The Magic Of Friendship In Clockwork Empires

One of the many things we’re working on this month is improving the fidelity of character personalities. Clockwork Empires runs a pretty cool algorithm for the characters wherein they attempt to better their lives when they find free time. If they’re angry, afraid, sad, or just bored they have a number of ways to resolve these cases, but until the present the majority of the options for making themselves feel better were solitary actions. For example they would look at paintings, stomp on the ground, drink an entire bottle of whiskey, and so on, with preferences for these actions based on the traits the character possesses (“Brutish” characters, for instance, are more inclined to solve their problems with violence).

Stomping is pretty great, isn't it?

Stomping is pretty great, isn’t it?

But there are really only so many ways a person can make themselves feel better on their own, and besides, this wasn’t taking proper advantage of the fact that there are many characters around just begging for interactions, particularly a character’s set of friends, which can lead to interesting stories. So one things we needed in order to really get this clicking into place was a robust system for paired character interactions. We’ve had them doing this in one case, “gossiping”, for some time with the characters discussing a bunch of topics that they like or dislike, but we finally had time to make this system more robust, and now we can take advantage of a bunch of animations that Chris put together for when we got around to it.

Smash! Smash!

Smash! Smash!

Characters are starting to learn how to hug, make out, whisper to each other, slap each other, and a few other fun things, which might not sound like much, but vastly improves the variety of ways for characters to solve their emotional problems, and the number of possible paths to happiness.

If you follow around a character in the current version of the game who is angry for example, they can visit a church (which is unlikely unless they’re “spiritually inclined”), stomp on the ground, break something, or drink a beverage (if they have the “drunkard” trait). But the baseline case is really mundane and uninteresting: they just stomp on the ground.

The addition of paired interactions allows for a character’s friend to console them, for them to slap someone they dislike, to whisper bad things about people they dislike to others so they feel better about themselves, and more. Since characters do form relationships fairly frequently, the likelihood of them having a number of interesting things they can do increases dramatically and the fidelity of the simulation benefits hugely as a result.

Let them eat fish!

Let them eat fish! (No, this isn’t particularly relevant to the discussion at hand. I just liked this picture.)

Characters stomping around, suddenly becoming happy and moving on with their day looks a bit like a glitch and isn’t particularly interesting. Characters scheming about their enemies, slapping them, then getting a hug from a friend and becoming happy feels significantly more compelling.

We hope to get a few of these in with the next experimental update, which will also have the prototype for object collections. Expect lots of balancing changes based on how these things go!

8 Comments

8 Responses to “The Magic Of Friendship In Clockwork Empires”

  1. Unforked says:

    Any chance we’ll see the experimental branch update this week? Along with these new paired interactions, I can’t wait to see the new crate system after reading the last few blog posts.

    In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about crates.

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  2. Erfeo says:

    Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier
    Fischperson komm tanz mit mir

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  3. Jabberwok says:

    Will CE ever be playable on OS X 10.8? Updating the OS always causes some of my older games and applications to become unlaunchable, so I try as hard as possible to never do it now.

    (ugh, there must be a better way to say OS X 10.8)

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  4. mambling says:

    Any chance we can get more text-based feedback instead of just the emoticons? It’s really hard to tell what they all mean, especially without the ability to rollover them when they pop up (for a tooltip).

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  5. Benevolent Overlord says:

    Not sure if this is a bug or something I am doing, but my soldiers seem to be cowards! Two run-throughs now, and inevitably I get attacked by a horde of fishmen, and my soldiers do not fight. Mayhem ensues, people are killed then eaten (in that order), and then the game morphs into “Rise of the Planet of the Fishmen”. New settlers arrive and are promptly killed and eaten. What joy!

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