Sympathy, Violence, Consequences

A Fishperson raider driven to violence by the plundering of their young for food rushes from the fog to beat a colonist with a coral club. Their fellow Fishperson-raider, a few steps behind, fires a spikegun with a ‘pop’. The terrified colonist falls over dead. The Fishperson with the club pauses at this, then turns and runs from the corpse in horror, back into the fog. 

Attack of the fishpeople!

Watery vengeance!

I didn’t anticipate this, though I wrote the script that made it happen: Seeing the corpse they created by killing the colonist pushed the Fishperson over the morale threshold that flips a switch that makes the fleeing behaviour much more likely. I had thought to simply have Fishpeople become demoralized by seeing other dead fellow-Fishpeople, but it was triggered by any humanoid corpse at all. A small mistake, but a really cool effect because it implies that these Fishpeople are not merely “the goblins of Clockwork Empires” but people of a sort that may, in their way, sympathize with your colonists. — Just so, sympathy is the goal of the latest efforts to increase the complexity of Fishpeople to start becoming more than ‘enemies’. Once enough features are fleshed out enough, perhaps they can become friends, albeit creepy fishy friends with some funny ideas about how things work and a penchant for inducting their land-based friends into the ways of The Deeps.

No one’s perfect.

(One doesn’t imagine the Empire being enthusiastic about developing Fishpeople friendship, of course. But that’s why you’re the Colonial Bureaucrat and they’re the far-off Empire, right, power and responsibility of delegation and all that and come-what-may, isn’t it?)

The goal is sympathy; we want you to consider their feelings. They’re individuals as much as your colonists. Slaughter if you will (and that’s where the game pushes you right now due to lack of other combat challenges), but we’re starting to provide some more serious structure and consequences for combat — for your soldiers who are carrying out the violence in particular. In Clockwork Empires, doing violence and witnessing violence takes a psychological toll; it creates memories, and a soldiers will create memories with different interpretations of the events they witnessed based on their personality traits.

Memories are created based on traits. Some characters wouldn't feel bad about killing a Fishperson.

Some characters wouldn’t feel as bad about killing Fishpeople as Merle Crimbleton does. (And considering he’s a “drunkard” I suspect he’ll be hitting the drink after this.)

A brutish xenophobe will happily gun down Fishpeople all day – though what will that make them eventually remains to be seen – while a more poetical, mild-mannered type who happens to be a soldier will have some second thoughts. Killing for the first time is more upsetting than the second. Killing a human is more upsetting than killing a fishperson (unless one is, as they say, a bit fishy).

The effects of consequences rippling out from actions to create more consequences is what Clockwork Empires is all about and as we dig deeper we’re enabling this to happen more and more.

There’s some really cool work being done and some really cool stuff going in to the game. It is a pleasure to watch people explore the little details and discover what we’ve snuck in to the game to make their life as a Colonial Bureaucrat a little more difficult – and a little more interesting.

Clockwork Empires 30c Update: Gabions, Fishguns, Cultist Crops

We’ve put a new update into the experimental branch on Steam. You may opt-in if you dare. Changelog as follows:


  • First pass at almost-zero draw overhead (AZDO) pass (as described in last week’s blog post). Enable this in your config.xml if you want to try it; not done, use at your own risk. To enable, change <entry key=”azdo” type=”int” value=”0″ /> to <entry key=”azdo” type=”int” value=”1″ />. THIS PROBABLY DOESN’T WORK ON AMD CARDS.


  • FIXED: crash when attempting to drop a body
  • FIXED: corpse dropping errors
  • FIXED: crash caused by going into infinite loop of trying to drop temporary tools
  • Military loadouts (as in, soldiers try to keep a gun handy)
  • fixed up some memory icons (incl. temp fix for frontier justice memory icon)
  • added “Military Training” trait (and a couple others, for fun)
  • FIXED: sleeping is not 10x as fast as intended
  • immigration event pulls from a limited set of colonist types (rather than ANY valid)
  • Colonists given from 1-3 traits. (Lower classes get one only. Military characters always get “military training”.)
  • Added a significant number of new memories for citizens to experience.


  • Fishpeople now have morale & will run when they’ve had enough
  • Fishpeople now have weapons, including guns
  • Adjusted quality/quantity of fishpeople attacks slightly toward “quality”
  • Fishpeople attack spawns slightly fewer fishpeople (now that they have weapons)
  • FIXED: fishpeople now have gibs


  • FIXED herbivore run animations


  • Alerts can be put on job requirements when job requirements fail, with snooze timers. (This is done in one case as of 30C, will populate further.)


  • Gabions fixed! Build gabions!
  • adjusted utility of gabion construction (no longer higher than basic military duties)
  • Added fieldstone foundations to a bunch of low-tier buildings
  • Turned off “make stone bricks” job (stone blocks will be treated separately from bricks)
  • Short wander added to end of dropping item in stockpile (to stop people from stockpiling themselves)
  • First pass on adding particle effects to modules (this is really cool)

Natural Objects

  • Clay and Sand are now mined with a shovel rather than a pickaxe
  • Doubled berrybush exhaustion chance


  • Crops planted/tended by mad cultists will occasionally be Evil
  • Evil plants will be removed by non-mad non-cultists
  • added sfx to “till soil” job
  • People farming will now sow seeds in addition to hoeing the fields
  • Added new agricultural crops: sugarcane, chilli peppers, flax. (Warning: not all new crops are hooked up to do anything useful.)
  • Some more crops rescaled (I heard you like big cabbages.)


  • Did lots of texture resizing and texture cleanup
  • Removed some FSM console spam, made other parts actually say what was printing them (so they are now useful console spammers)
  • FIXED some missing commodity icons

If you’ve opted in to the experimental build, let us know how it’s going!

(Want to hear about experimental patches the day they go live? Sign up for the “ALL updates” option in the Gaslamp Games Mailing List.)

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7 Responses to “Sympathy, Violence, Consequences”

  1. Maurog says:

    Fishmen will have water guns which squirt all sorts of horrible fluids at people, won’t they?

    { reply }
  2. Adam says:

    Cultists keep planting evil crops, and the non-mad citizens keep digging them up, which leads to the cultists to try planting their evil crops in hidden away places… this intrigues me. (=

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  3. Bropocalypse says:

    Those clothing rips and tears bear a deep and significant cultural meaning too complex for our simple, non-aquatic brains.

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    • Bropocalypse says:

      Also, curious: How unenthusiastic, exactly, would The Empire be about This Sort Of Thing? More of a ‘This doesn’t seem proper!’ level of discourse or a ‘BURN IT DOWN’ sort of thing?

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      • AdminDavid Baumgart says:

        This depends, perhaps, on how far you take This Sort Of Thing and how much of a Fuss is made by Those Inclined To Write Letters To The Empire Times to bring attention to This Sort Of Thing.

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  4. Daniel F says:

    “Doubled berrybush exhaustion chance”


    Having reached this culminating event in his life, Daniel moved to a cottage in the country and life a quiet and content life far from the things of man, tending his small edibles garden and thinking fondly of that day, those berrybushes, their doubled chance of exhaustion, before lying down to sleep sated dreams in the warm summer breeze and rural noises wandering into his cozy room.

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  5. Lord Herman says:

    “the urchin grenade is right now just something a fishperson bashes you about the head with”

    Will the Empire be able to make those too? It has plenty of street urchins, doesn’t it?

    { reply }

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