Author Archives: David

Clockwork Empires 1.0 launched!

Clockwork Empires version 1.0 has emerged, glistening, from its development-spore and launched on Steam! We are out of Early Access and into the wild frontier that calls for Colonial Bureaucrats to manage bustling colonies and chop down all the trees and maybe start a cult maybe for Progress and Civilization! You can purchase Clockwork Empires through Steam or the Humble Store (which provides a Steam key*) for a 10% discount for the next week!

* We will be setting up non-Steam distribution of Clockwork Empires via the Humble Store and possibly other online distributors in the near future. 

The Development Progress Report has been updated with a full annotated changelog for version 55A to version 1.0. We’ll put the full changelog at the end of this post for those interested in seeing what the last month month of Early Access has brought to the game.

This is not, of course, the end of work on Clockwork Empires: We shall be continuing support for game stability and bugfixes, and we have a list of additional content and some small features we’d like to add post-release.

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My Favourite Icons

So we’re coming up on the launch of Clockwork Empires in, uh, exactly one week from now. Everyone in the office is furiously testing/polishing/balancing/implementing the last few features/flipping out. You can imagine that no one (except me) was volunteering to write a blog post, so I threatened to write one where I just showed my favourite icons from Clockwork Empires and rambled about why I liked them.

So many icons! (These are not, however, my favourites.)

So many icons! (These are not, however, my favourites.)

There was enthusiastic support for this notion. So much for that threat. Still: an Artist never bluffs, so this week we’re going to talk about My Favourite Icons.

Oh yeah, heads up: the first one is cannibalism, so brace yourself for Thematic Imagery.

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Providing The Challenge

As we build up to release, we must consider and balance gameplay difficulty as a whole given the set of game mechanics features we are working with. There are not only multiple axes upon which difficulty might be defined – and upon which gameplay mechanics operate – but also a diverse spectrum of expectations and player-types to consider.

Fish Massacre At New Sogwood 3: The Enbloodening

Fish Massacre At New Sogwood 3: The Enbloodening

On the one hand we have combat-hardened veterans of the Frontier who have sunk hundreds of hours into Clockwork Empires. These players derive grim pleasure from deconstructing our systems then optimizing them for maximum in-game effect while rampaging cannibalistic cultists tear each other apart amidst volleys of gunfire. On the other hand, we have players who just bought the game (or will soon buy the game) who are mostly fascinated by watching their colonists live little lives and decorating houses. Both players have legitimate needs! If a swarm of fishpeople busts into this latter fantasy and eats everyone, that player gets really upset. If a swarm of fishpeople doesn’t bust into the fantasy of the previous player type, they get really upset. And everyone is upset with us if we do any of this without giving proper warning.

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Gameplay vs. Realism OR Guns Guns Guns

When the needs of gameplay conflict with realism, which must win? (Spoiler alert: gameplay. And realism isn’t really realism.)

From a historical perspective, producing firearms requires a fairly sophisticated industrial base. In Clockwork Empires, pre-Beta 55, producing and using any firearms beyond the default pistols also required a fairly sophisticated industrial base. And by fairly sophisticated industrial base we mean that pre-55, the very first weapon upgrade could only be rushed by an experienced player in a minimum of an hour or two of gameplay in a mad rush toward the Metalworks. And that’s with laser-like focus and insider knowledge of mechanics. (If advanced players take this comment as an invitation to see who can rush to firearm production the quickest, then let’s do it!)

Fun with the grenade launcher.

Fun with the grenade launcher.

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Clockwork Empires September Update: ONWARD! For Queen & Empire

When queried about the update, the response we received was simply-

ce_2016_september_promo_illustration_small

This update will go live to every Clockwork Empires player via Steam!

We have also updated our Clockwork Empires: Development Progress report!

Don’t own the game? Clockwork Empires can be purchased on ClockworkEmpires.com via Humble or from Steam.

Want to hear about all sorts of updates via email plus receive silly images from development? Sign up for the newsletter here.


Major player-facing additions this month:

  • implemented an Office Supply system to replace the upkeep system
  • added biome unlocking
  • redid guns & ammo (pew pew)
  • added madness and enraged states
  • and made enormous improvements to UI all over the place

Begin the full Beta 55 changelog!


