.)
Well, if you learned anything from Peter Molyneux, it would be how to act like him.
You go around, gathering enough belief, and when you get enough, you can make something flat and featureless.
That comparison really bothers me. I believe we can make good on what we’ve talked about, but I don’t think we can make good on many of the promises he’s made. We’re not recreating life in our game, we’re just simulating it enough that hopefully you’ll feel guilty when terrible things happen to your characters.
It’s not about you, you guys are a great team, and I really want to see this game happen. It’s more of my personal rage against Peter and the whole Godus thing. It could have been something much greater, but… you know.
Yeah fair enough
Wow, that was quite surreal! Are you sure no opiates were involved before sleeping in this particular case? Or at least, an apple? :))
I have the sudden feeling to tell random people who I don’t know what I think about something….weird. ANYWAY, I cannot wait for this game, it’s my single most anticipated one this year ( and has been ever since it was announced.) Also this is my favorite game studio, interesting people, really cool game. Just brilliant. Not to mention video game dynamic trauma, just what every game needs. Consider yourself informed of my random opinions.
Early access, eh?
Count me in.
Normally when I see the store pages of those ‘unfinished’ games wanting money, I involuntarily make a face thats a cross between stubbing my toe and eating a bad pistachio.
For the Empire, however.. my wallet is yours to command.
Seeing the game in action was fantastic!
Also, please give u̶s̶ the fishpeople some weapons. W̶e̶ they look silly punching people.
There are Plans.
Oh lookie, an update!
And lookie, a Spacema—err, Steam Knight!
I honestly was sold a long time ago but yeah, any new post on this blog just strenghtens my resolve to get CE as soon as it hits the shelves.
Which is also a nice excuse to get me a new machine a little sooner than planned and that is good.
Interesting that you mentioned “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” – essentially the whole list of things you mentioned fit under it – except I’d think that safety (not being eaten/attacked) comes under physiological (and therefore most important) effect of ‘breathing’!
It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s difficult to feel creative and spontaneous (higher up the Maslow hierarchy) when you need to take a shit.
Marketing & gaming systems. Who would have thought…
Actually! Maslow’s hierarchy was a psychological principle before it was applied to anything, and we’re simulating brains, so it fits. It’s a simplification of course, like everything, but it gives us a framework to warp to our will. For example, we break up “physiological” into actual panic responses and “taking care of biological business”, and we have a notion of social versus personal utility as well which isn’t actually a component of the traditional Maslow’s hierarchy. If it were, it would be probably within the nebulous “self-actualization” portion, but of course by building behavior models we can’t help but model them after our own biases. But yeah, neat 🙂
The more I can automate things the happier I will be. Its good to hear that this is something you folks are discussing and hopefully it will go beyond food production and be possible with all other industries.
Also, is it possible to place storage areas indoors? They look somewhat exposed at the moment, although I imagine that helps with pathing.
Will the paid early access be available to all platform? Writing from a Mac I surely would hope so.
There are currently some issues with the mac build, but it exists. I can’t speak to whether these will show up at exactly the same time at this point, but of course we want to do that, it comes down to how hard fixing these issues is.
Just to get a general idea of the possible delay, are we (most likely) talking days, weeks, months?
We have a set of requirements for what state the game must be in before we start charging for it, even in early access. We’re not there yet, and I don’t want to set an expectation by giving you an answer, because I have educated guesses but those aren’t helpful to anyone. We’re still working with “Spring”.
Thanks, but I was asking about the time difference between the PC and the Mac early access, not about a specific date for release (not even I am so naive!)
Might I suggest that “combat” priority actions be superceded by urgent survival-oriented things (or at least expanded to include them)? Because being on fire (or poisoned, or infested with parasitic fungus– whatever potentially lethal status effects people can acquire), should presumably come before everything on the list (except potentially combat, but that’s something of a tossup).
Unless you’re not implementing that sort of thing. In which case combat is definitely the most important.
It’s actually really, really hard to come up with labels for these levels that fit in every instance. In the case of “combat”, what it really means is “reacting to really bad things happening to you”. Being in a squad shooting at some, uh, things… in the distance is actually more of a “job” task. I’ve got ideas about where and how to draw the line between the two, and we’ll get there, but first rule of simulation club is don’t over-engineer simulation… club.
Absolutely excited for the game, and for the early release! I generally stay away from games until they’re a bit more settled but I can’t wait to be mucking about in the guts of this thing as it grows around me. It will be fantastic to see how many things can be unhealthily exploited and broken, besides villagers’ minds.
gabe newell of course. His valves and pipes run EVERYWHERE TO INFINITY AND BEYOND.
My main disappointment with the demo was seeing the player designate what went into making buildings to the tile, I was hoping for less player control than that and it was kind of the message I took from earlier talk about “procedural extrusion” (especially given that it would open up architecture and engineering as NPC skills, with architects and engineers affecting the rules for building generation and their modules). From the looks of it Clockwork Empires is not intended to fall too far from the Dwarf Fortress tree.
Anyway if you want to keep from harrassing players too much with micromanagement (which, for large colonies, may make the game unplayable), consider re-implementing the order system that DF has.
Sorry, I’m lost. You were hoping for “less” player control…? What does that look like?
Micromanaging gets boring really fast. That’s why one may not want to have to make such fine-grained work assignments manually.
Any chance of the game being on GoG or HumbleBundle after Steam Early Access (when in a more or less finished state) ?
Love the steam knight…and cabbage borscht 🙂