My current push on Clockwork Empires right now – in addition to the usual horde of performance fixes, crash fixes, and save game fixes (in fact, save games are currently the purview of Mr. Micah J Best who is sorting through a list of long-standing issues as we speak!) – centers around two things:
- Creating player motivation to develop their settlement’s economy. You can produce things, but there is often not much reason for you to do so (unless those things are the precious life-giving foodstuffs which stand between Civilization and Cannibalism).
- Improving the process of placing modules. In particular:
- In the most recent build, you cannot add modules to a building after the building is constructed, nor can you remove modules after a building is constructed to make room for new modules;
- If you want to place a bunch of beds, you have to click on the bed icon, then click on the blueprint, then click on the bed icon again, then click on the blueprint again, and it’s all quite a lot of bother;
- If you want to make five Middle Class Houses, and put beds, chairs and tables in each of them, you can’t put down three house blueprints, then all of the beds, then all of the chairs, then all of the tables;
- Decor (as a category of objects you can place in buildings) is kind of buried so our colonists are deprived of lovely photographs, lanterns, and all the other junk used to decorate buildings.
As it happens, these two problems are interrelated, and this is what I am working on this week.
Broadly speaking, our task with the economy is to give players some things to do other than growing food that are necessary for gameplay and require infrastructure to be constructed. (You have very good reasons to make food already, as both common sense and a sordid history of poorly planned colonial ventures suggest. You may have noticed this while playing the game!) So right now you have little reason to build workshops or install modules other than for the sheer joy of it; this will be changing in Revision 32, although it may take us some fussing for us to get this to where it should be. The current plan going forward is as follows:
- Certain buildings will require certain types of material to construct (not just logs), dependent upon both the area of the building (in terms of tiles) and the perimeter of the building. In this manner, we may require certain advanced resources to be manufactured before you can build an advanced building to manufacture more advanced resources. This is Minecraft’s trick of building a tech tree without explicitly building a tech tree: you have to punch the tree to get the wood to mine the rock to make the table to make the iron to make the pickaxe to mine the other stuff …
- Modules, being complex machines being put to hard use, will now occasionally require repair. If damaged after time or use, characters will now allocate resources to repair them (a member of the workshop crew, or possibly just a roaming mechanic) comes by and repairs them, expending a commodity in the process.
- Ammunition! People will now require bullets to shoot. It is really important to have plenty of bullets. These come in exciting crates, and soldiers will need to restock their bullets after successfully putting bullets into a fishperson.
- Mr. Baumgart has happily given you a glorious disposable Commodity with which to defend your colony against outside intruders, to whit the Land-Mine. You’re welcome.
- Any sort of oven (be it stone, brick, iron, or made of gleaming copper steam-pipes) should suffice for a kitchen to be “complete”, plus any sort of door. In other words, we should define building completeness as “I contain modules with these tags”, rather than by “I contain a module called Lower Class Door and a module called Small Oven.” (Although, of course, requiring that specific module being placed may also be useful depending on the building.)
There is a large spate of “additional useful UI fixes” that have been filed in my TODO list of Doom in order to make all of this work. This includes manually assigning workshops to overseers and a general cleanup of the “who owns a workshop” logic which should fix some of the work stalling problems players have been having.
The module placement… well, it turns out that our two-step building creator didn’t work as well as hoped. We are therefore busting out modules and decor placement onto the main commands window as first-class citizens, as well as a category for “Special Structures” that will become available when you can unlock a Special Structure. (Mwa hah hah hah!) Module placement will now operate a little bit more like other games with modules, and the new loop for creating a building and modifying modules is as follows:
- Create a building. This places a foundation. The building will not be constructed until you have designated where the required modules (a door, etc.) will go.
- Click the “modules” button (or get automatically shoved in the right direction), which puts the game in module placement mode. Existing modules can be selected and moved about if need be; to create new modules, click a button and place them.
- Once the required modules are installed, the building will be constructed.
- At any time, you may re-enter the modules mode to move modules about on any building that needs it.
- There will also be some sort of a deletion button to schedule a module for dismantling in this interface. I haven’t decided if it will be a real trashcan, or simply “don’t click a module that exists in a building into a building, and we will just send it to the aether.”
As always, we will be pushing this to an experimental branch to test and refine it before we are happy with it and release it upon our unsuspecting public.