UI

  • text input boxes now have a caret
  • keybinding widget now works in Configuration screen
  • added Serpent Bell icon
  • UI for all offices has been given a polish
  • UI for all offices now has various alerts for reasons why work cannot be performed due to lack of overseer/modules/supplies
  • mine UI now displays more information
  • added visual cue to indicate that a module must be affixed to a wall
  • all recipes should now grey out correctly depending on your materials
  • all modules in the game now have sort IDs and will display in the Modules Menu in a much more logical order
  • added/improved tooltips on a large number of constructions and buildings
  • renamed some office UI to try and make it a bit more clear
  • added more info to character panel tooltips
  • fixed order strings so they now also work on the filter buttons on the module placer UI
  • added randomized start backgrounds
  • added command tooltip details
  • did polish changes to where tooltips show up
  • made improvement to tutorial controls image
  • did major update to all tutorial text
  • redid a number of building tutorial images
  • wrote all Colonial Handbook help files
  • removed a mysterious sound that played when nothing happened
  • workshop button now turns red when commodities are unavailable for a production that is set for a job
  • area designation stamps now highlight what objects can be selected
  • “Designate Building” dialog now attaches to blueprint for confirmation once it is drawn out
  • lack of booze for Public House will generate alerts
  • Fishperson-related alerts should have sounds more consistently now
  • added product listing to mine tooltip
  • failure states for workshop jobs now show properly
  • added parent container code for office UI buttons
  • Quality of Life is now a first class element in the character info panel
  • Combat tooltips pared down significantly
  • building quality display improved
  • can now add widgets to the front of a container’s stack
  • scrollbar track clicks are now more useful (sorry track clickers, i never do it, didn’t realize what a sorry state that was in)
  • improved nametag code, incorporated alert icons into nametags
  • made interactive objects like rocks and trees have tooltips that are anchored and show up instantly rather than being on the cursor and having a delay. Some new players weren’t seeing them at all, so this should improve their visibility.
  • all instances of “work crew” have been changed to “overseer” to make difference between LC/MC chars clearer
  • you will now be alerted if you build a building with no door
  • FIXED: static buttons for work crews
  • FIXED: finally fixed our scrollable vert boxes so they don’t do weird things with scrolling too far and their padding isn’t horrible. Finally. After i think 2 years of this bug.
  • FIXED: edge cases for the building confirmation window
  • FIXED: offset so that modules menu isn’t below the screen
  • FIXED: progress bars with “0” percent in them still showed some percent
  • FIXED: lock up in character screen when character had maxed out skill tree or zero skill
  • FIXED: bug where unassigning an overseer wouldn’t immediately update the window.
  • FIXED: Tutorial FYI text boxes can now expand properly.
  • FIXED: tooltips being basically everywhere.
  • FIXED: image buttons not pushing their size appropriately
  • FIXED: gameSimRequireGameObject not working correctly for requirements; various other graying behaviours not working correctly
  • FIXED: a bunch of bad button typecasting
  • FIXED: a number of bugs in production menu grey-outs
  • FIXED: loading bay door claiming to add -1 quality in tooltip
  • FIXED: scrollbars not sizing correctly on OS X
  • FIXED: a number of buildings that displayed the wrong cost in the buildings menu have been fixed
  • FIXED: long-standing issue with wrapped text
  • FIXED: janky scrollbar movement while the game is unpaused
  • FIXED: wacky QoL tooltip offset
  • FIXED: workplace limit display not being reset properly on save/load
  • FIXED: crash in stamp area designation mode when an interactive object in the area is deleted (such as, say, setting fire to a mushroom)
  • FIXED: discrepancy of carpentry icon in command button vs. module category

Economy/Offices/Workshops

  • upkeep removed as-such; it’s being replaced with Office Supplies!
  • Naturalist’s Office now uses ammo for hunting, paper for surveying (scouting is free)
  • Foreign Office now requires paper to do bureaucracy
  • Foreign Office workers will prioritize use of modules that increase their work speed ie. Bureaucrat’s Desk
  • Barbershop now requires Medical Supplies to do healing; if Sulphur Tonic is available, it will be used to make healing more effective and more pleasant
  • Chapel now requires Iron Cogs as votive material to perform religious services
  • Academy now requires paper to do training; if ink is supplied, it will double speed of training
  • Mine now requires trusses to operate
  • Laboratory now requires Science Materials to perform research
  • added a number of new commodities and workshop recipes to support the new office overhaul
  • added sugarloaf to traders
  • added additional safety aborts to consume supply calls in fsms
  • made artifacts tradeable
  • added small vs. large stockpiles
  • added a new mining tech
  • clarified bric-a-brac display names
  • “Workbench” is now “Assembly Workbench” and is used only to make modules, except in the kitchen
  • added new module: Decor Workbench. Makes all relevant decor items for that workshop
  • removed module recipes from ceramics/carpentry workbench
  • removed decor recipes from all modules that aren’t Decor Workbench
  • Mine now caps depth if you don’t have modules required to dig deeper
  • removed basic brew, added back individual brewing recipes
  • added Workplace system
  • sulphur made more easily mined
  • naturalist now requires musket locker to hunt
  • “Explore” command now works (from Naturalist ui)
  • Naturalist’s Office can now do targeted “Survey” and “Hunt” commands
  • product of fishpeople butchering humans no longer (always) auto-claimed by player
  • balance: Chemical Works has been moved earlier in the game progression (for ammo)
  • balance: changed cost tiers of a vew buildings to streamline the early game
  • balance: lowered quality bonus from rugs since they don’t block walkspace and are therefore superior to normal decor
  • FIXED: incorrect Ceramics Workshop tech modifier display
  • FIXED: you may now place the Lower Class Rug
  • FIXED: foreign office error
  • FIXED: trade bool on dormant spore
  • FIXED: Boxed Macroscope constuction
  • FIXED: increased range of Naturalist survey for minerals job so they wouldn’t get stuck in the middle of the map doing nothing
  • FIXED: scientists will now only use equipment inside their own laboratory
  • FIXED: added check so traders won’t leave and never come back, forever
  • FIXED: Pub did not stock booze until ordered to
  • FIXED: sometimes modules would suddenly stop working until demolished and rebuilt
  • FIXED: Larch farms would grow orange cubes
  • FIXED: various cost/quality display on various modules
  • FIXED: Bureaucrat’s desks properly count as desks in the foreign office UI

