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.