Characters

  • removed skill effects on tree chopping/foraging
  • added better feedback to early safety Quality of Life rating
  • made reactions to horrors more expressive
  • foreign civilians will properly flee from horrors
  • added “Cry over Body” job
  • made Occult Inspectors slightly more expressive
  • hunger emote now more expressive
  • balance: QoL effects adjusted to have more effect but not be completely extreme
  • balance: Immigration now takes longer between waves the later you are in the game (max immigrants increases as well, however)
  • balance: Chapel effects now emphasize lowering despair
  • balance: Pub effects now emphasize lowering anger
  • FIXED: attempt_emote.fsm
  • FIXED: scripterror in building name change
  • FIXED: some food was tagged as both overseer and labourer-preferred
  • FIXED: added check for scripterror when bandit group self-deletes

Jobs/Assignment

  • construction assignments will now always be prioritized over other work assignments
  • rewrote all flatten terrain code. flatten terrain jobs are now not listed in a giant bulky mess at the start of the assignment, but are assigned first-come-first-serve. this fixes lurching performance issues when a user has a lot of flatten terrain jobs selected, as well as… works…
  • moved flatten terrain to assignment beacon, so it can be cancelled etc.
  • Flatten terrain target height now displays in tooltip
  • added a safety check for if you removed a worker from the academy while they were working
  • removing forageables can be done via left-click, per object
  • FIXED: assignment beacon drop zones now only show those beacons visible for the current selection mode
  • FIXED: assignment beacons now correctly encompass all objects inside (Although it is a little conservative)

Biomes

  • added new ore distribution – varies based on climatic zone
  • added locking and unlocking of embark locations by biome type
  • removed the Alone loadout
  • added details for unlocking biomes
  • balance: added more high ground in temperate swamp biome
  • balance: added more guaranteed starting surface clay/stone

Military/Combat

  • Barracks now displays weapon stats & otherwise has a useful UI
  • Barracks now used to supply ammunition to soldiers; different weapons use different types of ammo. If ammo runs out, soldiers will default to using pistol
  • weapon power/damage/range rebalanced
  • military may now do “cull troublesome animal”
  • Steam Knights made more reactive to threats
  • gave better icons to most military techs
  • updated/improved costs of all gun lockers (can now build “Improvised Muskets” in Carpentry Workshop, can build “Ceramic Tripistols” in Ceramics Workshop)
  • “Rally” command now works (from Barracks ui)
  • balance: fishpeople made weaker
  • balance: bandits given worse weapons
  • FIXED: obeliskian_melee error
  • FIXED: military culling of bad animals
  • FIXED: civilians will now only consider melee/ranged attacks if they are not within some distance (X) of a military character

Events

  • balance: increased starting food amounts
  • a huge number of events now trigger sounds on firing
  • made significant improvements to Meteor Shower event arc
  • fix to Event Arc-related science jobs
  • fix to Event Arc-related selenian AI
  • added airdropcrate pos test
  • minor cosmetic improvement to Artist event arc
  • added more cult stuff
  • improved more cult stuff
  • added additional safety checks to Rogue Stahlmarkian start
  • supplies requested via the foreign office will now take a bit of time to arrive
  • balance: changed arc point build + some arc mindays + costs
  • FIXED: added safety check for scripterror in fishperson cult arc
  • FIXED: added safety check for scripterror in rogue stahlmarkian
  • FIXED: Mysterious Ore drop position
  • FIXED: issue in tutorial that prevented it from progressing
  • FIXED: player didn’t get ownership of bar of gold gift
  • FIXED: incorrect action text on bandit spawn FYI alert
  • FIXED: incorrect Novorusian text
  • FIXED: bug where minimum number of immigrants could be 0
  • FIXED: crashed airship event weirdness
  • FIXED: dead cultists will no longer offer assassination services

Engine/Renderer

  • crash DMP reporter now correctly reports crashes when triggering MSVC internal error or SIGABRT
  • rewrote assignment beacon rendering code to fix floating outline ugliness
  • added terrain decal scene graph to render assignment beacons and other “zone-like constructions” after terrain but before objects
  • FIXED: crash deleting a stockpile
  • FIXED: crash deleting a house
  • FIXED: crash deleting a workshop
  • FIXED: in the event that the game didn’t crash while deleting a thing, it would appear with a graphical artifact glitch
  • FIXED: on rare maps, all characters and everything in the world will suddenly start sliding into the lower left corner of the screen
  • FIXED: disappearing modules
  • FIXED: crash deleting farm and building new farm
  • FIXED: misc other crashes
  • FIXED: crash deleting modules

Wish to peruse the full annotated changelog? Read it in the Development Report!

Have fun and let us know through our mysterious portal or forum if anything goes wrong.

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How We Made Them Pay

A game of Clockwork Empires can be looked at as a game of increasing resource accumulation. This is extremely reductive but provides a useful perspective on certain design issues. So give every commodity a value, watch the sum of value in the player’s control increase as resources are extracted from labour and processed into higher-value goods. Population increases over time, increasing available labour. Food requirements impose a cost against population growth, though rate of added productivity is higher than food-labour cost.  Capital infrastructure (modules, buildings) imposes costs, but vastly increases productivity. Character skill gain over time increases speed of production. Altogether an idealized chart of total resources accumulated over time could look something like this:

resources_over_timeWhen a player advances to a point where their pile of accumulated resources are effectively limitless, then they’ve basically won the economic game, which makes it easy to explore the rest of the game without serious challenges (aka “fun”). This blog post is not about dealing with that end-game state however, it’s about delaying that end-game post-scarcity utopia in a way that is interesting. Building a colony in Clockwork Empires is very much about the challenges faced – and overcome – in the journey from a handful of colonists alone in the wilderness to bustling industrial powerhouse. If we let that journey finish too quickly, then the game experience is poorer for it. If we mess with the player’s journey by throwing random tornadoes at them to blow up all their stuff, that feels unfair and frustrating.

The question is, how do we slow accumulation rate or subtract from a player’s resources outside of food requirements and construction costs? … And have players enjoy it.

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Enraged Colonists? Here’s What To Do

As a principle of game design it is essential that the major mechanics systems of Clockwork Empires clearly interact and cause consequences with one another. Buildings should affect characters should affect events should affect characters should affect industry and so on in every direction through the web of systems.

The Quality of Life mechanics are a strong link to character mood from a handful of systems. The first iteration of Quality of Life was compelling, sure (and I wrote about it previously here), and it did perform that connective role. But it did not explicitly give the player a suggestion about what actions they should be taking. It is one thing to say that so-and-so is upset because of this and that. The point is how do I-the-player change it? (Further, how important are the things I can change?)

My vicar is a despairing, maddened half-fishperson. You generally want to avoid this sort of situation.

Here my vicar is a half-fishperson, maddened with despair due to poor conditions. And being half-fishperson, I suppose. You generally want to avoid this sort of situation.

To generalize once more: given a simulation game, it is not enough to have a cool simulation with pieces that affect other pieces. The game must tell the player what the heck is going on, why, and what they can do about it. And if there are many things they can do about it, what’s the difference between them? Or, at least, which is more important? (And why should the player care?)

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Clockwork Empires August Update: YES, INSPECTOR

The Occult Inspector asked if there was an update and we said-

ce_2016_august_promo_illustration_small

This update will go live to every Clockwork Empires player via Steam!

We have also updated our Clockwork Empires: Development Progress report!

Don’t own the game? Clockwork Empires can be purchased on ClockworkEmpires.com via Humble or from Steam.

Want to hear about all sorts of updates via email plus receive silly images from development? Sign up for the newsletter here.


Major player-facing additions this month:

  • added a new Mine system
  • improved Naturalist’s Office
  • improved Public House
  • added a Training Academy
  • lights!
  • many UI improvements
  • vast & sweeping Upkeep rebalancing
  • Game Over stats
  • The Larch

Begin the full Beta 54 changelog!

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